The below is some key learnings that I had stumbled upon in my never ending journey of learning and keeping marine aquariums. I thought I would take the time to share them.
The research you complete before setting up your tank will directly determine the success you do or do not have.
Some fish store employees don’t know nearly as much as they think they do.
Decide what type of tank you want before buying the first pc of equipment, unless you like buying some stuff twice.
No all corals are the same; some are a lot harder to keep than others while some are very easy to keep by comparison.
There is no double standard for water quality, FOWLR (fish only with live rock) and reef tanks both need good and stable water parameters.
When stocking your set-up, keep the fully grown size of fish and/or corals in mind. Stores typically stock very young fish.
Hang on back or canister filters need a lot of maintenance when used as biological filtration on a marine tank. A cleaning every 4 or 5 days is not unheard of to keep the nitrates down
Regular marine substrate is just as good as marine live sand and in some cases a lot better.
The only marine fish that might be able to survive a cycling with fish process are the ones that most people do not want to keep (and for good reasons too!!!)
Controlling nitrates and phosphate are key to avoiding nasty algaes from taking over your tank
Quarantine your new fish. Most of us had to learn this lesson the hard way. Please don’t add yourself to that list and quarantine new additions
Acclimate your fish when adding them to you QT or your maintank. There are many different way to do this, pick one.
Develop a good weekly maintenance routine and have the self-discipline to stick with it no matter what.
Not all clowns are the same, some can be very aggressive. Research is the key.
If you use additives that you choose to not test for, it will be a matter of time before your run into problems.
Water evaporates, salt doesn’t. Only use freshwater to top-up for evaporation.
Understand the pros and cons of using RO water before making up your mind on which is best for you to use.
Don’t aim for the minimal, your goal should be the optimal. After all, people can live in a 8 foot by 8 foot room with no windows or doors but I’m willing to beat you found yourself a much bigger and better place to live than that. Apply that same principle to your entire set-up.
Not all salt mixes are created equal. Know the quality of what you are using as it will directly determine/effect your level of water quality and stability.
Don’t cut corners as you will have to “pay the piper” at some point
Maintaining proper Alkalinity, Calcium, and Magnesium levels in your tank (either reef or FOWLR) will go a very long way to having a stable and healthy marine tank
Get advice from trusted or accredited sources.
Keeping marine aquariums is not hard to do or hard to learn, provided you take the time to do some research first. I’m not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but I can keep and grow difficult corals in my reef tanks with no more effort than my low-tech planted fresh water tank.