I can’t count the amount of times the addictive qualities of aquariums have come up in conversation in the store I work at, but this week I really got to see how very true that is. It’s not uncommon to here stories of people addicted to drugs or alcohol staying up for long periods of time on wild binges, and after my recent 24 hour reef spree, I’m ready to admit that I have a problem!

Read on about this day long whirl wind of fish, water, and inverts after the break.

5:00pm Tuesday:
That magical time of day has finally come. This is my favorite time of every day because it’s when I head away from my modest little home aquarium to dip my hands into the displays and sales tanks of the LFS. It feels like a normal day at the office cleaning, talking reefs with customers and planning the next step for numerous display tanks. Lucky for me, though I don’t know it at the time, it’s not an overly busy day, so everything gets done easily and the store is looking good.

8:00pm Tuesday:
Almost time to close, and I’m ready to go home and watch my fish go to sleep for the night, but that’s when things start to get interesting. The fax machine springs to life, and as I watch it print the name of a livestock supplier begins to come into view. This isn’t uncommon, so I naturally begin to plan my night out. We never leave an order to sit at the airport overnight, and I’m always on the crew that receives new orders, so I know this will be a late night for me. With this information in mind, I shut down the store for the night and head home to relax before the fun begins.

10:00pm Tuesday:
The call finally comes through from the shop owner, my receiving partner, that we won’t be able to pick up from the airport until 2am. I know myself, so I decide that I will be better off riding along to the airport rather than sitting at home waiting. We agree on a 1am meeting time back at the shop.


11:00pm Tuesday:
Well I’m stuck waiting around for the next exciting order, so my not get my hands wet with my own tank right? There’s always something to do, so I busy myself cleaning the glass, skimmer cup, overflow and anything else that will pass the time. It’s at this point I notice how lucky my tank is as usual. My newly added rose bubble tip anemone decided to settle nicely in view, under good light in the only spot available not covered by coral. What a perfect end to the day, and with all this done it’s time to head off to play with the big tanks again.

12:45am Wednesday:
It’s finally time to head back to the store and get the madness started, but first I have to stop off for my usual pack of cigarettes and huge amounts of caffiene. I’m already tired but, but the growing anticipation of new fish and coral has me at this point, so I’m happy to be on my way.

3:00am Wednesday:
That was a long jump in time, and there’s a reason I didn’t add any notes about it. Apparently the freight company added some new rules making it pretty difficult to pick up from the last flight of the night. At 3am we finally begin our journey back to the shop, and I’m already starting to come to grips with what my Wednesday will look like. At this point I realize that this is going to be a long day. We have boxes of water bags from three California suppliers, and at this late hour, surely won’t be headed home until the birds start chirping.

3:30am Wednesday:
Woohoo! It’s time for the fun to begin. The first thing we dive into is the endless bags of various inverts because they will take the longest to acclimate. For the most part it’s common stuff, so we blow through them to get to the fun stuff. Corals come out next, and as usual our supplier doesn’t disappoint. Countless bags come out of the boxes full of big acropora colonies riddled with commensal crabs, and after getting them dipped we get them organized pretty easily. Coral highlight consist of amazing acroporas, a few really nice wall euphyllia and some zoas I’ve never seen before. Fish are always the easiest part, so we unpack them last and do our usual acclimation routine before letting them loose into quarantine. Most of them are staple summer restock fish, but a bright little juvi passer angel does catch my eye. By this time it’s getting close to the 6am mark, so we clean up and get out of there as quickly as possible. As I predicted earlier, the birds are chirping when I pull in my driveway, and I am ready for sleep!

6:30am Wednesday:
Finally home and my bed is calling my name, but wait. There’s something I forgot to mention. It’s time for my wife to head off to her job, and my brand new three month old is ready to begin his day! I’m wide awake at this point, so it doesn’t phase me. I’ve got a routine every morning hanging out with the little one as I plan the next moves for my reef, shop display reefs and advertising for the fish store. I also spend a great deal of this time writing on aquarium topics and researching new techniques. The day goes by quickly working on reef related stuff, and through it all, aquariums never wear off on me. I feel like I could go on like this for days.

5:00pm Wednesday:
It’s that magical time of the day again, so I pack up my stuff and head off to work again. Getting back to the shop for the third time without sleep in between I start to realize how tired I am, but it’s when I start talking to regular customers that it really hits me. Our evening customers are probably just as addicted as me, and they never miss a day of hanging out and shopping. Each time one of their eager faces comes through the door, it dons on me a little more. I haven’t slept or stopped reef keeping since I saw them last. They went home, got sleep and worked their full time jobs since we last talked. I never left the reef! As exhaustion starts to take hold and the aquarium advice inquiries continue on, things get confusing. Simple things like, “What fish is this?” or, “How can I get rid of this algae?” start to seem alien to me, and then it comes up again. As I ring out a customer, he remarks about feeding his addiction, and it all hits me at once. The past 24 hours weren’t done for money; it was all for the love of reef aquariums. Shortly after this I hang it up for the night, and trust me, I sleep just as good as the baby right next to me!

Next time you refer to our amazing hobby as an addiction, think into those words, and realize how true they are. I’ve seen people do some wild things with their marine aquariums simply because they love them, and I’ve certainly done just as many.

On this note, I feel I must take the first step towards healing by saying…

Hello, my name is Mike, and I am a reef addict.

If you would like to join me, please drop a comment with your crazy reef addiction story, and take that all important first step towards recovery.

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