How much will it cost to own an aquascape aquarium?

So you have seen some amazing nature aquariums and decided to create one for your own but wondering how much it will cost? Don't worry, we will try to cover as much as we can with some tips to guide you to building your desired tank with smart spending. 

Let’s break down the expenses by taking into consideration all the elements that make a complete aquascape, from the glass aquarium all the way to the technical equipment like aquarium filters, light systems, CO2 setups and lastly the flora and fauna.

1. The Glass Aquarium

The glass aquarium industry has evolved massively from conventional grade glass aquarium with frames to keep the aquarium secure from breaking to rimless, crystal or ultra clear low iron grade glass with minimal silicone seal required by high safety standards to keep it in place. These aquarium gives unobstructed maximum clarity in your nature aquarium.

Aquarium Prices 

Just like all other products, the prices are dependent on the brand of choice. There are also options of DIY that can save you a lot however the experience with ultra clear rimless aquariums is unbeatable. Prices for ultra clear glass aquariums can start from as low as B$40 (for non-branded) for tanks measuring 30x18x24 cm up to bigger tanks like the standard ADA Cube Garden 60-P measuring 60x30x36cm which costs B$230

  • Ultra Clear Rimless Aquarium Tank 60x30x36cm - $90
  • ADA Cube Garden 60-P 60x30x36cm - $230


Size is obviously one of the most important factors in choosing your aquarium, along with the brand.

2. Aquarium Cabinets and Stand

The aquarium cabinets serves two purposes which is it provides a visually appealing furniture for your nature aquarium to sit on and serves as a housing for technical equipment such as filters, CO2 cylinders and etc.

Again with glass aquariums, you can save some money by building your own aquarium cabinet with your own customisation. However, self built aquarium cabinets should be built strong enough to withstand the total weight of the aquarium (filled with water and hardscape materials).

Wood cabinets may have a starting price of B$90 for a 30x30x30cm aquarium and aluminum or steel frame stand can start from as low as $80 for a 60x30x36cm. Some may choose to use domestic boltless racks as a more economical stand to house the aquarium however it lacks the aesthetic looks. 


Wood Cabinet

Aluminium Frame Stand

Boltless Rack

3. Aquarium Filters

Aquarium filters is an essential component in the aquarium hobby. Without an aquarium filter, you can't possibly maintain an optimum aquarium life inside your planted tank. Choosing the right filter capacity is vital and the bigger the water turn over the better.

In terms of water turn over, a nature aquarium will require a flow rate of at least 10x the volume of the planted tank. So for example, the aquarium has a volume of 60 litres, a canister filter with a minimum flow rate of 600L/h is recommended. Do bear in mind as well, as the filter clogs up, flow rate is reduced over time. Hence always opt for bigger capacity than is required.

A high flow rate filter has the advantages of bigger canister capacity meaning more filter materials resulting in a more stable biological equilibrium in the planted aquarium.

  • SUNSUN XWA600-3 - $95
  • 5L Stainless Steel Canister Filter - $275

SUNSUN XWA canister filter


Stainless steel canister filter similar to ADA Super Jet Filter

Filter accessories such as glass lily pipes or Neo Flow Premium Ver.2 are worth considering as an upgrade as they create ideal water flow for optimal growth of aquatic plants while maintaining the aesthetic look of the nature aquarium.

  • VIV Glass Lily Pipes (Inlet and Outlet) - $60
  • Neo Flow Premium Ver.2 M - $68

Quick tip: It may be worth investing a little bit more for a bigger filter to avoid the need to upgrade later on. 

4. Aquascaping light units

If you have not already noticed, there are tons of aquarium lights available in the market with different specifications. Majority of the lighting system for aquariums are now using energy efficient LEDs with long service life and unlikely to lose its spectrum over time when compared to incandescent bulbs. Technology advancement has also made aquarium lights controllable through smartphones with built in timer and user specific profiles.

LED aquarium lights can range from B$30 to $1,400 for entry level lights to high-end level lights respectively. Prices are heavily influenced by the brand. Entry level lights are good for low tech planted tanks whereby the choices of aquatic plants have low lighting requirements. On the other hand, high-end level lights often packs a lot more power suitable for taller tanks and supports optimum growth for all types of aquatic plants

Quick tip: Plan ahead for your aquascape especially in terms of the types of plants that you choose as some may have higher lighting requirements. 

  • Frok T1 RGB 60cm - $205
  • Week Aqua P600 - $325
  • Chihiros WRGBII 60 - $275


Week Aqua P Series

Frok P1 Nano light

Chihiros WRGB II Series

5. Aquarium Substrate

When it comes to aquascaping, the most important substrate required is aqua soil, a nutrient rich substrate. Aqua soil has two main functions; it provides support for aquatic plants root system and it creates a nutritional base within the aquascape to constantly feed the aquatic plants. There are plenty of options in the market offering different possibilities but among them we highly recommend the following

ADA Amazonia

Neo Soil

6. Plant fertlisers

Plant fertilisers can come as root tablets or liquid fertiliser. They both provide additional nutrients to promote overall plant growth and health. Root tabs are essentially beneficial to root feeders such as cryptocoryne, sword plants, bulb plants, carpeting plants and plants that produce runners. They are designed to release nutrients gradually over a period of time.

Liquid fertilisers are added in the water on a daily or weekly basis, supplementing macro and micro elements which help in promoting good plant health.

Prices range from B$8 to as much as B$32 for ADA liquid fertilisers

Neo Solution Series

ADA Green Brighty Neutral K

7. Hardscapes

Hardscapes both rocks and driftwood are the backbone of every aquascape and investing a little more may be while worth it. Having the extra choice of hardscapes enables you to have a better edge in designing your aquascape.

Prices of hardscapes vary depending on choice of rocks and driftwood and some examples are

  • Seiryu Stone - $5 per KG
  • Ohko Dragon Stone - $5 per KG
  • Hakkai Stone - $10 per KG

Seiryu Stone

Ohko Dragon Stone

Hakkai Stone

8. CO2 System and Accessories

A topic that most would question if CO2 system should be used. CO2 is in fact one of the most important nutrients plants need in order to grow. Carbon is one of the fundamental element that stands at the base of all life on Earth, underwater world included. Lush and healthy plant growth is accomplished by providing your aquarium plants with extra CO2. 

CO2 plays a central role in planted aquariums, as plants use CO2 from the environment and use it during photosynthesis. Therefore plant growth rate is directly affected by immediate CO2 availability.

A basic CO2 system used in aquascaping is usually comprised of 

  • CO2 cylinder - full of carbon dioxide in liquid form, packed under high pressure
  • Pressure regulator - controls output of CO2
  • Needle valve - regulate CO2 flow precisely, usually supplied with CO2 regulators
  • Bubble counter - gives a visual indication of how much CO2 is going into the water
  • CO2 diffuser - breaks down CO2 into fine bubbles for more efficient distribution
  • Solenoid valve - used with timer to automate on and off

 Prices for basic CO2 complete set

  • 2L Basic Set - $188
  • 4L Basic Set - $220
  • Neo CO2 (DIY system) - $32 

Basic CO2 Kit

Neo CO2 Kit

Aquarium Plants and Freshwater Fish

There are over 150 known aquatic plants and around 50 tropical fish suitable for aquascaping for you to choose from

With the abundance of aquarium flora and fauna, there are plenty of choices to make. It is vital to choose the right plants for your level of aquatic expertise and the fish do not possess destructive behaviours, like unrooting your plants, nibbling the plants and disturbing the overall aquascape.

Fish can be bought for as little as $1 each and prices for aquatic plants can start from $3 to well over $50 for more unique species. For entry level, it is best to choose easy growing plants to build knowledge and experience before adding more complex plants.

Final Cost

Based on the examples using the most basic components to start your aquascaping journey with an unbranded aquarium, basic metal stand, medium level lighting, a suitable external canister filter, basic pressurised CO2 system, Aquasoil, liquid fertiliser, aquatic plants and fish and some rocks for a 60L aquarium (60x30x36cm) 

Total cost: B$830

Please note that this is just an example of how much building an ideal high tech aquascape aquarium would cost. The price you'll pay in the end could be very different depending on the equipment you choose and your budget allocation. 


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