Attention Writers: The Marine Aquarium Hobby Needs You!

Breakthroughs in this hobby belong in the written word, no matter how large or small

Breakthroughs in this hobby belong in the written word, no matter how large or small

Today’s post is a little “off the beaten path” to say the least. Typically, we use this space to share information and insights with our fellow salties on exotic marine species, various aspects of marine aquarium husbandry, etc. This time around, we’d like to broach a very different topic—why it’s so important for marine aquarium hobbyists to get their experiences and discoveries down in writing.

No question, there are plenty of exceptional hobby-related books, articles, and blog posts out there, written by highly experienced, authoritative aquarium authors, but we believe the hobby needs an infusion of new writers and different voices. Here’s why:

To counteract the “echo-chamber effect”

Much of what’s currently written out there, particularly online, seems to be derived largely from the same works produced by the same small group of the aforementioned authoritative authors. This is perfectly understandable since these authors and their knowledge are highly—and justifiably—respected. In fact, their works unquestionably influence and inform what you read here at Saltwater Smarts.

The trouble is, when all we do is recycle the same information ad nauseam, no matter how authoritative it may be, we end up with an echo chamber and no fresh insights. Not to mention, each time material is picked up and reiterated, there’s a strong chance its message will be slightly altered in a modern-day version of the “telephone game,” so the original intent and context get lost or distorted.

Different folks need different strokes

Sometimes it’s not so much about what you write but how you write it. We’ve all had teachers who could make even the most complex information understandable—as well as those who could turn the simplest concept into gobbledygook. The marine aquarium hobby is rife with confusing jargon and terminology, and because different people learn in different ways (some prefer a full-Monty scientific manual; others might do better with the Cliff’s Notes), we need different voices explaining these concepts.

Conventional wisdom begs to be challenged

As any experienced hobbyist knows, today’s dogma often becomes tomorrow’s heresy. Consider the use of undergravel filters and wet-dry systems in marine aquaria. These were once considered state-of-the-art methodologies, but today we essentially shun them. Unless someone breaks the proverbial mold, tries a different approach, and writes about the experience, the hobby can never advance.

Breakthroughs are happening all the time

Somewhere, right now, a hobbyist is discovering something heretofore unknown about the husbandry needs of a hard-to-keep fish or invertebrate, making an exciting breakthrough in the captive breeding of a marine species, improving upon some existing aquarium technology, etc. These breakthroughs belong in the written record, no matter how seemingly insignificant they may see, so we can all learn from them and increase our odds of success.

No one knows it all

No single hobbyist, no matter how skilled and experienced, has kept every species or combination of species, tried every technique, and used every piece of available equipment. There just aren’t enough years in a lifetime—or multiple lifetimes, for that matter—to make a dent in all the possible permutations. That leaves the field of potential topics wide open.

So what are you waiting for?
Even if much has already been written on a particular aquarium topic, your unique experiences and insights are still valuable. So if you think you have something interesting to share but are on the fence about writing, we hope you’ll climb down and take the proverbial pen in hand. There are numerous magazines, blogs, and other venues out there that welcome quality content—including your friends here at Saltwater Smarts.

Photo Credit: ilouque


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About Jeff Kurtz

Jeff Kurtz is the Co-founder/Editor of Saltwater Smarts, former Senior Consulting Editor for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, and the aquarist formerly known as “The Salt Creep.” He has been an aquarium hobbyist for over 30 years and is an avid scuba diver.


  1. Paul Baldassano says

    Undergravel filters, OK, stop laughing. I have been an avid hobbiest since the fiftees, yes there were fiftees. At that time we all used undergravel filters as that was state of the art especially for freshwater tanks. In 1971 salt water fish became available in New York where I live and as soon as the first blue devils arrived in the US, I bought them. I converted my freshwater tank to salt water and added the blue devils. Of course I kept the UG filter. It was a disaster and the tank almost crashed in a year. I did not remove the UG filter, instead I tweeked it to run on saltwater.
    After years of experimenting I found that if I reversed the water flow and ran it through a strainer or sponge while allowing the water to flow very slowly, the tank stayed very healthy and rarely needed maintenance. Now that tank is a reef housing LPS, SPS and many spawning fish some over 20 years old. This March the tank will be running continousely for 43 years and has never crashed. So old ideas can again become new.

    • Jeff Kurtz says

      No worries, you won’t hear any laughing here! It is strange how, in this hobby of ours, yesterday’s dogma becomes today’s heresy–even though whatever technique or technology has fallen out of favor still works just as well as it always did.

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