Mistakes I made as a Newbie

Discussion in 'New To The Hobby' started by inwall75, Feb 23, 2010.

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  1. inwall75

    inwall75 Giant Squid

    Sep 10, 2003
    I made sooooo many mistakes on my entry into this hobby that it's completely embarassing. I figured that if 3Reef members saw some of the mistakes we've made, you will;

    A) Learn from our mistakes and,
    B) Make better choices than we did.

    What are some of your mistakes? Here's a few of mine.

    • Didn't buy a good all around book for the basics.

      Started too small. My first tank was a 9 gallon Eclipse with normal output lighting and hang on back mechanical filtration. (Larger tanks are more forgiving of newbies mistakes. It seemed fine to me because my wife was told that tank was fine which leads me to my next point....)

      Looked for answers from people rather than looking to understand the reasons for those answers. (If you don't understand the basics of lighting, filtration, the "cycle", coral biology or fish biology, this is going to be a VERY frustrating hobby for you).

      Didn't understand the pros/cons of various sizes of crushed coral Vs. various grades of sands and how the maintenance of them is very different. (For instance, if you have crushed coral, expect to need to vacuum it because it traps detritus/uneaten food).

      Didn't research livestock on my own BEFORE purchasing it and trusted the person at the LFS. Not only did I have a baby horseshoe crab in a 9 gallon not knowing how big it would get, it was also in a very course crushed coral substrate.....it died.

      I didn't find a real mentor. My "mentor" was a guy named Brad who was very helpful at the LFS which I went to EVERY Saturday. After a few months of frustration and me asking him questions every Saturday, a LFS employee took me aside and said, "Don't listen to Brad. He doesn't even work here. He just hangs out here during the weekend, messes up people's tanks, and then tries to get customers to subscribe to his maintenance services. Haven't you noticed that he can't ring you out?" (I hadn't).

      Tried to do a fairly expensive hobby too cheap. Example, after finding out I needed a better filter for a tank that was not all that ideal for marine tanks, I looked at two models. One was about 30% more. That's the one I really wanted and needed, but I chose to save the money and bought the cheaper one.....then 3 months later, went and bought the one I should have purchased in the first place. In other words I spent substantially more than if I had purchased the right filter in the first place. Did I learn my lesson from this mistake? Nope. I upgraded my lighting twice too. All I accomplished was spending more money and starting my "equipment graveyard" in a closet.

      I didn't use the Internet to my advantage. Granted, things were different back in the days of Usenet Newsgroups. You guys pretty much have it made. Many more people in the hobby, forums with excellent search engines, photo's, etc.

    I'll add more to this later....just wanted to give it a start.
    7 people like this.
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  3. irr0001

    irr0001 Purple Tang

    Feb 19, 2009
    Auburn, Alabama
    I have to say I'm guilty of all of those too. Upgraded lighting a couple times..listened to unreliable people, etc. Good post!
  4. Powerman

    Powerman Giant Squid

    Oct 3, 2008
    Awesome post Inwall.
  5. Screwtape

    Screwtape Tonozukai Fairy Wrasse

    Sep 25, 2008
    One big mistake I made was stocking coral too fast, especially SPS. It wasn't that the tank was too young, but it was the fact that it was a small system, about 40-45g of water in the system and I had a lot of SPS that when they started taking off after a month or two being in the tank I wasn't prepared to keep the chemistry stable, especially the alkalinity. My alkalinity would drop from 10dkh to 8dkh every day by the end of the day. I tried dosing twice a day for a while to try and keep the alk swings to 1dkh but couldn't keep that up over a period of months. I really needed to have an automated doser for 2 part or kalkwasser or calcium reactor setup.
    I learned that it can take coral months to really settle in and take off.
    Success in this hobby isn't measured in months, a lot of corals and fish can handle poor parameters/underfeeding etc for months before they finally kick the bucket. One year old is the BEGINNING of the tank, not a successful tank, IMO. ;D

    I also went cheap on the skimmer and regret it now on my old tank, it works OK but definitely is not ideal IMO.
  6. Reef2Keep

    Reef2Keep Purple Spiny Lobster

    Nov 8, 2009
    Dana Point, CA
    Nice post. I will agree with you saying that I'm lucky to have started in this hobby when I did...the internet, and 3reef!, are a wealth of knowledge that have already steered me in the right direction several times. However, I've still made some of those beginner mistakes, lol.

    Research, reseach and research - then make the choice:)
  7. xmetalfan99

    xmetalfan99 Giant Squid

    Aug 19, 2009
    morgantown, wv
    My mistakes were:

    1) listening to the people at petco and employees at other LFS that don't have tanks and seemed like there were trying to just sell a lot of crap
    2) stocking to quickly
    3) no skimmer or fuge
    4) trying to start it cheap
    5) not doing a butt load of research
    6) not cycling the tank
    7) Not having patience
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  9. amcarrig

    amcarrig Super Moderator Staff Member

    Aug 4, 2004
    The biggest mistakes I have made in the hobby:

    1. Using live rock. My punishment: Anemone majano and bryopsis outbreaks. Fast forward almost 10 years and the bryopsis was still an issue as it got transferred between the old tank and a new one via a coral from the old tank. Lost thousands of dollars in corals as the algae choked them out. Solution: Have your 180 gallon tank spring a leak so that you have to start from scratch.

    2. Not quarantining corals before adding them to a tank. My punishment: The loss of thousands of dollars due to an infestation of montipora eating nudibranchs. We also got red bugs but those were so simple to get rid of, it was almost a non-issue.
  10. Conor

    Conor Fire Worm

    Feb 11, 2010
    Some of my mistakes:

    Putting one percula and one ocellaris together [Took the lfs workers word for it]
    [II] Buying a biOrb FOWLR tank rather than a bio cube/nano cube/orca etc.. and upgrading too reef.
  11. MoJoe

    MoJoe Dragon Wrasse

    Jan 13, 2010
    nice post. the internet has become an amazing resource for the hobby but at the same time it also has a wealth of uneducated mis-information. I pray the SW noobs find 3reef first so they're not stuck using Yahoo Answers for all their questions!
  12. AZDesertRat

    AZDesertRat Giant Squid

    Jul 30, 2009
    Phoenix AZ
    My biggest two mistakes were
    1. Against everyones advice buying a sand sifting star and adding it to my beautiful 330 lb DSB which was crawling with pods, spaghetti worms and mini brittle stars. Boy was that a costly mistake! In less than 3 months it looked like the Gobi Desert, not a single live thing left in it. It took 2 years and countless cups of donated sand from friends, numerous bottles of Ocean Pods, lots and lots of reef stew and patience to get it hback even close to where it was. If you want a fully functioning DSB, no sand sifters!

    2. Not zapping those couple of mojano anemones that were on tha tone hard to get to rock clean down in back. This might have been even dumber than #1 above. Mojanos took over and wiped out hundreds and probably over a thousand dollars worth of SPS and LPS corals in a years time. I am still paying for this one over a year later. I removed and cooked all 160+ lbs of live rock and still get the occasional mojano which now promptly gets zapped with kalk paste.

    When I started in the reef hobby there was no Internet and PC's were unheard of, that was about 1980 or 81. Today I depend on it!