Mr. Saltwater Tank

Stop Tank Confusion!

Here is the most used line in the saltwater tank world and every time I hear it, I cringe:

“there is tons of information online…just google it and you can find the answer you are looking for…”


People are right, there is TONS of information on the internet. And the internet is growing each day. The answer you are looking for is out there buried somewhere between the Elvis sighting last week and the two headed dog that sings Barry Manilow. And there are some forums where you can find your answers somewhat easily.

But I will say that even if you did find ALL the information you needed, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference for you and your tank. Nada, none, zip.

Why is that? Because until you know your tank personality, you’d have no way to know whether or not THATinformation makes sense for you.

Your tank….what?

Tank personality. Without it, you have no way to know if the information is right for you and when you don’t know your tank personality, your tank gets confused.

Your tank personality is looking at your tank in such a way that once you see it through this personality, you will know which direction (fish only, SPS, mixed reef) to go, how much money to spend, and which equipment/fish/corals to buy.

Here’s an analogy: ever seen a old beat up car with 22″ chrome rims on it? People laugh and wonder why someone would spend so more money on rims than the car is worth. I call that a confused car.

Tank confusion is similar.

You can spend lots of money on the top of the line tank, lights and corals, yet you cut corners and buy a cheap protein skimmer. Or you buy a top of the line protein skimmer for a fish only tank when you don’t need it.

HELLO…! Your ferrari, (SPS tank), needs to be looked after properly (get a good skimmer) and your ’88 Caprice Classic (fish only tank) doesn’t need 22″ rims ($1000+ protein skimmer)!

If that SPS tank owner knew that he was a reef junkie, or at least a reef enthusiast, then he’d know to buy a good skimmer and could stop wondering why his corals are turning brown and he has a nuisance algae issue. Same thing with the fish only tank owner – she could have taken the hundreds of extra dollars she spent on a skimmer and bought some really neat looking fish.

Knowing your tank personality opens up a whole new world of easy decision making around your tank. I’ve only gone into tank personalities a little bit here and I’ve written a whole report on what tank personalities are, why you should know yours, and what you can do once you know your tank personality.

I expect some of you  think I’m nuts. That’s fine. I didn’t write this post or the report to make everyone happy. I wrote it so that you, as a saltwater tank owner, don’t waste hours researching topics that don’t apply to you. I wrote it so that you spend money on the right equipment you actually need.

When I found out I was a reef enthusiast, my tank started thriving…really thriving. My corals were brighter and grew faster. I paid the mortgage one month with equipment that I found out I didn’t need. And here’s the best part, my wife stopped asking why I was buying certain equipment because she understood my tank personality and my purchases.

Ready to avoid tank confusion? Download the Tank Personalities Report here

Browse the Store! Questions?

Comments for this article (48)

  • Kareem says:

    Man you are great
    you just brain washed me , i started to think about my tank in a really different way , what ever you are trying to say are ALL Logical
    Keep up the spirit dude and wait always for your video and weekly tips

  • You are welcome! I’ll stay after it!

  • Chris Whitney says:

    You are exactly correct. I think there might be additional sub categories. like newbie enthusiast, stable enthusiast moving to junkie. I watch lots of tank videos where nice 55 gallon solutions entertaining the hobbyists and kids. Then the amazing tanks with huge corals and lots of fish which defy all common wisdom. This folks deserve Senior status!

    I love what you are doing and helping diagnose our particular infatuation with poring money in to a glass box, is great “salty” soup for the soul. Good to know their others with the same addiction!

    Chris “Newbie reef enthusiast” dreaming of “Junkiedom”

  • Chris…Junkiedom! That’s great! I’m gonna use it!

  • Damon says:

    Thank you Very much for all your info about everything. I actually did not start my tank and don’t really know much about anything but i plan on starting it this weekend I scored a deal on a 55 gal tank, It also came with a seaclone Protein skimmer two cartridge filters A whisper 60 and an Aqua Tech, two air pumps and a Maxi- Jet Submersible pump model 400. All for 175 including a stand and Balast with a light. I’m trying to read up and watch videos to learn as much as i can before i start. a couple of questions that i have are do i need a sump and if so what size would be good to support a 55 gal tank. another one is what is a good way to run tank water to your sump. and the last question is should i start with dead rock or live rock? i have learned a lot from your videos but these are some of my main concerns. if you could get back to me before Saturday that would be greatly appreciated. thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

  • Damon-
    Congrats on the tank grab!

    Here are some thoughts for you:
    – you don’t need the airpumps. Your protein skimmer will provide plenty of of dissolved oxygen to your tank.
    – You will want to upgrade your Max-Jet to a bigger model (the 1200 would be best). The 400 model won’t give you enough flow for a 55g tank.
    – Sump: Biggest one you can fit under the tank. Read this for more: Go Bigger, Even Downstairs
    – Rock: Start with dead rock. Cheaper, easier to aquascape, 100% pest free. Read this for more: Buy it Dead, not Alive

  • Brad says:

    And just when i thought you couldnt top the “how to pick up chics at the fish store video” you come up with this. You rock. Plus your just cool dude to watch on youtube. Informative, creative and funny (in kinda dorky way). Keep up the good work, and we’ll all keep watchin. ……tank personality…why couldnt i have thought of that!!! Brilliant

  • Matt McDaniels says:

    Hey Mark,

    I’ve had a saltwater tank for 4 months and 7 days, and I can easily pick myself out as a reef junkie. I read for 10 to 15 hours a week for 6 months before I started this tank. I love my 29g so much, I’m already planning and researching for my next tank which I’m hoping will be a 125g. I’m starting my research now, but don’t plan on putting in a drop of water for at least a few years! Oh… my acros, millis, montis and mini maxi are all doing fantasic… what else would you expect from a reef junkie! 😉

  • holy cow Matt! that’s a lot of research just to get started! Glad to hear your tank is doing well.

  • Jin says:

    I have a calcium reactor for 5 months but i dont know when my Media wont produce any calcium ( same with mag ) , how can i tell that the media inside the reactor needs to be changed?

  • Jim…the first way to tell is when the media looks like a sandbox – i.e. you can’t see large pieces anymore. Also, you should be monitoring your Ca and Alk so that you can see when they drop.

  • mike says:

    hey mark i just found your website and it has been very informitive but i do have questions and lots of them i love the hobby of keeping saltwater fish and have had alot of ups and downs i lost a mimic tang yesterday he was doing well no idea how my lfs said he had a bacterial infections what would have caused that. and my live sand which is black sand is looking kinda dull can i replace that without causing any issues

  • Arllen says:

    about how many fish and corals are allow in a 90 gal tank?

  • Oleg says:

    Hi So i bought a brand new fish tank which holds 14 gallons of water and the water got cloudy in just 2 days! How can i make my aquarium water look crystal clear?

  • Michelle says:

    Is the download still available? I Putin my info and have not received an email and I did check my spam folder. Please help! Looking forward to the info, love the videos!

    Thanks, Michelle

  • Michelle…check your email, I just sent it to you.

  • Juan delgado says:

    Yea me too I clicked download like 5 times

  • ALLEN says:

    Trying to get the tank personality info and the link that was emailed to me comes up as a blank white screen

  • Katlynn says:

    Hi there Mark New to the hobby spent four years drounding in online research and suprisingly just stumbled onto your sight today I would love to read your tank personality profile and join your membership it seems however that you may need a web master to fix your lost links LOL evey one I try seems to end me on and error message or blank page could you send me your paper though after sawing holes in the 116 year old hard wood floor and ripping out a few walls I think I know where our family falls. LOL Everytime we get in the car and go somewhere my son who is three sayes What fish store are we going to taday mom. LOL could you pleaes email me thanks a lot. Kat

  • jeff37311 says:

    hey, for sum reason the link you sent me to download Tank Personalities Report is not working, clicked on it from my email just sends me to a blank page.

  • I sent you an email Jeff

  • midayle says:

    Same here…I can’t seem to get the download link to work. Could you please help me?

  • midayle…I’ve emailed you

  • diamonddave says:

    got the personality report but cant get to the book. how do i get to the book?

  • Diamondave…what book are you referring to?

  • theguy67 says:

    Your videos are truly helpful!

    I’ve been a reptile enthusaist/breeder for many years while working with various species at different levels. I’ve always knew one day I would have a salt-water tank, but had no clue about them as I wasn’t really a fish guy at the time. Back in january I decided out of the blue that I was going to jump into the reef hobby since I had a spare 20 gallon and some cash. 4 months later I have a small reef tank slowly growing. Eventually I will be upgrading to a 50 gallon ( another vacant tank).

    Thanks for all the help through the videos!

  • Jimmy says:

    Ive had my 75gal. tank for 2 weeks now and my dead rock and live sand are getting covered in what looks like brown algae. Ive looked at many forums and alot of people say its a normal process and many say get it out immediatly, can you give me sum info on what I may need or need not to do. Thanks!!!

  • Jimmy…this tip will answer your question: Friday AM quick tip #59

  • tennman says:

    Mark, how do you feel about fluidized bed filters? I have an fb 300 on a 55gal tank. I changed from under gravel and airstones to fb 300 In very early 90″s.I have watched alot of your vidieos and purchased NNG-2. I love the fb but no one talks about them from what I have seen.I even added an fb300 (hang on) to my 30 gal sump yea propbally overkill but I can change sand In fb and sump handles nitrite cycle or vice versa change media In sump and fb handles nitrite cycle.

  • tennman…fluidized beds can work, people just got away from them in favor of refugiums/skimmers/etc as these are less work to setup and maintain than FBs.

  • Adam says:

    Hi Mark. Just found you all the way from Melbourne Australia.
    About to purchase my first saltwater tank. Aquareef400 (105g). Will be upgrading the skimmer / pump / sump first up..! LOVING your youtube and websites.

  • Glenn says:

    I am in the process of putting together a 90 gallon aquarium that will be housing both LPS and SPS coral along with some fish. I am a little confused on what equipment I should buy. I have not got the stand yet so I do not know how big of sump I can put under the tank. I am building the sump myself, which does not look to be too difficult but I do not know what protein skimmer or pump I should get. I would appreciate any suggestions you could give me.


  • Casey Morrow says:

    I am going to be getting a 450 gallon tank soon. I plan on it being fish only. Can you recommend a skimmer for me that won’t break the bank?

  • Aria Raymond says:

    I have a 36 gallon tank and my protein skimmer burnt out on me because the people babysitting for me didnt put water in the tank and it dried out so I am on the hunt for a new skimmer for a 36 gallon bow front. Anything cheap will be helpful thank you 🙂

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  • Daniel says:

    Hi Mark my name is Daniel and im trying to get back into this phenomenal hobby.ive had my nanos tanks up for 6 months. It started with a super small nano , I wanted the challenge. I’m always tinkering and doing test and sorts. I enjoy it so much it’s not labor because I love it. I really enjoy your programs they are informational and fun to watch. Sounds corny but you are inspirational to watch and it makes me feel like I can do my little project on my little scale.thank u sir without you and a few others similar to you i would have absolutely no idea how to get started….

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