[Newbie Video Series] Top 5 Newbie Mistakes And What To Do About Them If You’ve Made Them


Everyone makes mistakes and when you are new to saltwater aquariums, you’ll likely make a lot of  them. In this video I talk about the top 5 mistakes I see newbies make and tell you what to do if you’ve made them.

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Comments for this article (13)

  • Kevin D. says:

    Hey there, long time follower and viewer! I love the video and your absolutely right on these things. I believe I’m I between novice and intermediate. I’m building a new tank right now and went +1 on everything! Bubble magus skimmer, dual mo10’s, maxspect razor lights and best of all, Neptune systems apex controller! Should be in the mail next week. Keep up the great work and keep posting great videos!

  • John M. says:

    You are spot on Mark! I am a victim of at least three of these Newbie mistakes, but learning from my mistakes and buying some of your books have made this hobby more enjoyable.

  • Jim says:

    Hey Mark
    Patience is a virtue with saltwater tanks

    Here is something I found out the other day at work.
    A bloke purchased a saltwater tank the pics of it looked great every bit of tech you could think of, I assumed he new what he was doing till yesterday I was told he is selling the tank at half what he paid for it, so I asked him why he said everything died.
    to cut a long story short he new nothing about saltwater tanks, water evap he was adding salt water instead of RO/DI of course it killed everything in the tank. I have convinced him to join this site and buy your books I will help him, redo the whole tank again this time going a lot slower, oh the green mushroom did survive. , 8 big tangs, cleaner shrimp, lots of coral all dead bloody shame

  • Kyle O says:

    I am definitely guilty of nearly all of these newby mistakes…..especially #1! It was common practice to start the tank with damsels several years ago. I once started a tank with a Jewel damsel. Striking brown and black markings with a small blue “jewel” on each flank. To this day once of the more striking fish I have ever seen. He soon became known as “Devil fish” and literally owned half of my 210 ga tank……even after I populated the tank. I had lots of live rock and apparently this is their chosen environment, because he could dissappear on one side of the tank and appear on the other side of the six foot tank within one second. This would have been cool had his mission not been to terrorize and nip the fins of all the other fish in the tank.
    It took me about 3 months to get him out and I learned a valuable lesson………NO DAMSELS!!!

  • Mark H. says:

    Great video series Mark, guilty as charged of 4 out of the 5 🙂

  • James Day says:

    Mark i love every thing do. With your videos and knowledge base advice, but i still haven’t heard who won the pics for the tank overhauls. Mark i would pay you an hourly wage to visit me. I really want to go reef junkie, so close, but finacially impossible. Help make the dreams come true.

  • Pierre Bouic says:

    Like others, yep guilty as charged for some of these mistakes, the one about buying all the potions and supplements for sure.
    I think you could do a guide on how to stop the LFS guy selling you stuff you don’t need, because their job is to sell all of it, “you do want your tank & corals to look good don’t you”, that’s my favourite line.
    If I’d had this resource in the beginning 5-6yrs ago I’d would have spent much less. Just as I became aware of this site about 12 months ago I’d started to wake up to all sales talk. The thing is I had a great looking tank but needed some refinement, that’s when the sales pitch began. My skimmer was just sucking up the un-needed supps. When do you start the near junkie video series. Merry Christmas Mark to you & the growing family.

  • daniel gappa says:

    I had freshwater tanks for 25 years so I knew at least a little about this stuff. I have done none of these [big 5]mistsakes. If anything I have not gone big enough on some of my purchases. I guess I’m just lucky. I have been trying to be as patient as possible.
    P.S Even though I found Mr Saltwater tank when my tank was two months old, I still enjoy reading and listening to all the info in your books.
    Thanks Mark….

  • Bill says:

    I’m a newbie who is learning a lot from you. Thanks for what you do.
    I’ve been “floating” around the web and hanging out in the forums trying to learn all that I can about this hobby, but all I get is more confused with all the many different answers. I believe you are the one I’m going to let mentor me via your website, videos and books. I believe if I follow your teaching I’ll do just fine.
    p.s. you make it fun!

  • Lyle says:

    Response to Jim! Hey Jim I guess the place where he bought the tank and other stuff didn’t ask him the right questions or only cared about the sale. Shame people are money oriented in this hobby/business. That will be the ultimate end of our hobby because groups will say that all we do is kill stuff! Where ever he bought his stuff I would tell him to not go back! When I worked in a store I always asked about my customers tanks and got as much info I could before selling them something! Might sound crazy but a lot of people would come in and say I love that fish I want it! After asking the proverbial question about how big is your saltwater tank they would answer I don’t have saltwater. Do I just add table salt? I know sounds crazy but I always asked!

  • Jim says:

    Response to Lyle
    We need more people like you in the industry HONEST just like Mark Callahan, Progress on Steve’s tank he has joined Mr Saltwater and purchased some books. I did save some live rock in my quant tank at present, we are going for a clear bottom tank as it is painted black & looks cool.
    cleaned everything, and I have got him a 400ltr storage tank. plus 4 x20ltr tubs for RO/DI water that I will supply to him each week from my unit, made DVD for him of marks videos especially the newbies videos. All he has to do now is wait for the tank to cycle oh and told him about the LED lights how to use them he doesn’t need them on to cycle the tank at present, they are really good light cree to of the range Tunze skimmer and Tunze wave makers with controllers
    Got his wife back on side
    Now it is just a waiting game as he wants to go reef not fish

    Thanks Lyle for keeping the hobby honest and respectable

  • Lyle says:

    Hey Jim! Thank You so much for the kind words! If more people in the industry would just take a second or two to ask a simple question a lot of heartache and money and also support for our hobby would be saved! You know those peta idiots would love too shut us down but in all honesty we may be the reefs saving grace! I am glad Steve has you & is hooked up with Mark on this endeavor! I would like too help also if that is ok! We can exchange #s and e-mails and hook up on Face Book! I am Lyle Bradford and the pic is dark & it says West Deptford School district! GOD BLESS! I am also a beekeeper so there are a lot of misconceptions in it also! I just believe in CUSTOMER SERVICE & EDUCATION! With that everything else is a no brainer and falls into place!!

  • Mark says:

    Hi Mark,
    I was with you all the way when you said not to use Damsels to cycle your tank. That is until you said (paraphrasing here) :- “Don’t use Damsels, use Clownfish or Chromis instead!” Your point was that it would be difficult to get the fish out when the tank is cycled. What about the welfare of the poor fish that had to suffer the high ammonia, nitrite and nitrates? It can take weeks, as stated elsewhere on your site, for bacteria to become active in the tank, even using proprietary bacterial solutions. Meanwhile it is a veritable sea (sorry!) of poisons that you are subjecting the fish to. You even used the words “Sacrificial fish” in the video. It did used to be common practice years ago but I thought we had learned since then that “Patience” is the key when cycling a new tank, not trying to speed it up by potentially killing livestock. It is the welfare of the stock we keep that is important, that is why the practice was stopped; at least that is what I thought and that is why I wouldn’t do it.

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