I have been a hobbiest for over half my life. I have experienced firsthand the many pitfalls which contributed to the notion of abandoning the marine home aquarium. Although moving on was an option I seemed to always be drawn to the beauty, the diversity and challenges which this hobby has to offer.
I learned that there is an element in reef keeping which when ignored contributes to failure. The failure was neglecting to consider the long term cost in creating a reef feature, and mentally establishing the time and effort it takes in maintaining a reefscape.
Most people are unaware that the aquarium itself, the filters, pumps, and lights are the cheapest and least time consuming aspect of the maintaining a saltwater feature. True, top quality equipment is high ticket items up front but in the long run are the cheapest. My advice is this: This hobby is expensive, and in some areas, you just can't cut corners. If you can't afford it, don't get involved with it. The 'junk' equipment stems from this often ignored fact.
Second, and probably more critical is the time and energy it takes to maintain a reefscape.
The statement: "Too many people 'dive' into setting up a reef like a fresh water system- buying an aquarium, filling it with de-chlorinated water, adding the animals, and then expecting it to thrive like that in the ocean", demonstrates exactly the mentality of reef keeping. (This may work with goldfish or guppies, but it's not going to work for SW.)
There are two types of people in this hobby: Those who are dedicated and those who are caught up in the "cool" phase. From the reefers I have met who have long term satisfying success in this hobby have a deep understanding that a reef tank requires maintenance (time) and upkeep (money). This hobby requires dedication and very few people who get into it are truly dedicated. This is comparable to owning a puppy. It needs to be walked, fed, brushed, groomed, vet visits, etc... Reef keeping is akin to this. There is some instant instant gratification but a nice reef and long term enjoyment takes time and diligent dedication to establish.
In conclusion, if one desires to 'grow a reef' he or she must take 3-6 months to research and develop a plan which takes into account the due diligence in maintaining and growing a reef for long term. If this small step proves too difficult to achieve then maybe another hobby should be chosen. Avoiding research and planning leaves one vulnerable to the real pitfall, mainly, impulse buying.
My next article will attempt to offer basic course of action and strategies to aid in the long term satisfaction of growing a reef.
Aquarium hobby since 1968. Marine and reef experience since 1980. My aquarium was the feature aquarium in the 1994 issue of the FYI section of the Kansas City Star. I own and operate PrimeReef Aquatics since 2005. Moderator on http://www.easymeters.com/ forum.
http://www.primereefaquatics.com/ - primereefaquatics.com supplies top quality products, livestock and advice for the serious hobbiest. Their goal is to aid in the advancement and enjoyment of growing a reef. Unlike most suppliers they are interested in the quality of growing a reef not solely the profit of it. For your long term enjoyment of your captive reef system please visit my website at the above link for top quality products.
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