I have done quite a bit of consulting work over the past 30 years. I have installed aquariums as small as a five-gallon freshwater tank and as large as a four-hundred-gallon shark tank. Every aquarium system from a five gallon to a four hundred gallon is a new and completely different adventure. Each adventure MUST start at the beginning. This is the introduction to the aquarium hobby and the basic information needed to keep any aquarium. The best way to accomplish this is by reading books. The most important thing I can say to anyone interested in keeping an aquarium is to READ, READ, READ,.. and READ some more. If you aren't somewhat familiar with the hobby and its "buzzwords" it will be very difficult to form a solid foundation. I can't do this for you, but to make it easier I have added a Book Review section (please, !!! read books that are as current as possible). My job as a consultant is to guide you through the rough waters, so to speak.

Here is a list of some of the books every hobbyist should own:

  1. The Beginner to Breeder by Martin Moe

  2. Marine Aquarium Reference - System and Invertebrates by Martin Moe

  3. The Marine Fish and Invert Reef Aquarium by Albert Theil

  4. Advanced Reef Keeping by Albert Theil

  5. The Reef Tank Owner's Manual by John H. Tullock


        The most difficult job of consulting is trying to figure out just what the customer wants. I have noticed that most people don't have a short- or long-range plan concerning their aquarium. I want the customer to make several decisions at this stage. Some examples are, Do I want to be a hobbyist, or I just want to see pretty fish?  Will I (the customer) be doing the maintenance every month?  Where are you going to put the aquarium, and will you ever be moving it?  Do you have the finances to keep the system running and in optimal condition? These are but a few questions a customer must answer.

        The design of the system is a direct result of the amount of space available. At the design stage I require measurements where the system will be installed. The size of the aquarium and the stand are important for the construction of the filtration systems. Usually, I draw up a detailed diagram of the system and its components.

        The installation of the system is either up to the customer, or I can be contracted to do the work. (Depending on the location in relation to my service area.)

        There are many aspects of the aquarium hobby. If you are well read and follow the suggestions, I offer many of the horror stories you hear about will be avoided. You have to trust someone to give you the correct information.

Good luck and happy fish keeping.


Todd DeRosa The 'Fishman'