Back to the Future: Out of the hobby and then back again is shocking!

Would you be shocked by today's reefing hobby if you had just returned after a long period of time?

  • Yes (tell us why in the thread)

    Votes: 227 53.3%
  • No

    Votes: 77 18.1%
  • Somewhat

    Votes: 118 27.7%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 0.9%

  • Total voters
    426

kenchilada

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I am just returning to the hobby. I've been around since the early 90's.

I am shocked by the $$$ people spend now. Especially lighting. People spend a lot now on things they want rather than things they need (which is cool, but surprising).

I am shocked by "ELECTRIC MEGA YELLOW POPCORN" designer coral prices that seem the norm.

I am shocked that most people dismiss MH and T5 lighting and assert that LED is better. I don't even mention that I run T5 when I meet people at the LFS because I get shunned.

I am shocked people have doubled down on running big filthy refugiums. :p

I am shocked (and devastated) that I can't buy wild-collected live rock!!! :confused:

I am shocked at the whole designer clownfish thing. I don't want any but I realize its sadly going to only get worse and expand to other species.
 

Don Lidtke

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I ran a fish only tank in 1988-1991. Live rock and reef tank were just coming online in my area. Now tank raised fish, LED lighting, and refugiums, incredible. Since my return in 2016 the amount of information is nearly overwhelming, YouTube, R2R, so many online stores. Also, since no longer living in CA the LFS here in Utah are also impressive.

Ya, things here changed an amazing amount!
 

G Santana

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After over 25 plus years I just returned, and although the basics are the same, how one arrives there is really different.

Back then cycling was alot of live rock, 30 days to cycle, add 1 or 2 fish and presto cycled tank.

Metal halides and a chiller, now a bevy of LED options and maybe a chiller.

My medicine cabinet had copper, that's it.
Now I have a pharmacy.

I had my reef for 8 yrs and never QT any fish and never had an ICH problem, now everyone has issues with every post i read. Is it the way fish are imported? IDK but this is a problem.

Dosing was in its infancy now there are life support systems dripping this and that.
I had iron and iodine that was it and I dosed with an eye dropper.

Skimmers were huge in order to maximize bubble contact time, now they are streamlined race cars.

Yes I was initially overwhelmed but when you take away all the bells and whistles it's still, lights, water quality and good husbandry that keeps reef tanks thriving.

But today hobbyists have alot more information and tools to help them along the journey!!!
 

GuppyHJD

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Your description is exactly what is happening to me...VERY SHOCKING!

For most 35+ years I had various aquariums, raised / breed fish and progressed up to a mixed reef tank with some easy mushrooms and leathers living with a wide range of fish in a 180g tank. We raised a French angel from 1 1/2" to 11", had puffers, lion fish, trumpet fish, eels, etc. Some of the smaller fish disappeared before our eyes - learned never put a yellowheaded jawfish in the tank with a 8" porcupine puffer - one gulp. We were selling the house and moving onto a boat to live so I sold my tank. My metal halide / T5 lighting system, remote RODI / Mixing station in the basement along with the 75 sump in the basement.

Thirteen years later, I am slowly getting back into the hobby - rimless tanks and AIOs are the rage, lighting is now mostly LEDs, sumps are not wet/dry but more sumps with filter socks and algeas growing in them. I am surprised at how proprietary some of the controller and other equipment systems are - very disappointing.

Sadly the LFS stores near me are very loyal to their brands and less focuses on the welfare of the live stock. The industry is very focused on corals and reef, so much so, that most of the stores near me have very limited fish selection. Gone are the days of Fiji and Tonga live rock - now it seems everything is on CaribSea seeded dry rock. Yes that reduces the hitchhikers but the fun surprises are gone too. Years ago, it was 3 chromis or damsels to cycle the tank. Now it comes from a bottle and people try to do it in a week.

I guess some things are progress....it sure does not seem like it when I look at the price tags. We visited WWC last week and my wife looked at some corals at $1500 each. She looked at me and said "nope, I just don't see it".
 

Clownfish_Boy

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Back in the early 1990s everyone followed the Albert Thiel paradigm and had these massive trickle filters. Now we follow the Berlin paradigm, reef concept - The LR does what the trickle filter used to do, and better.
 

Doctorgori

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I took off from 2002 till 2009, during that span LED,s totally slid in and $20 head hammers and frogspawns were now $100.


1. If you were just getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus what do you think would shock you the most?

prices


2. What do you think is the next biggest trend or shocking change in reefing in the next 10 years or so?

equipment integration or lack of

not so funny but I sometimes wonder what this time would look like to a archeological team of the future

  • Acropora corals all of a sudden appear in fossil records in human settlement sites. Most likely due to a domestication event taking place between **** sapiens aquaticus and the genus acropora. During this same epoch, scientist uncover dichotomous burial sites strewn with robust coral skeletons and humans skeletal remains showing signs of malnutrition.
  • micro Feather dusters, and all hitchhiking brain corals go extinct coincidentally with the rise of the wrasses in fossil records
  • Strange names appear in ancient text, we call this the “ Acropolis” Era. Like aquatic pokémon’s the acro gold rush was on, unearthed refuse sites are littered with primitive light emitting diodes
  • the blue light era is in full swing, after millions of year Sun/white light spectra started causing algae outbreaks worldwide, artificial dry rocks started leaching phosphates into the biosphere, many fish died :D :D
  • Real Indo Pacific live rock is listed as critically endangered, AR or artificial rock becomes self aware. Reef tanks all over the world become cloudy blooms of “ B.R.O.G” (bacterial smog). This period is known as the concrete interglacial. Sites show a strange mix of very old precambrian reef rock and rock crafted by primitive man to imitate nature. Scientist surmise a period of high inflationary prices and natural resource shortages
  • Man evolves: the prehistoric wall-o-rock art scape is replaced by the “negative space” era. Future archeological teams call the rock layer the “Diode boundary” or the “ DB” boundary for short
 
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saf1

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I have a local friend, whom I became very good friends with because of the hobby, who had quit the hobby many years ago. Lately we have been talking and he decided the time was right for him to get back into the hobby. YAY!

I do not have any answer or recommendation. However the title caught my attention because when you posted the UPS driver dropped off the my copy of Back to the Future discs re-mastered in 4k :)

If I was to wager a reply I would say the captive breeding of fish. BIOTA is doing some amazing work as is even a forum member here with the Marine Beta's. I feel we, as hobbyists, should also find ways to aquaculture our systems and share holistically rather than treating it like a side hustle. Promoting the aquaculture aspect of both fish and corals in our closed systems will reduce the political pressure, present factual information, and of course be environmental friendly within reason (no cure just better by better practices).

Example - BIOTA captive bred Cuban Basslet - beautiful fish, previously hard to get and over 2500 US dollars now down to around 600. I have to say what was once unattainable is now attainable by a bit of saving and not buying and drinking some of my higher priced wines :D

tl;dr - fish and coral aquaculture is the future and next big thing.
 

design.maddie

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as someone who has returned after about a decade, the biggest shocker was video/photo uploads. The ease of having a Youtube/Instagram account just for your tanks progress isn't an odd thing. Don't even get me started on the fact that it is at 4k60.
 

Jose A Venereo

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Today's technology has made the hobby much easier. Pricing on some of the captive propagated "holy grails" has become ridiculous.
 

smacbride

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I wasn't really out of the hobby, just not paying much attention until recently.

Like everybody else, I'm mostly surprised by the prices! Especially the price of LED lighting. Some people are paying more for one light than my entire setup cost me...
 

lafarrow

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I started in the late 70's with a fresh water under gravel (Joubert method) 14 gallon hex. Moved to saltwater in the early 80's in the same tank. Today it would have been called FOWLR. Or more accurately an abattoir. The difficulty of keeping anything alive was real. Struggled and lost and struggled some more.

Back in now and as mentioned by others: (1) lighting HUGE!, (2) skimmers what-the-what? (great idea), (3) sumps/refugiums, (4) the tech options and (5) the availability of information!

The information boom is real. The BRS videos wet my whistle, but then the videos all over for everything. These forums. You know what I did when something weird popped up? Called a friend or went to the LFS and tried to describe the issue. They guessed and gave you copper. We didn't know what we didn't know. Today someone posts a picture and says "what's this?" and you get an answer and real time feedback and follow up. Got a problem - so did someone else and here is your answer! My god man that is huge. You are no longer Admiral Byrd out there on your own. The advancement of the hobby is incredible and the livestock is better off for it. I am thrilled to see what I can do today. The impossible is possible

Neophyte's prediction of the future - genetics. Modified corals/invertebrates/corals.
 

NanoReefLovers

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1. If you were just getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus what do you think would shock you the most?

I have had 2 hiatuses in the Hobby. Mid 90s- about 2007 and again 2012-2019. Each time I went into it thinking there must be new techniques and tech that I can learn and use. To be honest the biggest shock was going from crushed coral to sand and live rock. However I am impressed with the new tech

2. What do you think is the next biggest trend or shocking change in reefing in the next 10 years or so?

Designer sumps and filtration. I know there is some now but I am thinking more À la carte type sumps with a pick your own set up.
More aqua-cultured fish (at least I hope so).
 

Pmauro55

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I have a local friend, whom I became very good friends with because of the hobby, who had quit the hobby many years ago. Lately we have been talking and he decided the time was right for him to get back into the hobby. YAY!

He's literally been out of the loop completely so he began asking me questions about how reefing had changed, about the best equipment etc. He was shocked to hear how we could now automatically test things like alkalinity, calcium and magnesium among other things. He was shocked at how a lot of the companies now are really working to create their own network of equipment that didn't exactly work well with other equipment brands. He was also shocked that Euphyllia coral is in such high demand and commands such higher prices than that of many years ago. There are a lot of shocking changes and evolution to reefing for him and someone who hasn't been following along for sometime! Let's talk about it today!

1. If you were just getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus what do you think would shock you the most?

2. What do you think is the next biggest trend or shocking change in reefing in the next 10 years or so?



price shocker .jpg
After being out of the hobby for about 10 years I am somewhat surprised by changes in the hobby but as an Oceanographer not as surprised as one may think, my biggest surprise is in the massive increase in the costs, the tech is right about where I thought it would be, maybe a little behind the academic world, but still far advanced from my last tank.
 

vetteguy53081

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1. If you were just getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus what do you think would shock you the most?

Pricing and methods of husbandry. The concept of sump systems, lighting, water flow and water testing

2. What do you think is the next biggest trend or shocking change in reefing in the next 10 years or so?


There seems to be a focus by major manufacturers in dosing, lighting and control of accessories/components
 

littlebigreef

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Say folks that left 5-10 years ago it’s definitely controller tech. Personally I use nothing more advanced than a tunz ATO. But beyond salinity, temp, auto testing and dosing, you can also get water flow sensors and monitor everything from your smart phone. That’s pretty impressive.

Going back 8-12 I’d say the rimless trend and custom aquariums (variable iorn glass). For awhile acrylic was kicking glass’s butt. Once they were able able to engineer the rimless look it took off in popularity on new builds because let’s face it- glass is better than acrylic.

Another few years before that, maybe 15 years ago it’s absolutely the LEDs. LEDs are to reefkeeping what the rocket was to the 20th century. The good and the bad, fundamental paradigm shift that lowered the biggest barrier to entry into the hobby. It opened the door To keeping high end frags in nanos and picos. So, you know, folks could trade up a few more times before the dream build.

20 years ago it would be the elimination of bio balls, bio bale, or any other plastic bio ‘material.’ Yep, they were selling everyone extra plastic when we already had plenty of live rock in the tank. Skimmers were already a proven commodity at that point. The notion we’d one day keep ceto or use algae for nutrient export... seems pretty obvious now... feels sorta sci-fi for that time.

25 years we’re talking not only feeding corals by culturing phyto and rodis but maintaining slightly elevated levels of nitrates and phosphates. How many flower pot and elegance corals needlessly starved to death? A lot. There were naturally, some prepared foods but the variety, and often, local availability is pretty incredible now. Our understanding of nutrient import/export has dove tailed beautifully with our sophistication of 2-part supplements and general testing. The number of dialed-in tanks on social media is truly awesome.

Sorta a cheat here (this is as far back as I’ll go), that we’d 1) have the internet 2) it would be widely available 3) we’d take pictures with wireless phones and share on said internet 4) there’d be idiots that would troll, pick fights, try and scam people or generally be wholly unpleasant to deal with. 5) For better or worse we’d be connected with like-minded people that often share a passion for this craft of ours. I’ve meet people from all over the world and that’s been pretty incredible. Sure beats reading low quality custom-print translations of German and Swedish books and periodicals. Hilfe!

Some things that are the exact same. There’ll always be the have and have-nots. Surprisingly, there’s little to no correlation between between which group you’re in and the overall success/enjoyment you’ll get out of the hobby. Dream big but grow each day with consistency and patience.

You’re responsible for the life of each animal you put in your tank- they’re gonna die in captivity so make it ‘worth it.’ Conversely, some people will never learn.

It’s worth what you’re willing to pay for it, no more than that. If you’re treating the coral like a financial prospect, casino, or race horse, just remember ‘the house’ always wins.

Expensive multi colored pvc is stupid and a waste of money.
 

ichthyogeek

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1. If you were just getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus what do you think would shock you the most?

2. What do you think is the next biggest trend or shocking change in reefing in the next 10 years or so?
1) I recently started becoming more active in forums this Summer (idk, around the time I joined R2R). Previously I had been fairly active in aquarium forums. I've been gone for around...5-6 years? Here's what's really shocking me:
-The sheer downturn of some of the older forums in activity
-The rise of activity and membership in social media (Facebook groups, Reddit threads, etc.)
-The rise in dinoflagellates and the correlated fall in GHA
-Literally all the equipment.
-The prices. I used to cringe at buying 3 2" mushrooms at 10$. Now I can barely buy one .5" mushroom for the same price. The heck?!?!?! The same applies to fish.

2) Fish and invert breeding. All of these new innovations are going to massively affect what's going to be available, especially if we don't fight for it (go check out PIJAC, and educate yourself on the Hawaii aquarium fishery for a sample). Let's just hope that Moore's Law will allow for a reduction in pricing instead of an increase...
 

laverda

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The crazy price people pay for corals. I used to get rocks covered in assorted zoas for $20-30.00. Now you can hardly get a single polyp for that much. Same with SPS colonies. You could buy really nice open hand size SPS for $50-75.00. That was not that long ago! Now if an SPS frag has two little nub branches it is considered a colony by some and may be $500.00. That’s insane and I just walk away in disbelief when I see that!
 

The_Skrimp

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You guys are absolutely right about the sticker shock. I remember coming back I saw a fire shrimp for 60 dollars and I had do a double take. Those used to be half the price. I remember I got a yellow tang for my first tank for fifteen bucks and now I can’t find them for under sixty. I’ve basically been bargan shopping since coming back to the hobby trying to find things at a price I think is reasonable.
 

Brokecoloadoreefer

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I am one of these returners. I have been reefing since the late 90’s. This current break was about 10 years.

-I was somewhat surprised that I thought I would use the majority of my old gear. Nope. Started fresh.

-the lighting trends over the last 10 years has been amazing.

- the stock of aquacultured livestock is amazing as well as the high end corals.

-BRS has become a monster size supply company!

- The channels on YouTube have really opened access to beginners and experts alike.

-trends in live rock vs live rock and the availability of liverock surprising.

-unsurprisingly, the hobby is still just as addicting.
 

How's your tank currently looking?

  • Never better

    Votes: 51 14.6%
  • Pretty good

    Votes: 152 43.6%
  • Just OK

    Votes: 77 22.1%
  • Not great

    Votes: 38 10.9%
  • Prett Bad

    Votes: 14 4.0%
  • Yuck

    Votes: 8 2.3%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 9 2.6%

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