I believe learning in this hobby is a daily adventure. There are tons of things I know today that would have helped me greatly when getting going in this hobby only a short 14 months ago which could have avoided some costly mistakes and wet floors. (Oh!! The return line goes IN the sump.)
I have created a short list of things/rules I would go tell that eager young aquarist whom was (and still is today) very wet behind the ears. Please feel free to include yours in the comments as well â€“ Iâ€™d love to hear from some more senior and junior reef-builders.
10. Aquascaping: Don’t build rock structures so close to the sides of the tank it makes it near impossible to keep the glass clean of algae. Secure rocks with reef-safe glue or drilled metal rods, hermit crabs have the uncanny ability to dislodge even the most securely piled rocks. Watch out below â€“ Anemone Iâ€™m looking at you.
9. Tank Placement: Put the tank in a lower traffic area, places where people walk around often and or has loud music can scare inhabitants into sickness. Also choose a location with more room/better access because where are you going to put that 30 gallon top-off bucket and that skimmer rated for a 300 gallon tank that you got from that sick deal on eBay.
8. Find a single source for rock: I wish I purchased all my rock from one place, now it seems that I have 30 different styles of rock; some porous, some smooth, some branchy. The rocks may turn all the same color, but visually itâ€™s a little â€œmessyâ€ in some areas. I wish it matched a bit more.
7. Finding the right tank: I purchased a 72 gallon glass tank in which the bottom was already tempered. So I ended up getting an overflow which has worked well for me, but it is unsightly and sometimes the siphon breaks which creates all sorts of wet floors.
6. Plumbing Planning: I wish I had realized how often I would be doing water changes and planned a way to easily pump water in and out of the system. Dragging 15 gallons of water across my apartment is not a fun Saturday morning — sometimes I can even hear my fish laughing at me. Jerks.
5. Sump Planning: I created a DIY sump because who has $300.00 for a pre-made acrylic sump. All and all I did a fairly decent job at converting a 20 gallon long tank into a sump, but I wish I did a better job planning on what type/room of return pump, skimmer and Plexiglas I wanted. One piece of thin acrylic holding back 15 gallons of water tends to bend a lot, next time use thicker glass and leave yourself some room for that Deep Sand Bed (DSB).
4. Believe it or not, water is the main ingredient in an AQUArium: We spend hundreds of dollars on pumps, filters, critters, tanks, lights, chemicals and we skimp where it matters most. The water. I was battling hair algae, cyanobacteria and high phosphates for several months before I realized that my city water was just not cutting it. Once I purchased my RO-DI system my tank started to clean up and now is easier than ever to maintain.
3. Research, Research, Research: Fish species are well documented and whether or not they exhibit those behaviors for the 5 minutes you are looking at them is an Indication on how they will act 3 years from then. When getting my tank started after the initial cycle I was looking for some fish to start my community. I was in the Local Fish Store (LFS) in my area and he mentioned that the â€œBlue Damselâ€ was a good starter fish and a good addition to any aquarium. They seemed cute and harmless so instead of going online and reading the countless horror stories about this type of fish, I took his word for it and soon had 4 bullies in my tank beating up on any other fish that was introduced. Buying fish for a tank is like inviting a new member into a society and can profound affects on the rest of the members of your tank.
2. Feed less: The majority of the fish are cold blooded, they only need a small amount of food to keep them warm (the main reason why we need to eat so much), healthy and happy. A large majority of tank crashes and problems can be linked to too much food buildup. A rule of thumb I heard is that every fish should eat a portion of food twice the size of his eye, twice a day. I on the other hand need a Cheeseburger, a Salami Sandwich, a Grilled Chicken Salad and a Breakfast Burrito once daily to sustain.
1. The first rule of Marine Aquariums: is that you donâ€™t talk about .. wait wrong article. The first rule of marine landscaping as it was told to me is that only bad things happen quickly. Advance slowly, have some patients and enjoy your little world.
BONUS: Get a second job, youâ€™re gonna need it.