Gadgets and Crazy Cool Equipment Hurting the Hobby?

BRS

Does cool gear and gadgets cause the perception of reefing to be harder than it really is?

  • YES

    Votes: 326 49.5%
  • NO

    Votes: 167 25.3%
  • Maybe

    Votes: 150 22.8%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 16 2.4%

  • Total voters
    659

revhtree

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I don't want to start a fight here but I thought this could be a great question to ask. I recently saw a comment from someone on social media stating how they would not get into the Saltwater Aquarium hobby because all the equipment and gadgets needed. They had seen a photo, that we like to share, of a complex and well put together sump/equipment area that featured lots of fancy tubing, acrylic, electronics, etc. My personal opinion is that the "gadgets" make reefing more fun but also helps us be more successful. But maybe the perception hurts the hobby? Let's talk about it!

Do all the gadgets and crazy equipment choices hurt or help the hobby?

Do you think all the cool gear and gadgets cause the perception of reefing to be harder than it really is?


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lapin

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Its both. You can do without most of the equipment

For the seasoned reefer and those who are lets say "computer savy" many new devices can make things easier. Most gadgets replace things we did manually. ATOs, Controllers, Water testing ect.....

For the newbie they can be a bit much. Not only do you need to learn the basicis (chemistry and biology) but learning how to operate a 10 pieces of equipment can kill the fun.
 

kittenbritches

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"Other" for grammar:

DO THE COOL GEAR AND GADGETS CAUSE THE PERCEPTION OF REEFING TO BE HARDER THAN IT REALLY IS?​


Now that's out of the way ;), my "other" vote is really because it depends on the level of research one does before deciding to dive headlong into this hobby. If someone is interested in reefing because they were inspired by TikTok videos of crazy builds and remote control fish traps, yeah, it may seem hard or out of reach. Otherwise, I think that if one does their homework first, learns what is required to run a successful tank, and builds within their means, it's something that most people can do, and upgrade as they go along and learn (and keep making that cheddar). :D

Also, understanding water parameters and how equipment and gadgets and plumbing work, aren't necessarily hard, but for some is nearly impossible. Even the most simple build will seem impossibly hard and lead to failure or leaving the hobby if you can't grasp the basics and aren't willing to put in the work.

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lynn.reef.nerd

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I think a lot of us forget what a "hobby" mean. Do what makes you happy.
If having all the gadgets is fun for you, go for it.
If you don't like gadgets, don't do it.
If you enjoy corals, grow them.
If you just like fish, keep them.

What is hurting the hobby is all the folks who believe the "good old days" are always the best. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but don't be stuck on it or else you will stagnate progress.
 

DivingTheWorld

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I’d like to think that most new reefers aren’t hung up on all the gadgets, at least right away. None of them are needed for a successful reef tank, they just make it easier for you to kick back and appreciate it.

I would hope most new reefers would start slow, gadget free and learn how to do maintenance, testing, dosing, etc. manually. Once they really understand how things work, they can start adding gadgets as their comfort level and $ allow.

There are definitely too many gadgets in our hobby, many of which are useless in my opinion. But I love to see all the innovation and development of newer more advanced gadgets.

I voted Maybe.
 

DeniseAndy

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Looking at it from a new person getting into it, they may get overwhelmed quickly from all the knowledge just starting a tank, then add all the gadgets and it would seem to me a bit over the top.

However, as an older reefer, the newer gadgets do not interest me much. If I want to try them, I will try a DIY if possible or just research them a lot to see if it is something I want to try. I like the KISS approach as much as possible.

I do not think they hurt the hobby. Some people get into it for the gadgets. It is their thing. Totally okay! Everyone has a reason to love the hobby and for some it is the technology.
 

rtparty

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Absolutely. Most forget how much you truly have to learn to be successful in this hobby.

You have to be a marine biologist, chemist, plumber, wood worker, electrician, IT, baker (look how many you stole from the kitchen), and more.

I'm entering year 17 in this hobby and the number one reason people don't get into the hobby is "it LOOKS complicated and like a lot of work." Right or wrong doesn't matter. The perception is it looks hard. $10k in equipment does not help the perception.
 

Midrats

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I see so many pictures of tanks with every bell and whistle, yet nothing in the tank, as in the example tank you posted. I guess for some people it's the colored plumbing, full automation, and a new light every six months rather than corals and fish.
 

Reefin Aint Easy

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Its both. You can do without most of the equipment

For the seasoned reefer and those who are lets say "computer savy" many new devices can make things easier. Most gadgets replace things we did manually. ATOs, Controllers, Water testing ect.....

For the newbie they can be a bit much. Not only do you need to learn the basicis (chemistry and biology) but learning how to operate a 10 pieces of equipment can kill the fun.
+1 on this!!!!
 

Fourstars

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Remember how easy the Berlin method was? I still run a simple system and it’s very successful. That being said, a lot of people are attracted to the hobby because of all the shinny gadgets.

What really hurts the hobby is the lack of emphasis on sustainability. Even if it’s being praclicked it’s not used as a marketing tool. Or supported by the community.
 

Fishf00d

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I see so many pictures of tanks with every bell and whistle, yet nothing in the tank, as in the example tank you posted. I guess for some people it's the colored plumbing, full automation, and a new light every six months rather than corals and fish.
I see this so often too. I see locals posting their fancy sumps for sale with the full tank shot and the tank looked horrible. My sump is a 150 in my basement that I traded an Acro frag for because it had to be resealed. I'm using PVC from lowes, oh the horror. I like the new technology and on my current build it will be very helpful but I don't care what my plumbing and sump looks like as long as it works. I guess I'm just a grumpy old reefer as I've been low tech and budget for 20+ years now. lol
 

FiddlersReef

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When I started my new reef after many years away, it was partially because of technology improvements. The last time I had a tank, I had DIY protein skimmer, DIY acrylic sump, lots of stuff hanging off the back, and just koralia pumps and hot metal halides in a hanging DIY canopy. Dosed everything by hand, mixing this and that and keeping it ready to add daily. The tank did well, but it was a LOT of constant work. There was almost nobody using controllers, and wavemakers were just becoming a thing. There were no smartphones then. Everything was tracked in a notebook. It worked, but it took time.

The ability to install pumps and lighting that can be controlled by an app on my phone is awesome.
I dosed manually for awhile, then bit the bullet and got a dosing pump to buy myself some time every morning.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's a balance. I've bought hundreds of dollars in equipment I didn't plan on when I started back up, mostly because I didn't realize it existed until I realized I needed to make things easier and started searchign. But I don't regret any of it and I think it improves the odds of success.

Disclaimer though... I think gadgets are cool. :cool:
 

College_Reefer

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I am a big tech guy. I always love getting a new phone, laptop, etc but I also am good at realizing when I don't NEED something. This hobby and all the reefing gear allows me to sort of bypass the "I don't need it" mentality because it isn't about what I need, its about what the living, breathing organisms that I keep need. If more technical gear is better for the critters in my tank, (Neros, better lighting, Apex system) I owe it to them to provide the best possible environment for them to thrive.
 

spacedcowboy

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Speaking for myself only, it’s part of the attraction...

  • The effort put into a well-designed system.
  • The build-out of the 80/20 control panelss (before boards became generally available) to make things look good as well as be functional and easy to reach
  • Designing the aquarium itself to “poke through and stick out from the wall”, and then getting Miracles to agree ”they could build that”
  • Learning “Sketchup” so I could build a model of the tank and the (very small) fish-room behind it to make sure everything would fit and be accessible.
Don‘t get me wrong, the aquarium is the point, but there’s lots of fun to be had with the “extras” too.

Aside: I work at Apple (I’m the guy who just did all the client integration for “Hide My Email”). A decade or so ago, when I wanted to change groups and move to Platform Architecture (basically prototyping new hardware years before it sees the light of day), I spent the whole 8 hours of interviews with different people talking about the design of my aquarium controller, the trade-offs, the communications protocol, the feedback systems, the design choices etc. I’ve since switched to Apex (mainly for their peripherals) but that aquarium got me a job in one of the hardest parts of Apple to get into…
 
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jfoahs04

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Do all the gadgets and crazy equipment choices hurt or help the hobby?
They're a help. Some are snake oil, some are unnecessary (and over priced), but having been in this hobby on/off for 20 years, they absolutely help. Without the level of automation available today, I might not be able to participate. I think this is true of a lot of people. I also think it makes it possible to grow harder to keep coral since the equipment is much more consistent than manual efforts which is good for stability.

Do you think all the cool gear and gadgets cause the perception of reefing to be harder than it really is?

Maybe a little (people are always surprised at what goes into it), but I think it's still a net win for the hobby. Between the intimidating equipment and the cost of livestock vs freshwater, I think that saltwater has a lower dropout rate than FW since it's harder to just dabble. Mortality among livestock is still a lot higher than it needs to be, but it could be worse in SW if fewer people were intimidated/put off by the gear and costs.

You can still do OK with a $20 aqueon 20g, HOB filter, cheap heater, and some dry rock, but I do think that the ceiling in this hobby intimidates a lot of people out of it. And I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. Those who are passionate enough to stick with it will often try anyway (even if it means starting with the cheapest setup they can piece together).
 

unchaotic

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Looking at it from a new person getting into it, they may get overwhelmed quickly from all the knowledge just starting a tank
Exactly. If images of a high tech sump scare them off that's probably for the best. The never-ending "discussions" about proper cycling, parameters, water changes vs dosing, etc will scare them off for sure.

In my opinion, the only ones that really have a prayer are those that quickly realize there's more than one way to do anything and everything in this hobby. Those that go to Facebook and take the advice of the first self-proclaimed expert who replies to them are doomed.
 

WVNed

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I used to fly model planes but they came up with all this fancy stuff so I quit. Multi rotors with GPS that return to home by themselves or planes with gyros, autopilots and multiple engines.

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If other people have all that stuff it just isnt fun for me anymore.
 

G Santana

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More than anything else, it's intimidating to someone who doesn't know that all the bells and whistles are nice but not needed.

A little research and advice will go a long way to helping the uninitiated.
 

James_O

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Its both. You can do without most of the equipment

For the seasoned reefer and those who are lets say "computer savy" many new devices can make things easier. Most gadgets replace things we did manually. ATOs, Controllers, Water testing ect.....

For the newbie they can be a bit much. Not only do you need to learn the basicis (chemistry and biology) but learning how to operate a 10 pieces of equipment can kill the fun.
Another +1 on this. Took the words right out of my mouth!
 
BRS

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