Set a goal for your saltwater aquarium

Day 2:

Welcome to Day 2 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Saltwater Aquarium Challenge. We’re just getting started, and I want to build on a strong foundation here to set us up for success. I want you to set a goal for your saltwater aquarium (or your own development within the hobby).

One of the most influential books I’ve read was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. My favorite of the 7 Habits is to: Begin with the end in mind. For me, it’s not as much about being effective (although it does help with being more effective) as it is about having a purpose.

When you have a goal, you have a direction you’re headed and the work it takes to get there is just the work it takes to get there.

By comparison, when you don’t have a goal, the work feels more like work.

How do you feel about water changes, testing the water parameters and all the other menial tasks we have to do in order to keep our tanks in tip top shape? From time to time, I’ve gotten into ruts with my tank, where those chores seemed absolutely like the last thing I wanted to do. What I found is that those ruts also aligned with times when I had no goal for my tank–no vision for what was next. My creativity, and the tank were stagnant.

The times when I had a goals to:

  • Set up a successful saltwater aquarium with my old freshwater aquarium equipment
  • Add corals to my fish-only setup after I proved I could keep a saltwater tank
  • Frag corals
  • Trade those coral frags
  • Breed Banggai Cardinalfish, then Clownfish, then Neon Gobies

were the happiest, most fulfilling times I’ve had as a hobbyist.

I know this is just a hobby for you, but if you want to have great success with your tank, and if you want to build a better saltwater aquarium, I want you to set a goal. What do you want to accomplish? Once you know what your goal is, all the rest of the work will just fold into place as part of the journey, rather than something to resent.

Is there a certain species of fish you want to keep or breed? A coral type you want to keep or frag? A style or design of aquarium that interests you, like a biotope, nano, pico or something similar?

You’re going to need to do that work to build a better aquarium, so we need you to be motivated and inspired.

Begin with the end in mind. By the end of the day, let’s make sure you know what the next big step is for you.

Don’t keep it a secret. Leave a comment below and share your goal(s).

please comment below

Proceed to day 3






19 responses to “Set a goal for your saltwater aquarium”

  1. Yvonne Galloway

    I have struggled with magnesium levels since I started this reef.
    I don’t know whether I am just not testing properly or if my tank really needs a lot of mg. I have been too scared to add much.

    My goal is to learn how to test, dose, and auto dose mg if needed.

    1. Yvonne, thanks for the comment. When you say you’ve struggled with magnesium levels, can you provide some more info about the struggle? What have you noticed, what have you tried?

      1. Yvonne Galloway

        I use a Salifert test kit. My readings are all over the place.

        Is there a way to include a photo of my results? I keep a log on my tablet in an app called Aquarimate.

  2. Leslie

    I have decided my goal is to have as natural a reef as possible. All the chemical dosing seems so scary…over doses wiping out entire tanks…this natural approach will also pertain to my fish (kinda where it started really). My goal when I started was to set up a system to care for blue mandarin dragonets. That goal has been met, so far with success but it drives me crazy how many ppl kill these fish trying to make them eat frozen food against their natural instinct. OK, long story but I want to keep it simple!

    1. Leslie, thanks for the great comment. You have an admirable goal there to keep it natural and simple!!! Kudos.

  3. Joe

    I have problems with algea since i started my new nano a yera and a half ago…i still havent found the rooth problem..i have ro/di water and all parameters seem think could be a lights problem…if you have any ideas….i’m willing to try anything…so..MY GOAL is to see my reef algae free…at last!!! Jajaja…good luck to all…

    1. An algae free tank is a great and admirable goal. Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with it for so long. I think you’ll find a few challenges here will help you!!

  4. Brooks

    Id like to get rid of some algae issues i’ve recently been dealing with. Also cleaning all the tank equipment and get it looking new again. Also id like to get my reef angel connected to the internet. There seems to be a few bigger projects I have not had the time to take care of.

    And Id love to get rid of my vermetid snail issue!

    1. Leslie

      Omg if you can figure out how to get rid of the vermetids…I take a flat head screw driver and crush the bases to kill the snail but I don’t make a debt in them!! Grrrr….

  5. Stella

    My goal is to be able to keeps SPS

    1. Excellent goal, Stella. It takes clean, stable water, some good lights and some supplementation. If you continue with the challenge, your tank should be in great shape. What other livestock do you have and how old is your tank?

  6. Jana Roach

    I have four seahorses and recently added gorgonians my purple whips are going thru shock also battling green hair algae, have added more snails along with blue hermits and red reef hermits seems to be working so far. Would like to be successful in raising seahorse fry, include more LR. All in all would love to have as natural as possibly can. Am reading on DSB. The tank is in desperate need of beautification!! My water perimeter’s are good phosphate is slightly high.


    1. Jana, thanks for the comment. What a great goal. Raising fry is a lot of fun. I’ve never had seahorses (too much work for me…) but I have raised some other fish fry. I think the challenge should help you tighten up what sounds like an already mostly successful tank. Thanks for participating!!

  7. Guy Lachance

    My tank was dismantled about 2 weeks ago because of repair work required in my basement (not related to the tank). My goal (delayed) will be to re-setup the tank and improve on filtration and lighting. Long term goal is adding corals / anemone and have them thrive !

    1. Guy,

      Thanks for the comment and for joining the challenge. Sorry to hear about the repair work and tank shut down. You have a great and very achievable goal!! I look forward to hearing you achieve your goal.

  8. Andrea

    Plenty of goals on my side:
    – get my boyfriend’s twin interested
    – create a somewhat self sustained environement with zooplankton (is it possible with phytoplankton as well?)
    – one day have easy to maintain corals
    – and eventually have a mandarin dragonet (can we have more than one in a 67 gallon tank?)

    1. Andrea, great goals, and thank you for the comment. I love the fact that you’re spreading the hobby to others…muhuhaha…

      In terms of sustained environments, it may be tough to be fully sustained, but you can certainly have healthy systems with a lot of life. You may need phytoplankton to sustain or boost zooplankton biodiversity, a refugium can help.

      You can definitely progress to easy corals with a bit of experience. I’d wait a bit on the mandarin–but certainly once your tank has zooplankton it and you would be ready for a mandarin. You could have a pair in a 67–the limit there would be abundance of food (feeding them) they’ll try to clean you out of zooplankton 😉

  9. John

    My goal is to have a healthy thriving mixed reef tank. I’m considering implementing the triton method.

    1. Thanks, John, great goal.

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