Step Away From The Tank (When Is It Time To Quit The Hobby?)

Posted by on October 15, 2013 - zero


Step Away from the Tank (When is it time to quit the hobby?)

Animals are a fragile link in the chain of the immense ecosystem. Most of them were here before humans. The fact of the matter is that animals are important to the well being of the planet. Even maggots play a role in cleaning up messes. It may be disgusting, it may be raunchy, but a rotten animal will smell much worse on its own for a longer period of time than it would without a belly full of what makes us all sick to the stomach.

Something else that makes us animal lovers sick to the stomach is when we hear about preventable problems that result in mass repetition of death and failure. Not everyone is cut out for keeping saltwater, though that is not even the main problem. The biggest reason for failure is the lack of taking advice and more importantly, using the advice asked for. Some people will learn and improve their systems while others will be stubborn and try to ask the same question in different forms expecting the answer they want to hear rather than the tried and true methods available. Others may simply be in over their head financially. A reef tank is not a cheap hobby, especially one with a lot of misguidance.


At one point it is time to make the ultimate decision. Do you bite the bullet and follow the advice or is this simply too much for you? It is seven thousand times better to admit defeat and surrender before the nukes get launched. Enough misguidance can kill an entire tank, along with your motivation to keep trying. We, the hobbyists, have enough of a problem trying to convince animal rights activists that we are actually benefiting the ocean. To prevent as much bad publicity as possible we have created a guide to help you decide if you are truly ready for this delicate hobby.


This is by far the most important characteristic of a successful reef keeper. There are many tasks that most people just do not want to do. Being motivated enough to go through with these tasks is key to keeping a healthy reef. If you are not motivated there is still another option. You can pay someone else to maintain your tank. If you are lucky enough to have a friend with a knack for reefing they may even offer to take responsibility of it for free. A serious reef enthusiast will not let other tanks die if they can help it. It is possible to be too motivated and rush things. Be calm, patient, and just let it go. If you cannot do that you are in the wrong hobby.

What would you rather do? Clean your tank or watch TV? Not many people WANT to clean but a good hobbyists will want a clean tank and do what it takes to get it there. If the end result is not enough to make the present tasks seem more important to you then say bye to having the best tank you can have and most likely you will be encouraged to proceed to early retirement from the hobby.



This can arguably be above motivation due to the fact that you can pay others to do the work, however if you like to do your own maintenance this is a close second. Motivation may make you a good candidate but if you cannot afford the essentials you won’t have anything to be motivated about. If you get blown away by prices of equipment, livestock, or supplements then it is time to step over to the freshwater hobby for a while or forget aquariums all together. DIY is an option to save money, but long term care may still be over your budget or you are not a skilled craftsman, as most equipment requires some level of precision. Do the research before you buy the gear or try to build anything.

Losing your job is sometimes an unexpected tragedy but luckily you have made a somewhat decent investment if you are the owner of a thriving reef tank. A reef tank can be what helps you get by between jobs by parting it out, selling frags, fish, or even the whole thing. If you do it right you may still have most of a reef tank by the time your new job kicks in. This may not always be the case if your tank is rather new or has been neglected severely for various reasons.


If you are the careless type who ignores signs that your tank needs attention then you are one of the types that gives the people who do care a bad name. The biggest thing people ignore is quarantine. This is an extremely cheap and simple step that can make or break your tank’s population. If you do not quarantine all of your livestock you are ignoring the well being of the rest of your tank along with the new animals as well.

We are here to help you, and for free!!! When signs of problems occur and you ignore them it only leads to bigger problems and ultimately, the death of an ecosystem. If you are closed minded about techniques that can help you or criticism from other more experienced reefers than you do not have what it takes to keep a happy reef. The technology is advancing. The theories are growing. The science is increasing in information. The odds of you having something in your tank that is not known is extremely slim. It is your duty to take this information and use it appropriately. Close minded people are not necessarily destined to fail, but when you have a problem and you choose not to fix it you are asking for it.


Ignoring facts is a huge mistake. Almost every area has the people that throw species together that are incompatible. These are the dog fighters of the hobby whether it is intentional or not. No combination of natural enemies ends well. Information is EVERYWHERE. Compatibility charts are readily available. Proper tank sizes are another very ignored fact. These creatures are from the ocean. Very few of them thrive in tiny environments, especially when over stocked.

If you are the careless type, please just sell your system and enjoy other people’s tanks from a safe distance. Ever animal on earth deserves a fighting chance, or better yet, a peaceful, happy, non fighting safe existence where they get all the attention they deserve. If you cannot provide that you should most definitely try something other than keeping animals of any kind.


This is not an easy thing to express to people. Telling someone they do not have what it takes is not only heartbreaking towards the animals but the people as well. Some people are careless with no motivation and others have motivation but cannot care for the systems for reasons beyond their control. The best thing to do is the right thing. If you have had nothing but problems it is definitely time to throw up the white flag. We are not suggesting you never try again. In fact, we encourage you to try again because with the right guidance this can be one of the most enjoyable hobby the earth has to offer. If you are willing to start over the right way you are in luck. Reef2Reef shows you how to reef here. If you are unsure if you are on an irreversible road to disaster please ask us what we think in the Reef Discussion Forum. We won’t bite but we will be honest with you. Who knows, you may not be so bad off. If you decide to retire, here are some tips for selling your stuff.




Start with the fish. They need food and food costs money. Marine fish do not degrade in value very much for a number of reasons. They may not always be locally available and if it is healthy may be a better candidate then one that may require quarantine from a pet store. Though all fish should have a QT period for observation, it is less risky buying from a local guru that lost is job than a thriving pet store that goes through tens of the same fish weekly.

Next move onto frags. Most likely you have a nice stock ready to sell. Posting corals takes about a minute to do and usually you will get inquiries within a day. Pricing is always negotiable and meeting new people is usually beneficial for a number of reasons. They may even have a job opening at their business. Of course with every hobby you have the people who may try to take advantage of you but with proper precautions this is a fairly safe hobby.

If you are out of corals and still in need of money you can start to sell off rocks and sand. Selling the lights first is a big mistake, especially if you have a nice fixture. The rocks may be bare but photosynthesis is still occurring during the day and with complete darkness would cause die-off and more importantly (financially), the color would go away. Purple rocks are worth much more than white ones. Parting rocks out in pre-weighed packs is the fastest way to go about it. Using common tank sizes like 10, 20, 40, 75 pounds is a great way to help another person get what they need all at once.

After you are out of life forms its time to start selling equipment. As a whole you can make a quick sale but parting things out makes more in the long run and allows for a longer stretch of income than one lump sum. Clean all of your stuff as best you can. It will sell much better than an algae covered salt sprayed protein skimmer that hasn’t been emptied yet. Presentation is key. Vinegar is cheap!




Please be respectful of other people’s ignorance. A person looking for their first tank will not know everything they need to know. If you are selling your tank because it is a disaster and irreversible do not sell it as is, at least without a warning. If you have killer parasites it is immoral to sell anything to anybody in that state and must be tended to properly. It would be better to sell an ugly pile of dry rock than a beautiful aquascape of plague and rot. Be responsible and do not spread your problems to others. There are many ways to tear down a disaster and attend to the issues for safe resale.

If you are selling gear that simply was not good enough, let people know why it doesn’t work. Is it a dim light? Is it too slow of a pump? Is it a freshwater intended product improperly used? There are so many ads for SALTWATER EQUIPMENT that are made for freshwater aquariums. This is one of the reasons some of you have had such a hard time. Do not be the person that sold you their problems. Use your bad experience as a good example of what NOT to do.

Sick fish are a very bad thing to sell. Unless you know the person is capable of mending them, your best bet is donating them to a pet store who has individual quarantine tanks or a skilled hobbyist. Do not be the used car salesman that pours saw dust in a leaky radiator and calls it “Like New.”

Corals are iffy. Most with flesh still present, when treated right, can recover. However any known hitch hikers, parasites, diseases, or issues should be noted. If someone knows their stuff they can most likely save the coral and end up with quite a healthy specimen.



Be honest. If not for karma than for the good of fishmanity. These animals have been fishnapped from their habitats and dumped into a glass prison, though with the right approach can be luxurious to them. Whether the issue is monetary, motivational, mindfulness, or management the end result is always going to be the same if not noticed quickly. If any of these points are a huge factor in your tank’s ability to thrive then you have to put the option of moving on in front of you and seriously reconsider the reality of a tank under your control. Nobody is here to enforce you to obey but your own aquarium can potentially be nuked by its own toxicity and these kinds of instances make the whole hobby seem inhumane, though in reality has proven beneficial by those doing it right. Surrender before the nukes go off. The ocean is counting on each and every one of you. This is one of the few hobbies that if you are not succeeding at you should stop. Bad reefers are much more devastating to the planet than bad basketball players. The difference is life and death.

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