Here’s the FishBit monitor mounted in my 125 gallon reefRegular Saltwater Smarts visitors are well aware that I’m not exactly what you’d call “tech-savvy” or an “early adopter” when it comes to the latest gadgetry (though I am intrigued by this newfangled doohickey the kids call an “eight-track player”—it’s gonna be yuuuge!). So, it should come as no surprise that I take a pretty low-tech approach to the marine aquarium hobby. Nothing in my system is really automated (unless you count the timer on my lights), and I don’t use a lot of devices beyond your basic heater, protein skimmer, and submersible pumps. And, until very recently, I monitored all my water parameters the way God intended—using a hydrometer, floating thermometer, and various and sundry colorimetric test kits.I tell people that I like to keep things natural, but the truth of the matter is, my lone functioning brain cell has always struggled with technology and figuring out how the various components of a high-tech system interconnect (how I managed to finish Air Force Crypto School with high marks back in the day is anybody’s guess!). So, when Nathan Levine, founder of Current Labs, asked me to beta test their new FishBit monitor and controller, I was a bit apprehensive. How embarrassing would it be if I had to admit I couldn’t figure the thing out or, much worse, if I somehow damaged the unit by installing it upside down or…I don’t know…accidentally swallowing it? But after hearing that FishBit is specifically designed to be easy, trouble-free, and intuitive for people like me (analog folks trapped in a digital world), I felt somewhat reassured and agreed to give it a try. FishBit allows you to monitor key water parameters in real time as well as control multiple aquarium devices, such as your lights, pumps, and heater, through an app on your smartphone or other device.
It’s important to reach novice marine aquarists with good information early in their hobby experienceA few weeks back, I had the privilege of speaking at the first annual Buckeye Reef Marine Expo down in Bowling Green, Ohio (which, by the way, was a tremendous success, thanks to the tireless efforts of Jesse Lambdin, Joe Perkins, and all the other folks at Buckeye Reef, who clearly went all out to make this a stellar debut event!). In the presentation, I discussed the role of information in promoting success in our hobby, particularly with respect to beginners. Among the various topics touched upon was “Challenges to Effective Information Sharing.” Today, I’d like to share these challenges with you and invite your input on others that might belong on the list as well as what you think we could do to overcome them—not just here at Saltwater Smarts, but throughout the hobby.Anyhow, here are some of the reasons we think we’re collectively “missing the boat” when it comes to reaching novice hobbyists with good information in a timely manner. But we’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject, so if you have anything to add, please don’t hesitate to share it in the comment section afterward. 1. The Echo-Chamber Effect In this all-too-familiar scenario, hobby information—or misinformation—gets picked up and repeated ad nauseam across the internet (e.g., garlic cures Cryptocaryon irritans). It can be very difficult for the novice hobbyist to distinguish between fact and fiction, and the repetitive nature of the information lends it an air of authority that may or may not be justified.
Northwest Ohioans finally get a frag swap and marine expo in their home territoryAs a long-time hobbyist in northwest Ohio (Hey, I can at least claim that for the rest of this week, then I’m a Floridian), I’m accustomed to traveling outside the region for frag swaps and events of appreciable size. NW Ohio is located within reach of regular events held in northeast Ohio, central Ohio, and southern Michigan but hasn’t been home to a swap capable of drawing in many folks (and vendors) from outside the area. Now I realize becoming a road warrior is the fate of many a reef hobbyist, but with the amount of hobbyists who call northwest Ohio home, it seemed inevitable that someday we would have a marquee event. Well that day is almost upon us! On February 13, BuckeyeReef.com will host their first annual Marine Expo in Bowling Green, Ohio. With Buckeye Reef founder Jesse Lambdin and founding member Joe Perkins at the helm, the long-planned event earned the “expo” moniker through their long-term desire to build something more than the traditional frag swap.This first annual event will kick of with guest speaker, and Saltwater Smarts’ very own, Jeff Kurtz. He’ll be expounding upon Marine Aquarium Success in the Information Age
Paul B at his recent book release partySpecial thanks to Patrick Sugent for taking the time to write and submit the following review of Paul “Paul B” Baldassano’s The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist: A 60-Year History of Fishkeeping. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!“I first came across The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist in an online forum which Paul Baldassano frequents. I gave the book a read not really quite sure what to expect. You see, I knew Paul has a great deal of saltwater knowledge as well as a witty style in online forums, but I also know that he is on a very different level than me in terms of saltwater aquarium experience. He’s got a tank that is going on 45 years old, and I have a tank that is going on two years old, slightly less old than my twin children. He’s also a big DIY (Do-It-Yourself) person when it comes to saltwater aquariums, and I once hired a professional electrician to change a lightbulb (a sad but true story). So, I thought there was a lot of room for this to be a book that was really beyond my grasp and understanding and just generally over my head with lots of discussion about history I don’t know about, devices I don’t understand, and saltwater theory I can’t follow. Fortunately, that turned out not to be remotely true.
“Top 10” lists are always popular features around the New Year, and with good reason. They offer an idea of what resonated with people or had an impact on our culture over the preceding year—and, by logical extension, what didn’t. They also, to a certain extent, give us a sense of where we’re headed in the future.Here at Saltwater Smarts, we rely on various site metrics as well as comment-section feedback to help us gauge which posts or other offerings are of interest to our visitors. Based on these analytics, we’ve compiled our Top 10 Posts for 2015. You’ll find they touch upon a wide variety of topics, so there’s something here for everyone to enjoy: Thanks to each and every one of you for another wonderful year! It’s our pledge to keep bringing you content that educates, inspires, and hopefully provides a little entertainment along the way. From Caribbean Chris, myself, and all the regular contributors and sponsors here at Saltwater Smarts, happy New Year and all the best in 2016!