Reef Tank Dogma

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trevorhiller

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What is some reef tank dogma that experience has taught you is not true?

Newer to the forums, I see a lot of information regurgitated. Many cases because people read and repeat it. But those of you with 5-10+ years experience know otherwise.

Examples:
1 pound of rock per gallon
You cannot run a successful tank without a skimmer
You must do frequent water changes
You cannot have X fish in a tank less than X gallons
(Keep in mind these are just things to get your thoughts flowing, not things I believe)

Progress and innovation comes from challenging the norm, so what are some things you’ve found to be untrue, unnecessary or flat out bad advice?
 
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blaxsun

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* Tangs need a minimum of 100 gallons.
* You can’t have more than x fish of the same type.
* You can’t mix y fish with z fish.
* You need a refugium and/or algae scrubber.
* You can’t run a successful reef without fully quarantining everything.
* UVs are not an essential component for reef tanks.
 

BVF

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Stang67

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This is gonna be good.
Here is my .02.
You have to test your parameters x times per x.
The best salt is x.
The best light is x.
I think alot of it is personal preference, experience, involvement, and money.
I say to each his own and as long as your not intentionally killing things you do you. Mistakes are how we learn and grow in the hobby and one person's mantra may be another's downfall.
 

N.Sreefer

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Any of the hard and fast rules are normally wrong. Every tank is a different ecosystem and has to be managed in a unique way. What works for one person may not work for another. My old aquarium I ran for years without a skimmer my current tank has one because its deep enough that dissolved O2 drops alot at night.
 
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dk2nt9

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That there are reef tank dogmas, it's more other reefers experiences or wishful thinking that you were willing to read, and pick up from it what matches your own biases :D

Inches per gallon, skimmer or skimmerless, algae scrubber or refugium or not, UV or not, the choice of a salt mix were discussed for decades, all possible points of view. Theoretically, you can put 15 inches fish in 6" tank, if roll it tightly enough :) Cast a wider net while looking for information to catch more, then use what works for you.

Conclusions for me, after everything I already encountered:
  • what worked for others will not necessarily work for you,
  • building biodiversity and keeping tank balanced is more important than incessant hardware upgrade in hope that this will solve all possible problems or frequent testing without doing anything else.
 
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WVNed

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There used to be several rules of thumb for marine tank keeping.

Rule of thumb
a method of procedure based on experience and common sense. 2 : a general principle regarded as roughly correct but not intended to be scientifically accurate.

Like 1 pound per gallon for rock, minimum tank size for a certain fish, watts per x, frequency of testing needed.
There were many.

These were never supposed to be dogmas. They were to help a new person get a good start by narrowing down the infinite possibilities to somewhere to begin that would probably be successful until they understood for themselves.

Turning them into dogmas in fact defeated the purpose of them entirely. They were never intended to be blindly followed.

Of course this is from someone that runs their salinity with a swing arm hydrometer. This is a device that never tells you what your salinity actually is. It just tells you if it is correct for your animals. This is the same for API test kits.
The colors should tell you what you need to know without translating them into exact numbers. Red nitrates bad, orange watch them, clear yellow oops not enough.
 
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trevorhiller

trevorhiller

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There used to be several rules of thumb for marine tank keeping.

Rule of thumb
a method of procedure based on experience and common sense. 2 : a general principle regarded as roughly correct but not intended to be scientifically accurate.

Like 1 pound per gallon for rock, minimum tank size for a certain fish, watts per x, frequency of testing needed.
There were many.

These were never supposed to be dogmas. They were to help a new person get a good start by narrowing down the infinite possibilities to somewhere to begin that would probably be successful until they understood for themselves.

Turning them into dogmas in fact defeated the purpose of them entirely. They were never intended to be blindly followed.

Of course this is from someone that runs their salinity with a swing arm hydrometer. This is a device that never tells you what your salinity actually is. It just tells you if it is correct for your animals. This is the same for API test kits.
The colors should tell you what you need to know without translating them into exact numbers. Red nitrates bad, orange watch them, clear yellow oops not enough.
I think this is key. They were supposed to be rules of thumb, but some people have interpreted them as dogma. The point of this thread is to critically think about some of this advice. Let’s keep the examples coming, I’m enjoying the examples!
 

Lyss

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I’m just confused here — best practices, “rules of thumb,” whatever you want to call them, are what I’ve come across and what it looks to me like others are listing. I haven’t come across dogma, but I can tell you that if I did, I would run the other way and never look back.

I’ve read and taken part in a few spirited debates on this site, and those have shown me that there may be some topics some folks view as not debatable, but those topics have lead to mostly interesting debates that got everyone thinking more critically about the topics.
 
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trevorhiller

trevorhiller

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I’m just confused here — best practices, “rules of thumb,” whatever you want to call them, are what I’ve come across and what it looks to me like others are listing. I haven’t come across dogma, but I can tell you that if I did, I would run the other way and never look back.

I’ve read and taken part in a few spirited debates on this site, and those have shown me that there may be some topics some folks view as not debatable, but those topics have lead to mostly interesting debates that got everyone thinking more critically about the topics.
I certainly didn’t intend to imply there is a problem with the advice on this website, in fact, I’m just talking about the hobby in general. This site has actually been very helpful for me and much less “you must do it this way!” than some other forums I’ve been on.

Please don’t take offense. Some of the most innovative things have been from someone asking, “why are we doing x this way?” This is just a thought exercise to make people realize there aren’t that many hard and fast rules. No malice intended.
 

MaxTremors

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I don’t think simply calling something dogmatic is critical thought, in fact I think most of the people I see here really dismissing the general collective knowledge show a real lack of critical thinking. Yes, innovation doesn’t happen without taking risks, but when concerning the health and well-being of live animals, those risks have to be calculated and conducted within an ethical framework. Too often we see advice given (not as much here, much more on social media) that encourages people to take risks that have not been thoroughly thought out, that don’t consider the well-being of the animals in question, and come from a general world-view that animals and especially aquatic life is disposable or is a ‘renewable resource’. Too often the main concern is the cost of something and not the life at stake. How many times have you read some variation of this sentence: ‘well, it only cost $20, so no big deal if it doesn’t make it’?

Personally, I don’t really see a lot of dogma here, recently there’s been a few threads dipping their toes into the dogmatic pool (halides and quarantining), but I think more often we see people resisting or discarding (or encouraging people to resist and/or discard) hard-won, time tested knowledge/best practices. We constantly see people who take on a species or tank well beyond their experience level, or even beyond the experience of the hobby and scientific communities at large, because they’ll be the exception or the one who cracks the code. And while normally, I applaud people who buck authority and take risks in a responsible and ethical way, when it’s not just your life that is affected by your choices, the priorities have to change.

I don’t know, I think most of what people have listed as examples of ‘dogma’ are really just general recommendations that no one is really militant about, I don’t think ‘dogma’ is the right word, it’s more as mentioned above ‘rules of thumb’, and I think more often than not those rules serve people well, I say leave the experimenting and risk taking to the people who have the experience to ethically push the boundaries in a controlled and relatively safe way.
 

Lyss

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I certainly didn’t intend to imply there is a problem with the advice on this website, in fact, I’m just talking about the hobby in general. This site has actually been very helpful for me and much less “you must do it this way!” than some other forums I’ve been on.

Please don’t take offense. Some of the most innovative things have been from someone asking, “why are we doing x this way?” This is just a thought exercise to make people realize there aren’t that many hard and fast rules. No malice intended.
No, I understood what you meant (and I didn’t think malice of course), I was saying I would not want to be in the hobby if I felt it was dogmatic. Used the debates on this site as just an example of how these are debated ideas vs dogma. I’m not sure that’s the right word is what I’m saying.
 
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