where to buy your first pet fish

Average Cost Of Pet Fish: 50 Examples With Prices

If you are considering getting a home aquarium, you are probably wondering what the average cost of pet fish is. In this article we cover all the basic costs of breeds as well as considerations such as their diet and environment, to help you get started.

What Is The Average Cost Of A Pet Fish?

What is the average cost of a pet fish? The average cost of a pet fish can vary depending on the type, size and rarity of the species. The average cost of a freshwater tropical fish is and the average cost of a saltwater/marine fish is . There’s a big difference between the cost of juvenile fish and adults.

Asking the question: What’s the average cost of a pet fish is kind of a broad question. You might as well ask, how long is a piece of string?

If you are considering getting a pet fish, it is reasonable to plan how much you need to spend to get everything set up. The cost of different fish will vary, for a number of reasons including how rare they are.

The cost of the fish itself will vary, and every fish has its own needs, including a specific tank and certain requirements in terms of rocks, plants and food. So, the greater cost of each fish will vary again based on all of the other things you will need to get as well.

It is important that you thoroughly research each breed of fish you are intending to get for your aquarium, especially as you go from hardier community fish to the more specialist and high-end breeds.

Specialist fish breeds will have very specific needs in terms of substrate, plants, coral and décor and especially diet – you cannot just go with a ‘one size fits all’ kind of approach.

Once you are set up with an aquarium, you will probably buy fish that slot in well with the tank and community that you already have, so won’t need to worry about all of the costs every time.

But because the price of fish can vary so much, and because there are so many fish vendors both on and offline, it helps to know if the particular price you are being charged sounds right.

A good quality fish supplier, such as Live Aquaria, will have a guarantee that you’ll receive a live and healthy fish on arrival, as well as for 14 days afterward. The more specialist your fish breeds, the more essential it is that you buy from a reputable supplier.

Here is a list of the average cost of fish that you will find to be the most common and popular with aquarium enthusiasts.

Freshwater Community Fish

Cost Considerations

The cost of these hardy little guys is at the lower end, which is why they are best for children or as gifts. Read our article on the best aquariums for children which goes into detail on sizes and costs.

These aquariums can be smaller and also don’t always need a heating system so your set up costs are quite low. You should always buy a suitably sized aquarium filter and adequate lighting.

Your ongoing costs will also be quite low. You can use regular faucet water to refill the tank but you will need an ongoing supply of water testing kits and chemicals to create the perfect fish environmental balance. You will also need dried flakes or pellets as food, but these are also very economical and readily available. If you’re unsure what to feed your fish you can always read our Beginners Guide Of Aquarium Foods and the differences between all the varieties sold in your local pet store.

image of guppy
Guppies are an ideal beginners fish and inexpensive

Tank size is important for a fish community, as many of these breeds like to have friends in the tank with them, but they flourish as well with their own personal space. If you are going to get a community of fish don’t squeeze them all into a tiny tank – they might not die but they won’t be happy.

Little fish like neon tetras and guppies won’t need as much space as they stay small and don’t mind being close to friends. Goldfish need a little more space and can actually become quite large and lovely if given the space to thrive. You are probably looking at a tank size of at least 30-40 liters.

Prices of Fish

NamePrice JuvenilePrice Adult
Common Goldfish$1$30
Guppy$1.49$4
Neon Tetra$1$2
Mollies$1.29$4
Corydoras Catfish$2$25
Cardinal Tetras$2$3
Glofish$4$10
Swordtails$2.50$5
Danios$1$5

Specialist Freshwater Fish

Cost Considerations

These fish are a little more specialized than the community fish above and will need a little more specified care. They will also cost more in terms of set-up, fish price and ongoing costs such as food.

You can still get a reasonably small tank for these types of fish but will need a heater for many of them. If you get just one or two fish you might be okay with a 40-liter tank, but once you get to 2-3 in the community you will need at least a 100-liter tank to house them happily.

These fish work less well in a tight community or school, so will need more of their own space. They will also need to be housed with fish of similar size and aggression levels, because they can attack and even eat smaller fish.

Make sure that you look into the temperament of each fish and only house them with compatible friends, as well as giving them lots of their own room.

They will also benefit from more décor in the fish tank such as places to hide, and some will love living plants in their tank for oxygen as well as food (so this is an additional ongoing cost).

discus fish
Discus fish are mid-level care fish which need perfect water conditions

Read our in-depth article on oxygen levels in your aquarium and how to read the signs that all isn’t well in your aquarium.

The food will also cost a little more and be harder to source – betta fish, for example, are carnivores which hunt in the wild, so they like frozen shrimp or even live worms or insects, and won’t be happy with just flakes or pellets.

A good fish food for these types of fish is Tetramin Color Tropical fish flakes as it offers a balanced diet for many of these types of fish and brings out their natural colors. It is also inexpensive if you purchase it online from stores like Amazon; click the image for the latest prices.

Prices of Fish

NamesPrice JuvenilePrice Adult
Betta$3$35
Fantails$5$30
Angelfish$3.99$40
Gouramis$3$20
Cichlids$5$100
Killifish$8$60
Discus$40$300
Butterfly fish$12$25
Loach$4$60

High-End Freshwater Fish

Cost Considerations

These fish will need a bigger tank and again a more specialized diet. You can’t really get away with goldfish flakes for these fish. You will need frozen or fresh meat such as squid or shrimp and a bigger variety of foods to ensure they have a balanced diet.

These guys will need around 600 liters in their tank to be happy, and some also like a wide tank as well as one that is long and deep.

sliver arowana
These fish need specialist care and huge aquariums to thrive

Their water conditions will need to be more regularly tested and balanced, because the range of temperature and pH levels are more balanced in the wild. They are happier with fewer fluctuations in their lives.

Best Prices On Amazon Here

Larger filtration systems will be needed to ensure clean water is provided at all times. Read our complete guide on filters for larger aquariums. In this review, we explain which filters are best and what size you’ll need. External canister filters are recommended for any aquarium above 30 gallons. We love and use the Fluval 406 on many of our aquariums. They are very reliable and easy to set up and maintain.

You will need to test the water, clean the tank and add chemicals for balance more often than with the lower-end breeds, so these ongoing costs are higher.

Fish like the stingray also likes a soft substrate, so you can’t get away with gravel from the $2 shop – buy good quality soft live sand.

Prices of Fish

NamePrice JuvenilePrice Adult
Arrowana$80$400,000
Freshwater Stingrays$200$2000
Puffer Fish$6$200
Archer Fish$25$40
Scats$20$50
Large Catfish$40$300
Bichir$49.99$200
Koi$10$500,000
Pipefish$10$60

Saltwater Community Fish

Cost Considerations

These fish are generally hardy, as well as quite placid and peaceful, so can be great for beginners to saltwater fish, and even beginners to aquariums altogether.

Start with a reasonably sized tank, at least 80-100 liters or more. You will need a filter, heater, lighting, sand as substrate and also living rock or coral in the tank. In addition, you will need an ongoing supply of saltwater mix (we use Instant Ocean), as well as a water testing kit and the chemicals needed to balance the water properly.

These fish thrive in communities and schools so you can pop a whole bunch of them in the tank together usually and they will create a lovely interactive rainbow dance for you every day.

picasso clownfish
Clownfish are a great beginners saltwater fish

Look for fish that are listed as ‘reef safe’ or ‘reef compatible’. This means they can be added happily to a reef community and won’t go around eating your smaller fish.

These fish generally have low needs in terms of food and will eat most things without a fuss. You can often get away with good quality pellets for these fish.

Prices of Fish

NamesPrices JuvenilePrices Adult
Clownfish$10$120
Yellowtail Damsels$5$15
Blenny$15$40
Green Chromis$15$40
Cardinal Fish$15$40
Jawfish$20$120
Wrasse$20$120
Rabbit Fish$30$100
Dwarf Angelfish$40$90

Specialist Saltwater Fish

Cost Considerations

As we move into the specialist territory of saltwater fish, the costs will start to rise. The price of the tank set-up and ongoing maintenance of the environment won’t be significantly higher than for community saltwater fish, but these specialist fish breeds and their food will cost more.

These fish are rarer, as well as a bit more temperamental and delicate. They need a very well-balanced aquarium as well as plenty of space of their own. You should have a tank that is at least 150 liters to start with, and as a general idea try to give each fish around 30-40 liters of its own space.

Some of these fish breeds will not be reef safe, so make sure that you research each individual breed before combining them.

Fish that are listed as not reef safe don’t necessarily have to be housed completely alone – but they do need to be housed with fish of similar size and aggression levels so they can hold their own. You also need to give fish that are not reef friendly their own personal space, so they don’t get all up in each other’s faces and try to throw down.

Once you start paying a considerable amount for each fish, you really become quite invested in giving them the best care and attention, as well as the most well-rounded environment.

You will likely need a quarantine tank by now to house sick fish or to acclimatize new additions before adding them to the community.

You might find that if you delve into specialist saltwater fish breeds, you start to spend more regularly because you like it. Creating a gorgeous space where your fishy friends can thrive can become a fun, if expensive pastime.

Antennata Lionfish
Lionfish need specialist feeding requirements to thrive

Most of these fish are carnivores with fussier dietary needs, as well as good appetites. They will need live or frozen shrimp and worms and should be fed smaller amounts several times a day.

Prices of Fish

NamePrice JuvenilePrice Adult
Lionfish$49.99$200
Basslets$20$80
Yellow Tang$40$90
Blue Tang$49$150
Banded Pipefish$30$90
Leaf Fish$40$100
Tassel Fishfish$60$120
Snowflake Eel$50$200
Dragonet Mandarins$40$70

High-End Saltwater Fish

Cost Considerations

Now we are getting into the Kardashian end of the aquarium scale.

These fish are larger and will need more individual space to grow happily and also be alone as needed. Similar to the Kardashians again these fish are dramatic and beautiful to look at, but take a lot of care and attention, demanding a higher quality of living.

Squeezing too many in together will cause them to be more aggressive towards each other. Unhappy fish are less vibrant, attractive and active, so once you are spending these amounts on the fish themselves, you’ll want to spend more to create the perfect environment for them as well.

21 ways to make your fish happy image
Read our article: 21 Ways To Make Your Fish Happy

Most of these breeds are not reef-friendly, so don’t house with them with your smaller friendly community fish because this is what they call lunch.

Your tank at this level will be at least 400-500 liters and depending on the specific fish breeds you choose can even be over 1200 liters. You will also need a special stand for this kind of tank, as you can’t really just shove them on a table somewhere.

The diets will become more specialized, and you will probably need to buy a different type of food for each breed. They become fussier in their eating habits.

Fish like the Moorish idol are happy on plankton and seaweed, while stingrays like pieces of fresh invertebrates. Clown triggerfish, on the other hand, are voracious eaters with ever-growing teeth that need to be kept worn down, so they need a constant supply of meaty foods and hard-shelled shrimp.

You should purchase an ongoing supply of good quality ‘sea-veggies’ like seaweed, as well as frozen or live shrimp or plankton. Some may also enjoy fresh chopped up scallops or squid, krill and clams.

The prices of these fish can depend on size as well. For example, a small stingray will cost $350 while a large one, which will be about twice the size, will be about twice the cost.

Prices of Fish

NamesPrices JuvenilePrices Adult
Blue Spotted Stingrays$200$1500-2000
Clown Triggerfish$120$800
Blueline Grouper$150$400
Moorish Idol$120$300
Batfish$120$700
Dog Face Puffer$150$800
Cat Shark$120$600
Emperor Angelfish$150$1000
Copperband Butterfly$50$180

Conclusion: Average Cost Of A Pet Fish

As you can see, the costs range greatly, and it can’t be said that there is an average cost of a pet fish. It really depends on what type of fishkeeper you want to be. My best advice is to always research the individual fish breed before getting into anything and make sure you understand what they need to be healthy and happy.

Healthy and happy fish give incredible returns on your investment in their beautiful and interactive play, so are well worth it!

16 MOST EXPENSIVE SALTWATER AUARIUM FISH EVER SOLD
Read our list of the most expensive saltwater fish here