From a hobbyist who was low on funds but big on ideas I DIY’d and hacked my way into this hobby and even DIY’d my way into writing for Reef Builders. There I was six years ago with a brand new 75 gallon aquarium and a limited budget. Tearing through my Drs. Foster & Smith catalog, the back of aquarium magazine, online stores and reading forums about all the equipment I would need led me to one conclusion — I would have to use DIY to my advantage.
I built a stand and canopy with a handful of small power tools. I studied acrylic and figured out how I can make things out of plastic without a table saw or router table. I built a skimmer, sump and refugium. Heck I even DIY’d some LED moonlights. Granted these things worked and helped me venture deeper into the hobby and even if most of my reefing experience was battling one sort of disaster, I still LOVED all my gadgets…but why?
Some were pure genius and worked exceptionally and looked like someone with more skills developed. Other projects looked best hidden and out of the way but I still had pride. But why? New research from Mike Norton, Daniel Mochon and Dan Ariely in the Journal of Consumer Psychology might offer an additional bit of explanation. This act of building something and putting in your own blood, sweat, tears and sometimes frustration into a physical object creates a great sense of value for than object above and beyond its inherent quality — what the researchers have dubbed the ‘IKEA Effect.’
In on study, participants who actually built a simple IKEA storage box were willing to pay more for the box than other participants who did not build it and just inspected a fully built box. Additionally, the team discovered others view the increased value more than the effort put in, rather it was more about the completion of work. One thing to note, with these experiments people were not able to personalize the object.
This can help explain why non-reefers probably walk into our homes or fish rooms and look at things differently than us. Why those spaghetti factory of cords, cables, tubes, pumps, plastic, pipes and lights we see as ‘art’ and a part of a successful reefing system, can take the average person by surprise. This can also explain why nobody wants to buy our awesomely Frankensteined DIY skimmer for anything more than $5.