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Subject Topic: Paralysis by Analysis
 
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kyroguy
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Joined: 16 Feb 2004
Location: Iowa
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Posted: 11 Mar 2011 at 8:28pm | IP Logged Quote kyroguy

I was surfing a few saltwater supply sites and started looking into the "tank controllers". These are the units that are basically a mini computer that can control dosing, lighting, temp, etc as well as monitor everything and log it all for later display on your pc. I thought to myself that it might be nice to have access to all of this information, plus I love gadgets. Seems like a match made in heaven, right?

Well I kept thinking about it and my focus started to shift to what I could use this information for. In other words, how would it change the way I maintain my tank? Maybe if I saw that I was low in something I could dose it. Or if I had too much of something I could figure out how to reduce it. WAIT, WHOA! My tank is fine the way it is. I don't need to change anything. My fish (just one) is happy and my corals are growing just fine. In fact, every time I have started testing the water regularly in the past it has caused me to make changes. Almost every time those changes caused overall negative effects.

My point here is that it is easy for noobs (and pros alike) to get blinded by the light reflecting off of these fancy pieces of equipment. Who doesn't want some high tech gadget that tweets every time their fish farts? The problem with most of these gadgets is that they give you too much information. Information that many people end up using to "fix" imaginary problems and ultimately screwing up the balance in their systems. Many end up with so much information they don't know what to do with it all, paralysis by analysis! Let's face it, we can pretend we know exactly how much Mg, Ca, O2, light (don't even mention spectrum), flow, temperature, pH, hardness, etc. that our tanks need, but nobody really knows for sure. On top of that, changing one concentration likely changes the requirements for the others so there is likely no single "master list" of ideal concentrations. Even if there was such a list it would be a full time job trying to maintain the levels at ideal. You have certainly heard of the guy with "low calcium" that grows hard corals like crazy, or the guy with no chiller whose tank peaks at 84 degrees every summer day that has the most colorful corals you have ever seen. Can you explain it? No, and neither can anyone else. Every tank is different and nobody knows why!

Moral of the story is this, if you are having a problem try to track it down and fix it. If you aren't having a problem, don't try to fix it. Know when the last time I had my water tested was? Neither do I, it has been forever. I don't have a problem, I am not out looking for solutions.

In closing, if you have hundreds of dollars burning a hole in your pocket and you like gadgets then by all means, buy as many "tank controllers" as you have room for. But if you have a stable tank without any major problems, don't screw it up!

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