Where to go from here....


Supporting Member
A few months back, things slowly started to go south with my tank. Sps receding and dying, eventually lps did the same.

Unfortunately I didn't/don't have the time right now to devote to the tank and figuring out what was wrong. At this point I have lost all my SPS and most of my lps. Softies are holding on. Vermetid snail tubes have overrun my rockwork. What once was something I was proud of, is hard and embarrassing to look at.

I'm trying to figure out what to do next... My rockwork pretty much needs to be taken out and the vermetid removed/killed. Restarting this tank seems like it will likely end up in the same place.

The tank is 24" deep, and the stand is tall. This is really awesome for viewing, but in order to do really anything maintenance-wise, I have to bust out the step stool, which I think is part of the issue.

Do I pack it up and retire? Restart the tank and try to figure out how to make it super low maintenance? Downsize to a smaller and shorter tank that would be easier to maintain?

I don't really want to get out of the hobby, but man is it sad to see all that I have neglected and let die. It's a horrible feeling.
I think instead of looking at packing it in, we should start to change what a successful tank means. Take a quick pass through my journal at Fiesta Vallarta, and see how simple that setup is compared to my home setup. Both I would call successful, but my home tank needs a full time engineer to make it work, while the softie tank at FV runs itself.

Softie and nem tanks are beautiful IMO and can be very successful with very little intervention. As for the vermetid snails, let them be for now, and let fast growing corals grow over it. One day, when you want something different and have the energy to make that happen, you can always restart with new rocks then.

This hobby is supposed to be relaxing and if it isn't at the end of the day, I think the person is likely going about some aspect of it in the wrong way, or has unrealistic expectations for what it takes to keep an instagram tank full of sps. My $.02


Seconding Michael's suggestion.

Additionally, while it requires a monetary investment, I've found automation is something that makes it much more enjoyable to me. While I still have the gearhead 'I wanna tinker with it' mentality, my goal with my tanks has been to get it to the point of 'set it and forget it'. Motivation and desire to do maintenance comes and goes, but it's a lot easier to take proper care of it when it's one or two things instead of *everything*.


Vice President
I completely sympathize. I’ve been there periodically over the years.

If you need to take a break, give yourself permission to take one. If you do this, make sure you think of it as a break and not quitting or giving up. Try not to feel guilty (easier said than done). Keep the equipment you like and give/sell the stuff that upsets you, which may include your rocks it sounds like. Give your inhabitants good homes, hopefully with club friends who can help you get back into it if/when you decide to.

BUT it sounds like you want to stay in the hobby despite the setbacks. I agree with the suggestions to consider just going with a minimal upkeep softy tank. They can be every bit as fun, beautiful, and satisfying. I’ve had my only tank be a minimal upkeep softy/LPS tank for many of my years in the hobby, especially when I was crazy busy (and poor) for a decade with various grad school levels of education and young children. I think I actually enjoyed those tanks as much or more than my current much more “impressive” and expensive tank I have now if I’m being honest. So a solid choice if you go that way if you think of it as a positive choice and not a retreat.

I also agree automation is key if you find keeping up with maintenance/testing is part of the problem, which it sounds like.

As as far as actually diving in and doing the seemingly insurmountable amount of work ahead of you regardless of which path you take, Mike’s advice about just getting started and letting the momentum help you along is exactly right.


Supporting Member
I really relate just because I went through something similar recently, and I definitely found that it’s one of the situations where what you focus on you get more of. Like if all you focus on is what’s going wrong in the tank it seems it’s all going wrong. I had some coral die, some not do too well etc etc and was really upset and couldn’t figure it out and all that, and I found in the meantime really focusing on my fish and how much I liked them helped. Fed them more, looked at them more, just like got in touch with something I liked in my tank. Did it remove the was green fields of bubble algae that have grown on my rocks? No but at least I wasn’t only seeing something I didn’t like. I also tried to remember that all the dope people I met on BAR that I’ve really enjoyed talking to and learned from all said that’s this is a phase everyone goes through and they all got through it, so that helped. And like was said just doing one thing right really helped. I still have lots of bubble algae, I have more vermatids than I’d like and more aptasia than I’ve ever had. On the other hand, I finally started a support ticket to fix my trident, I sent my light in to get fixed, I replaced the GFO, gave me sump equipment a good clean. Just doing something that I know is good for the tank. And low and behold I’ve spent way more time in front of it just enjoying it although visually nothing has really changed. I also have to say when other people have seen my tank and told me what they like about it, I’m reminded that I’m the one that sees the faults the most since I’m the one setting the standard there


Supporting Member
Definitely take a break if you need to. I had a situation where a heater malfunctioned and lost almost everything so I just shut it down. I moped for a while, but still kept up on reading, perused the forums, but started back up when I was ready and excited again. I think this is healthier than forcing yourself to salvage something if your heart isn't in it at the moment. Trust me, the reef bug will strike again and you'll have had time to reflect and what went right, wrong, and what objectives are most valuable to you.

As for vermetids, I have a 30"x1/4" fiberglass rod that I periodically go around and smash them with. Easy and don't even have to get my hands wet. I do this maybe once a month and they grow back slow enough that my corals aren't bothered.


Supporting Member
For reference... When I say vermetids have overrun my tank... I mean it's literally vermetid dominant...

It's embarrassing..

I definitely hear you all on starting small, and I think I would definitely stick to mostly easier corals for a long time.

As for automation, I have an Apex, KHG, dosers etc. That's really my big concern, how do I change my maintenance needs. Would a little smaller tank be easier to keep up with? Automated phosphate/ nitrate monitoring would definitely be helpful... But I don't think any of those are out/easily accessible yet?

I have an auto feeder for dry food, but maybe building a refrigerated dosing setup to dose a wider variety of foods/ aminos would help keep up coral health?

I keep going back and forth between if it would be better/ jump start my enthusiasm faster to start with a new tank, or reboot my current.


Supporting Member
Honestly. I think you need to take care of one problem at a time. Looking at the whole thing is overwhelming.
vermetid snails can be reduced by bumble bee snails. They take some time and they won’t get them all but they do help. I found them on sale in LA for a dollar each. I bought 30 in a 190. Spend some time just breaking them too.
As for automation. Looks like you have a lot of gear already. Just add a dos for water change with a remote salt container set up. Small water changes are better than larger water changes. Plus you don’t have to heat the water.
I wouldn’t worry too much about phosphate and nitrate now.
You don’t have to dos aminos if your constantly doing water changes. Plus. Don’t add anything to the aquarium that you can’t test for. It will build up and you’ll have side effects. Remember you are your aquarium worse and best enemy.
It’s too easy to focus on the negative than the positive. A reef aquarium is never perfect. I think we all get too wrapped up in the perfection of it.


Vice President
I suggest as your first act you grab a pair of bone cutters or equivalent cutting/crushing device, and just spend an hour killing all the vermetid snails you can see by cutting/crushing their base where the snail lives. It is actually pretty easy and hugely satisfying.

For me, it can be hard to just get in there and do some manual partial fix rather than obsess over a perfect solution or lack thereof. There are a lot of reef tank problems where the low-tech manual approach works the best, and vermetid snails are one of them.

Coral reefer

DBTC Officer
I actually plan to swap out a structure here and there every year or so. Allows for slow continual change. Having awn extra structure or two comes in handy. Throw in sump for a couple weeks before display and you’re good.
Too many aiptasia on a certain structure? Too many purple cloves? Vermetid snails? Coral you don’t want anymore? Take it out and replace it.


Supporting Member
@Meshmez What a good thread you started. I tend to obsess about problems until I freeze and do nothing. Look at all the ideas and perspectives people here have. Really reduces stress. I am interested to see what you do next


Supporting Member
That's funny bc for me that is one of the hardest parts and just shuts me down.
ya doing correct aquascaping has never been easy for me and i always end up with 2 piles of rocks. My brain just does not easily visualize rock structures i guess lol.

@Meshmez IMO you could keep a great softy tank running on feeding it once a day and water changing 30% every few weeks. I ran my 28 gallon like that for a year and all the softies did great, no dosing or even a skimmer. softy tank can look great, my personal favorite reef tank theme. once you feel like it you can get back into doing all the complicated stuff. And you said you have some softies still holding on, seems like a good place to start


@Meshmez The only reason my 100g tank is mostly ok is because I fought all these frustrating battles on smaller tanks (20, then 40g) before taking the principles/maintenance habits to a larger tank. If I’d had all these challenges on the big tank I might have quit by now. I think once you downsize to a smaller tank, with everything you’ve learned, it should be less frustrating to maintain.

I would recommend nobody new to reefing gets anything larger than a 20-40g until they’ve had their first coral pest, algae outbreak, Dino’s/cyano, jelly/wild hammer disease, fast growing coral removals, aqua scape or equipment related issues, bad citizen/sick fish removal etc - all these things are easier to learn how to overcome on a small tank.