How to buy aquarium equipment without breaking the bank.
What do you want?
When people think about buying and setting up an aquarium they always think about how expensive it is going to be. It doesn't always have to be that way. There are ways of saving a lot of money when it comes to buying equipment. I've had quite a few reef aquariums and not one of them did I ever feel like I was spending a lot of money.
Pet Store Prices
When people make the decision that they want to put up and aquarium in there house, usually the first thing they do is go to the pet store to see what they want. That is one of the biggest mistakes everyone makes. Pet store prices are always going to be ridiculously high. Sure they have a nice variety of things to choose from and they are all brand new so you don't really have to worry about doing too much cleaning but we are talking hundreds of extra dollars spent when buying from a pet store. What a pet store does is makes the tank setup look really nice and will probably throw in a few things for free if you buy the set so you think you are getting a good deal. In reality you are getting ripped off and there are much better and cheaper ways for buying an aquarium and equipment. The one thing I like about pet stores is I can go there to see what things I want to buy from somewhere else.
Used Equipment Works
There are plenty of websites out there today that you can post things you are trying to sell or buy. These sites are definitely my biggest tool when trying to buy aquariums. A lot of times people buy an aquarium set it up for a month and then decide they rather sell it and get some money back. The only place they can really go to do this are those sites like craigslist or others like it. Something people don't realize though is once you take the tank home from the pet store or where ever the tanks value goes way down kind of like buying a car. A tank that you spend $500 on in a pet store will, a lot of times only re sell for about $150. Because of this it makes buying a tank for someone going the used route a heck of a lot cheaper. Also you can make a used tank look brand new with a little maintenance. I personally never buy used equipment unless I am buying a really quality item where the item is worth more to me than the cost.
Another good thing to check out before starting up an aquarium is forums. In almost every state there are aquarium keeping forums which are awesome places to talk with people who have a lot of experience in the hobby already. These are also very good places to find good quality used equipment. Each of these forums usually have a "for sale" or a "want to buy" section. This is a good place to buy things because you will usually get advice on the item or aquarium itself.
Last thing I'm going to talk about is group buys and what they are for. Everyone knows when buying things online you usually get the best prices but what makes it more expensive to buy things online is the shipping and handling. Well this can be easily avoided with a group or large order. Most aquarium supply sites offer free shipping on orders over a certain price. This is awesome but what if you only need an item that is $50 but the minimum order to receive free shipping is $250. What you would need to do is either buy more stuff or try in find other people who need equipment also and do a group buy. This will allow you to still only have to buy that one item or whatever it is you are getting but still receive the free shipping. Most of the forums I talked about in the last paragraph host group buys from time to time or will allow you to host them yourself. I have done numerous amounts of group buys on everything from equipment to live fish and critters and not only is it cheaper but it is usually a good time setting it up and talking with the other hobbyists.
Join A Club!!
Local fish clubs are great ways to find people with the same interest and are more likely to help you out with equipment they have but don't use. It is also a great place to find good deals at pet stores. I am currently in a saltwater reefing club and It costed me $20.00 to join for the year but I get a 20-40% discounts at a few local fish stores. My membership saved me money the first day.
What you should get out of this.
In the end what I want you to take from this is the fact that you don't have to spend the crazy pet store prices in order to enjoy an aquarium of your own. There are a lot of ways to cut the costs and allow you to have an aquarium for a very reasonable price. Don't look down upon using the used stuff in the aquarium world because in my opinion if you have to buy something brand new from a pet store then you just gave up and said the heck with it without looking into it somewhere else. Plus shopping around and bargaining with people is part of the fun.
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