Blue Collar Reefing is a new column by Brian Blank which explores the finer points of being a resourceful reefer. Brian is actively investigating the Blue Collar Reefing Philosophy on Ocean@Home and he will occasionally drop in to share his thoughts.
I was inspired by an Albert Einstein quote for this one, â€œInsanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.â€ When we say we are insane reefers, it goes beyond trying to explain to a non-reefer why you want to drop the price of a big screen HDTV on a protein skimmer or lightsâ€”we are the definition of insanity! All too often we keep trying to do the same thing but expect different results. I immediately think of a few people Iâ€™ve known who have ventured into trying to keep a copperband butterfly fish or my own experience with six-line wrasses. Despite losing the fish, we buy another one hoping they will live. What have we changed about our setup? Nothing most likely, yet we are doomed to repeat failure hoping for success.This also brings to mind the mantra Iâ€™ve heard over-and-over â€œNothing good happens quick in this hobby.â€ Our neglect or shortsightedness often leads us to these â€œemergenciesâ€ that have been slowly percolating below the surface, yet weâ€™ll run out to the store looking for that miracle in a bottle to help correct what went wrong.
Trust me gang, Iâ€™m not preaching down since I am guilty of insanity in many circles of my lifeâ€”reefkeeping included. We often forget what we do right when all is going well and when all goes wrong, we look for the quick fix.
Since weâ€™re throwing around quotes and mantras, hereâ€™s a great one by Ben Franklin, â€œAn ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.â€ Mr. Franklin sure had it right. By staying of top of things when they are good, we can prevent insanity and failure down the road. Learn all that you can, do what has worked in the past and try and avoid the mistakes plenty of reefers have made before you.
For example, we all know water quality is the key to success in the hobby. Spend the money up front and invest in an RO/DI unit and test everything that goes into your tank. Donâ€™t just trust that it is working as advertised. I wrote a recent post on my blog â€œTank Parameters High? Start at the Tapâ€ looking at some overlooked points of entry for nitrates and phosphates into our tanks. This is just one example of many ways to stop the problem before it gets into your display.
All too often we experience disease, tank crashes, coral RTN and other disasters, yet we attempt to fix the problem but all to often end up repeating what we did when disaster struck! Take the time to truly understand what went wrong. Did you not quarantine? Cheat on water changes? Overfed or underfed? Overstocked the tank too quickly?
Poor husbandry is such a harsh phrase I really hate to throw around, but most of the time it is husbandry issuesâ€”some we know about and choose to ignore and others we donâ€™t know having to learn the hard way. Best bet is to know your tank, ask questions and look to identify potential problems well before itâ€™s a full-blown disaster.