Is It Cheaper To Build Your Own Aquarium?

Building an aquarium of your own and from scratch seems a bit complicated, but, it is not.  You might have already gone internet surfing to find out how much building your own home aquarium could cost you.  

What were you able to discover?  Is it cost-efficient or not?  Is it cheaper to build your aquarium, or is it much better to purchase an aquarium kit?

If you decide to custom build your home aquarium the expenses that you’ll incur will depend on the proportions as well as on the water capacity of the fish tank you’re going to build.  

Logically, it means that the bigger the tank, the bigger the expenses will be. Moreover, the more you customize the appearance of your DIY aquarium, the more money you’ll be needing to obtain it. 

You see, the cost is dependent on the outcome that you would like to achieve. Therefore, if you are on a tight budget, go for a small and straightforward custom tank. 

However, even if you go for a low-cost aquarium, remember that you still need to purchase heaters, filters, and other accessories to support the fish. 

Steps in Building An Aquarium

1. Have a visual of your aquarium tank

Before you begin building your aquarium, sketch out a plan.  Picture how you’d like your aquarium to look.  

If your budget is low, opt for the standard rectangle fish tank or a small fish tank. But if you’d like to create an excellent aquarium, you must be willing to invest more time, effort, and money.  

Once you have a good plan you are happy with, start gathering the needed materials for your DIY tank.  

2. Choose the size of your aquarium

There are several factors to consider when building a DIY aquarium, and the size of your home is one.  If your space is limited, it’s just right that you get a smaller tank, regardless if you have a freshwater tank, saltwater aquarium, or acrylic aquarium.  

Expect that you’ll have lesser expenses when you have a smaller tank since the purchase price and maintenance cost is low.  Well, if you have a small fish tank, you likewise need to pick freshwater fish that will complement it, such as neon tetras, guppies, or mollies.

Conversely, if it’s your dream to own an expansive reef aquarium, then make sure you have ample space in your home where you can set it up.  

It is also vital to take into consideration the fishes that you’ll place inside the glass aquarium.  Do you want tropical fish, saltwater fish, or rare fish? Whatever you choose, find out what fishes can cohabitate with it.

3. Determine the type of glass you need for your aquarium

Another important, or rather the most important, element that will complete an aquarium’s structure is the glass you’ll be using.  Picking a suitable glass is essential if you want a heavy-duty fish tank. A 25-gallon fish tank, by the way, is a good size aquarium to start.  

You can either choose to have an acrylic aquarium or plexiglass, and they are outrightly available in hardware stores. What’s nice about acrylic and plexiglass is that they are low-maintenance, flexible, and can support 25-gallon water or less.  

In addition, they are both lightweight as compared to a glass tank, which you can easily display above a nimble aquarium stand or an ordinary table.  Plexiglass and an acrylic tank likewise have high impact resistance.  

However, acrylic aquariums’ lucidity gradually fades with time, primarily because of its material component. When acrylic aquariums are exposed to UV light, either from the sun or from aquarium lights, they start to break down. The material will turn yellow, become brittle, and can crack or fail as a result. Increasing UV lights or placing your tank near a window will speed up this process.

If you want a large tank, the plexiglass is not recommended as certain chemicals may stain it.  Better choose a glass aquarium where its clarity will hold for as long as it’s standing.  

4. Determine the exact proportions and tools

Once you’ve chosen material for your aquarium tank, you now need to prepare for the fabrication of your DIY tank.  Cut the glass according to the size that you prefer.  You can either cut the glass all by yourself or get a professional glass cutter to do it.

Having the right measurements or proportions of the base and the side support glasses will prevent your aquarium from leaking.  See to it that the side support walls will stand on the base rather than affixed on its sides.  

TIP:  This is a crucial step in building an aquarium.  So, if you’re not a glass cutting expert, just leave it to the hands of a professional.  Not only will you be able to get the right proportions, but you’ll also probably save on cost since you’ll not be committing any mistakes.   

5. Assemble your fish tank

Now, you’re ready to assemble your fish tank!  

Begin joining the glass panels using silicone.  Make sure to leave no gaps or there are no bubbles when applying the silicone.  

You have to move fast when working with silicone because it dries really quickly, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.  If you allow time to lapse, you will no longer achieve an indestructible bond.

After binding all the panels, secure them in place using duct tape until the silicone has completely cured.  

What’s the Cost in Building an Aquarium?

The cost of assembling a large fish tank or an aquarium ranges from $200 to $6,000.  The price greatly depends on the size, materials, and accessories that you’ll incorporate into your fish tank.

Here’s an estimated cost of building an aquarium:  

Glass (5 pieces)$60
Oxygen Pump$16
TOTAL $136
Estimated material cost to build an aquarium 
  1. Glass: the price of glass slabs is usually priced at $10 per slab.  You need 5 glass panels, but you may add 1 more that will be used as cover for the top of the aquarium.  
  2. Oxygen pump: The price of an oxygen pump ranges from $16 to $30.  The size of the pump depends on the size of your fish tank.  
  3. Filter: you can buy a water filter at a price of $25 to $100.  The larger your aquarium, the bigger the size of your filter.  
  4. Conditioner: it is important that you have a conditioner for your fish tank water to keep it healthy for the fishes.  The average price of 1 bottle of conditioner is usually at $8.  
  5. Light: If you want to have an eye-catching aquarium, you might want to light it up, which will cost you about $15. 
  6. Heater: The cheapest heater that you can possibly buy is $12.  Heater is necessary if you live in a cold place.  

All in all, building an aquarium, not including the fishes, fish food, aquatic plants, and other fish tank accessories, will cost you about $136.  


Is it cheaper to build your own aquarium?  Yes, it is!  If you are very particular on your budget, building your own aquarium will save you money.  

Nowadays, you can easily purchase an aquarium kit, which already includes all basic aquarium tools, but you really need to have a lofty budget.  

Fortunately, because of the ingenuity of a lot of people, you can now own an aquarium at a lower cost, though you just need to invest more of your time and effort.  

I hope this article has helped you decide whether to buy an aquarium kit or to just simply do it on your own.