Intimidation Got the Best of Me



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Aug 29, 2019
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Battle Creek
A little over a year and a half ago, I started diving into the reef aquarium hobby. Excited at the possibilities of what I could keep in my home, i did research, started gathering equipment, and began with what I hoped was an ideal starter setup with my 40g. Things went well for a while, testing kept parameters in check, i slowly added various critters for cleanup, kept a skunk, and couple of clowns for quite a while actually. But I started hitting a wall and was getting blooms of what I believe to have been Dinos... I had normal hair algae blooms that came and went early on, and diatoms and such and that all mostly worked itself out with the CUC and water changes. But when the Dinos came. I was at a constant battle.

I had only a couple of fish, my shrimp, crabs, and snails, and before the Dinos (or again I am mostly confident were Dinos) I had reached a point where I was too afraid to add stuff too quickly (all those additions happened probably a month apart from each other if not longer). So I think, early on, a lack of adding to the diversity out of intimidation or fear could have played a role in the downfall that was happening. I didn’t really have much going on in this tank, and now (at that point) I’m dealing with this dark sludge that is taking over fairly rapidly. Cool. So I tried various methods of dealing with it, blacking out my tank - they died down, but came back soon after within days. This happened a few times. I read somewhere that doing water changes could actually fuel them, with all the new nutrients and stuff for it to feed off of. So I stopped doing changes as regularly. Besides blacking out my tank a few times, i did just stop running lights all together, but there is still ambient light in my living room, so they never REALLY went away. I was trying different bacteria dosing, and all of it was nowhere as far as i could tell. Who knows, maybe I was just feeling overwhelmed and afraid of doing anything else, and maybe if I had kept diligent with methods I had read about maybe I would’ve gotten out...

Eventually I lost my skunk, and later on lost one clown, then the other followed only a couple days later. Again, I don’t know what really caused anything. I think I was so overwhelmed and i kept overthinking everything, overloading my brain with information and not really getting to a solution, that eventually it all got the best of me and I quit. By the end of 2020 I was feeling disheartened after losing my little buds, and I was frustrated at my chaotic attempts to fix the issues that kept persisting. I became the classic “start a reef tank, hit a big problem, and quit the hobby” guy. Which really sucks. I don’t know why I never reached out on R2R either, it was like I was so afraid of getting too many ideas from too many people or something, and i had ALREADY been frantically overloading on info to try to resolve it anyways, i just didn’t want to post anything.

This all was going on amidst the pandemic, so aside from issues with the tank itself, I was under constant stress from work, still trying to keep my sanity and having a lot of internal struggles with a lot of all that was the year 2020 smh. A lot of it really did contribute to my loss of control over my tank, which I had been so excited to start. There was a lot of neglect out of fear and being mentally drained constantly, and it all really did test my patience... But I really am still so interested in the hobby and the idea of keeping a thriving tank it still burning inside me.

Fast forward to a couple weeks back, I decided to start again. I don’t want to let intimidation scare me out of keeping a reef tank of my own, and I need to be better about not over reacting, and seek help here when i really need it. All of my stuff had been just sitting for months now, empty tank, filters, powerheads, lights, RO/DI, etc. so why not get it going again. This time around, trying smaller and simpler. Now i know smaller won’t be any easier, but I need to start as simple as possible. I set up my 10 gallon, and it is currently cycling. I am closely monitoring the parameters every day and so far the cycle is working very well, and I am excited again. I have a really good feeling about this one, and I will post a separate thread on that setup shortly to go into details and ask some questions I have.

Now after all that (I know it was long and I appreciate anyone who took the time to get here) I have hope that I can get through any obstacles that will come my way, and I have learned a lot about myself from the whole experience. I think I overloaded on too much information too early on. I think that I held myself back by being to afraid to add to my tank. I could’ve kept adding to the diversity earlier on to balance things out (obviously not all at once, but not months apart from one another). I got lazy and began to neglect when things didn’t go the way I had hoped. I didn’t have a clear idea or plan how to tackle the problems i had and just went at them chaotically and hoped it would just work. I didn’t ask for help. All of this, I believe, set me up for inevitable failure. I have hope that I can learn from all of that and do better.


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Indiana - born and bred
Glad you're getting back into it. No doubt, dinos are responsible for a lot of pain and reboots. I fought them for a year. Still have them I'm sure, but it's a truce now with my UV filter and ATS. They haven't been a serious issue for months. Not a recommendation on gear, just letting you know I've been there.

Looking back, I wish I'd have rebooted after the first outbreak. Would've saved corals and my fish when the second outbreak hit and they had already been stressed. Sometimes it is better to retreat so no judgements from me (and I doubt from anyone here). This is not an easy hobby and I don't think anyone ever really masters it. Two people (or fifty) can do exactly the same things and have different results. Just look at the experts with years and years of experience, they can have issues starting new tanks.

That, there's nothing like looking into a slice of reef in your living room when it all is going well.

Good luck with your new set up. I might have stayed with the 40, it is such a nice sized tank, but 10 gallon is an easy W/C away from a reset.

Any issues come up, don't wait. Reach out.

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