Reef Tropes: Bad habits in reef keeping

Trophy tank reefing“hey check out my fire corals bro!”
“I just got this hot coral from my favorite coral store!”
“i just got (insert fancy name here) coral (insert pics)”
“person XYZ only keeps high-end coral”
inflated coral prices
unrealistic expectations
keeping things alive over time is much more difficult than showing them off in the short term
lack of humility
ignoring the science behind color variations and “coloring up” corals.
adding “names” to corals only increases confusion and creates a divide between science, reality, and practice.
Long term growth into large colonies is more impressive than photos of frags you just purchased.
Species-ism“I only care about the corals, not the fish”
“I only care about the fish, not the corals”
all of these things are living creatures and should be treated with respect.
you couldn’t say “i only care about the flowers, not the bees” as ultimately they would die without each-other.
There is some truth to the notion of “keep what works”, however, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. (or saltwater)
Musical lights“I just switched to new lights from company XYZ, look at how great my tank looks!”
“Everything pops more after I put this new brand of light on my tank”
If your lights provide adequate spectrum and no shadows, this factor will generally not improve your results as a reefer.
Switching lights in very short periods of time (under 1-2 years) is generally not giving yourself enough time to really determine results.
Corals will generally color up to the spectrum you give them – an acro might pop under an LED light, but look dull under halide, however, given a few months under halide, it will then pop under halide, but look dull under the LED.
LEDs can lose intensity as they age, if you replaced a 3-4 year old fixture with a brand new one of the same variety, it might all of the sudden “pop” again due to things like UV LED’s aging out, etc. Switching brands might not truly be the factor, this is confusing correlation and causation.
Wattage and PAR is often a more useful indicator than hearsay and photos.
My flow is better than your flow“This DC return pump is the best!”
“Don’t buy that jebao, they are copying!”
Many DC return pumps share common motor-block lineage, and without considering this, calling one the “best” or saying one is “copied” is a huge oversight. There are also specific features like 0-10v control, or system integration, that might make one pump preferable to another for a specific person, but this shouldn’t be treated as an absolute.
Give advice for the 95%, not the 5% exception. Be unbiased.
It will burn your house down“Don’t buy that, it will burn your house down, (insert picture of charred tank)
“This will fail no matter what!”
Look into the “bathtub curve”, equipment often fails more in the beginning of it’s life, or the end, but there’s usually a large middle period with few failures.
All equipment has a MTBF, but some equipment has worse failure modes than others. This is worth considering, but not without some evidence. For example: certain heaters will ooze black goo when they fail, others might just get stuck on, which can be mitigated with a controller.
If something did really burn your house down, surely your insurance company would do an investigation, at the very least the fire company, where is the proof?
Hearsay and word-of-mouth can be a bad tell for this, because often times only the people with problems are loud. Many products have a proven track record, so don’t believe everything you hear.
Purple bottles are better than black bottles which are better than blue bottles, which are better than white bottles“Supplement XYZ is the best!”
“You should switch to this brand of supplements, my corals all look better now!”
“My salt has probiotics!”
“These aminos are better than those aminos!”
“This coral food has less phosphates!”
Insufficient time to tell actual differences
Some supplements might have iodine or other color enhancers in them, you may be perfectly fine sticking with your existing regime and just adding in whatever element is missing.
Lack of scientific basis for what changes might be going on with the tank.
ICP testing and compensation will give a much better idea as to what supplements the tank really needs, and whether any such changes are making a difference.
Most foods, aminos, and supplements, contain largely the same ingredients. Some brands may have more fillers, or less, but the claims that some won’t increase phosphates are often just dirty marketing, ultimately, all food will increase nutrients, or it’s not really food.
A pump makes the skimmer“skimmer brand XYZ is so much better, I get thick skimmate!”
“Needlewheels are better than venturi!”
“Company XYZ makes the best skimmer pump!”
“This diffuser design is better than the rest!”
Ultimately, skimmer performance and results will vary not just on the model but the tank and nutrient levels
Most skimmers are basically just a plastic tube with a pump. The pump can make a difference. Some AC pumps are directly effected by line voltage, and can vary in performance if the voltage in your house is changing. There is some merit towards DC pumps providing a more consistent skim.
In my experience, diffuser design is a bit of a marketing gimmick and I find that it often makes little difference. I think the larger point is that they act like a dam for the returning water, and without sizing them correctly, it might effect how water drains out of the skimmer. I truly suspect this is a much larger factor than the design of of the “jets” or “holes” on the diffuser.