My count adds to $3000-5000 in fish (and that is probably conservative). That alone would have me staring! Nice post, Tom. I actually prefer the look of the tank from 2 years back.
I sort of do as well, I had it nice for awhile like a Dutch style, but they wanted more a jungle look and it does evolve as time passes.
I seldom keep things the same for long. I'm not happy with the rock work on the left 1/2 of the tank nor the layout there from a scaping perspective.
The tank's current presents issues also, there is 2000gph running through here. So I blast the water into the C spiralis beds in the back. Looks neat.
Yes, on the retail dollar, the fish cost is very high indeed, most of the tanks I have are that way, I was a fish person first and soon after a plant and fish person.
I typically supply the fish to clients at wholesale cost + 10% so they get a really good deal even if I am expensive in other areas. I also replace fish that are lost due to any thing to do with me or my maintenance.
See how many folks do that
Sort of a guarantee and putting your $ where your mouth is.
Same deal for my Reef customers.
This tank uses refugium and KNO3/trace dosing.
Mistakes would cost me a lot of $ personally.
It's not so much about the $, it's about the stability of the system and having things run smoothly.
Clients will wait a little while for things to grow in, that's a fun process for them. They will not tolerate on going issues and massive deaths, algae blooms etc.
EI is very pro active and good cleaning and upkeep makes things very stable for both fish and plants.
I like rare fish and always will. That keeps folks looking. Cards and Rummys are not rare, but most of the other fish are and it is rare to see them in a planted tanks and at such high densities/numbers.
Having access to wholesalers who are good helps, you need to be able to feed the fish well also, that's the hardest challenge for such larger tanks with many species.
It is a bit like a freeway, or more like watching a town from a mountain hillside.