I've had the pleasure of helping many people grow in this hobby. I typically advocate starting off small & easy, and then work up to something bigger & better as skills get sharpened and finances allow. The way I see it, the smaller tank can always be repurposed into a QT or frag tank down the road. It delights me to see how people get such a kick out of their mushrooms spreading from one rock to another, or watching their pair of juvenile clownfish mature and begin laying eggs. Some even take on the challenge of rearing the fry and that leads to a greater interest in breeding marine fish in general.

However, once you feel you've mastered the basics, and propagating soft corals & LPS comes easy you will then find yourself at a crossroads .....

Most reefers move onto SPS at this point, and "fish people" generally start looking for rarer fish/hybrids. A regular Copperband Butterfly just doesn't do it for ya anymore, so you start looking for a Muelleri. ;) And for many this is the natural progression of a greater challenge which keeps them interested in the hobby.


photo by R2R member @SunnyX
...but for some it actually causes the opposite effect...

You had no problem growing Euphyllia & Candy Canes, and yet all these new expensive Chalices & Acans are dying. Acros are bleaching and you're having trouble keeping up with supplement demand. Of course, many eventually get it figured out by getting their nitrates down and investing in reactors instead of manual dosing. But some keep throwing money down the toilet, or find they miss their $30 Lemonpeel Angel because the $150 Golden Angelfish hides all day. :p

I've seen many continue down this self destructive path until they finally get burned out and leave the hobby. They keep struggling with this bigger & better system, and it becomes a chore instead of something fun. Maybe job and family commitments no longer afford you the time you once had to play with your aquarium? ;) What can you do?

GO BACK TO WHAT MADE YOU HAPPY. You aren't in competition with anyone. I won't look down on you because you keep xenia and other easy corals. Or don't have the most expensive fish. ;) It's like people think once they've reached the zenith, they can never go back to just having a low maintenance aquarium. Maybe its peer pressure, you want your tank to look as nice or better than your buddy's. Listen, I've kept just about every kind of SW aquarium you can imagine. And the one I reminisce the most about was a tank full of xenia where I could put any "not reef safe" fish in and not have to worry about it. So if you find yourself lost right now with your current setup, remember you can always go back to just doing your own thing. :)


photo by R2R member @d2mini
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