Hello everyone. This is something I wrote for another forum, discussing this issue with another member via chat. It's my view on a few points regarding the hobby and what I've noticed. This was more directed towards a different forum but relates as a general view in my experience. If you gain something from it great, if not that's ok too. If you have your own personal views and want to share them feel free.
This isn't an attack on anyone, just my two cents.
There seems to be a disconnect between the hobby and the animals involved. People spend large amounts of money on their systems but don't provide the best environment for them.
Tank size and stocking is a big issue with me regarding this hobby and/or forums. This is a very important aspect of keeping and successful aquarium an inhabitants. There are books available from Mike Paletta, Martin Moe, Scott Michael, Robert Fenner, yourself, etc. that are so informative to the beginning or even experienced marine aquarist. These are the people who have been in the hobby for over 20 years for some of them, ie mike paletta. They have kept different species of fish, have done experiments on these issues and pass that along to us via books. They are filled with such valuable information yet I've not seen one person on this forum recommend any of these books let alone any others.You see cause the issue at hand regarding public forums is the accessability of incorrect information. When you have a few people give you advice on a given subject, how do you know it's correct? Do you know their experience or knowledge? Have they even kept that animal in question? Unless they have a tank profile and you can verify otherwise it's just hearsay. This is why I tread lightly when aquiring advice from forums, unless I know the experience of the hobbyist that is offering me answers.
For example there was a gentleman of a different forum that I used to be a member to and he was a lifesaver for so many beginners on that hobby. He was trustworthy and respected in the marine hobby. He has been in the hobby for over 12 years, helped write books, did seminars, etc. He could give you pages of information on any topic at hand, but they were his experiences. That's the key in my opinion, real life experiences from an experienced and knowledgable aquarist. He kept a journal of his 450 gallon reef, any and all issues or experiences were documented in length. He was a great resource for me entering the hobby and my methods are similar to him in relation to offering advice. I guess I've adapt sort of an old school ideal regarding fish keeping. I offer advice based on my experiences in the hobby, what I know works or doesn't. However different things work for different people and situations. Find what works for your inhabitants and your style of fish keeping, within reason of course.
Tangs I know spark alot of problems around the forums, which they should. Tangs are swimmers, their the endurance athletes of the fish world swimming miles per day. Yet people seem to be content with housing these fish in tanks less then 4 feet in length. I've seen many Tangs in 30 to 40 gallon aquariums which is just absurd to me. Not to mention they are naturally a schooling species and are found in groups up to the hundreds in the wild, so stocking in such a manner is really the best method for success. I've seen so many Tangs die in captivity at the hands of hobbyists or even at local fish stores. This is due to inexperience and greed. Tangs are beautiful fish, active and very interesting in their behavior but should still be respected. They are one species of fish that are rarely if ever bred in captivity, even rarer to see aquacultured Tangs at your local fish store. Having a insufficient tank size for such a large swimmer can be detrimental to the overall health of the animal, causing uneeded stress. Tangs are best left to aquarists with large tanks that have the proper knowledge to care for such an animal. I've personally kept a Yellow Tang in a 55gallon tank when I just started off, I was inexperienced. Seeing such a fish in that tank, granted it was still a 4 foot tank in length I can see the need for a much bigger tank. He would swim the distance of that tank constantly. Honestly a 6 foot tank in length would be the minimum tank size I would suggest for a full grown Tang, again some species would require a larger tank. However that's a good tank size for the majority of Tang species.
Overstocking tanks is another issue that I see fairly often on this forum or in real life from people at fish stores. Having a tank that is stocked very heavily can cause many issues for the inhabitant depending on the species and compatibility. Stress from having cramped living quarters, not enough space to behave naturally. Having many fish in the system that are territorial which causes stress and/or fighting. Too many fish leading to poor water quality which in turn effects the inhabitants. Many people will justify having a very heavy stocking to having high filtration, which to a given extent is true. However I've seen this theory stretched very far and leads to worse problems. If Joe has 6 fish in his 30 gallon why can't the beginning aquarist do the same? That's the problem people run into especially with forums, people not placing the best example out there for new aquarists or at the very least saying beforehand lending advice or a caution. It's a fine line we play between hobbyists and conservationists.
How about equipment? It seems like overtime on this forum and in general people have gotten a idea that having the most expensive equipment is mandatory. Why? What do they base this finding on? They can't really, unless conducting a experiment themselves to gain the differences in such setups of contrast. Sure they make life easier sometimes and alot of products out there now provide many benefits to the marine hobbyist. However this idea of needing the ''best'' or most expensive gets thrown around alot and like many things on public outlets become almost a rule after awhile. I've seen countless times beginning aquarists being told to buy unecassary equipment. People need to understand that the aquarium, even a reef aquarium can not only live but thrive on minimal equipment. Not saying every single setup or species can this way. But I've seen first hand of other aquarists reef tanks run very simply and with minimal equipment. I've seen skimmerless reef tank stocked with quite a few fish. It can be done with research, experience and good old husbandry. I've done it myself, keeping reefs or FOWLR aquariums maintained with basic principles. Certain setups and/or animals require more specialized setups, that should be mentioned. Sometimes less is more when it comes to aquarium keeping. People in this hobby need to rely less on their equipment and more on their knowledge and experience.
Local fish stores, ah what a topic. Don't get me mistaken there are nice fish stores around, but for every nice fish store there are about 10 crappy ones. Too often then not many of these stores get in to business for? You guessed it, money. This one topic often frustrates me more then any other, still does to this day. When you enter any place of business, whether it's a clothing store or electronics you expect the employees of said store to have experience and knowledge in that given area. However many times you find unexperienced workers leading people down the wrong path. I can see for clothing or other stores but for pets? That's just unacceptable in my mind and downright upsetting. I can't tell you how many times I've been into a local fish store and while gazing at the fish overhearing employees giving absolutely horrible advice or simply not knowing what their discussing with the customer. Many times I just grit my teeth and keep quiet, only one time have I ever spoke up but it was much needed.
I get very passionate about animals, if you couldn't tell already haha. When I see a local fish store employee offering downright wrong advice sometimes it's needed to speak up, these are animals afterall. Fish often get the short end of the stick sometimes when it comes to being seen equal in the pet keeping community. They seem lesser than that of birds, cats, dogs, etc. I won't get into that too much but in the end fish are still animals. They deserve the care and understanding that other pets receive, no less. When you enter a fish store and there's multiple dead fish, nuisance algae in tanks, too many fish housed together, poor lighting in coral tanks, etc. it's a sign or carelessness. They don't care about the animals, they don't take the time to clean the tanks, test water quality or do maintanence. It's not overcomplicated but still seems difficult for them to grasp. Their really ignorant in a sense, Not caring for the animals properly is just poor business practise. Having fish, inverts or coral die in their tanks means having to repurchase more which in the long run causes them to lose money. Money which is why they are in business to begin with. Not only that but turning off experienced hobbyists at the same time. Being in this hobby for so long it's easy to tell a local fish store that cares versus one that doesn't When I say theres only two local fish stores in the big twin cities that are respectful and care about the animals out of over a dozen it's true. It's sad but it's true. That's not including petsmarts and petcos, but I won't even go there as I'm sure you aware of that issue.
Just like many forums on the internet it seems like local fish stores have lost that simple principle of animal husbandry.
I remember when I first started posting on this forum, some 8 years ago. Pico reefs(less than 5 gallons) were very rare and only the experienced hobbyists even attempted to keep them. However lately it seems like people who have never had a reef tank let alone any saltwater tank are keeping picos. It's honestly not right, the most basic principles of aquarium keeping seem to have fallen by the wayside. I kept a 2.5 gallon pico with corals and inverts only, let me tell you it was difficult. Temperature swings, evaporation, water quality, feedings, etc. It's not easy, yet most people who should be steering beginners away don't which is unfortunate. People need to be accountable for themselves and the animals that they keep under their care. These are living animals afterall, with many being taken directly from the wild. Yet we have this newly founded idea that we always know best. We push the limits in this hobby to an extreme sometimes, at the cost of the animals no less. It's time we as hobbyists bring back the basic understanding of husbandry.
This hobby has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with the animals and it's time we realize that.