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Old 06-25-2015, 12:56 AM   #1
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Skepticism is a method, not a position. It can be defined as a method of intellectual caution and suspended judgment. As a Skeptical Reefkeeper, you decide what is best for you, your animals, and your wallet, based upon critical thinking, not just because you heard someone else say it. The goal of this series of articles is not to provide you with reef recipes or to tell you which ideas are flat out wrong or which products really do what they say they do or which claims or which expert to believe. The goal is to help you make those kinds of determinations for yourself, while developing your saltwater expertise in the face of sometimes overwhelming or conflicting advice.
Skeptical Reefkeeping | Rich Ross

After reading many of the responses on forums for years I have come to the conclusion a good majority of people giving advice do not actually know what they are talking about. You have to slide through the pages of information and choose which responses are accurate. It has been much more beneficial for me to read books.

I encourage all reef keepers to familiarize themselves with Richard Ross and do some back reading on his articles in reef keeping mag about skeptical reef keeping
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Old 06-25-2015, 11:52 AM   #2
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Skeptical Reefkeeping | Rich Ross

After reading many of the responses on forums for years I have come to the conclusion a good majority of people giving advice do not actually know what they are talking about. You have to slide through the pages of information and choose which responses are accurate. It has been much more beneficial for me to read books.

I encourage all reef keepers to familiarize themselves with Richard Ross and do some back reading on his articles in reef keeping mag about skeptical reef keeping
I agree and notice a lot of folks "reading recipes" yet have not a clue what is actually going on as the cake bakes.
Sure you can maintain a great system by following recipes, but you can have an even better one and enjoy it more if you understand all the why's and wherefores' of the science underlying the hobby.

for example, after shopping and researching as much as I could about protein skimmers, I concluded that consumer production models are relatively inefficient and compensate for it by recirculating the water as much as possible through the skimmer whenever a slow, long contact time with a prolonged "bubble life span" is much better and I could build my own, better, more efficient one myself for a fraction of the cost.
and it works like a champ

Whether it's a 1/2 gallon beta bowl or a 12,000 gallon marine system, the same basic principles and biology applies, it just takes a little understanding and creativity to make it work to your advantage without completely emptying your bank account.
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Old 06-26-2015, 12:18 AM   #3
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It is up to the reader to decide what's relevant and what's not, same as watching the news. And reading books on reef keeping which is what I had available before the Internet. Same as the forums, there were many junk opinions and some were from well meaning and schooled individuals. Not much really changes, except now you get a even broader range of right and wrong opinions. Everyone that takes the time to post or replies when someone asks for help or congratulations, is a fellow reef keeper. That doesn't make them always right, I sure am not. But they are trying to help in a hobby where there are always multiple paths to the same goals and that there is still a whole lot we don't yet know. Standing up as "the expert" is a bit like claiming your the fastest gun. There is always a long line of people faster than you. But the best part is how much faster the hobby is evolving now that the flow of information is so fast. Peace.


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Old 07-01-2015, 11:14 PM   #4
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It is up to the reader to decide what's relevant and what's not, same as watching the news. And reading books on reef keeping which is what I had available before the Internet. Same as the forums, there were many junk opinions and some were from well meaning and schooled individuals. Not much really changes, except now you get a even broader range of right and wrong opinions. Everyone that takes the time to post or replies when someone asks for help or congratulations, is a fellow reef keeper. That doesn't make them always right, I sure am not. But they are trying to help in a hobby where there are always multiple paths to the same goals and that there is still a whole lot we don't yet know. Standing up as "the expert" is a bit like claiming your the fastest gun. There is always a long line of people faster than you. But the best part is how much faster the hobby is evolving now that the flow of information is so fast. Peace.


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🙌🏻 Yes! The same holds true for planted tanks too.
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Old 07-02-2015, 01:11 PM   #5
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I've pointed this out before but I think it bears repeating. There are certain aspects of the tropical fish hobby ( both freshwater and saltwater) that are absolute vs opinions. Science vs experience if you will. So a hobbyist needs to separate the information they are getting into the 2 categories: Science, opinion. The problem comes down to, more in freshwater than salt, where the experience is coming from. Water, around the U.S and the world, is not all the same. So when one person uses tap water with a low ph, gh, kh & nitrate levels for example, proclaims that "All I do is use my tap water and the fish do fine.", it really doesn't apply or help someone whose tap water is high in all those values. But how does a new hobbyist know that? This has been where the internet has been a deficit more than a benefit and the decline of the Mom & Pop pet shop has severely hurt the hobby in my opinion. How can someone read an article, even from a highly experienced and intelligent author, then discern what is relevant to them? The best advice is "local" advice. People doing what "you" are doing in the same area you are doing it in. This opens a whole new can of worms as the people now doing what you are doing are mostly chain stores with employees who don't really know what they are doing ( in many cases.) So how do we help new hobbyists get the RIGHT information over the internet? I'm asking because I don't know the answer. The only thing I can offer is to tell people to question "What qualifies the person giving the advice, to be giving advice?" While I understand that sites such as this one are here and open for all to post, is that really a good thing, especially to a newbie? Personally, I'm not so sure.
Obviously, these are my opinions. As someone who really wants the hobby to regain a better base for the hobbyist, I felt they should be shared. Whether anyone agrees or disagrees is okay. I just hope they are qualified to make that judgement.
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:37 PM   #6
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Andy, I agree. But it's the same with anything technical. Sure, fixing my car has more absolutes than fixing my reef tank, but anyone who does a bit of research will find trends of logic that reveal themselves. This hobby has two ways to go, those that don't really want to learn anything and want someone else to deal with the fish tank, to those that want to know as much as possible. As in life, there is always somebody pushing bad advice. This forum is no different than visiting multiple LFS and getting a varied opinion at each stop. But after a while, you learn who to trust.


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Old 07-02-2015, 04:10 PM   #7
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True Greg. It's just frustrating to me, as a former retailer, a trusted authority and a looooooooooong time hobbyist, that there is little to help the newbie become an experienced hobbyist without the pains of excessive loss due to following bad advice. In the internet age, where we are faceless dots and dashes, who do you trust? Before, I could have a customer come to the store and say " This worked or didn't work" or "How do you suggest I do it here vs doing in another area?" and I could explain the differences. Now, I have to answer more questions with even more questions only to have someone post an answer that is only true in certain instances but they don't explain that. I guess I am either too old or old school. lol
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Old 07-02-2015, 04:25 PM   #8
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I'm 63 and have had LFS's and tanks since I was a teenager. When I first joined this forum, my ego got bruised daily until I finally dropped out. Dary coaxed me back and I am glad I stayed. Having worked with some of the "experts" it quickly became obvious that what we don't know exceeds what we do know. That makes this hobby exciting and frustrating at the same time.


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Old 07-02-2015, 06:06 PM   #9
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Another point I might add is that folks on one forum seem to take a stand on what is fact, just because some alleged guru may or may not have said so and then it becomes the norm there, even though it might very well be incorrect. Then they come preaching these adopted, "facts" perhaps because their abrasiveness wore out their welcome at other places, and don't like it when everyone disagrees. They quickly resort to personal attacks and bashing. Hardly the "quality help" a newcomer needs, don't you agree?
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:28 PM   #10
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I'm 63 and have had LFS's and tanks since I was a teenager. When I first joined this forum, my ego got bruised daily until I finally dropped out. Dary coaxed me back and I am glad I stayed. Having worked with some of the "experts" it quickly became obvious that what we don't know exceeds what we do know. That makes this hobby exciting and frustrating at the same time.


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Well I am glad I got to virtually meet you. I'm not that far behind you (57) and last year, celebrated 50 years as a hobbyist. I also spent over 40 years "in the biz". I don't have an ego issue today. I used to in my teens however. Many of the people I either worked for or were in competition with used to describe me as "thinking my "stuff" didn't stink." The fact was that I was more experienced at that age than most people because of who I had had who mentored me. Not to say there wasn't more to learn but I was definitely ahead of the curve ( as I've been described by others) and treated that way by my employers.

I came on this site originally to give out the straight info and correct a lot of what I was reading. There was a lot of "anti-Andy" posts in the beginning but I had the national and international experience to back up what I said so thankfully, that didn't last very long. But I have seen the downslide of the hobby. In fact, I don't know if you are following my "Wigglers 2" thread but I have started another Angelfish hatchery just because those same people who were in my past and are still in the biz, have told me how bad the fish have gotten and there hasn't been the quantity or quality available since I closed my last hatchery in the mid 1980s. That tells me things are not all honey and roses in the fish hobby and that saddens me. I will say, I am amazed at the wild fish that are available today as they weren't available or some even discovered when I was importing. (I'm actually a little jealous of those who are importing them now. New fish were always the highlight of any new shipment. )So there is always something new to learn. I'd just like to figure out a way to help those new hobbyists get the information we all know now so they don't need to kill the same fish to learn that we already killed. Maybe that's not possible? I don't know. But I'll keep trying
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