Even my 210 gallon tank required a lot of expense and effort to maintain. Though 10,000 gallons seems, at first, to be a dream tank, it could only be so if accompanied by a dream paycheck as well. Keeping within our means and our time is an important part of keeping a reef tank. I think we can all look at Eli’s tank in the video and let our mouths drop open and feel a twinge of the old Green Eyed Monster but when one stops to pause and consider the practical implications of such a tank the shine fades quickly.
Knowing what tank size to keep isn’t always a matter of what fish you want, or how much room you have in your house. The hobby is expensive and time consuming to do right. Having a tank that’s large beyond your time or means might give you bragging rights for a while, but as the logistics of it hit home it will likely become a choice between downsizing or letting the tank get away from you. I’ve seem many occasions, even with small tanks, where illness, work, or some other live event leaves the aquarist unable to devote the time to a tank that it needs to thrive. They post online asking if anyone can help them until they get back on their feet, or post the tank for sale. Keeping your tank within your means of time and cash is the best way to keep it healthy, and keep it yours.
It is true that you will have to make sacrifices. You won’t be able to keep that Purple Tang you love in a 55 gallon. But, the kole or tomini tang you can keep with be happier and healthier because you can focus better on what you do have. When I talk to people at fish stores (as I can’t resist doing) I help them see what they can buy, what goes with it, and what doesn’t. Sometimes they are disappointed that they can’t get the wonderful fish they had hopped to get, but more often than not they are glad they dodged a bullet. So don’t think of having a small tank as a handicap or that it means you aren’t as much into the hobby as someone with a 10,000 gallon system. It just means you reef smart!