Average Cost Of Saltwater Fish (With Examples)

It’s important to look at the average cost of saltwater fish if you’re thinking about starting your own aquarium. Once you purchase a fish tank and other essential supplies, you’ll want to stock that tank with a variety of fish.

So how much does a saltwater fish cost? Well, of course, it depends. I usually plan to spend about $25-30 for a small to regular size fish that is not exotic or rare. The costs of these fish can vary wildly based on the type of fish that is being purchased. Some fish can cost $100 and even $1000 or more. You’ll want to look closely the average costs of different types of fish so that you can get a better idea of what you might be spending on your tank.

Basic Saltwater Fish Cost

Every saltwater aquarium should be stocked with some basic saltwater fish. These fish are usually suitable for beginners and don’t require the specialized care that more exotic types of fish need. When you look at the average cost of saltwater fish, you’ll also find that these fish are priced more affordably.

One of the most affordable fish that can be included in a saltwater tank is the Chromis fish. Chromis are small fish that are usually found in a school of three or more. My saltwater tanks usually have 5 or 6 chromis. They are very small in size but are also very colorful, which means they can add a lot of visual interest to an aquarium.

The cheapest varieties of Chromis, like reef Chromis and lemon Chromis, can be purchased for a little $5. You may even be able to purchase multiple fish for a discounted price. More expensive fish, like the agile Chromis, are priced between $25 and $30.

Clownfish are another popular, beginner-friendly choice for saltwater tanks. These fish are known for their white, paint-like stripes. While clownfish are often orange, some species of clownfish are black. Less expensive clownfish varieties, like the Ocellaris clownfish, are typically priced between $15 and $25. More costly varieties, like the Picasso Percula clownfish, are priced anywhere from $50 to $75.

Angelfish are another excellent choice. Most angelfish are brightly-colored, and they have a distinctive appearance that makes them a highlight of saltwater tanks. However, tank owners should show some caution when introducing angelfish to their tank, as these fish can be aggressive and possibly wreak havoc on your corals. The cost of angelfish varies based on their size. Smaller varieties may cost as little as $10, while larger fish are usually priced between $35 and $50. Prices for medium fish fall between $25 and $35. The Coral Beauty angelfish is a common saltwater aquarium fish usually in the medium price range around $30.

The yellow tang is another saltwater fish you will see in many home aquariums. They are readily available in local fish stores or purchased online for around $40-$50 depending on size.

Even though these fish tend to be on the less expensive side, costs can add up when you’re bringing multiple fish into your tank. It’s a wise idea to have a budget in mind before you start shopping for fish.

Exotic Saltwater Fish

Exotic saltwater fish can be the centerpiece of an aquarium. These fish are incredibly beautiful, and they can be absolutely enchanting to watch when they’re swimming in a tank. Most saltwater aquariums don’t contain very many exotic fish. These fish can be very expensive, and many exotic fish breeds are difficult to care for.

The Candy Basslet is a type of exotic fish that is native to waters in the Caribbean. Unlike many types of exotic fish, these fish are easy to feed and care for. They’re also disease resistant. These fish are typically about 5-6 inches long but have bright fluorescent stripes that make them stand out. They’re also very hard to catch, which is why they’re fairly expensive; they’re usually priced at around $1,000.

The Wrought Iron Butterfly is an exotic fish native to Japan. These fish are black and white in color but have brighter contrasting colors along their fins. They are rare to see in aquariums, which is why they’re usually priced between $2,500 and $3,000.

Neptune Groupers are orange fish with a fluorescent hue. As they grow older, they start to take on a more pinkish color. This fish is found in the deep sea, and it can only survive in aquariums that are stocked with special equipment. The average price of a fish like this is about $6,000.

Of course, not all exotic saltwater fish are prohibitively expensive. There are many varieties of exotic fish that are more affordably priced. Vampire Tetras are known for their long, sharp teeth. Although these aggressive fish can be difficult to care for, they’re one of the more affordable types of exotic fish, priced between $75 and $100.

The average cost of saltwater fish tends to skyrocket when you look at fish that are more exotic. It’s rare to find exotic fish priced below $100, and many exotic breeds have prices in the thousand. Any aquarium owner will want to do extensive research before bringing one of these fish into their tank.

Cleanup Crew Cost

In addition to the fish in your tank, you’ll want to stock your tank with a few clean-up animals. These animals will be able to clean your aquarium naturally. When you combine clean-up animals with a high-quality filter, it will be easy for you to keep your tank clean.

Hermit crabs are an inexpensive clean-up animal that does very well in saltwater tanks. The average cost of a hermit crab will vary on both the size of the crab and the crab species. Generally, these crabs cost anywhere from $5 to $45.

Commonly used in many hobbyists tanks, is the blood shrimp or fire shrimp. I usually have one in all my tanks. They have amazing colors and markings and are fun to watch. They are readily available for around $25-30.

blood shrimp

A more expensive choice worth considering is a starfish. Like with hermit crabs, the cost of a starfish will vary based on its species. Less expensive starfish species, like the banded sand starfish, typically cost between $15 and $20. More costly options, such as the red knobbed starfish, are priced at around $75.

Other options include snails, like Cerith and Nassarius snails, emerald crabs, amphipods. Most clean-up animals are fairly inexpensive, normally around $5 to $10 and it’s rare to see one of these creatures priced at more than $100. It’s even possible to find clean-up animal packages in the $40 to $100 range.

Look at the average cost of saltwater fish so that you can start budgeting for your tank. You may want to look at the typical cost for coral, live rock, and various plants as well. If you have a clear picture of the costs associated with building an aquarium, you’ll be able to budget accordingly.

Related Questions

Q. Is a saltwater tank expensive?

A. In general, the cost of purchasing and maintaining a saltwater tank is more expensive than a freshwater tank. It’s difficult to give an exact cost as there are so many variables involved. Of course the larger the tank size, types of equipment used and fish types all play a factor in determining the cost.

Q. What is an easy saltwater fish to take care of?

A. Many saltwater fish are quite easy to look after. Many are hardy and can adapt easily to your aquarium including the chromis, damsel, clownfish, and cardinals.

Q. How long do saltwater fish live?

A. Most saltwater fish can live on an average of 5-10 years. This, of course, is with proper care and ensuring they have a healthy environment to live in. Some saltwater fish can live for 20 years or more.

Q. How much does it cost for saltwater fish food?

A. There are many different foods available for saltwater fish. Most commonly used are pellets and flake food from a variety of brands. You can also feed your fish frozen foods like brine and shrimp. A good quality brand of pellets is the NLS New Life Spectrum Marine Formula. This will cost around $10-$15 for a 250g jar.  The Seachem Marine Flakes is another great food and will cost around $10 for a 100g jar.

Thanks for reading!

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