Buying Used Tanks


It is normal with all the guidelines out there and everybody telling you what you should and what you shouldn’t do that you feel slightly overwhelmed and quiet frankly not interested in buying and running an aquarium in your home. DON’T WORRY! Because this is a hobby that is rewarding and full of enjoyment and it does NOT have to cost a fortune. Now at some point in the future if you find you are enjoying your hubby you may wish invest more but I imagine for most people they would like to start small and test the waters. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced level fish keeper or indeed you have your very own fish room (LUCKY!) buying used tanks is a very realistic way of saving money. It’s not a complicated process and if done carefully you will be surprised at how much money you can save. So lets talk about the plus points, things to avoid and just where do you find a used aquarium?

Plus points:

  • Low price – can be up to a 1/3 cheaper than the retail price for a new tank
  • Complete set up – most ads will include at least some equipment and accessories in the sale
  • No shortage of ads online – Ebay and Gumtree are the 2 places I would recommend
  • Set up alerts for new posts in your desired category
  • Room for negotiation on the price and items included

One of the plus points about buying a used tank is in most cases the tank is advertised for sale with all or at least some of the equipment needed to run it (such as filters, heaters etc…) this will save you having to buy them later. Another positive is that used tanks are often going to be much cheaper than a brand new one, sometimes even only a 1/3 of the price of what a new set up would cost! And as discussed in that price you are likely getting some equipment and accessories too. If you search for aquariums on Ebay and Gumtree you will see countless ads and you can sit there going through them to find the one that is right for you or even set up an alert for new ads in your desired category.

Obviously the biggest plus point is the money you save however, it’s not as easy as just finding an ad making a bid and the rest is sorted. There are things to look for and things to avoid. There are some negatives as well, although there are plenty of ads you are still restricted to what’s being sold, you may not find the right aquarium for you for some time. The condition of the tanks can range from good to bad , of course you should avoid anything that looks in terrible condition. There will be no manufacturer guarantee and no returns either for the majority of cases.

What to look for?

As with anything online it may seem like one thing and be something completely different in reality. For example: if you see an ad for a large tank 3ft+ with all the equipment included listed as barely used for dirt cheap you may think fantastic! But by a little careful you can avoid massive disappointment and/or even worse. Investigate! Shortlist a few ads that have caught your eye and are relatively close to what you are looking for and read them carefully, a good, genuine person will provide lots of information and pictures of the item. On eBay checking a seller’s reviews is a good place to start, on Gumtree you can check how long that person has been posting for.

You want someone with good reviews and ideally someone who has been posting for a decent amount of time. This doesn’t mean you should stay away from someone who has only been posting for 2months but just get a “feel” for the ad by looking at the above points. Even if the ad looks very good I still recommend asking the seller questions about the item and YOU MUST arrange viewing before agreeing to anything. Don’t agree to a fee, a collection date and get stuck when the tank is completely different to how you imagined it. Any good seller will be more than happy to arrange viewing for their tank.

  • Shortlist a few ads that have really caught your eye and are what you are looking for
  • Have a good read/look through those – plenty of pictures and info about the item is a good sign
  • Check the seller’s reviews on eBay and on Gumtree see how long the seller has been posting. (if the seller is new to either platform not to worry, just make sure you ask plenty of questions and get a feel for the ad)
  • Arrange viewing – don’t commit to anything until you have seen the item. If buying though eBay you can buy but pay on collection. Never pay in advance for an item you have not seen
  • Check the photos and the information carefully – make sure this is the right item for you and don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Don’t be afraid to bid lower than the asking price – however, don’t waste the seller’s time either by bidding ridiculously low
  • Engage your buyer – ask appropriate questions but don’t overload with silly ones, specially if the answer is in the info provided but you haven’t had a look

What to avoid?

The above are guidelines are on what to look for and how to have a pleasant time buying. Below are a few things to absolutely avoid.

  • Avoid sellers with an abnormal amount of bad reviews – depending on the number of items they have sold you want their positive feedback to significantly outweigh their negative. If they have only sold a 100 items and 10+ of them generated bad reviews then this should be a cause for concern alternatively if the user has sold 100s of items and has a review rating of 98% then the buyer is probably decent.
  • Avoid ads that provide no photos of the item what-so-ever
  • Avoid a fish tank that looks in terrible condition – it may work fine for now but how about a few months or a year down the line?
  • Avoid a tank that is ridiculously old – if the age is not stated don’t be afraid to ask

You can certainly find real bargains if you buy used tanks and save yourself some money but be patient and shop around view the ones that attract you and only buy after you have seen the item in person and are happy with it. Happy bidding!