To Those Considering Getting Out of the Hobby

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Very recently, a friend contacted me and told me he was getting out of the hobby. He had a stunning 90-gallon SPS tank that was packed full of ORA corals and other rarities. He and I both started our most recent aquariums around the same time, each of us experimenting with the ZEOvit dosing system and cramming our tanks full of equipment and various Acroporids. Out of the blue, my friend contacts me and tells me that he is getting out of the hobby for a few years. It’s sad to see such a beautiful tank get torn down, and it got me thinking of all my aquarium buddy’s who have had to break down aquariums.

To those considering getting out of the hobby, keep your chin up. I’m sure you will be back in the hobby in no time. Whatever is demanding so much of your attention that you can’t work on your aquarium may, at some point, no longer be a problem. Or the aquarium itch might become so strong that you force yourself to make time for a tank. Children will grow up, careers may calm down, and the aquarium hobby will be right here waiting when you decided to return.

Continue reading below for my own struggles, as well as the best way to get out of the hobby temporarily.

I will admit, I’ve considered getting out of the hobby a time or two. Most of these thoughts came about because of my career, but there were times when aquarium forum drama became too much and the stresses of owning a tank were too many. Even this website has caused me to second guess my passions. Despite these stresses, I persisted, and it has proven to be the right choice. My spouse was fairly supportive, and even re-sparked my passion for the hobby at one point.

If you are absolutely certain you want to get out of the hobby, at least for a short time, I believe the following is a good way to do it. For starters, determine why you want to get out of the hobby, and if you can recover. Jobs and family life can demand most, if not all, of your time. If you are getting out of the hobby for these reasons, you might be out a while. But if the reason is less significant (e.g. you just want to take a break or you are moving, etc.), you may stay on the sidelines for only a brief amount of time.

For those considering a brief hiatus, the best thing to do is sell your livestock and keep the equipment. Aquarium equipment can be very expensive at the initial purpose. But as soon as this item is used, it’s resale price drops significantly. It’s very common for equipment that is less than a year old to lose at least half of its original retail value. Aquarium keepers are notoriously cheap when it comes to used equipment. Keeping this in mind, it would probably be best to hang on to the equipment that you plan on using in the future. If there’s a particular fish or coral you want to reacquire upon your return, you might want to donate it to a friend for safe keeping.

Once you are officially relieved of your tank, the best thing to do is keep the aquarium passion alive. Stay up-to-date on aquarium equipment and hobby trends, keep active on aquarium forums, read the AquaNerd Blog every now and then, and even visit local fish stores. Doing this may reignite the flame or you might find something you just can’t live without.

One last thing to take away from any break from the hobby is the next time around you can do things differently. Oftentimes, people who have aquariums that have been running for several years regret doing things they way the had done them originally. This can be anything from the aquascaping to livestock selection. Take the things you learned from your old tank and make your next tank better. This can also be automating certain things to make maintenance easier, which might make your next stint in the hobby last longer, or permanently.

Regardless of what path you take, do what’s best for you and your family. You can always come back to the hobby at a later time.

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  • Laurie aka tidepool2

    Another excellent and very supportive article – thank you! I heard from a high-end coral seller that 80% of people who start tanks get out in the first year. There have been times when I've wondered if that would be a good move for me…but I sleep on it and see how I feel after a good night's rest. I've come so far with my 65 gal. reef tank and I know it only gets better. I've made some great reef-keeping friends and connections. The first year is the hardest, I believe.

    Anyhow, thanks for the great article!