As an LFS , online store and big social media advocates we see on a daily basis a lot of places where reef keepers make accidental errors, start up their tanks in the wrong way or just generally have problems. This is our top 10 list of reef keeping mistakes. They are in no particular order but all are important.


1. Forgetting the basics

sometimes the simplest things are often overlooked; we simply assume that the values are correct when they might not be. Keep an eye on Salinity & Temperature as your first port of call before checking other parameters, if your salinity is out, your KH, Calcium and Magnesium levels will also be wrong and you may be trying to alter values that would be correct if your salinity level was right.

2. Rushing in to things

there’s no rushing a reef tank. Do everything slowly and patiently and with careful planning. It’s often exciting to start a new tank but try not to get caught up in the whirlwind of it. When you change something give it time to take effect, new lighting schedules every day will not help your reef.

3. RO Water

this is actually an error of multiple parts;

3a. Ensure you’re using RO water to compensate for evaporation not salt water or your salinity will increase. This is very important and often overlooked by beginners.

3b. Use RO, or salted RO to start your tank don’t use tap water this will cost you in the long run with issues.

3c. When making RO using your own RO filter, ensure the barrel you are filling is outside or in the sink so you don’t flood the kitchen.

4. Over Complication

Keep it Simple, over complicating things can ultimately lead to disaster, the more equipment and the more lotions and potions you’re using, the higher chance of a failure in the system. Keep everything as simple as possible. Less is more.

5. Not researching

make sure you know what you’re doing before you dive in. Your LFS can provide a lot of helpful information and these are the guys that ultimately will help you with your reef. There are also a lot of valuable resources on the internet. Be wary of Facebook advice however, you could ask one question and get 20 different answers some of which are going to be wrong.

6. Overfeeding

Fish will almost beg for food, they always appear hungry coming to one side of the tank expecting food. Feeding too much leads to higher nitrates, dirtier water and a harder to maintain tank. Fish fed less often will display more natural foraging characteristics and you will have an easier to control tank.

7. Not double checking test results

If your test looks off then it quite possibly is. Always double check before making any changes to your tank. If you test and your salinity is low you could end up accidently swinging the salinity of your tank trying to compensate. So make sure your test kits and test equipment are correctly calibrated and that you always double check before making changes to your aquarium.

8. Cheap and used isn’t always for the best

buying second hand equipment can save you money when your first setting out on your marine journey but it can sometimes cost you twice and put you off the hobby.
Look out for silicone failing on used tanks with age.
Low quality equipment may hinder rather than help
Poor quality used live rock full of phosphates, nitrates and hair algae can also set you back when you first start.

9. Stocking (not the kind you wear)

It is very easy to get carried away with fish stocks. Choose wisely and don’t add more fish than you need to because this can hinder your ability to control nitrates. Slow and steady wins the race.

10. Lack of time

a marine tank can be quite a time consuming hobby (at least at first, there are ways to reduce maintenance when your system is mature and stable) You need to do research, reading and tank maintenance on a regular basis. Lack of time and lack of maintenance is very often what results in the failure of a tank to reach the potential you want and for you, the hobbyist, to give up.