How much electricity does an aquarium use?

Power consumption depends not on the size of the aquarium, but the electrical equipment that it’s running, and how long it’s on for. 

If its a tropical tank, energy usage will come from the heater, the light, and the filter. Let’s look at some examples.

A Juwel Rio 180 comes with a 200 watt heater, 2 x 45 watt lights (90 watts) and a 7 watt, 600lph pump. Total power consumption is 297 watts, although the heater will only be on for half the time, and the lights on for half a day, maximum. That takes a realistic power consumption down to 152 watts on average throughout the day. 

The average cost of electricity per kWh is 14p, meaning that you pay 14 pence for every 1000 watts you use, every hour. So at an average of 152 watts, a Juwel Rio 180 only costs 2.13p per hour to run or 51p a day and £186.50 per year. And if you have the lights on for less time, or switch to the Helialux 1000 LED at 48 watts, you can halve the cost of lighting again. Let’s try another example.

The Aquael Leddy 60 comes with a 50 watt heater, 8 watt LED light and 4 watt filter. Total power consumption is 62 watts, but halve the heater and lighting consumption because they are only on for an average of 12 hours out of 24, and average power consumption is just 31 watts. Multiply by 14p a kWh and the tank costs 0.43p per hour to run, 10.4p per day to run, and just £38 per year. That’s economical tropical fishkeeping! Especially when compared to the average we spend on fuel per car per year, at £811. 

Remove the heater altogether

If you opt for temperate fish like danios and rosy barbs which are happy year-round at room temperature you don’t even need a heater and take out live plants and you’ll only want the light on for viewing. Set up a small unheated aquarium and it may only use 4 watts per hour (that’s less than 2p per day!)

Fit a structured background

Aquariums with hoods and cover glasses will hold heat better than open-topped ones, or if your tank has a hood you can further insulate by fitting a structured background. Structured backgrounds hold in the heat and can even be fitted to the sides of a tropical tank to hold even more heat. Use aquarium silicone to glue them in place when the tank is dry, and they’ll last for years as well as helping to save you money on heating the tank.  

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Jeremy Gay is an author and freelance aquatic specialist. A former editor of Practical Fishkeeping magazine, he offers a wealth of experience on all things aquarium and pond.


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