Mistakes can happen to the best of us. All we can do is learn from them and move on. But what if you could avoid making those mistakes that I and many reefers in the hobby have made?


The image above is my first ever marine aquarium. It is what got me into the hobby and where I made a lot of mistakes, but through trial and error I developed my knowledge and skills to better myself at keeping a sustainable underwater environment. This post aims to cut out the ‘trial and error’ part by discussing three mistakes I made all too often.

#1 – Keep Hands Out!

With my first tank  I was never happy with layout. I was forever putting my hands in the tank to move rock around, rearrange coral frags, disturb the sand etc. This would happen almost every time I stood and looked at my little aquarium for a long period of time. I just Wanted it to be perfect and photogenic.


Let your aquarium settle, if rock is out of place just leave it be or simply move it once. It’s a young aquarium and wont be perfect over night. Instead of a hands on approach get yourself a note pad and monitor your tank. Make notes of your water parameters, stages of cycle, fish behaviour etc. This is an ideal way to monitor and track your tanks progress and alerts you to possible issues.

If you need your hands in your tank ensure there is no soap, gels or creams on your skin and that your hands are clean. The last thing you want at this stage is to poison your system with washing up liquid.


#2 – Bigger is Always Better.

In this instance, yes bigger is better. I started as many probably have done in the past with a small aquarium thinking it would be easier to manage as my first dive into salt water. MISTAKE NUMBER TWO.

Let me explain, if you pour some dilute juice into two glasses, one full of water and the other half empty, one will be stronger and the other weaker? with me so far?? Well its the same for a marine tank as waste, ammonia, nitrates etc. build up, they are stronger in a smaller tank as there is less water to dilute them.

The bigger the water volume the easier it is to control your water parameters. Therefore the easier it is to keep a stable environment for your fish and coral, giving them the best chance of surviving. As I started with a small tank I found it hard to control my parameters. I lost fish and coral on a regular basis. Not what you want when your starting out!

So go bigger if you have the space and money, trust me…you will only get a bigger tank anyway.


#3 – Don’t stress over little things.

Last but not least, we have our third silly mistake. If I saw uneaten food I would panic and try to get it out as I wouldn’t want my parameters to spike. Or if I saw some algae or a critter on my rocks I would panic thinking the worst and worry that my system was ‘infected’ and that I would have to start all over. DONT WORRY!

When I say don’t worry I mean don’t stress over these things, yet. If you see critters or algae feel free to send us a message or visit our forum.  We will try and identify it and suggest what your next move should be. That been said many systems that do very well often have one or two critters or algae blooms. In small numbers many of the critters are fine and some are actually a good part of your clean up crew.

It is when these critters reach plague proportions that you should be concerned as they can have a negative effect on your system. Which if you are making regular notes (as suggested earlier in this post)  this will not happen in your tank. As your keen observational skills would have spotted the critters before they got out of control and by simply removing them from the system would solve the problem.


These are just three of the issues surrounding the marine hobbyist. But DONT WORRY! What ever silly question you have or silly mistake that you have made or will make, someone before you has already made them. There is a good chance I have made the same mistake. Its a learning process and as you practice you will get better and one day have the marine aquarium of your dreams.

So stick at it and keep an eye out for my next post for beginners!


If you found this post helpful or need support with your saltwater journey check out our forum and get advice from our reefing community.