A misguided and hasty approach often leads to a failed aquarium and exit from the hobbyIt’s a tale as old as the hobby itself: A novice marine aquarist sets up his or her first system, runs headlong into every conceivable obstacle and pitfall, responds with a series of misguided decisions, loses a whole tank’s worth of fish and corals, and finally chucks the entire hobby in frustration and despair, all the while cursing Neptune and that silly enchanted trident of his. Just as this scenario is all too common (with the possible exception of the Neptune part), so too are the reasons many novice marine aquarists fail and drop out of the hobby. A post-mortem analysis of the average hobby failure would likely reveal one or more of the following five underlying elements:1. Failure to research I’m including this point first because it’s the most significant contributor to hobby dropout and encompasses many of the major oversights that newcomers make. Failing to cycle, skipping quarantine, overstocking/overfeeding, combining incompatible species, and choosing inappropriate life-support equipment (skimmer, lighting, etc.) are just some of the bad decisions new hobbyists sometimes make due to lack of prior research—and all can have hobby-ending (not to mention budget-breaking) consequences. Without ever reading hobby literature, perusing informative websites, seeking advice from more advanced hobbyists, studying up on the habits and demands of various species, etc., newcomers don’t even know they’re supposed to be concerned about these things—or, as Caribbean Chris and I like to say, “They don’t even know that they don’t know.” And that’s a recipe for certain disaster in this hobby! 2. Having no coherent strategy The best way to get started on the road to success in our crazy pastime is to establish a set of long-term goals—a strategic vision of the type of system and livestock you’d like to keep—and then implement the appropriate tactics, equipment purchases, and stocking approach to help you achieve those goals.