One afternoon about 20 years ago, one of my best friends uttered a sentence that, at that time, held very little significance for me. He said, “I’d love to set up a saltwater aquarium. But they’re supposedly very difficult, and very expensive. Oh, well, may be after college.” I had no interest in keeping fish and, before the day was out, his inconsequential comment had already been erased from my mind — or so I thought…

Fast-forward to this past May (2015). My wife and I were out at a restaurant eating Saturday morning breakfast when she casually mentioned she wanted to get rid of her piano. It was by no means a large piano (we live in a townhouse), but it still occupied a decent-sized bit of floor space. “What would we do with all that open space?” she asked.

Suddenly, from some little, dusty,unknown memory that has lain undisturbed for two decades, my friend’s long-forgotten words came bursting to the center stage of my mind: “How about a saltwater aquarium?” I said.

Even more surprising was her response, “I think it would make a perfect hobby for you.”

At that moment a new personal obsession was born:  to try my hand at putting up and keeping a saltwater aquarium. I became dead-set on enjoying and marveling at the magic, beauty and wonder of a little slice of coral reef in my own home — my own little piece of reef in a glass box.

Over the 5 months that followed I spent countless hours reading all manner of articles and posts on forums like reefcentral.com, nano-reef.com, reef2reef.com, livingreefs.com and several others.

I soon realized forums can be just as dangerous and confusing as they are helpful and enlightening. For every question you ask, you’re likely to get dozens of different answers. And this is to be expected; as they say, ‘more than one road leads to Rome’. The catch is, some roads lead their quicker than others. And some can very quickly, albeit unintentionally, lead you over a cliff…

I also discovered two very important things:

  1. There are a lot of other fledgling aquarists out there looking for answers to their questions, just like me…
  2. The most valuable and understandable insights and answers to these questions seem to be found in ‘build threads’ — diary-like histories of other people who have documented their journey from their journey from the very start so others can both see and learn from their journeys.

So I thought, why not document my journey — my research, my thoughts, my experiences — in a way that may help people who are also dipping their toes in the saltwater aquarium hobby.

Granted, I am still an amateur in the hobby. And not every step I take, or choice I make, may be the most direct or appropriate one…

But experiences shared by others can often be just as insightful and helpful as those we experience for ourselves.

It is my hope that the discoveries that I make — the triumphs and the failures — will help you enjoy and progress in your hobby as an aquarists.

After all, a journey is much more exciting and enjoyable when you have like minded company to share it with.

And, what better place to start that journey than day when your reef tank quite literally arrives in a box…


Reef in a Box