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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The planted aquarium hobby in the States is struggling. It has been (at least, to my knowledge) since the 1980's. Reef aquariums have soared to record highs, specialized reef aquarium shops have been popping up everywhere and there are more and more innovations in the saltwater side of the hobby. Practically the opposite can be said of the freshwater planted side of the hobby. Why is this? One cant blame it on the economy, I mean, reef aquariums are many times more expensive then planted. So why are we so slow on the uptake?


I highly reccomend a listening to a recent Scape Fu podcast: http://www.scapefu.com/2011/07/25/s...uence-of-takashi-amano-and-state-of-us-hobby/

It was a real eye opener in my opinion.
 

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Reefs are honestly less work than a planted tank....thus why I have 2 reefs and only 1 high tech planted. Reefs also appeal to more people due to the highly colorful fish, "finding nemo" also probably fueled that to some degree.

I also believe owning a "reef" for some people is somewhat of a measuring contest, it is more common knowledge it is expensive than a planted aquarium. Sadly when most people think of a freshwater tank they think of clown puke ornaments and rainbow gravel....because they had one as a kid with 47 feeders.
 

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Well, working at a large LFS that has both freshwater and saltwater here is what I have to say.

Like you said a full blown reef tank is way more expensive then a hi tech planted tank.

We get countless people in that set up tanks, and for one reason or another get frustrated. 9 times out of 10 the people with the freshwater tank end up dropping out of the hobby.

The reefers typically stick with it.

Why do you ask? Well, I think it has to do with the whole cost thing. If you spend $100 bucks on a little freshwater tank and you get frustrated you would probably give up before you would have if you had a $1000 dollar reef tank. It's sad, but from what I see at work the more money the person puts into it the more likely they are to stick with it.

That's just my opinion. Hope that made a bit of sense.
 

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I don't think there's anything wrong with the planted tank scene... Why does it need to be more popular than reef setups? I don't think it should be viewed as a competition, planted tanks take less equipment to run, so naturally there will be less innovations. Once in a while something new and fancy comes along, but there are a lot of things designed for saltwater tanks that can be used for freshwater, such as autodosers.

I don't know about you, but I've never had a problem getting my hands on a certain plant I want. The whole problem with buying PLANTS at an LFS, is that the LFS has to be able to grow PLANTS. Which usually means a nerd from plantedtank.net has to be working there! In my area I can think of 3 stores within a 30 minute drive that have cultured plants or customer trade-in plants, and all of them have more freshwater substrate than they do saltwater.

I think freshwater tanks are as popular as they'll ever be, and there's nothing at all wrong with that.
 

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i think its all about exposure. just like there are a ton of cool fish out there but why does no one keep them just dont know about them. you go into a lfs chances are best you will see a nice reef tank whats the chance of seeing a nice planted tank? people on the internet is just a fraction of the people in the hobby but it is growing. as well as the people who keep plants. maybe one day it will have a boom.
 

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Seriously though, I agree with the cost factors.

Also I think lfs and big box stores that poorly educate their shoppers upfront are partly to blame as well. The prevalence of big box stores moving in over the last couple decades has made it much easier for people to get into the freshwater side of the hobby at lower costs. It also makes it to where people who have done less research can make impulse decisions and get the wrong things that set them up for failure. On top of the the employees don't know enough or don't care enough to really help people make the right decisions.
 

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Struggling according to what measure?

Representation in LFS isn't a good measure. They have to sell whatever pays the bills, and there just isn't much money in freshwater.

Plus there's a learning curve associated with planted tanks. By the time you figure things out, chances are you've learned about DIY CO2, dry ferts, low cost substrates, and other things that will let you run a planted tank both successfully and inexpensively; and that bring in virtually no income for the LFS.

Now maybe in Japan, people will readily spring for expensive all-out ADA setups and consumables from a LFS, because it's considered a status symbol. Or buy into stuff like ADA Tourmaline, which is claimed to "release bio-energy". Which is both vague and impossible, because bio-energy comes only from living things, not minerals.

I'm glad that here in the States, we are more critical about the real value of things. And if our slower growth means less brand-name zealots, homeopaths, and pseudo-scientists; then I consider that a positive trade-off.
 

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Why does it need to be a competition?

Is there something you really can't get that you want?


If you want to win a battle... how about the fact that we have reliable power, bigger cars, and better hospitals...
 

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I have both.

So...........I've seen both hobbies really grow a lot.

When I got into the hobby late 1980's, I could buy about 15 species of plants, now? 300-400 species.

Reef, few could even keep many of the fish, now they keep and propagate corals.

Seems like more success and advancement to me.

More researchers and research goes into Reefs and marine systems than FW planted systems. SOB'''''''I'm about the only one.:icon_mad:
 

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I have had freshwater fish for 20 years. It wasn't until I went into a high end pet store that I saw my first planted aquarium. It was breath taking, and I didn't realize there was a name for it let alone a whole other side of the hobby, and I am sure I am not the only one who didn't know about it.

When it comes to the initial start up of a freshwater aquarium most people will head to their local pet store, pick up a tank and decor then go home, set it up, wait a few days and go back to the pet store to get fish. Most don't realize that they are introducing the fish to a unhealthy environment since it hasn't been properly cycled. When the fish die from the high ammonia spikes they get upset go buy more fish who also die and give up on the hobby all together.

I see saltwater a little differently. If you want saltwater then it would be pretty much impossible to just run out and get everything and have fish within a week. It does take a lot of knowledge on what can go together and what can't, so those people who initially start out wanting saltwater generally learn more about the hobby which keeps them interested, causing saltwater to be more popular.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Okay, I obviously worded my statement wrong... Why Are Reefs More Popular Then Planted? How does that work?
 

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Sadly when most people think of a freshwater tank they think of clown puke ornaments and rainbow gravel....because they had one as a kid with 47 feeders.

People are always amazed when they see my tanks, and I'm a beginner. The idea of a tank full of live plants just blows them away. Lots of comments about how they’re the most beautiful tanks they’ve ever seen and how this makes them want one, etc.

Frankly, I was the same way the first time I stumbled across a planted tank two years ago. I had no IDEA such beautiful things were possible.
 

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Also, I think it might simply be a matter of *must have* vs *can have*. If you go to any pet store or LFS and you want to buy a salt water fish, you’ll get a speech about what you MUST have to keep it alive. If you go in and want to buy a fresh water fish, the *must* list doesn’t include the same concept of ecosystem building because the fish will survive (if not thrive) without it.
 

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I want to echo Tom, in that there just seems to be way more research and scientific studies with reef setups. Heck, so much available equipment, from skimmers to reactors, salt mixes, additives, etc etc.

I think there's just more money to be made with reef setups. Finding Nemo is probably a big factor to get more newbies (dads?) into the business. With saltwater setups being more expensive, there's also more motivation to be patient, do more research, and consequently invest more money into it. If freshwater setups, it's cheap to get started, so when the algae wars are turning in the wrong direction, it's easier to just give up.

Plants are also easier and cheaper to farm compared to corals. Tub, substrate, lights, CO2, ferts, a powerhead, and then just add water. Much easier addressing algae than reef pests and saltwater chemistry. This then contributes to the high prices of corals, which then contributes to the more-money-to-be-made point.

There's also much more colors to feast your eyes on with corals vs fw plants.
 

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Okay, I obviously worded my statement wrong... Why Are Reefs More Popular Then Planted? How does that work?
Thats simple. They are more common(as in long term. Been around more). They are also a lot easier to make look good. If you have the cash you can make it look great from the start.

Even well funded planted tanks usually need to fill in. It is also, in my experience, harder to grow plants than corals and the like..

FOWLR tanks are even easier and you get awesome looking fish.

Further, the biggy in my opinion, is that your LFS and Petco don't make nearly as much money on you with a planted tank as they do with a Reef.
 
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