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

arussellnsg

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I voted maybe.
When I was studying up for the before I invested and started, I honestly was beginning to get overwhelmed with what I read, saw, etc. I finally had to ask myself if I was really interested and wanted a longterm commitment.
My answer obviously now was yes. So I began to look for more information on going a less expensive, less expansive way to go. I guess it would scare off the ones who aren't really interested in my opinion but maybe it does scare off the ones who could be interested if not overwhelmed ‍
 

KK's Reef

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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.

Having had a salt tank two decades ago before going on a long hiatus in the hobby, I can tell you that the old days weren't the good 'ol days. In terms of prices and availability of fish, maybe. I don't remember any bans back then and the impact of collecting live animals from the reef didn't really enter into hobbyists' minds. I also don't remember having the choices of corals we have now.

It's so much easier today. Not because of the fancy equipment, but because of all the info and how easy it is to access that info. We now know what light grows corals best, what species of fish get along with other species, how to quickly or slowly cycle a tank, what equipment works and which are straight up doodoo, etc.

To reply to the OP, I voted a maybe. For a new reefer, the cost and the amount of choices for fancy equipment can be daunting. For experienced reefers, expensive but reliable equipment that makes the hobby easier and more automated can be a godsend.
 

Karen00

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I voted "yes" but this is coming from someone who is new to the hobby. I'm a person who researches the hell out of everything so when I found this community and started binge reading I became more intimidated and overwhelmed reading about all of the gizmos and gadgets to the point it almost turned me off getting started. It took me a long time to separate at what point you need the gadgets and most of them aren't needed when first getting started. What I discovered is that most of the gadgets become necessary if your tank's demands aren't fulfilled with water changes alone or you start to get tired of doing the manual maintenance like dosing. For most folks getting started, the gadgets won't be necessary until your tank has exploded with growth or you no longer want to do things manually. In both of these scenarios they are probably tanks that have been running for awhile, not new setups. I haven't even needed to hook up the ATO I was told I needed for my 5g. Manual top ups have been fine. Having said that I'm still a fish only setup so I'm sure it will be needed once I get corals (or maybe it won't) and I don't plan on traveling anytime soon. :)
 

LittleFidel

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I have a 29 gallon with freshwater planted LEDs, regular powerheads, no skimmer, no doser. I do water changes with salt made with tap water. Everything is fine.

sure. Some of the gadgets would make it easier but the low tech approach works just fine. No need to spend $$$$ unless you want to.
 

Glenner’sreef

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I chose no. That sump photo intimidates me! I’ve got some good equipment but it doesn’t look like the engine room of the Enterprise. I think most non-reefers will see my sump or your sump and feel that it’s within reach of both their abilities and finances.
 

LittleFidel

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It's all about instant gratification. The GenX and Gen Z's loath doing anything manual. That would mean getting up from in front of their computer or smart phone and actully doing something. It also has alot to do with impressing themselves and others.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with that. It's just the direction our society/culture has led them. They were born in a time of great technological advances, as well as having had most everything handed to them without having to do much work. Hence, they would rather just click and drag a scroll bar and get instant information, or perform some trivial task at their tank. Such as water change, temp. increase, or parameter check,

Don't believe me? Just look at all the posts about how long it takes to do a Nitrate test using the Hanna checker. Or how about how cumbersome manual water changes are. Or my favorite one...."It's such a pain to wash my filter socks". Really??????????

When I go out to dinner with my wife, I often wonder how many of the fools who are out with their dates, are on their phones and looking at their DKH and ALK readings. All because they think it's going to make their date get all googly eyed over them.

My biggest gripe with all this gadget stuff is the fact that most of it's overpriced fall apart junk being manufactured in a 3rd world country by under age and/or slave labor. But still we buy these gadgets because it somehow makes us feel better about ourselves and hopefully impresses are friends.
Ok boomer
 

Greg's Aquariums

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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?


image via @Elder1945
20171105_112625.jpg
I personally am not a gadget guy. That is one of the reasons why I have only had sumpless reef tank(s) for 15 years. I also know people who wanted to start a reef tank but decided against it because they looked at everything involved and decided it was too complicated and expensive. I am actually thinking about getting a tank with a sump (Red Sea Reefer) for the first time soon; but, even then I will most likely run it just like I do my current tanks. I just want to be able to not have the heater and skimmer pump etc. in the main display. So my answer is that maybe all of the gadgets and cool gear hurts the hobby because it does keep some people from ever starting.
 

RedReefer

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I voted "Yes"! Most of the gadgets are not necessary. Every gadget I own makes my reef, way more enjoyable and more hands off! So no if it's over complicating the process and yes if it makes the end result easier...
 

rishma

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I answered no, but I get the point. I started with wood a airstone sanders skimmer, manual top off, and VHO lights. Grew lots of coral. If everyone started this way more people would get into and stay in the hobby.
But technology allows me to monitor the tank while I am away, ignore the tank when I am too busy, add redundancy, etc. All the tech and complexity is not necessary but the right tech has made the hobby more enjoyable for me. I still keep it pretty simple but it’s light years more complex than my mid 1990’s tank.

when I have gone too far with gadgets, they actually increased my workload because they all take maintenance and have issues. There is a balance to find, which I am still seeking.
 

markwayts

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I would imagine that the abundance of tech would scare the crap out of someone who on a Saturday afternoon thinks to himself, "Gee, I'd like to take up reefkeeping and have a 200 gallon reef tank with SPS, LPS, and NPS corals in it. How do I start?"

Who is that person, though?

I think most people are like me. First, I see the pretty blue fish and want that. What the heck is that arrow crab? Sure -- throw that in. These die, just like the goldfish, but I start looking into things more.

Then, a real, semi-functional bigger tank with blue fish surviving, this time hermit crabs (uglier but I'm practical). Even a Seaclone protein skimmer!

Then, frustration with algae, a green star polyp rock dead in a week, and weird stuff from Mars. So, the person hunts around for better info. Feels rather embarrassed by the Seaclone protein skimmer, etc. Cool tech?!? Bigger blue fish?!? The new green star polyp lives just like the free brown ones that pop up from time to time? Cool!

It then grows from there.
That's how it was for me. My current tank has had water in it for 12 years. Started out as a trigger tank then softies. Later came the lps and in the last couple years sps. I've got boxes of outdated used up tech i just hold onto incase the new tech dies suddenly.
 

Boaz1021

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WITHOUT the new technology and gadgets, I would not have gotten into the reefing hobby at all. I am away from home multiple nights a week, and without the gadgets and technology, I wouldn't risk owning a reef tank... The chances of me being gone and something happening to the tank are really high.

Perfect example, I was out of town Wed and I got an alarm from Hydros saying my water sensor in the return area was dry. I called my wife and asked her to add water to the sump and had to walk her through where it was and how to do it etc. Without the Hydros, I wouldn't have known the sump was drying out and at best my return pumps could have burned up... I don't even want to think about how bad it could have gone...
 

Scorpius

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No, as gadgets and whizbangs drive innovation in this hobby. Like any hobby, it's your responsibility to wade through the nonsense and figure out what works for your style of reefing.
 

pelicansreef

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OK, I voted Maybe.

When I first started in the hobby AOL and Compuserve were dial up and the information was great if you could afford the dialup rate. Then the speeds got really fast with the new 56K modem's (LOL) and Netscape software. Wet dry sumps with Bio Balls were all the rage and under gravel filters started to fade as the "only way" to run a marine aquarium. MY wife and I moved up to a 125 Mixed reef when the "Berlin" method became the next big revolution in the hobby. I had a really advanced lighting system with 3 WW Granger 250W metal Halide transformers/capacitors and the latest bulbs. (Iwasaki 6500K) Champion Lighting and supply was the best Aquarium equipment supplier because you could call their 800 number (Cell phones were not available) and order stuff your LFS had not even seen yet.

Fast forward to today. We have 2 reefs with separate Neptune systems controlling DC pumps, LED lights and all the other goodies that BRS can sell me. IS my reef better than when I had Bio balls? Heck yea. Is it a bit much for someone just getting into the hobby? Heck yea. I can remember how I felt when I had to have the idea of bio balls explained to me for the third time and still wasn't sure if this hobby was for me. Some how, We learned enough to keep our 125G slice of the ocean going and it looked good enough that our kids and their friends told us 20 years later that they loved our tank. We now have 400G worth of various reefs and fish tanks and still have our slice of heaven. The colors are better, the fish and corals live longer and we have so many better choices it is hard to decide what we want next.

The Bells and Whistles can be a bit difficult to understand but they are a godsend if you just embrace the learning curve and do the necessary leg work to become an accomplished aquarist. This hobby gives us an opportunity to travel looking for that special coral or fish or going to a MACNA or Reef A Palooza . It also provides many hours of pure joy looking thru the glass portal at the collection we have amassed. Our undersea garden is a lot of work but worth every water change and glass cleaning required to have that beautiful slice of nature in our Great room.
 

Frogspon

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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?


image via @Elder1945
20171105_112625.jpg


This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen, both aesthetically and from a business stand point.

No LFS would have this in their store because no one would bother starting the hobby if they thought this is what was necessary.
 

GradientHurdle

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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?


image via @Elder1945
20171105_112625.jpg
This may be the most beautiful arrangement I've ever seen. Very impressed and envious.
 

GuppyHJD

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Both/Maybe -
In 1990s, my tank was much "simpler". My lights were Metal Halides and Florescent tubes...you did not adjust spectrum and intensity...you turned them on and maybe had them on a timer.
My filter was a wet/dry with bio-balls. The overflow was a siphon overflow and to get fancy you had a small pump extract any air bubbles. No skimmers, no reactors, maybe a DSB.
There was no such thing as DC pumps.
Testing was much simpler. Everything was a few drops of this and a few drops of that and wait and compare the color. No ICP. Additives were much more limited and kalkwasser was standard. Salinity was a swing arm plastic box.
Water changes and top offs were done with trash cans and five gallon buckets.
Feeders were the neighbor's kids.
Aquascaping was done with tonga and fiji live rock.
Corals were very limited. Fish were much more available.
No online references - you used books by Alexrod, Mills or Sprung.
The most automation you could have would be a bunch of timers.

I think the situation now is a) information overload b) the profit motive has pushed stores to try and sell the "end game" to newbies c) designer corals and bogus naming has exploded pricing
 

flyfisher2

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My .02 cents
I remember my first salt water aquarium set up with dolomite for gravel, an under gravel filter with Power heads (high tech). I bought bleached acropora as decor. Then we graduated to sumps and live rock. No more under gravel. Lights went from regular aquarium fluorescents to Metal Halide ( the holy grail).
Then came power compacts, T5’s and (heresy) LED’s
I visited some of the biggest and most known shops in New York and the Tristate area.
Fish Town USA, That Fish Place, amongst others.
Does anyone remember the Duplo system which came from Europe?
Anyway this was back in the 1980’s to early 2000’s
I must point out that fish were the center of attraction back then and the selection was amazing.
Coral was a bungee dive best left for the pros.
In 2012 I bought into echo tech and the MP pumps, live rock ruled and if you had half way decent lights you grew coral.
Here we are 10 years later,
We have a lot of automation. EVERYTHING runs off my phone and if it doesn’t they are working on it.
What are we referring to when we speak of advancement?
Better lights, but we supplement with T5 or revert to Metal Halides.
We still use skimmers, return pumps, wave makers, heaters, and the same salts that I remember back in the 80’s both high end and price friendly.
I’m not seeing the ground breaking improvements in actual husbandry that we saw when we went from bleached corals and dolomite to sumps and live rock.
Perhaps there isn’t any more real ground to break and we’ve just gone nuts over the convenience. I mean back in the day Id be writing this on a Smith Corona and then wite out the errors, send it to TFH where it would get proofed and hopefully put on the letters to the editor section?
Now I sit on the John and tap on my phone screen while auto correct does it’s thing and then with a click the whole world sees it.
How convenient… or should I say ‘ground breaking’?
 
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flyfisher2

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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?


image via @Elder1945
20171105_112625.jpg
I know this is gonna bite me but I have to say it…
First off this tank is awesome and I love the tech but looking closely at it what it needed foremost was handled with good old fashioned tech…
Wooden shims to level it and a hammer to drive them in!
 

mdb_talon

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I dont think the gadgets themselves are bad for the hobby, but I do think at times the community pushing the gadgets is bad for the hobby.

I hate seeing a new reefer ask for advice and be told he needs to buy x,y,z if he is getting into the hobby. Often this list includes sump, uv, ato, controller, 97 different test kits, a doser, a reactor(or 3), an algae scrubber, Etc. Even seen tridents thrown in recently.

All those things can have a place and we all have different ideas on what is really necessary, but geesh it just seems ridiculous at times. I mean lets at least let the new people get their first fish in the tank before we start convincing them they need to rent a uhaul just to get the gear home not even including the tank.
 

onlyfans

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What's your engineering background?
I triple majored in ME, AE, & EE. Never got my masters though, none of the graduate programs ever enticed me enough to do it and all the research programs were boring at the colleges near me. However, I recently found out my college is now teir 1 for research. So, with that extra funding they might finally be able to have something worth investing my time into.

Why do you ask?
 
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