This would seem like a simple enough question, but in actuality, it's quite complicated. Apart from the obvious differences between saltwater, freshwater and reef aquariums, you should factor in other considerations as well. First, decide what species of fish you plan to keep, freshwater, saltwater, reef fish or invertebrates? Do you want a reef only aquarium? Do you want to keep sharks? These are important factors one should consider prior to buying a custom aquarium. Other aquarium factors are time, location, and of course budget, all these considerations should be taken into account prior to calling for bids.
This custom aquarium quote section was designed to give you an advanced method of requesting a quote. Our custom aquarium quote form is quite comprehensive but necessary. We also have a complete line of aquarium supplies especially made for our custom aquariums. Aquarium supplies are abundant on the Internet, but you should only buy from a company that can support the product. Many of the large online super stores, know little or nothing about saltwater aquariums and less about reef aquariums.
Should I trust search engines?
The internet is an invaluable tool; however, caution should be used when buying a custom aquarium. Rankings match web sites with searchable text; unfortunately, rankings have absolutely nothing to do with manufacturing capabilities. Aquariums are beautiful, but also very dangerous if built by an inexperienced company.
Should I shop around?
Yes. Price comparison is wise, unless you're simply looking for the cheapest aquarium, you will get what you pay for, use extreme caution. A poorly constructed aquarium can cause one-hundred times the cost of the aquarium. Aquariums are not cheap, nor should they be, aquariums are built to sustain life, you wouldn't buy a dog just to kill it, the same holds true for aquariums. Large custom aquariums can be dangerous and all the more reason to be careful when buying an aquarium. A full 300 gallon aquarium weighs 2,400 pounds, not including the decor, and if compromised, can seriously injure or even kill anyone standing nearby.
Generally, the cost of a custom aquarium will be greatly influenced by the height and to a degree, the design. The taller the aquarium,
the thicker the acrylic; therefore, the high price. Custom aquarium shapes require oven time, mold construction, not to mention labor, so anytime you deviate from the standard rectangle you will incur some added costs. However, in today's market there are several companies who have standardized several different shapes, thus alleviating some of those extras costs, this does not necessarily pertain to large custom aquariums.
Why do the prices vary so much?
Acrylic is a petroleum product with the cost being directly influenced by the price of oil. Generally speaking, the top aquarium manufacturers buy their acrylic in bulk, thus getting the best price available. However, smaller companies do not pay significantly more than the larger companies, but enough where they sometimes use cheaper grade acrylic or acrylic made outside of the USA. That said, price differences between the top aquarium manufacturers for a custom aquarium should be minimal. If you get a quote for a custom aquarium that is significantly lower than all other bids, ask the manufacturer to explain. Look for thickness differences, this is usually the reason behind a cheaper price. If the thickness is the same ask where the acrylic was manufactured.
Make it a point to ask your salesman what country the acrylic is made in, we strongly recommend using only USA brands, this is not a biased opinion, just fact. Like we mentioned earlier, a custom aquarium may look good in the beginning, but after a year, you could be left with a yellowing mess.
This is the most critical part of a large custom aquarium, if you see a big fluctuation in price, you can bet that the thickness of the material varies. Companies that use thin acrylic are just trying to win the bid and are not concerned with the overall appearance. As we said, an aquarium will hold its shape for the first six months, but after that, a poorly build aquarium will either burst or when viewed from the side, look six months pregnant.
This worn out cliche holds true for aquariums too, but is not a deal breaker by any means. We have found that aquariums manufactured in highly taxed states such as California, can be 20% higher in price and to compensate for the increase some of those companies use thinner material to be competitive. Unfortunately, a couple of the top manufacturers are in California, but they do not substitute thinner material and therefore are sometime a little higher in price. If your custom aquarium is going
to be the focal point of your business or a center piece in your home, price should be secondary to safety and quality.
Owning an aquarium can be fun and rewarding, but care should be taken before jumping head first into this hobby. There are a lot of substandard companies out there and they spend a lot of money to advertise their name, don't be fooled or mislead, your life and bank account count on it.
If this page has confused you even more regarding aquariums, custom aquariums or aquarium supplies, please give us a call or write and one
of our technicians will be happy to assist you in deciding on which is the right aquarium and company for you.