Questions about your consulting


Prolific Poster
Mar 8, 2011
Gentle mountains of NE TN
Hi Tom,
I've read many of your wise words over the years. I'm in a
Position now to finally build several large planted freshwater tanks. What sort of services are available and what are your fees?

Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
Hi Paul

General advice is free for the most part. We can do anything you can cook up. The folks we use can do anything they have done for the Monterrey Bay aquarium. So public aquarium sizes down to whatever. Full ADA 180 cm if you wish and a dozen ADA gallery type tanks etc......

Sort of depends on your goals and your budget. In general, labor will cost as much as the tank/etc. If you have me come to where you are at, it's about a plumber's wage. My maintenance guys make 80$ an hr. 8x 80$ = 640$. Others charge 60-65$ an hour. I do not stop work after 8 hours, I typically work 12 or more. In the SF/Tahoe/Sacramento Region, this is 500$ flat rate for me per day. If a flight is required, then it's 700$ per day.
I almost always add automated water changes, or semi automated systems to everyone's tank. We generally hire a plumber for adding the lines and carbon prefilter to each tank or a central filtration. I also suggest "oh manure" valves and drains for each system. This way there's no wet floors. The client can easily handle most of the care and makes it easy on them. Folks can leave for a month without too much attention etc. Most client's I try and involve in the tank, the results tend to be better for everyone this way. If someone is required/desired to stop by and trim and do the maintenance, or a rework every so often, that can be arranged.

I'll do whatever you want basically. If you buy the tanks etc and do the equipment etc, and then just have me put it together, or if you want me to simply scape at the end, of fix an issue, all that is fine.
In general, if you can consult at the planning stages, this will avoid potential issues, like not having installed a hard plumb drain and refill etc, or access for filters, or the correct CO2 system etc.
I do not make $ on the equipment, it's 10% above cost at the wholesale level, same for livestock and fish from the wholesaler. If you need an ADA 180cm done with full ADA equipment, not a problem, if you need a 3000 Gallon reef, we can do that as well.
You dream it, we can build it.