(People have been asking me to repost a post I made in reply to a thread as a sticky, so I'm doing so Editing a little to take it from specific context to general context.)

If you ask what type of tail it's best for a beginner to start off with, chances are we're going to tell you to start with a fabric tail. Or at least a neoprene tail. It is the best way to go, but if you your really want a silicone tail and don't want to go that way don't! We're just here to advise you on what we know from experience and seen for ourselves. This is based on many years of experiences from many different merfolk.

The reasons most mers recommend fabric first:

-You may find when you get a tail that you don't like mermaiding after all. This actually happens a LOT. I myself have had dozens of friends hard core geek out about wanting to be a mermaid, but the minute I put them in a monofin and/or tail they they dropped that idea like a sack of bricks and never looked back. It's just not for some people.
Then there's about half or more of mers who get into mermaiding, are super gung ho for a while, then lose interest within a year or two. If you have a fabric tail it's no big deal. When you have a multi thousand dollar tail, you're going to lose a good chunk of that in resale.

-Silicone tails are HEAVY. Staring off with one you can actually injure yourself. I've seen it happen to people starting of with silicone tails, and/or starting off with a competitor monofin. You use different muscles to swim in and maneuver around in (dry or wet) a tail, so if you put a whole lot of stain on muscles that aren't used to that it can end badly. Even in needing a trip to the doctor for some. Full silicone tails usually are 15-30+lbs just in the fluke.

-When you're learning, you're going to bang up your first tail something fierce! There's more too it than learning to just swim from A to B. There's different kinds of turns, there's hovering instead of standing on your fluke, there's completely eliminating that nasty habit of ever hopping around on your fluke (balance can be an issue for first timers), there's learning how to gauge where the pool bottom and sides are at all times so you don't scrape anything, ect. This can lead to a lot of scraping, ripping, tearing, all that- even if you're careful! For a fabric tail you can repair it or get a new one. For a silicone one, repairs or replacement is very expensive, especially if you have to send it back to the tailmaker. We're talking a few hundred just for shipping. I've observed a lot of mers going from nothing to silicone or from fabric to silicone have the following happen to them- they scrape off a lot or all the paint on their heels, knees, and even the fluke (I've even seen paint scraped off of the body of silicone tails), put holes in the silicone body, tear the silicone body, tear the waist line, tear off dorsal fins, tear off other extra fins (pectoral, heel, ankle), and over stretch scales from putting it on improperly. That can be one expensive learning process if you go with silicone.

-Starting off in a silicone tail can be scary. Most people don't realize that having your legs bound together in the water until they're in the water having trouble. With a fabric tail you can have that thing of in literally 3 seconds if you need to, even total beginners can have it of in 5 seconds. A silicone tail? If you're panicking you're screwed, becuase that thing is skin tight with very tight foot pockets- it takes more time to get off. Even if people don't have a silicone tail I always advise them to learn with a tail and/or monofin with a floatation device and a safety buddy. For some people swimming in a tail comes natural. For others they just can't get it and they panic. So better to have safety first.

-Silicone tails are heavy and rubbery. They HURT when they hit someone. It takes times to learn to manuver around people safely in a pool with other people, and in close proximity. When I hit someone in my fabric tail it wasn't a big deal, or it just hurt them enough and "Ow!" and "Oh I'm so sorry!" "It's okay, just stung a bit." was all that I got. With a silicone tail you can leave a welt or worse.

-Silicone tails require a lot of care, and some maintenance that people may not be comfortable doing on their own. Silicone isn't indestructible, like people like to think. Chlorine and other things wear away at it like anything else. With silicone it can make it dry out, crack, and generally make it weaker leading to other issues. With some tailmakers the paint comes off way more easily than it should. If it gets moldy it will eat away at the silicone and make it fragile or even make it look dirty (when the mold is on the inside and you look at it from the outside). You get can get rips, tears, holes, ect same as any other tail. Silicone is harder to fix than neoprene or latex and neoprene tails.

Full after swim maintenance usually takes about an hour. You have to rinse it with water well inside and out, give it a baking soda rinse or bath, rinse it well again (if you want to be good about it, wipe it down with a virgin sponge as well while rinsing to make sure it's getting everything off), dry it by hand inside and out-and you have to get down in the fluke and footpockets REALLY well to avoid mold- then prop it up or open to make sure any remaining moisture airs out. Every few swims you really should spray it with adult toy cleaner or wipe it out with lysol wipes to kill bacteria and prevent mold. You need to patch holes or tears yourself with silicone. If you got your tail from a maker where paint comes off, you have to repaint it yourself with silicone and pigment or send it back to the tailmaker to have it touched up. If you tear off a fin or rip a seam you have to try and repair it yourself or send it back to the maker. Also you have to be extra careful in transporting it and storing it or you can damage it. Also if you lose weight you can't just take it in like all other tails- you have to send it in to be taken in. Some tailmakers can't fix the paint job if it's distorted by taking in the tail. They're high care tails, IF you want them to last more than a year or two.

Usually beginners don't want to deal with all that. They just want to swim and be done. With silicone tails swimming is only half of it.

Those are the usual reasons why we advise people to start off with fabric or neoprene tails. But it's just that- advice! If you believe you're experienced enough they won't be issues, or are wiling to deal with said issues, then go for it! We're here to support you Just be aware of what you're getting yourself into!