Though in many ways keeping a marine aquarium is easier today than it’s ever been, entry into our hobby is still fraught with confusion. To a large extent, this can be attributed to the incredible variety of choices available nowadays for meeting the husbandry requirements of marine livestock as well as solving various problems that arise. Heck, the reef-lighting options alone are so diverse that if I were just starting out in the hobby today, my head would probably explode trying to process all that information! And, of course, there’s still a pretty hefty learning curve to mastering the fundamentals of the hobby.
That’s why I urge all you experienced salties out there to share your wisdom with at least one novice hobbyist as a marine aquarium mentor. Here are 4 other good reasons to do so:
1. It’s refreshing
Ask any teacher, and he or she will tell you that explaining a concept to students or guiding them through a step-by-step process is the best way to refresh your own knowledge on the subject. Not to mention, if the flame of your passion for the marine aquarium hobby has been burning a bit low as of late, mentoring an enthusiastic newcomer might just be the spark to reignite it.
2. You’ll help eliminate costly trial and error
Every hobby newcomer learns that missteps in this hobby can be costly—not just from a budgetary standpoint, but also in terms of untimely fish and invertebrate deaths. Learning how to do things right the first time under the tutelage of an experienced hobbyist can save considerable cash while preventing a lot of unnecessary livestock losses. That’s good for our hobby in general as well as for the mentee in particular.
3. You’ve been there yourself
Think back to your earliest days in the marine aquarium hobby. Perhaps you were in it totally alone and had to feel your way blindly through the process of setting up and stocking that first tank. Or maybe you benefitted from the wisdom of an experienced hobbyist who was generous with his or her time and expertise. If the former applies, why not help a newcomer avoid all the aggravation you went through just trying to figure out the basics? And if the latter is true, here’s your opportunity to give something back.
4. It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
There’s no reason your mentor-mentee relationship can’t ultimately transform into a long-term friendship based on mutual interest, each offering the other someone with whom to share successes and failures, discuss ideas, trade coral frags and equipment, attend hobby-related conferences, etc. After all, this journey is much more fun and gratifying when someone else is along for the ride!