Owning a saltwater aquarium is not for everyone. Saltwater tanks are the minority of aquariums. Out of the saltwater tanks, reef tanks are by far the most challenging type to attempt to keep. Something that can help drastically is having a mentor in the hobby. We’ll discuss a little about why a mentor is a big deal and how you can mentor someone else.
What is a mentor? A mentor is someone who can reliably give you advice and help you in your challenges. They also can help praise during success! Owning a reef tank is considered by many to be one of the most challenging hobbies available. There are a lot of different aspects that go into it. The fish we choose, corals we keep, water chemistry and it’s relationship to everything, chemical compounds to be added or removed, and even different types of mechanical and chemical filtration.
When you start out, one thing you’ll quickly find is that almost nothing in this hobby is for certain. You can find supporting arguments for both sides on almost any issue. This makes it very complicated and gets overwhelming fast. This is where a mentor shines. By having a mentor who already owns a successful tank, you can take their advice and what they did to try to replicate their success. When you do have issues, you can turn to them for immediate advice and help. Chances are they already know what to do. This hobby is known for the challenges it presents. Having someone guide you through the tough times and keeps you motivated can really keep your interest peaked.
On the other side of the coin, being a mentor is a fresh new challenge after you have been in the hobby. Remember all those troubles you faced 6 years ago? Me neither. Helping someone new will not only refresh your memory of what it was like to start, but also provides some new challenges to deal with. I have been in this hobby for 6 years now and have been looking for a new challenge. My tank is running smooth for the most part, chemistry remains stable and things are mostly running themselves now.
Another perk of being a mentor is having someone new and excited about the hobby to talk to. Our spouses may listen to us rant and rave but after a few years they have heard about everything we can blab on about. Having someone new to talk to is exciting and to watch them copy you, creating a successful tank themselves, is a reward on it’s own.
I might be biased though. I am an elementary school teacher; I love teaching! It’s a big part of who I am and I really enjoy it. Perhaps for me, being a mentor fits really well. Perhaps for others it is not a good fit. Some people just want to the their own thing and that is alright too! If you get the chance to help someone out who is just starting, I don’t think you’ll regret it.
If you can mentor someone and they stick with the hobby longer than 3 months – consider it a success! I can’t tell you how many people over the years quit the hobby after just a few months of it running. I think it is mostly due to the fact that information is overwhelming and there is not a definite right or wrong answer. It’s often a lot of guess work and that can be challenging for many folks. I strongly believe if those people had a mentor, they may have lasted longer. There are other reasons to leave as well. Life has a way of getting between the things we like.
On that note – if you have made it this far and you need help, feel free to reach out to me! I am always happy to help answer any question that I can. If I don’t know the answer I am honest about that. I tell my students that if I don’t know the answer to their questions, that’s OK! We will just learn together.