couple of inches (around 5 cm) deep worked just as well. So within
the first few years of the 21st century, the deep sand bed method had
become well established, but also gradually evolved into the “not quite
so deep” sand bed method. This method has worked well ever since
and is still the most popular (albeit far from universal) method for
reefkeeping these days.
The 21st Century
As the hobby moved into the 21st century, long-term success had
become commonplace for hobbyists willing to put in the time and
effort (and funds). However, there was still room for improvements
and an expansion of knowledge about the organisms being kept.
For one thing, numerous types of equipment continued to be
improved, from filters to skimmers to pumps. Lighting, too, advanced
by leaps and bounds. For example, high-output fluorescent bulbs
went from T-12s to power compacts to T-5s, meaning fluorescent
lighting got both brighter and more energy efficient. The variety of
bulbs producing different colors/spectrums also increased, allowing
hobbyists to fine-tune their lights as they saw fit, while still having
what was necessary to keep corals and such alive and well.
Over the last 10 years or so, LED lighting has also come onto
the scene, and, likewise, has become more efficient and diverse.
It has also dropped precipitously in price over that time. In my
opinion, these lights represent the single greatest advancement in
equipment over the last decade, if not the last two decades. And
they’re still improving every year, it seems.
From a different perspective, there have been two other great
advances in the hobby over the last 20 or so years, one being the
explosion of at-home and business-level coral propagation and the
other of captive-bred marine fishes. It is now common practice
to cut up soft corals and break up stony corals to produce new
specimens, with these cuttings and frags being shared or sold.
In fact, overall, I’d bet there are far more pieces of coral being
produced in the hobby than are collected from wild reefs now.
Likewise, the list of captive-bred marine fishes has increased from
just a handful, primarily different clownfishes, to a great number
of popular aquarium species.
All throughout the history of the reef aquarium, scientists and
hobbyists alike have been hard at work, learning more and more
about the organisms we keep. Thus, our overall understanding of
these creatures, how they work, how they reproduce, what they
need to stay healthy, etc., has improved dramatically.
So while keeping a successful reef aquarium was something
possible for only a relative handful of people just 50 years ago,
through the continuing evolution of the hobby, it is now common
practice for vast numbers of hobbyists around the world. One can
only imagine what advances the future will bring! D
Tropical Fish Hobbyist
LED lighting has proven to be one of the biggest advancements
in reefkeeping equipment over the past decade.
Over the last 20 years or so, the propagation of corals through
cutting and fragmentation has exploded. This means a full-size
reef aquarium can be easily stocked without taking a single
coral from the wild.