Editorial: June 2005
With this June issue of Advanced Aquarist we have turned an important page in our history. As you can plainly see we have redesigned our whole web site, along with our online publication. I hope you approve of our efforts, and we would love some feed back from you if you are so inclined.
For some of our readers who may be unfamiliar with our long term editorial goals, goals that extend back to the days of Aquarium Frontiers, I would like on this occasion of our redesign, to communicate them again. Reef Keepers from all over the world enjoy and find it useful to communicate their husbandry experiences, as it is both enjoyable and sometimes valuable to share anecdotal experience. However, anecdotal experience can too often be misleading, even down right incorrect, and can needlessly cause the death of some of the animals we care about. It wasn’t too long ago that almost all reef keepers were convinced that it was impossible to keep Acroporas alive in captivity, whereas today, Acroporas grow like weeds in many man made reefs. Therefore, it has always been our goal to offer scientifically based experimental information to provide a factual basis for our reef keeping advice. The first of a two part work (An Experimental Comparison of Sandbed and Plenum-Based Systems. Part 1: Controlled lab dosing experiments) by Rob Toonen, Ph.D. in this issue is a case in point. In Rob’s own words,
There remains considerable debate about the most efficient design of a sediment bed for processing nutrients in a recirculating system, but to date these arguments have been based almost entirely on personal opinion and anecdotal evidence.
This issue is perhaps the most controversial facing both professional and amateur reef keepers today, with many questioning whether in the long run deep sand beds with or without plenums are better than bare bottomed reefs. In other words, anecdotal experience is valuable, but hardly definitive. Man made reefs are very complex biological entities, and as most aquarists are constantly tinkering with reefs it is almost impossible to tell what caused what. It is only in experimental conditions where variables are accounted for that factual information can be derived.
Hobbyists love to argue about which bulb is best, and which reflector. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Sanjay Joshi, Ph.D. we have provided the reef keeper with a huge body of factually based information about bulbs and reflectors, so that now the discussion can be based on solid information. If you haven’t already, check out http://www.reeflightinginfo.arvixe.com/.
In past issues we have seen Tim Hovanec, Ph.D. take on with solid experimental data a lot of essentially useless anecdotal information regarding the toxicity of trace metals in today’s salt mixes. And, in this issue Dana Riddle, a tireless researcher, provides us with useful data regarding the accuracy of test kits. In his words,
‘Test kits’ generally deliver ‘ballpark’ numbers, and this may be fine for the average hobbyist. However, serious hobbyists, coral farmers, professional aquarists and those providing aquarium maintenance services might be interested in some of the newer test equipment finding its way to market. Although not inexpensive, new colorimeters using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have lower prices than units available just a few years ago. Sturdy and compact, these instruments are easy to transport for field work, yet are right at home in a laboratory setting.
Our editorial goal is to provide our readers with as much scientifically based information as is available. We have always tried to span the place between the science journal and hobbyist literature, and will continue to do so into the future. In concrete terms, does this new additive improve the health of our reefs, or is a snake oil; is a deep sand bed better than a bare bottomed tank; is artificially made saltwater as good as natural seawater, etc?