Top 5 Beginner Mistakes: Reef Keeping

While starting with anything new, it is obvious to make some if not a lot of noob mistakes. These mistakes are part of the journey in which we learn new things, but there are a few mistakes that every beginner in the reef-keeping hobby tends to make. So, let's explore these beginner mistakes and find how you can avoid them in your reef:

1. Buying Beginner Corals

When you decide to take the plunge of starting to buy corals, you should look for the most forgiving corals you can find. this will lead you to Mushroom and Leather corals, they are very hardy, fairly cheap, and is a safe way to get your foot on the coral ladder. But, since they have dull colors, most people will get bored of them quite quickly.


There are plenty of soft LPS corals that are also equally forgiving, and the variety of colors, especially in Zoas are particularly fantastic. So, if you choose carefully, you can still get easy to keep corals but much more eye-catching colors in the tank.

2. LFS as Your Only Advisor

Many beginners only listen to their local fish retailer's advice, although most of them are really helpful but not every member of the staff will be like that, particularly if your local fish shop isn't a saltwater specialist. And the unfathomable truth is that at the end of the day, shops have to sell to you, so they pursue you to buy something through which they can earn maximum profit.


You can join an online forum. There are loads of marine-only forums with hundreds of experienced members who are only too happy to offer you advice based on years of experience. so, you will be able to analyze and find how risky a fish is, and which fish or coral you can keep successfully.

There you can also find the best equipment, and find a solution to common problems like algae, diseases, and equipment malfunctions. You can learn from their mistakes and can avoid those errors. You will find that reef keeping is a community hobby, and if lucky you might find friends or local enthusiasts who can help you out. 

But if you feel that forums are not your thing, you should think at least about joining a social media group, there you will get less detailed advice but they still have members and will usually give you instant answers.

3. Not Testing Regularly

Not testing water parameters regularly can turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes in the reef-keeping journey of a person. Water parameters can change quickly, especially in a reef tank particularly in the early days when your tank is establishing itself. 

Regularly testing nitrate, phosphate. alkaline, etc can become a real chore and if your tank looks okay, it is easy to assume that it will stay that way. But it is essential to test regularly, particularly when you are starting out. It is much easier to tackle a problem growing slowly rather than when your tank is flooding with it.


There are test kits that are very easily available everywhere which can give your consistent accurate result without having to interpret slight changes in color. You can also try keeping a record or spreadsheet to keep check of your parameters every time.

4. Not Researching a Purchase

It is very easy to impulse buy while encountering some of the most beautiful fishes or corals in the hobby. It looks harmless enough so how bad can it be, well it could be a disaster. You could buy an Angelfish that damages all your corals, a bullish fish that hurt your other fish, or corals that bleach your water much faster than you think and causes other corals to shrink and die.


Ideally, you should research online, ask on a forum, maybe furnish opinion from a few different shops, but it doesn't have to be that much. Check the requirements, diet, water parameters, tank size, and another important things before getting any fish or coral into your tank.

5. Rushing

Nothing good happens quickly in a reef tank, so water tanks take time to settle at first and need months to establish bacteria populations, etc. So, if you will jam your tank with fishes in just the first couple of months you will probably end up with rockwork covered up in algae that takes months and months to sort out.


You should provide time to the system to establish itself and let your reef be the way you want it to look. Research the kind of fishes and corals you want, find out if they are suitable and compatible for you, and lookup for things that other people have done with the same tank as you.


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