1. Listen to One Source of Information

There is more than one way to achieve success but it can be incredibly difficult for new hobbyists to pave their own path. Listen to a single mentor that has produced the level of success you want for your own tank and follow their advice.  Do not attempt to combine advice from multiple sources or decide for yourself which is the best method. 

2. Plan To Dedicate The Necessary Time

Having a healthy aquarium that looks good takes time.  You need time to build and maintain the tank, but you also need to understand it takes time for a tank to mature.  You also need time to gain experience and gain the necessary knowledge to be really successful.  



3. Don't Make it Overcomplicated - K.I.S.S.

In the field of design, the K.I.S.S. methodology suggests that the simplest version of the final result will produce the best results, or rather give you the best chance at success. When designing a reef aquarium for the first time, it is so important to remember this idea, it doesn't have to be complicated. You don't need ALL of the fancy gear or complicated plumbing and you don't need to automate every aspect of the aquarium. Just learn the basics, master them, and you are likely going to get much farther in the first couple of years. 

4. Water Changes Cover Up Mistakes

Performing water changes on a strict schedule leaves plenty of room for error which means you can go through a learning curve without having a seriously detrimental effect on the aquarium inhabitants.

5. Choose The Right Size Aquarium

Choosing the right size aquarium is important for your success because small aquariums can be very difficult to keep stable and large aquariums require more effort to maintain, not to mention the cost of investment goes up with size. Most experienced hobbyists would recommend a tank from 40 - 100 gallons for first-timers because it allows you enough water volume to maintain stability while not being too expensive and too demanding upon your time. 

6. Choose Reliable, Proven Equipment

Take the time to research gear and choose reliable, proven products to ensure your success. 

7. Buy Once

While you don't always have to choose the absolute best or top-of-the-line equipment, it does benefit you to purchase quality equipment upfront. You will end up spending less money in the long run because the budget gear will not typically last all that long and will require replacement in a short time. The cost of replacement adds up and will often exceed that which you could have spent on the quality gear in the first place. 

8. Don't Dose Until You Need To

There is no need to supplement the corals with major, minor, and trace elements until the corals are growing and consuming those elements beyond what you can supply via water changes. This usually is not required until 6-12 months after adding your first corals to the aquarium. 

9. Test Your Water Parameters and Record the Results

As a beginner, water testing can be intimidating but you don't need to test for everything from day one. Keep a log of your test results and take the time to understand the parameters and what affects them. 

  1. Start by testing salinity, temperature, and nitrates while the tank cycles and after adding first fish. 
  2. Pick up a phosphate and alkalinity test when you decide to keep your first corals.
  3. Finally, move on to calcium, magnesium, and other more specific parameters only after you have stocked the tank heavily with corals and are using additives. 

10. Choose Utilitarian Fish

Utilitarian fish are incredibly useful for preventing outbreaks of photosynthetic pests. Tangs, wrasse, and blennies are the most popular types of utilitarian fish for saltwater aquariums. 

11. Don't Stock The Tank Too Fast

While it's easy to become excited about a new aquarium, you must practice some reservations when it comes to stocking the aquarium. Add fish slowly and only choose compatible fish that are suitable for your particular tank size. 

BRS160 Legacy

12. Stick to A Coral Type - Avoid a "Mixed Reef" and Impulse Buys

A mixed reef tank that contains Soft Corals, LPS, and SPS corals is one of the most difficult approaches to keeping a reef aquarium. Instead, choose a specific type of coral and stick with it. Soft corals are the best choice for first-timers because they are easier to care for.  In time, as you become more experienced with maintaining water chemistry, you can build new tanks and begin to keep more demanding LPS and SPS corals. 

13. Put the Tank Where You Can See It

One of the quickest ways to neglect a tank is to place it somewhere that is not frequently trafficked by you and other members of your household.  If you cannot see and enjoy the tank on a daily basis, you are far more likely to neglect it. Avoid basements, garages, spare bedrooms, and various other areas where it is easy to forget about your tank.  Living spaces, bedrooms, entryways, hallways, bookshelves, and countertops are more appropriate locations.