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

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MnFish1

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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.
I respectfully disagree. For example - lets say 'as a beginner' I want to buy a 50 gallon tank - well your advice would be buy bigger. Lets say 'as a beginner' I want to buy a 90 gallon tank - well - your advice - the way I understand would be to 'buy bigger'.

IMHO - 'anyone that does any research' knows a bigger tank is easier to maintain - as you suggest - is not necessarily true. The research comes in - IMHO - when when decides to have a 20 gallon tank - to only buy fish that will fit in a 20 gallon tank. similarly - coral, etc. IMHO - maintenance increases exponentially with larger tanks. For example - there are threads here suggesting - just take out all your sand and rock - and rip clean it as a solution to algae - try that with a 200 gallon tank full of coral. Try catching a fish from a 10 gallon tank - as compared to a 200 gallon tank. Try scraping the glass on a 10 gallon tank vs a 200 gallon tank, etc etc etc. The costs (as you say) expontentially increase as well. Pumps, lights, salt, fish, coral, etc.

My suggestion - pick out 'how you want your tank to look'. Which corals, which fish, etc. THEN get some advice as to the proper size - then get that tank. If/when you want to upgrade - follow the same procedure. Far more people quit the hobby because of failure because they have bought a huge tank - and a huge bunch of rock - but then they cant afford the fish/coral etc needed to keep it up - they end up with boring rocks covered with small frags here and there - and a bunch of algae.

I will agree with you - stability - is easier to maintain - with a larger tank. If your heater fails - a 10 gallon tank will cool or heat up much more quickly than a 1000 gallon tank. etc.
 
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redeyejedi

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One thing i see here a lot is adding corals to soon after setup and wondering why certain things are dying off.
 

90's reefer

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Here is a few.
#1- No plan from day one.
#2- Starting without all equipment in place ready to go.
#3- Setting parameters and not sticking to them.
#4- A poor understanding of reef keeping in general.
#5- Taking advice from lfs, one says one thing and the other says something different.
#6- I refer back to #1.
 

90's reefer

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yeah thats a big one for sure
or wondering why the anemone is dying in a 2wk-old tank
Yep no plan, or general understanding of what is required to start.
Always remember most lfs are their to make money. One lfs told me that without newbies killing and replacing stuff they could not stay in business, wow!
 
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zatch

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Yep no plan, or general understanding of what is required to start.
Always remember most lfs are their to make money. One lfs told me that without newbies killing and replacing stuff they could not stay in business, wow!
I can believe it! Why sell one anemone, when you can get them to buy and kill 3!
 

chrislynn

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Newbie here!
Know how to do everything BEFORE you have to do anything. Figure out how to prep for a water change(mix, heater, containers, ro/di, etc). change filter media (didn’t rinse well enough one, freaked out that cloudy tank would kill my fish). Do a water change. Do all these things with an empty tank first so you have it down. Even if you did a quick cycle with live rock and bacteria whatever. Figure out the steps.

And label the dang cords when you set up your power strip. ‍
 

Mical

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Everything said above has its merits. Personally when someone asks for my help I ask them can you devote the time to a reef tank? Do you have "X" amount of $$$ for "X" size tank. Yes re: parameter swings, a larger tank is more forgiving and I rec buying the biggest they can afford and what fits in their design/plans. The biggest thing is patience whether it's cycling a tank, to purchases - research and TAKE YOUR TIME. If they want an "insta tank" I have to humbly decline, because the success rate is very low.
I watched a "high roller" walk into a LFS a couple of years ago and drop a couple thousand $$$ on tank, stand, lights gallons of water & fish - AT ONE SHOT. Not one sales person tried to stop and inform the guy of what he was getting into. I told LFS owner couple of days late, I bet this guy was going to be his worst nightmare or want to return everything. I bet LFS owner $100. I rec'd a $100 credit from LFS.
 

90's reefer

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Everything said above has its merits. Personally when someone asks for my help I ask them can you devote the time to a reef tank? Do you have "X" amount of $$$ for "X" size tank. Yes re: parameter swings, a larger tank is more forgiving and I rec buying the biggest they can afford and what fits in their design/plans. The biggest thing is patience whether it's cycling a tank, to purchases - research and TAKE YOUR TIME. If they want an "insta tank" I have to humbly decline, because the success rate is very low.
I watched a "high roller" walk into a LFS a couple of years ago and drop a couple thousand $$$ on tank, stand, lights gallons of water & fish - AT ONE SHOT. Not one sales person tried to stop and inform the guy of what he was getting into. I told LFS owner couple of days late, I bet this guy was going to be his worst nightmare or want to return everything. I bet LFS owner $100. I rec'd a $100 credit from LFS.
Could not have said it better myself!
The things I hear the lfs tell customers just boggles my mind.
Then they want to tell me I am running my tank wrong and proceed to tell me my system wont work, what the ?
Not to mention their tanks look like ****.
 

PeterC99

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Set up qt system, learn to dip, and never buy used. Equipment breaks you want the warranty
Respectfully disagree on used equipment.

This is a very expensive hobby. Many people get into this hobby quickly and leave quickly or upgrade. Plenty of excellent, lightly used setups and equipment that can be purchase for $0.40 on the $1.00. I’m running a used Red Sea Reefer 425XL, 2 used Radion Xr30 g5 lights, used MP40s, and homemade refugium.

My advice for the newbie - read the reefing forums before buying/starting anything. Mistakes happen when you go it alone. Plenty of knowledgeable hobbyists that will help you.

Big thanks to Reef2Reef - from the expert advice posts to the marketplace for used goods - probably the most valuable tool for this hobby!
 
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MnFish1

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Everything said above has its merits. Personally when someone asks for my help I ask them can you devote the time to a reef tank? Do you have "X" amount of $$$ for "X" size tank. Yes re: parameter swings, a larger tank is more forgiving and I rec buying the biggest they can afford and what fits in their design/plans. The biggest thing is patience whether it's cycling a tank, to purchases - research and TAKE YOUR TIME. If they want an "insta tank" I have to humbly decline, because the success rate is very low.
I watched a "high roller" walk into a LFS a couple of years ago and drop a couple thousand $$$ on tank, stand, lights gallons of water & fish - AT ONE SHOT. Not one sales person tried to stop and inform the guy of what he was getting into. I told LFS owner couple of days late, I bet this guy was going to be his worst nightmare or want to return everything. I bet LFS owner $100. I rec'd a $100 credit from LFS.
I went to my LFS - wanted to upgrade from a 55 gallon tank - to a 150 gallon. I asked them what they would charge to help move in the tank, transfer the fish, etc. I was concerned about 'cycling' - or 'adding new stuff'. I spend close to $4000 for more rock (from BRS), new fish, an anemone, new sand, etc. Some new inverts. of course a larger heater and new lights. and several corals. I drained the old tank water into a couple brute cans put the rocks /coral I had in one - the fish in another - with the appropriate heat/flow. Moved away the old tank./stand. They set up the new one - pumped new water (1/2) into the new tank and sump - added my 'old water' and 'old rock' aquascaped with the new rock - attached the new coral - temp acclimated the new fish - added them etc etc - and it was set up in 4 hours. No losses. 95 percent of the livestock, etc lived - until an apex disaster a couple years later. It all depends on the LFS you goto IMHO
 

sam2110

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I respectfully disagree. For example - lets say 'as a beginner' I want to buy a 50 gallon tank - well your advice would be buy bigger. Lets say 'as a beginner' I want to buy a 90 gallon tank - well - your advice - the way I understand would be to 'buy bigger'.

IMHO - 'anyone that does any research' knows a bigger tank is easier to maintain - as you suggest - is not necessarily true. The research comes in - IMHO - when when decides to have a 20 gallon tank - to only buy fish that will fit in a 20 gallon tank. similarly - coral, etc. IMHO - maintenance increases exponentially with larger tanks. For example - there are threads here suggesting - just take out all your sand and rock - and rip clean it as a solution to algae - try that with a 200 gallon tank full of coral. Try catching a fish from a 10 gallon tank - as compared to a 200 gallon tank. Try scraping the glass on a 10 gallon tank vs a 200 gallon tank, etc etc etc. The costs (as you say) expontentially increase as well. Pumps, lights, salt, fish, coral, etc.

My suggestion - pick out 'how you want your tank to look'. Which corals, which fish, etc. THEN get some advice as to the proper size - then get that tank. If/when you want to upgrade - follow the same procedure. Far more people quit the hobby because of failure because they have bought a huge tank - and a huge bunch of rock - but then they cant afford the fish/coral etc needed to keep it up - they end up with boring rocks covered with small frags here and there - and a bunch of algae.

I will agree with you - stability - is easier to maintain - with a larger tank. If your heater fails - a 10 gallon tank will cool or heat up much more quickly than a 1000 gallon tank. etc.
I like your thinking and yes for most people it's true.

I personally find a smaller system easier to maintain and to keep stable, take my 16 gallon AIO for example.... 10 minutes for a water change, 2 minutes to clean the glass, 5 minutes to clean filter chambers, 2 mintes to clean a nero 3 and 3 minutes to fill the ATO.

With regards to stability I test once a week with hanna checkers, got it down to about 10 minutes to test phosphorus, ALK and calcium. Another 5 mins to test Mag (salifert). After that it's open the app for my D-D pro doser and adjust the dosing if anything is off.

That's why I love smaller systems, ok yes I'm limited on fish but at the end of the day it's the coral side of the hobby I love. When I had my bigger systems I dreaded Saturday mornings, hours of maintenance.
 

NaturalBrnHeathen

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Here is a few.
#1- No plan from day one.
#2- Starting without all equipment in place ready to go.
#3- Setting parameters and not sticking to them.
#4- A poor understanding of reef keeping in general.
#5- Taking advice from lfs, one says one thing and the other says something different.
#6- I refer back to #1.
#4 is a very big one. Sadly, most LFS will sell elixir's in a bottle when all one needs is a little patience.
 
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