There are many people who have hoped to start a marine aquarium – some of whom have had some type of aquarium previously and some that have not. A lot of these people, however, do not actually start out in this hobby.
To me that is a huge shame.
There are a lot of people who put this down to cost, lack of knowledge etc however I personally believe that primarily this is due to confusion.
When people look to the marine aquarium hobby it is normally from seeing someone elses aquarium, the natural coral reefs, fish shops, television as well as numerous other areas. Quite often the first thought is ‘I would love one of those but I don’t know anything about them’ so off they go and read books, purchase magazines, go on the internet, ask questions etc.
Whilst doing this initial research the potential aquarist is faced with varying amounts of information – information such as fish profiles, coral requirements, equipment reviews and much much more.
What started out as just wanting to keep corals and fish has suddenly turned into a learning exercise which in itself is not a bad thing as the majority of people love to learn. The potential aquarist is starting to learn about lighting requirements, water movement, water chemistry, equipment requirements and much more and it probably starts to become a little daunting.
Before they know it they are suddenly faced with terminology which they have either never heard before or had no idea that it may be required for a marine aquarium – terminology suck as ORP, kalkwasser, refractometer, protein skimmer to name just a very small amount.
Whilst it is important to understand why these are required I personally believe that it is the terminology which is used in this hobby which creates confusion. Once confusion sets in the aquarists will turn one of two ways – they will either get their learning head on and start researching even more or they will go the other way and decide not to progress as the believe it is too hard.
And who can blame them – as already said, when the idea was formulated all they wanted to do was keep fish and corals!
There is nothing that we can do as existing aquarists to change the terminology which is used in this hobby but I believe that all aquarists should help others who are interested in the hobby. The majority of people will do this however there are a minority who refuse to help others or attempt to hinder them.
I was very fortunate when I started this hobby as I had grown up around them and when I made the decision to get my own marine aquarium I had my father, John, to assist me every step of the way. I doubt that I now know as much as John as he is very knowledgeable in this area however there must be one area where I know a little more than him!
We all need to remember that this hobby is confusing at first and we will never stop learning however it is especially confusing at the start when you do not even understand what the nitrogen cycle is etc however if the basics are explained in a manner which does not make the potential aquarist fell silly and actually helps them move forwards then we would probably have a lot more marine aquarists then there are at the moment.
This is what we try to do at Aquarists Online and I encourage anyone else to help anyone else who either needs it or asks for it.