As a kid, I always had lots of freshwater fish tanks. They usually resulted with finding dead crabs underneath the couch, fish-jerky on the carpet, and algae-fouled…everything. Somehow, this didn’t scar me for life. During high school we had 11 aquariums and were breeding show guppies.  In college, I purchased a 10g freshwater tank from a friend who had just got married and was moving. At one point, I had 20 fish in it, was using dechlorinated tap water, and had a fake rusty car with air bubbles that came out of the engine bay. Regardless, I loved that fish tank.

10g Aquarium

One day, my boyfriend (now husband) suggested that we stop at the local fish store. I was very excited that he was taking an interest in my hobby. Unfortunately for him, we didn’t know that it was a saltwater-only store. That’s when the trouble began.

About two years later, my boyfriend and I went to a yardsale, and happened to find a *free* 40g aquarium. Perfect! We thought the expensive part was over! Six months later, on Christmas morning, I came down to find a giant Rubbermaid cooler underneath the tree. Upon opening it, the stench hit me before the realization of what the contents were. The cooler contained month-old dead live rock. Let me tell you…there is no worse smell than a cooler that has sat in the garage for a month with rotting saltwater critters.

The next month of waiting for the rocks to cure was filled with stand-building and supply gathering. I started with normal flourescent lights, a wet-dry sump, no skimmer, dechlorinated tap water…and the biggest curse…DAMSELS!!! Worst of all, I started with the stereotypical over-priced pet store that ripped us off and gave us horrible advice.

On a trip to a newly-found fish store, I stumbled upon the waving green fingers of the green star polyp coral. Sitting right next to that aquarium was a used power compact light fixture. Needless to say, they both came home with me that night.


The only way I can look back on the last five years in the saltwater hobby is to just laugh…maybe a little bit too hysterically. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster. If I would’ve applied myself to anything in life like I have with my fishtank…I could’ve been retired by now. I hope you find the following pages humorous, and more importantly, informative. Please keep in mind that this hobby is always changing, and what works for one person may not work for another person. Unfortunately, I do not know everything, but if you have a question, I’ll try my best to find the answer.

Keep on reefin’!


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  1. Arani

    exactly, i also got this post informative. really a good source i found. thanks.

  2. Luciano

    Thank you very much for your interesting suggestion that I found on your site. I’m 50 years old and I love all kind of aquatics animals since when I was 6.
    Reading your experience with some corals help me to remember when I was young and normally bought marine fish with health problem just to try to save them.

    Thank you again to share your experience.

    I’m sorry for my English of writing.

    Venaria Reale – Italy

    1. admin

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experience! No need to apologize for language here – sadly I can’t speak/write a language other than English! Kudos to you!

  3. John Weistroffer

    Reef’d up,
    Thanks for such a great page. Your rescue coral stories and pictures are extremely inspirational to me. It makes me want to try the same thing and I have with some good success. I wanted to ask what type of lighting you use? All of your rescues seem to develop the most beautiful colors upon recovery. I’d love to know more about how you maintain your aquaria and what hardware is used.

    Thanks again, John

    1. admin

      Hi John!

      Thanks for the words of encouragement!

      Most of the photos on this site were taken under either metal halides (150W or 400W) or T-5’s. I’ve run just about every color spectrum of light (10,000-20,000 Kelvin) as well. I’m actually moving over to LEDs now, so new rescues will probably be lit differently than past rescues. As far as coloration goes, the best colors are usually in the tanks with the highest nutrient levels (and also the most simple setup…go figure!)

      As far as my setups go, I currently (this always changes) have a 200g display system, 70g coral hospital system, 25g coral quarantine, 5g softy tank, and 3 x 10g fish quarantines. My 200g system has a custom design/built LED system, APEX controller, dosing pumps, Reef Octopus Extreme 250 skimmer, 2 x MP40WES powerheads, carbon/GFO reactors, etc. My 70g system has 6 x 39W T-5’s (ATI), a EuroReef Skimmer, Koralia powerheads, and a GFO reactor. My 25g system has a 150W Metal Halide, Tunze 9002 skimmer, Koralia powerhead…and that’s about it. The 5g tank has an LED light and a teeny pump. The fish QTs just have a HOB filter, heater, airstone, and a cheap light.

      Hope that helps! Thanks for reading!

  4. Raymond Ulrich

    Stumbled across your site today – great read!
    Thanks for your work in this area, and the documentation more so – I’ll pass this along to the “local” Chesapeake Marine Aquaria Society for reference. As others have mentioned – inspirational.
    I’ve only been messing with marine aquaria for about…um…45-50 years, and still never tire of pressing my nose against the glass. Now it’s a little more interesting with a walk-around 300 reef in the living room, but I didn’t get there over night.
    Ah well, enough of my prattle; please, do keep up your good work, and I’ll see if I can spread the word a bit about your site!

    1. admin

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks so much for the kind words and encouragement! I’m jealous of your 300; I only have a 150g walk-around (I have to compensate with my fish room!) If you have any suggestions or anything you’d like to see, please let me know! I’d love to hear your experiences – especially for 45-50 years!

      Thanks again!

  5. Ant

    Dunno if youre still doing the rescues, but I just wanted to tell you how awesome those articles are!!!! I’ve read them all and have even used a few of your techniques on a few of my troubled frags. Thanks so much and I hope you post more 🙂

    1. admin

      Hello! Unfortunately we had to move to a new state, and we’re unable to rescue right now. However, we have enough stories to post hundreds of articles! Thanks for the encouragement, and we’ll try to do a better job of posting! 🙂 We’d love to hear your stories as well!

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