Is the hobby really fun or simply rewarding if done successfully? Possibly another go tank thread...

Charley

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I've come to the conclusion that at least for me, this hobby not really fun, but maybe rewarding if you can manage a nice reef tank for a good period of time. If a friend or stranger asked me today is the the hobby fun, I would not say that it is fun and a great hobby to be in. I would say it potentially can be REWARDING if you put in alot of time, spend alot of money (if you're not a DIY type) and have the patience to sort through alot of very confusing info. Not to mention, if would be helpful if you have some aptitude for chemistry and even better if you know some plumbing, electrical and can be consistent with maintenance or things may go awry fast And even with all that any slip up and you could still be toast. Even with all the above if you do not take the time to quarantine and be super diligent as to what goes in your tank you are looking for trouble: pests, diseases, etc..

I think we do a huge disservice to the hobby if we do not fully explain in detail what the hobby entails.

The problem with LFS is that tanks are usually empty tanks with fish to be sold(not really showing any algae/chemistry issues) or maybe 2 very well maintained show tanks making it appear "easy". Potential new people will not fully grasp the problems with what lies ahead. They do not see the algae probs, the balancing of chemicals required, strict maintenance schedules,tons of expensive equip to keep it going, etc......its too rosy a picture right off the bat. Then when disaster strikes...they're out.

I have no excuse really. I go into LFS stores often enough, read alot. But I really did not grasp how delicate the balance really is. I thought If got some nice equip it would be enough have a nice tank, to stave off disasters........wow, I was so wrong.

At this point, I am just about ready to pack it in. If it was not for wife insisting I stay in, oddly enough, because I love the oceans, fish, corals, etc I would be gone by now for sure. I am 51% per in/49% out mentally at this point.

I just went through another unexpected semi crash on my 90 gal which I have up and running almost 2 yrs. Before that I had a 29 gal biocube which did fairly well.The 90 gal did ok for about 9 mos. I added a refugium, cheato growing nicely, nice pod population. Kept the phosphates and nitrates near zero and one day all hell broke loose with dinoflagelattes. I stayed calm, did 3 day blackouts, then 5 day blackouts, then 7 day blackouts, knocked them back but they would rebound. At that point the chaeto died in the refugium. Then GHA grew in the DT. I decided to naturally out compete the dino's. I let the GHA grow, flooded the tank with phytoplankton and it worked. Dinos been gone for about 9 mos. in the meanwhile I also had a brooklynella outbreak, about 8 mos ago, that killed all the fish when I went on vacation. My son did not notice. Had that to deal with in the midst of all this. But the tank rebounded nicely, nice group of fish, corals growing nicely, just a ton of beautiful GHA now. In a sense my DT was a big refugium. The only prob was the GHA was a bit too much and when I knocked it back a bit by hand it would clog the overflow because I could not catch every little pc. So about a month ago I decided to get rid of GHA using NoPox. It knocked it back, I would pull some off too, kept clogging the overflow. Anyway, enough dead GHA made it to the sump, then the pump, which seized, tripped the breaker and now a semi crash. Could not have been off more than a few hours if that. But when turned back ff it must have let loose some bacteria, killed some fish and corals. So upset......it's enough already.

However, I did not do more than 2 water changes in the last 9 mos. Again because of the dinoflagelattes. they come roaring back with water changes. Plus the levels in my tank seemed very good, fish happy, corals growing, no dino's.

At a crossroad: to buy a dual reactor for carbon, gfo, a back up battery, ato , apex for automation, a doser ( been dosing by hand to save $ ), uv sterlizer to keep dinos away, more coral, more fish and poof another easy few hundred bucks gone and more.

Do I really want to double down? Not really. I do not think the risk/reward ratio is my favor. I think this is why so many people are leaving the hobby. It is not fun, just maybe rewarding if it works. That's it.

Sure the shows are fun
Some great people
Like the educational part
The new technology is fun to see

It simply is not enough. The expense, maintenance, uncertainty, the confusing and often times conflicting info, the constant vigilance to maintain the delicate balance, the constant churning of $ with now higher prices of corals.....I fail to see the appeal any more. I go to hit the proceed the checkout buttons to purchase stuff and I just cannot bring myself to do it. Just can't. Haven't even rehooked up the protein skimmer.

Anyway, I might just put up pics of my tank starting right before the crash and after and how I try to rebuild if I do. Just a thought.
 

Halal Hotdog

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When things go south in reef keeping, second guessing yourself is natural. Simplicity is key for me. I just went through a mini crash that made me almost miss my brother's wedding. To my defense he will probably get married a few more times ;-).

The key for me is simplicity and trying to maintain stability with smart outlets. The more complex I make my setup the worse the outcome, and the more regret I have. Expense in this hobby is massive, and I've reached a point where I just want to trade corals. I don't anticipate making anymore large purchases, and if I can't trade for it I don't want it.

Equipment costs are insane right now. Not going to be playing into that.

For me avoiding the guys that try to make this a career is also more enjoyable. Way too many people trying to pop up coral businesses based purely on making money. Local reef society keeps this fun for me.
 
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KrisReef

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I think about my tank this way off and on. If I would have saved all the money that I spent over the years on reefing my wife would have spent it on booze and she’d probably have been dead by now.

I can’t think this way too long or else I get angry at myself for all the bad choices I’ve made. I could be single without a reef tank to maintain, money in the bank, and no one to remind me of what I could have had.
 

mannyhernz

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Ive gone through some rough spots this year, but honestly if you have love for the hobby then keep at it..to me it sounds like you really dont like it, maybe try something different where you will have constant passion for it..good look in whatever you decide to do.
 

Leslie Tabor

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Well just reading that, I can tell you, you could make things a lot simpler. I feel there are several things you are doing that are sabotaging your efforts. This hobby is incredibly fun but, you are right, it is work. Not doing the basics, that is what gets many people in trouble. Just read the..."My tank crashed" threads, you will start to see trends. Good luck to you, hope you find the joy in it, or what is the point really?
 

Snookin

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If you don’t have fun then you should probably find a new hobby. I don’t want to come off mean or anything and most people will respond to stick it out and they’ll be really supportive on R2R but man life is about doing things you enjoy. If it isn’t a fun hobby scrap it and do something you enjoy. Whatever you choose good luck!
 
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Charley

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When things go south in reef keeping, second guessing yourself is natural. Simplicity is key for me. I just went through a mini crash myself that I made me almost miss my brother's wedding. To my defense he will probably get married a few more times ;-).

The key for me is simplicity and trying to maintain stability with smart outlets. The more complex I make my setup the worse the outcome, and the more regret I have. Expense in this hobby is massive, and I've reached a point where I just want to trade corals. I don't anticipate making anymore large purchases, and if I can't trade for it I don't want it.

Equipment costs are insane right now. Not going to be playing into that.

For me avoiding the guys that try to make this a career is also more enjoyable. Way too many people trying to pop up coral businesses based purely on making money. Local reef society keeps this fun for me.
Thank you for the nice response Halal. I just do not know where simplicity ends a complexity begins. I am with you on simplicity if I can. For example, I topped off by hand, dosed by hand, no reactors, just carbon bags and things went south eventually. Oddly enough it seems from low phos and nitrates resulting in dinoflagellates. Maybe if I didn't have the refugium at that time doing so well dinoflagellates never would have appeared. I used a plastic container for the refugium it was so cheap lol. I travel alot and automation seems like it might be useful maybe bordering on necessary.
 

ScottR

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@Charley - Have you thought about a fish only tank? Maybe a big piece of dry rock in the middle? Much simpler. Fewer demands. Make it bare bottom. The LFS have clean tanks because they change the water almost daily. They keep only fish and they don’t need coral intensity lighting so that keeps algae down.
 
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Charley

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If you don’t have fun then you should probably find a new hobby. I don’t want to come off mean or anything and most people will respond to stick it out and they’ll be really supportive on R2R but man life is about doing things you enjoy. If it isn’t a fun hobby scrap it and do something you enjoy. Whatever you choose good luck!
You do not come off mean at all. Appreciate the honesty.

I think also it is why other people leave the hobby too. I am being as open as I can with what I am thinking.

How can people improve the experience and more importantly the expectations of being in the hobby if there is only sugar coating. More people would stay in if they knew from the outset the challenges of the hobby. Plus in knowing the challenges upfront in theory only the people who accept that challenge would be more likely to be long termers.Better for the hobby.
 
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Charley

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@Charley - Have you thought about a fish only tank? Maybe a big piece of dry rock in the middle? Much simpler. Fewer demands. Make it bare bottom. The LFS have clean tanks because they change the water almost daily. They keep only fish and they don’t need coral intensity lighting so that keeps algae down.
Thanks Scott, good option to consider, much appreciated.
 
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Bleigh

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I find it immensely enjoyable. Though, I suspect I’d be frustrated if my stuff kept crashing. I think things can be kept simple while ensuring you have some redundancy. Salt water is harsh and things will fail. Being as equipped to deal with those things will make things more simple. Also, to me, simple isn’t minimal. Simple means having the equipment in place to not have to be constantly messing with my tank myself. Keeping equipment minimal means more complexity for me in my reef keeping maintenance.
 

ScottR

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Thanks Scott, good option to consider, much appreciated.
Good luck! I saw a fish only tank a few months ago. It looked so effortless but it was beautiful. Watching all the fish swim about was beautiful. Their rock was built into an arch and watches tangs and wrasses swim about was fun to see.
 

NotASpammerDude

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It's a great post.
But I would say that "fun" is really... a loaded term.
That implies "transience"

Would you ask a painter, "Is it fun?"

Maintaining a reef tank, to me, is like building... designing... improvising... caretaking...

The reward is in the journey... not so much in the "splash" that buying new corals and devices gives me. Yes, there is some "fun" in making new purchases or installing new gadgets, but that's not what reefkeeping means to me. It's not about expanding your collection (even though that's exactly what coral sellers want to sell the hobby as), it's about the journey of living creatures existing and growing in a captive ecosystem.

It's about discovering the unknown in even the smallest scales right in front of my eyes: organisms, life, biology, chemistry...

If someone is "in it for the fun" I would not say they will be "in it for long"
 
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Charley

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I find it immensely enjoyable. Though, I suspect I’d be frustrated if my stuff kept crashing. I think things can be kept simple while ensuring you have some redundancy. Salt water is harsh and things will fail. Being as equipped to deal with those things will make things more simple. Also, to me, simple isn’t minimal. Simple means having the equipment in place to not have to be constantly messing with my tank myself. Keeping equipment minimal means more complexity for me in my reef keeping maintenance.
That's an excellent point that simple does not mean minimal.
 
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Charley

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It's a great post.
But I would say that "fun" is really... a loaded term.
That implies "transience"

Would you ask a painter, "Is it fun?"

Maintaining a reef tank, to me, is like building... designing... improvising... caretaking...

The reward is in the journey... not so much in the "splash" that buying new corals and devices gives me. Yes, there is some "fun" in making new purchases or installing new gadgets, but that's not what reefkeeping means to me. It's not about expanding your collection (even though that's exactly what coral sellers want to sell the hobby as), it's about the journey of living creatures existing and growing in a captive ecosystem.

It's about discovering the unknown in even the smallest scales right in front of my eyes: organisms, life, biology, chemistry...

If someone is "in it for the fun" I would not say they will be "in it for long"
Yes, totally agree.....wish the hobby did a better job of "selling" that way from the get go. I think the hobby would be better served.

For the record, I would probably be dumb dumb enough to ask a painter is it fun:)
 
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Snookin

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Yes, totally agree.....wish the hobby did a better job of "selling" that way from the get go. I think the hobby would be better served.

For the record, I would probably be dumb dumb enough to ask a painter is it fun:)
I think the hobby does a good job especially with large companies like BRS. Their 52 weeks of reef keeping is full of info. The small independent LFS have to sell. They are dieing off and will be gone soon. But the large reputable companies are making videos and explaining setting up a tank in detail.
 
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Charley

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I think the hobby does a good job especially with large companies like BRS. Their 52 weeks of reef keeping is full of info. The small independent LFS have to sell. They are dieing off and will be gone soon. But the large reputable companies are making videos and explaining setting up a tank in detail.
Yes, love the BRS videos! This part of the hobby I totally enjoy. However, I did not come to know BRS till after I was the hobby.

Once mentioned in another post that maybe we all should be required to have a fish hobbyist license to be in the hobby like a driver's license. This way one would have a good understanding of what is entailed .
 

Snookin

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Yes, love the BRS videos! This part of the hobby I totally enjoy. However, I did not come to know BRS till after I was the hobby.

Once mentioned in another post that maybe we all should be required to have a fish hobbyist license to be in the hobby like a driver's license. This way one would have a good understanding of what is entailed .
I don’t want more government regulation in my hobby. So have to disagree here on getting registered to keep fish. That’s ludicrous
 

Snookin

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Yes, love the BRS videos! This part of the hobby I totally enjoy. However, I did not come to know BRS till after I was the hobby.

Once mentioned in another post that maybe we all should be required to have a fish hobbyist license to be in the hobby like a driver's license. This way one would have a good understanding of what is entailed .
Also, I’m a researcher when buying anything. People that walk into a LFS and just buy things based off one person or companies opinion are just uneducated buyers and usually the people ending up with problems. Being an educated buyer if its fish, cars , TVs or anything ensures you have a better overall experience with a product or service. Making a uneducated impulsive purchase at a LFS and not doing the research is the problem.
 
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