Don’t Be a Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish Marine Aquarist!

Okay, class, please put away your notes and calculators, take out your number-two pencils (clear-a-vous but for a number-two!), and complete this easy multiple-choice quiz:Which of the following reef-lighting options costs the least? A) Zany Caribbean Chris’s Homemade Reef-Suitable Coral-Blaster® LEDs for $250.00 B) “Gently used,” trusted-name-brand LEDs for $800.00 C) The same reputable LEDs from answer B—only brand-spankin’ new this time—for $1,200. D) A recently discontinued, but once quite popular, LED fixture from now-defunct Company X for $475.00 So what’s the right answer? Which option is cheapest? As anyone with any experience in this hobby will be quick to point out, the only possible correct answer is actually Secret Option E: “Not enough information.” Shopping by price alone in this hobby can lead to madness—or, at the very least, end up costing you a heck of a lot more in the long run if you have to shell out again and again to replace inadequate or downright lousy equipment. Let’s take a closer look at each of the quiz answers and examine why they may or may not represent the best price. And keep in mind that this same thought process can be applied to any type of aquarium gear.