Thinking about getting a new fish, but not sure how much you will have to spend?
Worried about having to empty your wallet?
The goldfish hobby can be done on a budget.
I’m going to let you know how much a goldfish costs, and help you get going without blowing tons of cash.
Let’s talk about goldfish price!
Total Average Price for a Basic Goldfish & Setup
There are many methods for keeping goldfish, and some can get quite costly.
But what I’m going to share with you today is the most basic, lowest cost method I have ever found that actually works.
For setting up and maintaining a goldfish home using the method below with all the food and water stuff brings us to an average cost of $70.06.
(More if you want store-bought decor.)
Again, this is an average.
Based on my calculations, you can get the cost down to as low as $48.88 if you go for the least expensive options in each category and leave off the store-bought extras.
… Especially onsidering $1270 is the average cost for the first year of owning a dog.
For under $50, you get a fun and beautiful pet you can enjoy for years to come.
There are many people who pay HUNDREDS of dollars on fancy imported goldfish and much more on their setups.
So that’s not to say goldfish are always cheap!
Here is a breakdown of the method and costs below:
A Very Good (Inexpensive) Goldfish Keeping Method: Cost Breakdown
1. Fish Bowl
Obviously, your new pet needs a spot to live in.
So you can get your fish a fishbowl.
A gallon (for 1 goldie) or 2 gallons (for 2 goldies) is a good starting point.
(The bigger the better though, it dilutes the waste and lets you go longer between water changes).
The plastic ones are the least expensive but they also make nice glass ones that are the same size for not much more.
Here are the common sizes to choose from:
- 1 gallon (plastic or glass)
- 1.5 gallon (plastic)
- 2 gallon (plastic or glass)
- 3 gallon (plastic)
- 3.6 gallon (glass)
Average Cost: $14.56
Related Post: Goldfish Bowls 101
Now unless you want to be doing lots of water changes all the time (sometimes daily) you need to get some kind of filter for it to keep the water clean.
Toss in a few stems of Cabomba (around $10 including shipping) and you have your bases covered for purifying & oxygenating the water as well as shelter for the fish.
Seriously, it’s that simple.
What if you don’t want to use plants and prefer an electric filter?
- A little sponge filter is gentle, effective and not hard to set up, though it will need an air pump & airline tubing to operate. (You’ll want to fill the bottom cartridge with carbon.)
- There are affordable undergravel filter kits that work well too.
- Finally, power filters are an option. These do require regular replacements though which can add to the cost long-term.
Again, you can also skip electric filters altogether if you rely on live plants to clean the water.
Average Cost: $14.99
A good fish bowl starter kit will usually come with one included, and can end up being the most cost-effective option since it’s bundled all together (depending on the size).
3. Water Care
Some dechlorinator is a must to get rid of nasty chlorine and chloramines.
These aren’t very expensive and last a long time.
Average Cost: $10.68
Finally, a test strip water testing kit should be used to check the water each day for the first month until things have stabilized. (If there is ever any ammonia or nitrite perform a water change.)
Average Cost: $19.83
A goldfish has to eat, of course!
Flakes or pellets generally aren’t expensive though, and will last longer if you don’t overfeed.
Average Cost: $7.50
Bigger fish typically have a bigger price tag all the way around as they cost more and need more space to live.
Perhaps you just won yourself a little fair fish at a carnival for free…
… Or bought a couple 2″ fantail/black moor/oranda at Petco, Walmart or Petsmart…
Either way, they don’t usually cost much.
Average Cost: $2.5
6. Extra Decorations
Do goldfish need gravel?
If you use an undergravel filter, yes.
But not if you go with sand (goldfish love to play in the sand!).
You can find enough sand for your bowl for free by a river or beach. (Be sure to boil it first to kill any pathogens.)
What about decorations and plants?
If you use enough real plants they will provide shelter for the fish as well as filtration.
If you’re the type who wants decorative gravel and perhaps some plastic plants, that can add about $3-6 extra for the plants and $6-10 for gravel.
Average Cost: $12.5
My 10 Gallon Goldfish Tank Setup (with Costs)
Here’s a simple 10-gallon aquarium I have sitting on my desk with one fancy mini goldfish:
I’m a pretty busy person.
But I wanted to ensure the water quality stayed in good shape for a good bit before requiring a tank cleaning.
So I doubled up on filtration (making sure there wasn’t much current).
I still wanted a nice looking setup for the office, but tried to keep things fairly reasonable as far as budget goes.
- 10-gallon tank: $15 (you can buy it online here)
- Mini SunSun canister filter: $32
- Marinepure Cermedia filter media (for the canister): $24
- Sponge filter: $6 with Python airline tubing: $6 and adjustable air pump: $15
- CaribSea Sunset Gold aquarium sand: $13
- Rocks (free)
- Submersible heater: $12
- Glass lid: $21
- Light: $26
- Black background: $5
- 2 medium sized Anubias barteri plants: $23
- 10 Anubias petite plants (bought in bulk here): $27
For maintenance, I use…
- Repashy Super Gold gel food: $17
- Seachem Prime water conditioner – $12
- A probiotic bacteria supplement weekly – $7
- A good quality filter bacteria supplement at startup – $14
- Python Pro-Clean handheld siphon – $9
- 4 gallon bucket: $3
Total equipment and decoration cost: $294
This underwater world sits on my desk by my computer. I love having a goldfish buddy next to me all day to keep me company! 🙂
Also since this photo, I have gotten him a friend
This setup has been running for the last 4 months. It gets weekly 30% water changes.
If he wasn’t fed so much I could probably change it every other week, but this little office fish gets spoiled by everyone.
(Check out our complete guide on goldfish tanks if you want to learn which specific products I recommend and how to set them up.)
Much like a new puppy has to go to the vet to get vaccinated and tested for illness, all new goldfish, need to be treated to eliminate common parasites in the early stages of their new life with you.
Unless you spend the money to medicate them upfront…
… You will probably end up spending even MORE money to replace them if they come down sick or end up dying from those bugs within the first few months or so.
Trust me. I’ve been there.
Quarantine is not an option, it is a must for all new fish that aren’t quarantined and properly treated for all fish diseases.
Pet stores ship goldfish in and sell them cheap, but they don’t get rid of the parasites they come with!
That’s one of the big reasons why so many people feel like they fail at the hobby (when it really wasn’t their fault because they didn’t know).
How to Save Money on Your Pet Goldfish
It’s easy to drop a wad on the price of a goldfish when you’re starting off in the hobby.
This is because not only is it hard to know what all you need to get, but keep them alive.
Pet stores are all too eager to sell you a bunch of stuff you don’t really need that only ends up gathering dust.
I also spill my secrets on reducing maintenance and water changes (and time is money!).
If you can master the art of goldfish care, you’ll save money BIG TIME on having to replace your fish in a never-ending, vicious cycle.
So it’s a really good idea to get yourself a comprehensive, up-to-date book on goldfish care.
That’s why I wrote The Truth About Goldfish.
It’s available as an inexpensive eBook or paperback version, and contains everything you need to know to be a successful goldfish owner.
Wrapping it All Up
Goldfish are one of the most affordable pets you can own.
If you’re looking for a pet that doesn’t break the bank but still gives you something to love and take care of, the goldfish price point could be right for you!
There are many ways to cut corners to keep the cost as low as possible.
Many times it all comes down to keeping the kind of fish you like rather than spending a bit more or less.
That’s part of the joy of having a pet!
Now I want to hear what you think.
Are you considering getting a pet goldfish?
Let me know in the comments section below!