It may also be function of time (and $$). Expert level requires a significant time commitment. I don't have, or don't want to spend, the time necessary. So I don't keep "high end" livestock. However, I'm glad some do!
Personally, I'd love to keep pipefish, garden eels, and cuttlefish (NOT all in the same tank, obviously). I don't consider it ego, rather that these animals are adorable and I want to watch them thrive under my care.
Could be simpler than ego per se... alot of us are just wired/taught to always achieve the 'next level'. Generally to the point of failure or incompetence like the Peter Principal. At that point we either settle back down or learn and adapt.
For me it was a bit of both... I love some of the more difficult fish like my orange spot files (before I sold them) or Achilles because of past mistakes I learned from. I also just ordered several royal grammas because they're beautiful so who cares if they are standard.
Acropora aren’t expert level in my opinion, but more about patience, consistency, and the willingness to spend a lot of time and money .
The “expert-only” label on fish or coral should be seen as a big red warning, keep-away sign and not a challenge to conquer.
“Expert-only” fish often have very specific or special requirements along with low survival rates. The average or even seasoned hobbyist isn’t going to meet these requirements due to tank size, required diet, specific temperature or salinity, etc…
It should not be a negative to anyone’s ego to stay away from “expert-only” livestock. Attempting “expert-only” livestock can be more of a negative to a persons ego and pocketbook.
It took one difficult fish for me to say “F this. Easy fish from now on”
I watched a pearly headed jaw fish wither away. Despite warnings of “you can’t have enough pods in a 75 gallon for him to survive long term”. I wrote those off to people being lazy in their own previous care of the same animal.
I was wrong and that little fish died because I couldn’t keep enough pods for him in my system. There are plenty fish that are beautiful and easy to keep. I’ll keep them instead of killing the ones jo should bever be taken from the ocean. My fat and happy blue spotted goby says hello.
My method with coral is different. it isn’t a sentinant being. I don’t really care how “difficult” it is to keep. I look at my parms. If they meet what the coral needs it’s purchase is a possibility. Then I ask myself, “if I melt this coral will I be disgusted by the money I wasted” whether finger leather or Dan Akroid, if the answer is “yes you will be disgusted with yourself” I walk away. If the answer is meh, who cares. It’s only $__.99”. Then I buy it. Unless it is NPS. Even though beautiful, I won’t do it. Sun corals and blueberry gorgonian are my two absolute favorite pieces. But I’ve killed enough to know that it just isn’t worth trying.
I enjoy the challenge. One of my tanks is populated with sponges and other NPS critters. I also keep blue line and Janses pipefish. My freshwater tanks have wild Discus and Altum angels. Maybe, I am just a masochist