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Fish are among the cheapest of pets. Because they're so small and plentiful, you can get a goldfish at most department stores for under a dollar. Of course, once you buy your goldfish you can't just slap some water in a reusable plastic container and call it home. You have to buy an aquarium, and that can be an expensive prospect. Don't let that keep you from having a pet, however. You can build a functional home for your scaly new friend on a budget. Just use these hints and tips as a guideline and things should go swimmingly.

Reduce

Obviously the first step to building a budget aquarium is to reduce your expectations. A thousand gallon enclosure with a self cleaning system, specialized lighting and decorations that look like they belong to the Debbie Travis school of interior design for fish will probably cost more than Brampton, Ontario real estate, so reign in your shopaholic instincts. Fish can survive with nothing more than the tank and an aerator, so buy those first and then see what you have left over in your budget for decorative gravel and accent plants.

Reuse

Your fish's memory is four seconds long and its brain is about the size of the head of a pin, so don't worry about it being insulted if you buy its housing equipment used. Look in the classifieds section of the local paper, at flea markets, and online for second-hand aquariums and aquarium supplies. There are always people who are moving or upgrading their supplies and looking to get rid of aquarium equipment. If you buy used, you can afford a bigger tank, more sophisticated equipment, and better decorations because the prices will most of the time be less than half of what you would pay at a department store. And they're as good as a brand-new fishy lagoon cleaning is all they need and they'll be ready to go.

Recycle

While it's not a good idea to try and build you own staple items like a tank or an aerator, you can accessorize your tank with everyday items from around the home. Stalks and leaves that have fallen off your plastic plants can make nice little hidey holes for Goldy, and trinkets or tools can give the aquarium a decorative theme. For instance, you could use counterweights to hold down a plastic Halloween skull for a spooky at-home rendition of Davey Jones' locker. One thing you should remember before putting household items in an aquarium, however, is to make sure they're not made of a material that will leech chemicals into the water and potentially harm your fish. Of course it goes without saying that you should give all accessories a thorough cleaning before you place them in the tank.

So you see? You don't need a million dollars for a diamond sheen aqua finishing solution or a colony of live coral to make a habitable place for your gilly buddies. All it takes is a little thinking outside the box.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014