Scuba Diving Tanks

Scuba diving tanks are awkward and heavy, and if you fall down with one on you'll be lying on your back flailing your arms and legs in the air like a turtle flipped on it's shell.

Without scuba tanks you can never be like that same turtle "flying" gracefully through the water experiencing a world that almost defies explanation.

Like all scuba gear, choosing a scuba diving tank takes more thought and planning than just walking into a dive shop and grabbing the first thing you see.

There are a few different kinds of tanks, each with their own pros and cons. Not to mention not all diving tanks can be used for all types of diving.

Types of Scuba Diving Tanks

Aluminum - Aluminum tanks are the most common scuba tanks you'll find. Every dive shop, boat, resort and operation uses them worldwide.

The most common size used for diving is the aluminum 80, but they can be smaller or larger depending on what they're meant to be used for.

For example, a bail out or pony bottle is much smaller than a standard size aluminum 80.

Aluminum tanks are relatively light and inexpensive and are a good choice for most recreational scuba divers.

One downside of the aluminum scuba diving tank is that it'll become more positively buoyant the emptier it gets, so most divers wear an extra few pounds of weight to compensate for this.

There are a few models of aluminum tanks that are built specifically to eliminate this problem but like everything else the more features it has, the more expensive it is.

Steel - Steel scuba tanks are much heavier and more expensive than aluminum tanks.

A steel tank is a lot tougher than an aluminum one and if you take care of it can last for decades.

Because steel is stronger it can be handle higher pressures making a steel tank smaller than an aluminum one of similar capacity.

Steel isn't right for everyone. It's heavy and may not be suited to a diver who isn't physically able to handle the weight.

Also If you want to use higher pressures you will need to use a DIN valve which may make it hard to get refills depending on where you're diving.

Most technical divers use steel scuba tanks but they can be a good tank for regular recreational scuba diving too.

Considerations When Buying Scuba Diving Tanks

Do you really need to buy tanks?

Yes I know you need a scuba diving tank to actually dive, but are you sure you really need to buy one? Unless you dive very frequently buying tanks may be a waste of money.

These numbers were taken from a dive shop near where I live and may be different in your area.

  • An aluminum 80 sells for about $199.99+tax
  • Yearly visual inspection $14+tax
  • Hydro test every 5 years $45+tax
  • Air fills $5+tax

Compare that to

  • Tank rental with air fill included $12/day or $18/weekend

and it's not hard to see that unless you're doing a lot of diving it's just not worth it to buy scuba tanks.

If you're still in the market here are a few other things to consider before buying.

  • Size of the tank. Is it so long it bumps your butt and the back of your head at the same time?
  • Weight of the tank. Is it too heavy for you to handle comfortably?
  • Type of diving. Do you technical dive or not?
  • If it's steel is it a low pressure(lp) steel tank or a high pressure(HP) one
  • Does it have a DIN valve or more common A-clamp/Yoke valve?
  • If it's a used tank when was it last visually inspected or hydro tested?

Use this list as a guide when reviewing scuba diving tanks and you should be able to find the right tank to last you for years of diving.

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