Whether you keeping seahorses as a pet, breeding them, or just following through with a hobby it’s always wise to get an idea of the startup and maintenance costs to ensure you aren’t caught off guard.
A good beginner saltwater aquarium setup specifically for a pair of seahorses of at least 30 gallons can be around $500-$1000, while most high-end bigger tanks would cost around $1000-$3000. The maintenance costs are fairly cheap as you should be spending around $20 – $100 per month depending on the number of seahorses and the tank size.
Let’s take a closer look at all the costs you will need to cover in a more detailed approach.
1. Setup Costs For A Saltwater Aquarium For Seahorses.
Before we dive into the initial costs of setting up, you should be advised that these cost calculations are estimates derived from current prices.
Setup costs will differ depending on the type of setup, type of operation, size, and whether it’s a beginner tank or a more advanced tank.
Another factor influencing the initial setup prices is whether the tank is secondhand or brand new.
Ultimately there are many factors influencing setup costs so I thought it would be useful to point out the various options with the prices you are expected to pay.
|ITEMS||30 GALLON |
|72 GALLON |
|132 GALLON |
|First Salt Fill||$25||$48||$48|
|Pair of Seahorses||$200||$200||$200|
The above prices are for brand-new tanks and equipment, operating with new technology systems that are convenient and beginner friendly.
If it’s your first time running a saltwater aquarium it’s advised that you start with the minimum size tank, the 30-gallon. This leaves room for error and it’s also forgiving when you are still getting into routine.
Prices on tanks vary due to the size of the tank, what it comes with as well as the style of the tank. Appropriate tanks for seahorses aren’t normal ones since seahorses require tanks with much space and more vertical room than horizontal ones.
While you may find a good tank for around $200-$300 most well-equipped tanks of at least 30 gallons for a pair of seahorses will cost you around $600.
The bigger sophisticated tanks will vary around $2k-$5k depending on the size and style.
The cost for filters especially on a saltwater aquarium varies heavily on the type of filtration you choose to go with.
The most common filters required for a seahorse tank are a protein skimmer, activated charcoal, GFO, bio pellets, filter floss as well as several other filters.
Depending on your choice of filters the price will vary significantly since some filters may require monthly maintenance while others may only need a rinse.
Seahorses require a specific water temperature to thrive in, they need water around 72-76F depending on type and species.
Therefore you would need to constantly regulate the temperature for optimal surroundings. The use of a heater or cooler is required.
Substrate and Rock.
A substrate is required if you choose a sand bottom or a bare bottom. Substrate has many benefits but it also requires consistent maintenance to prevent build-up.
Rocks and fake corals and plants are just some of the ways in which you can add features for your seahorse to rest. They require this since they wrap their tails around to hold them firmly.
Sand and rock can cost anything from $100-$500 depending on size and appearance.
It’s common for beginners to start with a pair of seahorses which can cost from $100 each since they are captive-bred and not wild.
Other cheaper species of seahorses are the dwarf seahorses which are cheaper but they come with their own maintenance requirements.
Depending on the location of the breeder, you will also require to pay a delivery cost of around $50 additionally.
Other essentials you will require include
- Refractometer – designed specifically to measure the absolute salinity of seawater
- Cooler/heater – to regulate the water temperature.
- Water Test Kits – to monitor water quality.
- Thermometer – make sure your cooling and heating system is working.
- Feeding tube – To prevent overfeeding.
- Substrate siphon – to clean the substrate preventing buildup
These are additional costs that you will need to cover when keeping a seahorse.
2. Monthly Maintenance Costs For A Seahorse Aquarium.
The costs of running a seahorse saltwater aquarium can be broken down into 3 categories, namely; consumables, equipment, and electricity.
- Consumables refer to the things that you need to constantly buy on a monthly basis.
- Equipment refers to the replacement, maintenance, or fixing of the system.
- Electricity refers to the continuous costs of running all necessary pumps 24/7.
Below is an estimate of the total maintenance costs required on a monthly basis to sustain a saltwater aquarium for seahorses.
|PRODUCTS||30 GALLON |
|72 GALLON |
|132 GALLON |
A pair of seahorses require about 1 cube of mysis shrimp per serving. Since seahorses require at least 2 feedings per day. Therefore they require 2 cubes per day.
The average cost of a 3,5 oz mysis shrimp is about $5,82 for 30 cubes. Therefore the monthly feeding requirements are about 60 cubes, 2 packs per month.
Total cost should be $5,82 x 2 which is around $11,64 on average to feed a pair of seahorses per month. Of course, if you breed them they will require a third meal to fulfill their nutrient needs.
Salt is required for the initial fill and also for the weekly water changes which should be about 10-20% of the total water quantity.
Aquariums require special salt, like the instant ocean reef salt crystals which costs $78,91 for a 200g. I advise you to buy salt in huge quantities since they get used up pretty quickly.
Since a 200g salt box equates to 3200 cups and for diluting purposes, you need 1/2 cup salt per gallon of water.
$78,91 / 3200 is $0,025 per cup.
1. A 30-gallon tank will require 15 cups of salt for the initial fill, which is $0,375. Weekly 20% water change, which is 6 gallons therefore 3 cups $0,025 and $0,1 for 4 weekly changes per month. Total is $0,475.
2. A 72-gallon tank will require 36 cups of salt for the initial fill, which is $0,9. Weekly 20% water change, which is 14,4 gallons therefore 7,2 cups $0,18 and $0,72 for 4 weekly changes per month. Total is $1,62
3. A 132-gallon tank will require 66 cups of salt for the initial fill, which is $1,65. Weekly 20% water change, which is 26,4 gallons therefore 13,2 cups $0,33, and $1,32 for 4 weekly changes per month. Total is $2,97
In the US the cost of water is around $0.00295 per gallon (or roughly 3 cents for every 10 gallons)
1. A 30-gallon tank will cost around $0,0885 for the initial fill and for a 20% weekly water change which will require 6 gallons to be changed which will cost $0,0177 per week and $0,0708 per month. Total is $0,1593.
2. A 72-gallon tank will cost around $0,2124 for the initial fill and for a 20% weekly water change which will require 14,4 gallons to be changed which will cost $0,04248 per week and $0,16992 per month. Total is $0,38232.
3. A 132-gallon tank will cost around $0,3894 for the initial fill and for a 20% weekly water change which will require 26,4 gallons to be changed which will cost $0,07788 per week and $0,31152 per month. Total is $0,70092.
The multi-purpose test kits for saltwater aquariums come in packs of 100 strips for around $14. After the first cycle, you are only required to test a seahorse aquarium water at least once a week.
Therefore a 100-strip pack could last you more than a year. Costing you around $1,17 per month. Other testing will require additional costs.
Protein skimmers are the most common filter required for seahorses due to their messy eating habits. While protein skimmers don’t require monthly maintenance costs they must be rinsed occasionally.
Additional filters such as activated carbon, Granular Ferric Oxide, socks, and bio pellets. Most seahorse keepers use purigen.
Purigen costs around $9,91 for a 100ml bottle. A 1ml is required per gallon which can last up to 6 months.
1. A 30-gallon tank will require 30ml of Purigen which will last for 6 months. Therefore $0.07 per gallon per month. Costing you around $0,35 per month.
2. A 72-gallon tank will require 72ml of purigen which will last 6 months. Therefore costs you around $0,84 per month.
3. A 132-gallon tank will require 132 ml of purigen which will last for 6 months. Therefore costing you around $1,54 per month.
Electricity costs depend on several factors when running a saltwater aquarium. Such factors include
1. Electricity cost per kWh- depending on the state you live the cost varies but the average is 15.96 cents per kilowatt-hour.
2. Wattage depends on the pump, powerhead, or any mechanical filter.
3. Quantity of powerheads and mechanics used for the overall maintenance of the tank.
4. Run time since some pumps run 24/7 while some powerheads will only run for about 12 hours per day.
5. Size of the tank and power of the equipment.
Overall monthly costs would be around $3-$5 depending on the size of the tank.
Like with everything, there is a cost that is required. Keeping seahorses is a hobby for many but it’s also important to have an idea of the financial requirements before you decide to start.
Keeping seahorses is not expensive to maintain but the initial costs are quite substantial. I’ve found that buying in bulk as well as catching sales saves you a lot.
Overall I would say if you love this hobby and can financially afford to maintain them by all means you should go ahead.