Experienced Reefkeepers - Help with article on 'Common mistakes new hobbyists make'

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zatch

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I'm writing an article for my LRC on common mistakes that we often see people make in this hobby, and how they can be avoided. I thought id pick the minds of fellow experienced reefers here (since we see and respond to such posts daily here)

Not interested in debates or crackpot theories on things that are widely accepted (ex: using RODI, Quarantine, etc). Looking for sound advice that works for a majority of people which can help a newbie avoid some of the headaches or outright failures that are common to people who don't do their homework.

Just looking to cover the following basic subjects for now, will probably do a follow-up on more advanced subjects down the road. Here are some of the thoughts I have gathered so far:

Marine Aquarium Basics
*Maintaining water quality (Testing, RODI and premixing salt)
*Avoiding (and treating) nuisance algae outbreaks
*Maturing/stabilizing a tank before corals/sensitive inverts
*Compatibility of tank equipment/budget (lighting/flow/filtration) with livestock goals (fowlr/soft/sps/etc)
*Major differences over a freshwater system (input needed plz)

Fish Husbandry
*Avoiding impulse purchases (doing research/inspect fish beforehand)
*How to setup a simple QT
*How to observe and diagnose common fish diseases
*How to keep livestock healthy, unstressed and thriving in DT

The goal is to give sound tips that will not be exceedingly tedious or expensive for someone new in the hobby to follow.

Please leave a thought if you have something to contribute, thanks!
 
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sixline

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Some common mistakes I see are:

- Overstocking
- Not quarantining or at least very carefully monitoring what you add
- Not planning all of the tank inhabitants in advance
 

MnFish1

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1. Going for the 'lowest cost' fish/invert/coral. IME - the lowest cost are often the lowest quality.
2. Chasing numbers - People see a number - and without verifying the test - start dosing, changing, without realizing that the initial test was an error.
3. Not having a plan. Have a plan - stick to it. Don't jump for every new idea (i.e. come to the forum with a question - and then when you get 10 different answers - some of which are contradictory - try all of them) - this is similar to #2. Find someone who is knowledgable who you can trust.....
 
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Fish man

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I'm writing an article for my LRC on common mistakes that we often see people make in this hobby, and how they can be avoided. I thought id pick the minds of fellow experienced reefers here (since we see and respond to such posts daily here)

Not interested in debates or crackpot theories on things that are widely accepted (ex: using RODI, Quarantine, etc). Looking for sound advice that works for a majority of people which can help a newbie avoid some of the headaches or outright failures that are common to people who don't do their homework.

Just looking to cover the following basic subjects for now, will probably do a follow-up on more advanced subjects down the road. Here are some of the thoughts I have gathered so far:

Marine Aquarium Basics
*Maintaining water quality (Testing, RODI and premixing salt)
*Avoiding (and treating) nuisance algae outbreaks
*Maturing/stabilizing a tank before corals/sensitive inverts
*Compatibility of tank equipment/budget (lighting/flow/filtration) with livestock goals (fowlr/soft/sps/etc)
*Major differences over a freshwater system (input needed plz)

Fish Husbandry
*Avoiding impulse purchases (doing research/inspect fish beforehand)
*How to setup a simple QT
*How to observe and diagnose common fish diseases
*How to keep livestock healthy, unstressed and thriving in DT

The goal is to give sound tips that will not be exceedingly tedious or expensive for someone new in the hobby to follow.

Please leave a thought if you have something to contribute, thanks!
Start planning from the very beginning. The first rookie mistake I made was not thinking about placement. When I got my tank I put in the first spot I found with some vacant wall space. It happened to be in the dining room. Well I spend about an hour a year in there, once on thanksgiving and again on Christmas. After less then 2 weeks I broke it down and moved it into my office. That was probably the best reefing decision I ever made. I work from home and now I can enjoy it several hours a day. The friend I got it from had it in a basement hallway. It wasn't practical to sit and view and he quickly lost interest because it just became something else to maintain. Some think the bedroom is good so it will lull them to sleep but that gentle gurgling can sound like a toilet that never shuts off when your're trying to get to sleep. I would recommend putting it some place where you can get maximum enjoyment from it with out being annoying.
 

southerntnreefer

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Start planning from the very beginning. The first rookie mistake I made was not thinking about placement. When I got my tank I put in the first spot I found with some vacant wall space. It happened to be in the dining room. Well I spend about an hour a year in there, once on thanksgiving and again on Christmas. After less then 2 weeks I broke it down and moved it into my office. That was probably the best reefing decision I ever made. I work from home and now I can enjoy it several hours a day. The friend I got it from had it in a basement hallway. It wasn't practical to sit and view and he quickly lost interest because it just became something else to maintain. Some think the bedroom is good so it will lull them to sleep but that gentle gurgling can sound like a toilet that never shuts off when your're trying to get to sleep. I would recommend putting it some place where you can get maximum enjoyment from it with out being annoying.
YES!! This! We had a 220, because my wife wanted large angels.. So i put it downstairs as thats where it had to go due to weight. Well i consolidated tanks into it, and then we were never down there. Never did get the angels either... Sold the tank to save the cash it was costing me to really do the new 72 upstairs in plain site the best way I could.
 

Dkmoo

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1)Patience - avoiding overreaction of "corrective measures" when you dont see the result immediately. Ie, Adding 10 cuc will not make ur tank suddenly algae free. Adding 20 more the next day won't help either, and a week later you have 30 dead snails and a lot more algae.

2) Overreaction of perceived "bad sign" and the resulting over treatment. Ie. Ur clown is just unhappy bc you moved him from DT to QT back to DT, freshwater dipped, ODed on antibacterial/antiparasite/antifungal medication.... it does NOT have brooklynella.
 

sam2110

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The biggest mistakes i made with my first tank was lack of research and trying to do everything as cheap as possible. I quickly found that some equipment you just can not try to substitute for the cheapest option, it cost me more in the long run than if I had just brought correct equipment first time.

My other big mistake was trying to go to fast, nothing good happens instantly!
 
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southerntnreefer

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Never, never change something in your setup before you go away for any period of time. Murphy’s law always comes up and you will not be there to rectify.
Amen!! I won't make any changes for like 2 to 3 weeks before. Other than emty skimmer and top off ato container. No coral, no fish, no nothing
 
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zatch

zatch

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1. Going for the 'lowest cost' fish/invert/coral. IME - the lowest cost are often the lowest quality.
2. Chasing numbers - People see a number - and without verifying the test - start dosing, changing, without realizing that the initial test was an error.
3. Not having a plan. Have a plan - stick to it. Don't jump for every new idea (i.e. come to the forum with a question - and then when you get 10 different answers - some of which are contradictory - try all of them) - this is similar to #2. Find someone who is knowledgable who you can trust.....
Thanks, im saving 'chasing numbers' for coral edition, but definitely like the thought of sticking to a stocking plan and bargain fish
 
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zatch

zatch

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Start planning from the very beginning. The first rookie mistake I made was not thinking about placement. When I got my tank I put in the first spot I found with some vacant wall space. It happened to be in the dining room. Well I spend about an hour a year in there, once on thanksgiving and again on Christmas. After less then 2 weeks I broke it down and moved it into my office. That was probably the best reefing decision I ever made. I work from home and now I can enjoy it several hours a day. The friend I got it from had it in a basement hallway. It wasn't practical to sit and view and he quickly lost interest because it just became something else to maintain. Some think the bedroom is good so it will lull them to sleep but that gentle gurgling can sound like a toilet that never shuts off when your're trying to get to sleep. I would recommend putting it some place where you can get maximum enjoyment from it with out being annoying.
Good thoughts, thanks!
 

blasterman

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Overstocking.

Thinking water changes solve everything. No, changing water doesn't reset your tank to default.

Obsessing over tank cycling.

Over reacting to the uglies.

Getting corals too early.

Buying two part dosers when they dont have a need for them or when alk is very unstable in young tanks.
 
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TLDR, whatever size tank you think you want or have space for, double or triple it.

I'm still new to all this, but I'll still suggest that one of the biggest mistakes new reefers make is not buying a bigger tank. Anyone that does any research knows that a bigger tank is easier to maintain (though more expensive). However, what isn't as often mentioned is that you'll outgrow it before you even stock it.
I happened to have a 40 gallon breeder going into this so I just used it. I had it, I had a second one (spare, I guess, in case I broke this one drilling it) and I had a stand). That right there saved a good chunk of money. Plus, it had been up and running as a freshwater tank for the past 10 years, so it already had a spot in my house.
As of right now, there's no live stock in it and everyday I consider upgrading it to a 100ish gallon tank. As soon as I filled it with rocks, I saw how small it was going to be. Plus, and almost more importantly, the stand for a 40 gallon tank doesn't leave a whole lot of space for equipment. I have a 20 gallon long sump (which had to go in from above, so it can't be removed with the DT in place) and it leaves me just a few inches in front of it and on one side. I have a few things mounted to a side wall, but beyond that, there's not much space for anything more than wires and a few little odds and ends. For example, I've been hemming and hawing about an getting an Apex and one issue I have is that there's little to no room for it.

If this tank ever crashes, it'll be replaced with something considerably larger.I'm not sure where it'll go, but it's the plan.
 

NaturalBrnHeathen

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- Not allowing the biological filter to catchup
- Not checking basic parameters like ammonia & nitrates after adding livestock
- Thinking cloudiness can be quickly fixed with a water change
 
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zatch

zatch

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TLDR, whatever size tank you think you want or have space for, double or triple it.

I'm still new to all this, but I'll still suggest that one of the biggest mistakes new reefers make is not buying a bigger tank. Anyone that does any research knows that a bigger tank is easier to maintain (though more expensive). However, what isn't as often mentioned is that you'll outgrow it before you even stock it.
I happened to have a 40 gallon breeder going into this so I just used it. I had it, I had a second one (spare, I guess, in case I broke this one drilling it) and I had a stand). That right there saved a good chunk of money. Plus, it had been up and running as a freshwater tank for the past 10 years, so it already had a spot in my house.
As of right now, there's no live stock in it and everyday I consider upgrading it to a 100ish gallon tank. As soon as I filled it with rocks, I saw how small it was going to be. Plus, and almost more importantly, the stand for a 40 gallon tank doesn't leave a whole lot of space for equipment. I have a 20 gallon long sump (which had to go in from above, so it can't be removed with the DT in place) and it leaves me just a few inches in front of it and on one side. I have a few things mounted to a side wall, but beyond that, there's not much space for anything more than wires and a few little odds and ends. For example, I've been hemming and hawing about an getting an Apex and one issue I have is that there's little to no room for it.

If this tank ever crashes, it'll be replaced with something considerably larger. I'm not sure where it'll go, but it's the plan.
Thats a good point! I want to work on something else eventually that is a 'gameplan' of where someone wants to go in the hobby.

Like start out with a 20g tank to see if its for you, but be able to use the existing equipment in an easy upgrade to a 40b then to a 55g/100g and so on without wasting a lot of money on completely new gear...
 
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