Being involved with Reef Builders gives us a front-row seat to the latest news, advancements and stories in the hobby. We have the privilege to bring you new and exciting stories, products and livestock every day. With so many interesting things coming across our desks each day, going back and reviewing it all at the end of the year can be quite rewarding. We have the chance to peer back and see the big stories and spot the trends from the previous year. This past year was no exception and 2010 provided us with some sad stories along with a plethora of promising stories showcasing why we love this hobby so much. So sit back, grab a tasty beverage and enjoy this look back at what we feel are some of the top stories of 2010.
Rare fish collector Rob Lower passes away
The rare fish world and the hobby overall lost one of its brightest stars with the passing of Rob Lower in Septemnber. Rob was doing what he loved, collecting rare fish at depths only a handful of divers dare to venture. After a dive near Kaua’I, Rob succumbed to the effect of the Bends leaving behind is wife and young daughter. The entire hobby appreciated Rob’s efforts and he will be missed! We are left with memories of the great fish Rob collected including the first legally collected masked angelfish just a month before he passed. He was one of the only collectors in Hawaii that would collect baby bandit angelfish, yellow fin anthias, goldenback triggerfish, and one of our personal favorites, the bloody hogfish, Bodianus sanguineus. We wish the best for Rob’s family and will miss him terribly.
IceCap shutters operations after 20 years
We first brought you the story in late October that IceCap was facing financial troubles and it was not looking good for the survival of the company. With due diligence, we handled these rumors with caution and dug around to see if these reports had any merit. Our sources provided us with enough confirmation to justify our initial report. The original story was met with a lot of unjustifiable criticism and, while we only wished the story wasn’t true, after a month the story got darker. A new CEO was appointed, the company was to move to North Carolina and its assets were purchased. The snowball to the end of the company continued in December when the company officially shut down after 20 years of service to the aquatic industry. We are sad to see a company like this go but it goes to show how fickle the market can be and the negative impact of cheaply produced, knockoffs imported from overseas can do to an industry.
Reef Builders goes international at InterZoo 2010
The aquarium hobby is an international past time which brings together people from all walks of life. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the biennial InterZoo conference in Nurnberg, Germany where all the latest and greatest pet and aquarium products are revealed for the first time, often in concept or prototype form. With over 1500 vendors from all over the world, there is simply no comparison between InterZoo and any other aquarium or pet trade show anywhere. We braved the time zones, the travelers and all the elements to go to InterZoo and report on all the most exciting new aquarium products and news. We produced over 50 posts on the InterZoo 2010 trade show alone, not to mention all the residual information that was harvested at the event. And for a quick overview of what this show was like be sure to read this review post of InterZoo 2010 that we published when the smoke had cleared.
Solid vodka does goes viral with wave of biopellets
Vodka dosing or carbon dosing has been around for a few years with reefers seeing the benefits of the carbon dosing to help lower nitrates and phosphates but it wasn’t until the release of NP Biopellets in 2009 that a solid, time released method came to market. Hitting the market like a craze, 2010 became the year of the biopellet with a new company releasing a product every few weeks. It is still early in the game to figure any long-term effects of its use in the hobby but initial results look very promising. Along with the introduction of new biopellets, the hobby saw a boom in the release of reactors specific to this unique media.
LEDs getting bigger, badder
This past year saw plenty of new LED aquarium lights hitting the market. A far cry from the initial PFO fixtures released a few years back, LED lighting has grown by leaps and bounds. If you are familiar with Moore’s Law in the semiconductor industry, a similar Haitz’s Law states every 10 years the cost per lumen drops by a factor of 10, while the light generated increases by a factor of 20. In 2010 we say plenty of new fixtures hit the market but also have seen the rise in high-performance LEDs being released by Cree, Philips and Bridgelux making it possible to get more light out of fewer LEDs. As the industry progresses, we are going to see the cost of entry into LED lights continue to fall making them a viable alternative for the future.
SEASMART tempts us with cool, sustainable critters
We have been big fans of sustainable resources and ecological conservation, while helping to educate and advance the hobby. Programs like SEASMART in Papua New Guinea are showing promise for sustainable collection and providing a new source of revenue for the locals. Opening up a new frontier and having the hobby demand sustainable and ethically caught livestock is what will make programs like SEASMART thrive in the future. The program is still in its infancy but has provided for some incredibly intriguing specimens including the lightening maroon clownfish, Tufi damselfish and white bonnet clownfish. The SEASMART program is also advancing coral propagation in local waters and we should start seeing these specimens arrive in the market shortly.
Plasma Lighting makes aquarium debut
A few years ago Luxim introduced a great new technology that uses a small plasma capsule as a bulb to generate as much light as a 400W metal halide for much less energy consumption. In 2010 we saw two companies start playing with the LIFI plasma technology in the aquarium market. First off was the Seashine light from Stray Light Optical, a major player in outdoor lighting, and next we saw Italian lighting manufacturer Sfiligoi introduce its Sfiligoi Vision LIFI with supplemental T5 lighting. As far as we can see, the plasma lighting technology may have a promising future in the hobby and is showing that exciting new products exist that can be as good as or better than traditional aquarium lighting sources.
ORA Mandarin, the poster child of tank bred aquatics
ORA never ceases to amaze us and in 2010 they floored the captive bred fish market with the release of the ORA Mandarin gobies. The release of both the ORA Spotted Mandarin (Synchiropus picturatus) and then the ORA Psychedelic Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus) provided hobbyists with a fish that helped eliminate the problem associated with finicky eating wild caught Mandarin gobies. Being tank bred and raised allowed them to be brought up on pellet foods making to easier to successfully house these beautiful specimens.
Hobby magazines close up shop, losing FAMA and Reef Life
This past year we also lost a pair of print magazines in the hobby. As the increased online consumption of news and information is taking its toll on traditional print publications across nearly every industry, hobby and market, we fetl it with the closure of two magazines — Freshwater and Marine Aquarium (FAMA) and a new upstart Reef Life Magazine. For loyal FAMA readers, many of us relied on publications like this before the advent of the internet to get our dose of news surrounding the hobby as well as scouring the back pages for cool and new equipment for mail order. Reef Life lasted less than a year shutting down operations in January after providing a printed version of a magazine dedicated to the reef aquarium hobby.