As the holiday season is in full swing and the end of 2009 is in sight, Jake thought that it might be cool for those of us who write for Reef Builders to give you our thoughts on what we feel were the most significant and important stories or developments in the reef keeping world during the year. Of course, being the somewhat verbose type, I could not shy away from such an assignment!
If you ask me what the number one story is for 2009, it has to be the amazing push towards captive breeding of fishes. Almost every week, we hear of some new development in this area, be it a breakthrough in the spawning of a new species, or the release of different strains or color morphs ofÂ fishes that are already been bred with regularity (such as the many species of clownfish that are hitting the market these days).
What is so remarkable to me about this area of the hobby/industry is just how much of the breakthrough work is being done by hobbyists in their fishrooms and basement hatcheries, as opposed to laboratories and commercial breeding facilities. As hobbyists, we have not only taken a keen interest in breeding fishes for the fun of it- we’ve also realized collectively that we can help preserve wild populations of fishes by developing captive-bred populations, reducing our dependence on collection to obtain animals.
The other big story of 2009, in my opinion, is the continued development of energy-efficient lighting systems, in particular, LED and T5 formats. As every hobbyist knows, it can be pretty freaking expensive to operate a reef system! Lighting can add significantly to the operating budget of an aquarium- not just the ongoing cost of running the lights, but the cost of acquiring the lighting system and replacing bulbs.
Newer technologies like T5 and LED have significantly lower operating costs than more traditional sources, such as metal halide, both in terms of power consumption and lifespan of bulbs. Despite the initial cost of purchase, when you are talking about 1-12 watt light bulbs that have a lifespan of years, you’re looking at a good long-term investment. As these technologies continue to mature, We will continue to see prices move in a more affordable direction. With new products entering the fray all the time, the future of efficient aquarium lighting looks- pardon the cliche- bright!
Yet another wonderful technological story for 2009 is the release of a wide variety of low-wattage powerheads and pumps. Moving massive water volumes with gentle, dispersed flow, the new generation of pumps puts serious water movement into the hands of just about any hobbyist- not just those with big-time budgets and large aquariums. A wide range of manufacturers are releasing great products that provide benefits for just about any system. If you apply the principles of well-thought-out flow, such as Jakes gyre methodology, you can create amazing water movement with relative ease.
Another area of the hobby that was a big deal in 2009, IMO, has been the ongoing power of the internet. Sites such as Reef Builders continue to not only report on the latest and greatest, but through hobbyist participation, help create an even greater sense of community. The level of information sharing that goes on at the hobbyist level has pushed the state of the art so dramatically that has become almost easy for a hobbyist to learn about the latest techniques and developments. As a community, we’ve done a great job of sharing, and I hope this positive trend will continue.
It’s my fondest wish that the new year will bring each and every one of us health, happiness, and lots of new stuff to make the hobby that much more fun!
Till next time