I wrote this. I hope it is taken correctly.
1.) buy all the hardware and chemicals you need before you ever add a single live item to your tank.
Reason: I ended up putting all my livestock into a sump and spare tank to drain everything because my bulkhead did not fit my drainhole and had to re-drill. Also, I did not get my chemical balance right immediately, so I ended up killing a few things.
Losses due to this: Red sea star, cleaner shrimp
2.) Cycle, cycle, cycle. Know the nitrogen cycle for SALTWATER, as nitrates are ok for freshwater, but not for SALTWATER. Know it, live it, love it.
Losses due to this: Pajama cardinal
is your friend if you have access to it. Saves money, time and heartache. Go low tide and collect. No need for RO
. no need for salt mixes that can be iffy, no need to figure anything out. From the ocean, the water is the right SG
, the right ph, etc. If you can get NSW
and strain it through a coffee filter, you will be very glad you did.
4.) Get to know the SMART people at the local fish shoppe. Everyone has horror stories about the LFS
. But I guarentee if you go to the mom and pop down the road with the dirty floors, you are going to find a person who has been through what you are going through and can help you. Just be smart, and look for someone who isn't a moron. It isn't that hard.
is NOTHING like FW
. NOTHING. I can't stress this enough. You might have discus in a totally planted and fertilizer dosed tank with CO2
injection, but it a TOTALLY different world.
6.) Buy good test kits. GOOD TEST KITS. LIQUID TEST KITS. Strip test kits are for sissies, FW
. If you are doing a SW
tank with strips, please, call your local reef society members and trade your tank in for a betta and a vase. Did i mention that SW
is a completely different world from FW
7.) Never trust ANYONE who says "trust me, I am not a newb." I don't care if your are 6 days or 60 years into your tank....they just found 80 new SW
lifeforms. Anyone who boasts they are not new at this is definately new.
8.) Learn to accept loss. This is something I learned on the freshy side of things. At one point in time, i panicked over the simplest problems... even sleeping tiger barbs. You have to understand that no matter what you do, YOU cannot replace or be better than mother nature.
9.) MORE isn't always better. Adding more snake oil to your tanks will not solve your problems. More cool gadets and techinical gizmos do not have more success than the guy relying on just LR
to filter the tank. A 90000 gallon reef can crash as much as a 9 gallon one can. This isn't to say you should not buy all you can afford reef wise, tank wise or mechanical plumbing doo-dad wise, but to say you can indeed afford to enjoy SW
life too. Don't buy what everyone says. Buy what you can, and do research. Chances are you can turn that 20 gallon in your garage into a successful reef if you learn enough. The key is knowledge. Not money and gadgets.
10.) LIFE wants to LIVE. I am not saying dump a gallon of windex in your tank to see if your xenia can take it, but don't be scared to death to take action. If i listened 100% to how delicate everyone tells me everything is (from my FW
zebra danios to my delicate open brain coral) I would have not set up a single fishtank ever, and if i did, only in a complete NASA rated clean room vacuum. Here is definately where I am going to catch H - E - double toothpicks... I smoke while I clean my fishtanks. I smoke in my house (I have no children or spouses, I live with my sister, who also smokes). I have cats who lick out of the sump and tap on the glass of ALL my tanks, FW
. I have accidentally overdosed iodine and caused my shrimp to molt. I sprayed RAID in my garbage can in my kitchen 5 feet from my tank once to kill ants. I even *GASP* put my freshly lotioned and smooth hands in my SW
tank to move a coral that was faltering on the LR
I guess what the whole point of this is, be educated, but don't be scared. You can have a reef too. You can have fish be healthy and happy. Your corals can survive more than you give them credit for, but be at least cautious. Try to do the best you can. Learn and read all you can. But Do It. It is more rewarding than you can ever imagine.