Is It Cheaper To Build Your Own Aquarium?

The thought of constructing an aquarium may appear complicated at first but surely – it’s not. You might’ve stumbled upon this guide after browsing through numerous pages of aquariums for sale. You realize that it’s much more costly than you would’ve imagined. Since you’re on a budget and you’re not looking forward to draining your wallet.

If you’re trying to budget and build your own aquarium, the cost will be twice as low as buying an aquarium kit. After calculating the average cost, the price for building a complete aquarium comes out to $136. After comparing, a similar aquarium kit is twice as much. It’s cheaper to build your aquarium since you’re able to utilize materials that are within your budget range. The only downside is that there will be a lot of planning and labor during the process of your build.

Is It Cheaper To Build Your Own Aquarium?

The expenses of your homemade aquarium will likely depend on the dimension and number of gallons you’re trying to create.

If you’re trying to customize your fish tank because you’re not content with the appearance of the available products online, then it could be considerably expensive.

In the end, it all depends on how you customize it.

The downside is that you’ll have to purchase your filters/heaters and other necessary products to sustain the life in your fish tank.

In this guide, I’m going to present to you a list of necessary tools when constructing an aquarium at home. I’ll assist you in finding the proper materials for your desired dimensions, calculate the cost, and several other factors/tips to perfect your build.

There are also some videos at the end of this article showing you all the steps to make your own DIY fish tank.

Now that we got that out of the way, are you ready to absorb the information and build your very first fish tank?

* This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

Building An Aquarium

Before you start making you own aquarium, visualize and draw out an image of how you want your aquarium to appear.

If you’re on a budget, you can focus on the basic rectangle tank.

If your focus is mainly on appearance and you have a wide imagination on how you want it to look, then it’ll require a little more effort and time.

Once your blueprint/idea is ready, be prepared to start collecting tools and aquarium materials.

Below I compiled a list with some aquarium blueprints and some ideas from Pinterest:

What Are The Necessary Tools When Building An Aquarium?

Please keep in mind that not every tool is mandatory since not everyone has the same aquarium building idea or blueprint.

Below is a list of tools that could ease your aquarium build:

  • Measuring tape for your glass
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors to cut the duct tape
  • Wipe cleaners to clean glasses upon completion
  • Superglue made for glass material
  • A glass cutting tool
  • Erasable marker to mark your glass length
  • Some carpentry tools if you will build also a wood stand.

There could be other tools that will help improve your aquarium build not listed here. You can use whatever works for you!

What Glass Size Should I Get When Building My Aquarium?

Depending on the capacity of your aquarium tank, you might have to use different glass sizes. For example, bigger fish tanks will require thicker versions of glass.

If you’re using thin glass, then it’ll be more fragile. According to, fish tank glasses are split into different categories when it comes to its sizes.

  • 0.2 inches thick + 12 inches high
  • 0.4 inches thick + up to 24 inches high
  • 0.8 inches thick + up to 32 inches high

How Much Does It Cost To Build An Aquarium?

According to, the cost of building a large aquarium can go as high as $6,000 and as low as $200. In the end, the price will depend on the size and how you want to build your tank.

The more you’re trying to add, the pricier it’ll be to get your dream custom-built aquarium.

If you don’t include the tools, the cost of building an aquarium can vary. Let’s estimate the value.

5 pcs Glass$60
Oxygen Pump$16
Water Filter$25
Water Conditioner$8
Aquarium Heater$12


  • Glass: After comparing all the prices, for a slab of glass – the price can range around $10 per piece of slab. Let’s say you’re building a regular small rectangular shape aquarium, you’ll need about 5 pieces of glass. Maybe add an extra one for the top. The cost would come out to approximately ~$60. You can also try to use Starphire glass.
  • Oxygen Pump: The price of oxygen pumps also known as air pumps range between $8 to $30. For a small aquarium, you can grab a small air pump for about $16.
  • Water Filter: The price for water filters ranges between $20 to $100. Since you’re building a small-sized aquarium, you can find a decent one for around $25.
  • Water Conditioner: This product is necessary to keep your water in healthy condition for your future aquarium fish. The average price for a water conditioner comes out to be around $8 per bottle.
  • Lighting: You’re likely going to want lighting for your aquarium if you want it to be aesthetically pleasing. Lighting for your fish tank can cost approximately ~$15 depending on what you get.
  • Aquarium Heater: One of the cheapest aquarium heaters comes out to about ~$12. You can get this if you live in an area with an unbalanced/cold temperature. It’s recommended to get a thermometer to test out the temperature of your aquarium tank.

Overall – excluding the cost of a fish and fish food, the total estimate for building a small aquarium comes out to about ~$136.

After researching and finding aquarium kits with similar products that were mentioned on the list, Fluval Vista Aquarium Kit 16-gallon comes closest to the list at a much higher cost.

Click here to check it out on Amazon(affiliate link). The kit comes with an LED light, filter, water conditioner, and all of the necessary items to sustain life in an aquarium.

If you are ready to build your first aquarium at home check the videos below:


In the end, the cost when building an aquarium all depends on how the owner wants it. By having tools like measuring tape, duct tape, scraper, scissors, etc., it’ll help ease up the process of your build. Building an aquarium isn’t easy but it’ll teach you numerous things.

In the end, I would suggest purchasing an aquarium yourself if you have the budget. If not – building one would be the last choice if you’re not building it for a unique design.

This article is a guest post written by my friend Andy from If you want to, go and check a cool article he wrote about how to make a jarrarium at home.

Thanks for reading!

Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.