As I detailed in an earlier blog post, there are certain things a reef keeper can focus on to maintain a successful reef tank. But there are also things marine aquarium hobbyists should avoid doing to optimize success or prevent a reef tank from going down the tubes. So here are my Top 5 Mistakes Made by Reef Keepers:

1. Seeking Instant Gratification

You scope out a beautiful mature reef tank and you want to get to the same happy place with your tank sooner rather then later. Big mistake. Instant gratification can be a killer in this hobby so the best tactic is to practice patience and take things slow. A new reef tank and its biological bed needs time to mature so it is best to add a few hardy LPS corals such as Frogspawn or Torch corals to see how they do before adding more demanding corals such as SPS. Bad things can even happen in an established tank if too many corals are added at once.


ReefBum Reef Tank December 2010

My 225 Gallon Reef Tank with Metal Halide and T5 Lighting

2. Not Doing Homework

Knowledge is power when it comes to reef keeping so it is vitally important to do the required homework on how to run a successful reef tank. When starting out one should seek advice from fellow hobbyists, attend trade shows or frag swaps to speak with manufactures about their products and read books penned by industry experts. Veterans should also do research before making any major changes to their systems. Years ago I introduced GFO too quickly to my tank and it rapidly dropped my phosphate levels, stressing out my SPS and causing some to RTN (rapid tissue necrosis).

3. Overcomplicating Things

I like to abide by the KISS principle of reef keeping and try to avoid turning a tank into a science experiment with a bunch of components or pieces of equipment. The chances of something going wrong are greater when more variables are in play so I believe it is best to keep things simple.

4. Slacking Off on Maintenance

When you skip a few oil changes with your car performance will likely suffer. The same is true when it comes to a reef tank. Equipment failures will result if regular maintenance is not performed, guaranteed. And keeping tabs on water parameters is also critical since any sudden swings can spell trouble, especially with alkalinity.


Tropic Eden Salinity Refractometer

5. Packing in Too Many Corals

Corals need room to grow and reef keepers who place corals close to one another will have problems down the road. SPS corals in one of my old tanks grew rather quickly and over time it severely limited circulation and caused an outbreak of problematic algae. Coral warfare is also a problem when incompatible corals start to encroach on one another (see #2….do homework to make sure you are adding corals that get along with other corals!). Another consideration is aquascaping. I advocate using less versus more to again give corals more room to spread their wings.




If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. And you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.


Happy reef keeping!