Keeping a reef tank is certainly a long-term hobby, the ultimate goal is to have the tank alive and growing for many years.  Of course, the tank evolves but ultimately you want your corals to grow into a lush, thriving aquatic garden which means giving the tank and corals time to mature.  As a tank owner, you're really just performing maintenance and upkeep on a regular basis which can become a little mundane.  

Here are some great ways to keep your interest in the saltwater aquarium hobby so you can stay out of that reefing rut and make those mundane tasks worth your efforts. 

1. Start A Collection

Keep multiples of the same coral species together in a particular area of the tank to create a "garden".  The variety of color morphs situated side by side lets you appreciate the subtleties. You can also optimize the conditions in that area for those corals specifically. 

2. Try a New Animal

This would be setting up a separate tank or accommodating the requirements of the more unique aquatic pets.  It really could be anything, just something new that you have always desired. Seahorses, pipefish, anglerfish, clams, anemones, etc.  Something new is sure to capture your interest and poses a new challenge to research and master. 

3. Build a Display Refugium

A display tank dedicated to macroalgae and mangroves looks awesome and is a really easy biotope to maintain. 

4. Try a New Location

This is especially useful for maximizing that contact time with your aquarium. Especially for those who work in an office or somewhere isolated from their tank. Placing a small tank on your desk or in your office provides some pleasure where you spend a considerable amount of time. It could be anywhere, just somewhere new that will increase your viewing time on a regular basis. 

5. Make a To-Do List

Create a list of things you want to improve or solve that would improve the experience and/or the health of your tank.  Increase pH a little, clean out your sump, clean your pumps, deep clean your sandbed, automate equipment, add an aquarium controller, attend a tradeshow, read an aquarium book, build a mixing station, build a new aquascape, buy an SPS coral... the list is endless and is very personal to you and your tank. 

6. Experiment With Unkown Territory

Be a trailblazer and experiment with solving challenges that face hobbyists. This could be breeding new species or learning about the needs of a particularly challenging fish or invertebrate. While you probably don't want to experiment with your display aquarium, this could be a second or third experiment tank to keep your mind involved in the hobby. 

7. Consider Aggressive Fish or Predators

This would be a dedicated tank for lionfish, eels, groupers, and similar aggressive fish.  Species-specific tanks like this are a very common evolution for intermediate to advanced tank owners.  

8. Get Inspiration From Others

Try something new with your tank that you admire from other hobbyists. Reach out on social media or online forums to find this inspiration. 

9. Improve Tank Organization

Clean up your equipment, organize your power center, mount your controllers, route your cords safely, or buy a controller board.  Keeping your tank gear organized not only looks great, but it is also safer and is much more functional.  

10. Become a Fish & Coral Vet

Take the time to learn about common diseases, pests, and infections that plague tank owners then educate yourself about treating and preventing those ailments.

11. Create a Unique Aquascape

Take the time to build a custom aquascape or simply practice building structures using dry rock to apply on future tanks. Check out the NSA Aquascape video for inspiration. 

12. Automate It

There are a number of processes that you can automate around your aquarium.  It can be as simple as an automatic fish feeder or as complicated as an automatic water exchange. Consider alerts and alarms too to help you keep a closer eye on the tank itself.  Aquarium Controllers really give you the freedom to be creative with automation. 

13. Graduate From Pets To Farmer

Take your hobby to the next level and grow corals for sale or breed fish to share with others. Whether you set up a dedicated system for coral grow out or simply keep a frag rack to trade with others, propagating both coral and fish is a great way to stay involved and interact with the community. 

14. Up Your Feeding Game

Fish and corals both benefit from a varied diet. Go out and find some different ingredients or foods you can integrate into your feeding regime to improve the health of your pets. Make your own frozen food!

15. Solve Dead Spots

Dead spots are areas of lower flow where you notice detritus collects. This could be in your display where you always notice a patch of cyanobacteria growing or down inside your sump between the baffles.  In either case, improve flow to those areas to help clean things up.  

16. Attend a Tradeshow

There is a myriad of tradeshows and frag swap events across the United States.  It is a great way to meet other hobbyists, buy livestock, and introduce friends or family to your beloved hobby in a way that is entertaining and exciting. You can also talk to manufacturers or listen to the presentations to gather knowledge. 

17. Perfect Your Controllers

In the age of smart devices, there is likely some features or capability that already exist on your equipment that you're just not taking advantage of. Take the time to learn about the equipment on your tank or try a new piece of advanced equipment.

18. Challenge BRStv Investigates

Take some ideas from the popular BRStv Investigates series and perform these experiments at home to better understand how they may apply to you and your tank. Debunk our findings and challenge us with new questions! 

19. Become a Better Photographer/Videographer

Brush up on your photo and video skills and invest in better gear to master documenting your tanks. Start a YouTube channel or simply up the quality of your social posts.  The beauty of our reef tanks is primarily visual so share that beauty with the world.  

20. Dream Big

Getting a bigger tank is always on the horizon for a dedicated aquarium owner.  Whether you are ready to buy your tank this weekend or just want to start planning, it's ok to dream big. Take everything you have learned to really maximize your next build.  From the smallest details like what size bulkheads to important decisions like the finish color of your new tank stand, dreaming about your next tank will keep you engaged.