Thinking about getting a new fish, but not sure how much you will have to spend?

Worried about having to empty your wallet?

Don’t panic…

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!

My 10 Gallon Goldfish 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.  And a 10 gallon tank is a bit on the small side.

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.

For maintenance, I use…

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! :)

Note: I would am actually upgrading this tank to a 10 gallon rimless aquarium as the black trim looks dated and I have a new aquascape in mind.

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.

Note – Some fancy goldfish get bigger than others.  Orandas are one of the larger varieties, and most would probably get cramped in a 10 gallon after a while.  Mine is an Oranda/Veiltail hybrid and a genetic midget, meaning no matter how much room or food he gets he won’t get very big.  Genetics play a big role in determining how large the fish will become.  Some of the smaller fancy goldfish varieties (such as Veiltails or Pearlscales) might do fine, though it’s hard to know if the fish will grow much unless you can talk to the supplier or breeder.  Mini goldfish or midgets are great for those with limited space but want an exotic goldfish.  Talk to Ken Fisher at Dandy Orandas (where I got this little guy) if you’re interested in one.    

(Check out our complete guide on goldfish tanks if you want to learn which specific products I recommend and how to set them up.)

Assuming you want to save as much money as possible…

Here’s what you could do:

Pet Goldfish Price (Just To Meet Their Basic Needs)

Say you want to keep 1 or 2 fancy goldfish

What’s the price of owning a goldfish setup like this?

For a 20 gallon, you would need the following, and this list below is only the bare minimum:

  • The fancy goldfish at a pet store like Petsmart or Walmart typically cost anywhere from $7-30 each, depending on the sizes and types you get. Sounds pretty cheap, right? (But, keep in mind you will need to spend a bit more on quarantining and medicating them (because this has not been done for you) or you have a high risk of problems from parasites.)
  • A 20 gallon tank (get the best deal during the Petco dollar per gallon sale): $20-40
  • Water conditioner and bacteria starter: $28-35
  • Tank stand: $30-65
  • Full-spectrum light: $16-30
  • Food: $6-18
  • A good filter (you can use something as cheap as a sponge filter with a pump and airline tubing, or an affordable HOB filter with current obstructed): $20-35
  • A heater: $15-25
  • 5 gallon bucket: $3-5
  • Siphon: $15-20
  • Medications (to clean up your fish during quarantine): $30-50

Total Approximate Cost: $190-350 

Again, this is all just for the must-haves.

Doing things like building a DIY filter or using a plastic bin instead of a glass tank will shave these figures down even further.

Get a bit creative, and you’ll save on your setup even more :)

You might also want to have more than a bare, empty tank for your pet goldfish and choose to add some live plants or sand substrate (please don’t get dangerous gravel!).  Your goldfish price can go up a bit more from there depending on where you source your equipment and accessories.


Considering most pet owners spend approximately $1270 in just the first year of owning a dog, and $1070 for a cat (according to this source)…

The price of a goldfish is really pretty affordable!

For under $200, you can have an adorable pet that is interesting to watch and has its own personality to keep you entertained for years to come.  They are also comparatively low-maintenance.

But lest you think all goldfish are cheap:

If you aren’t trying to pinch your pennies, some fancy goldfish can be far more expensive.

More exotic, specialty fancy goldfish – like those sold at Dandy Orandas – can cost several hundred dollars each.

Some have even sold for nearly $1,000!

These are some of the kinds of fish they sell:

Obviously not everyone is trying to pay bottom-dollar for their goldfish.  Some enthusiasts (with deep pockets) end up spending literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on their hobby.

Thoughts on Slim-Bodied Costs


What about slim-bodied fish?

If you get slim-bodied fish, the fish themselves will probably cost next to nothing at your garden center or Petco.


They need more space because slim-bodied types of goldfish grow to be much larger.

So you would have to either get a big tank or set up a pond (which costs an average of $3042, according to this source, but can be done for as low as $360).

Brand new, large tanks can also come with a hefty price tag.

This will significantly add to the goldfish price.

Sometimes you can find big tanks for cheap used on sites like Craigslist or Facebook.

I got my used 65 gallon acrylic Seaclear aquarium for $195 at a local fish store – the perfect size for 2 slim-bodied fish (yes, despite having some condition issues, it was a steal!).

Buying a used tank is definitely one way to save some serious cash.

Unless it leaks ;)

Sometimes, with a little TLC (or even some new silicone) a used tank can be a great way to go if you are trying to keep things on a budget.

Who would have thought that little $0.15 feeder fish or carnival prize fish would need so much space! (By the way, you can check out our article on tank size for calculating the gallons you need for your new pet/s.)

Slim-bodied fish still need all the other equipment a fancy goldfish needs mentioned above… including medications.

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 up front…

… 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).

Rant ended.

Back to my other point:

A bigger tank or pond will require bigger equipment – bigger filters, bigger siphons, bigger lights, etc.

So keeping slim-bodied fish actually can end up being more expensive than keeping fancy goldfish (to say nothing of the water bill).

But they usually live longer.

And they can live way longer than other kinds of pet fish.

So you can actually get better value in the long-term for your pet goldfish investment.

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 to 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, viscous 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.

Of course:

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!

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