In regards to tanks there are many choices from the standard rectangular shape to the bow front tank that provides a better viewing angle. There are newer tanks made from seamless acrylic (scratch easily) to tall cylinder style tanks that provide maximum viewing and minimal space.
The costs rapidly increase based on the size, once you go over 30 gallons you will see the biggest increase. A 50 gallon tank by itself does not seem to represent a big investment at $200-300 but when you add the stand, the hood, light, substrate, heater, filtration, plants, fish. It adds up quickly bringing you into the $600-$800 range depending on the equipment you buy.
My best recommendation that all the fish stores and Petco are going to hate is to buy your tank through Craigslist. Check right now in your city or nearest capitol city to see available listings.
Here are two example from add I just checked:
Here is good deal that includes a top quality Canister Filter, the filter alone is worth $120-$200,plus you get the tank, stand and light. However wait until you see the next one after this one.
55gal. Aquarium/fish tank with stand and canopy - $300 (Edmonds, WA)
55 gallon fish tank with light, black stand and maching canopy. Comes with Fluval 404 filter. This is a extra tank that we have no time to take care of. $300
Willing to deliver for extra small fee.
Here is the sweet deal.
50 Gallon Fish Tank Including Fish & Abundance of Accessories Must Go! - $175 (WA)
This beautiful 50 gallon black trim fish tank was purchased six months ago and must go due to an upcoming relocation. The tank is 17 tall, 18 deep and 36 wide. The tank provides exceptional clarity and unobstructed views. The tank is safe for freshwater, marine or reef environments and includes a fluorescent hood with fixtures. The fish tank comes with the following:
Fish: This tank comes with an assortment of fish, allowing you to immediately begin enjoying your new purchase. The tank currently holds 2 Plecostomus (8" & 12"), 3 Kissing Gourami (4", 5" & 6"), 1 Female Red Wag Platy (3”), 1 Red/Blue Neon Tetra (2”), 1 Orange Neon Tetra (2”), 2 Long Whiskered Pictus Cat Fish (4" each), 1 Bronze catfish or aeneus catfish (2”), 3 Mexican Cave Fish (no eyes!) (3”, 4” & 5”). Food to feed these fish will go with you; TetraMin, Algae Wafers, as well as ReptoMin and Frog bites for any additional aquatic creatures.
Fluval 204 Water Filter: The Fluval MSF (Multi-Stage Filter) combines innovation and convenience with a high level of performance. Multiple internal filtration modules allow the use of a variety of different filter media to provide optimal water quality. You will receive three additional filter packs for period changes. Brand new this high end out-of-tank filter was over $120.
Tetra Whisper 40 Air Pump: The unique patented dome shape actually flattens sound waves, while thick walls, noise dampening chambers, wide rubber feet and a suspended pump motor make the Whisper air pumps are among the quietest on the market. All this while the pump's diaphragm produces the considerable air flow needed to drive sponge, undergravel and internal filters, protein skimmers and action ornaments.
Accessories: This tank also comes with a load of fish tank accessories to choose from as you set up your new underwater world. At your disposal are several castles, rock walls, reefs, gravel, etc. Also included in this purchase is a light effect kit! 3 LED lights are different colors and can be used to highlight bubbles or spotlight tank objects as well as one underwater laser. Additionally, the buyer will receive a water heater, two fish nets, and an algae scrubber and gravel sifting siphon with 15 feet of hose for cleaning.
This fish tank sits comfortably on wood desk that has numerous drawers for you to organize your accessories in. AND last but not least, buyer will also receive a variety of water and fish treatment chemicals, an automatic feeder, two small glass tanks, hoses, and other smaller accessories.
I’ve spent over $1000 on this hobby. Separately, a motivated seller could easily bring in $300-$400 for all of this stuff. If you are looking for a really nice aquarium and all the stuff to go with, check out what you would pay at a pet store. This is a really good deal. My price is firm.
Buyer MUST bring suitable container to transfer fish (very clean 5 gallon bucket) as well as an additional 5 gallon bucket for some tank water which will reduce shock to fish by keeping valuable bacteria. This will also help the first tank cycle.
So there it is, happy hunting!