Lighting an Aquarium

The biggest consumption is used for the lighting system which accounts for approximately 45% of the total bill. Usually, the heater comes in second at about 35% of the total cost. Filters commonly run at about 12% while air pumps, etc. account for the remaining 8%. This is based on the average aquarium setup.

Lighting is the only component in the aquarium that doesn’t run on a 24-hour shift. Furthermore, the lighting expenses can easily be controlled by the lighting time as well as the equipment we use.

The common fluorescent light bulb (15 – 40 Watts) that is provided with most hoods fish in aquariumdoesn’t significantly add much cost. Planted tanks with higher lighting requirements that use power compacts (30- 100 Watts) or VHO fluorescent bulbs (75 and 160 Watts) and/or a combination thereof obviously will lead to higher power consumption. A reef tank may even run on metal halides which run from 150 – 1000 Watts – and that will quickly add to the bill.

Heating an Aquarium

Heating an aquarium can also be expensive. The larger the tank the more heat is required. Further, a tropical fish environment usually requires a higher water temperature making it more expensive to heat compared to non-tropical fish tanks. For example, a 30 Gallon tank heated at 72 F (22 C) will consume approx. 110 kWh per year. The same tank heated at 82 F (28 C) will consume about 440 kWh per year. That is 4 times as much!

Water pumps, air pumps, and filters

Water pumps start at 3 Watts and easily go up to 400 Watts depending on the gallon per hour (gph) rate.Some ball park rates are 10 Watts for 200 gph and 30 Watts for 300 gph. 150 Watts can be consumed by 600 gph and up.

Powerheads, air pumps and filters are low in consumption starting at only 3 Watts and generally not exceeding 25 – 50 Watts for the heavy-duty models. UV filters run between 8 to 130 Watts and up.

Generally spoken, a fish only aquarium runs on a rather low cost. Cost increases as tank size gets bigger, plants or coral are added, or you have a saltwater tank or reef tank.

How to reduce aquarium energy consumption and cost

Many aquarium enthusiasts may want to use higher wattage bulbs than necessary for their aquarium. For instance, take a look at the type of plants in your aquarium. Are they low light plants? moderate light plants? high light plants? Some plants require very low lighting. In a 10 gallon tank, low light plants can slide by with a 5 watt light, while higher light plants require around 30 watts to stay healthy. This trick alone can save many dollars per year by switching to a much lower wattage light on your aquarium.

Many fish preferences have a range, for example, between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. To save money, simply adjust your heater to the low end of the spectrum. This means your heater will run much less because it is not constantly trying to hold a higher temperature. If your house is hot, maybe turn your air conditioner to 80 degrees so that the heater almost never has to run because the tank is already the correct temperature. This way your air conditioner should cost less too.

Your filters, pumps, and powerheads can be adjusted to a lower GPH to save electricity. Slower running takes less electricity. This is, of course, only an option if your tank does not need high flow. Tanks with picky corals may need a lot of flow. Freshwater tanks or low flow corals such as mushroom corals are just fine with low flow rates.

Choose LED lights if you wish to save money on your electric bill. LEDs oftentimes provide the same lighting power, with less wattage compared to fluorescent or metal hallide lighting. There are also specific light choices designed to be economical. There are also economical heaters, or heaters that are more reliable and great at sensing temperatures so they do not turn on at random times when they do not need to. Choose energy-efficient products to put into your tank, and your electric bill will be less costly.

How to Calculate Your Aquarium’s Energy Consumption

To calculate the energy consumption of your aquarium, you will need to know the watts per equipment and the overall running time. The running time of the heater can either be observed in measuring the actual running time or by estimating. 15 minutes out of every hour (6 hours total per day) for lower temperatures or 30 minutes out of the hour (12 hours total) for higher temperatures. This will of course vary greatly, depending on your room temperature.

Watts multiplied by hours will give you the daily wattage per equipment. (1000 Watts equal 1 kWh. The kWh x $0.12 will be used in our calculations. In summer it will be a penny higher at the kWh x $0.13.

The Formula

(Watts x hours) divided by 1000 x kWh cost ($0.12) x 30 = monthly electrical cost of the aquarium

The exact usage of electricity for each piece of equipment can only be determined by actual readings using an amp meter, which measures the actual energy used and not the energy based on the maximum output. The formula will provide an approximate cost only. More detailed cost information is available by contacting the Co-op at 1.800.494.6272.