Look, I am one of those aquarists that has the "Quasi-DIY Gene", and I know it. I can scheme out and plumb my reef aquarium, set up a canister filter, coordinate a flow pattern with off-the-shelf electronic pumps, dial in a CO2 regulator, etc. I can almost program a controller without throwing it at the wall, so I suppose that's progress. In the serious aquarium hobby, this is considered fairly basic stuff. However, when it comes to the hardcore stuff, like building a reliable and safe auto top off system, contracting a custom stand, or assembling my own LED lighting array, that's where I beg off and seek the guidance of fellow fish geeks that love that kind of stuff.
Like most of you, I've acquired a fairly extensive set of rather obscure skills, like understanding the nuances of ball valves, waterproofing an aquarium stand interior, and adjusting an electronic heater controller. These are skills you sort of accumulate by either observing other fish geeks, or just by jumping in and doing it. Occasionally you'll figure out how to get something like a calcium reactor going on the first try, be it through luck or just having the skills required. However, if you're like most fish geeks, more often than not, you'll get it about 80% right the first try. Not bad.
Have you ever noticed that there is really no "instruction manual" for aquarium projects, or even for many of the pieces of equipment that we use? I mean, books will talk in sweeping generalities about the need for a multistage canister filter in an Mbuna tank, or a kalk stirrer or reactor for a reef, and maybe even have a computer-generated diagram showing where it is in the setup scheme. However, you never see things like, "In order to make the reactor work, you'll need a ______ pump, two feet of 1/2" vinyl tubing, two ball valves, and enough room in your equipment area to accomodate a 4" x 20" reactor body. The assembled unit should be placed approximately 4 inches to the side of the sump, with enough clearance to____________."
Ok, you get my drift.
Many aquarium products come with a diagram, maybe some basic introductory stuff about what it's good to have the piece of equipment (C'mon, you KNOW that already, or you wouldn't have purchased it, right? You STILL need to be sold on why a GFO reactor is a good thing for your reef aquarium after you bought it?), and if youre lucky, at least a couple of assembly pointers. Really rudimentary stuff. Not helpful for some of us who are not masters of the obvious! The manufacturers would be far better off providing detailed assembly and placement information for the purchaser, IMHO. Oh, sure, there are some manufacturers who do this, but they appear to be few and far in between. It's almost like it's expected that, as a fish geek, you have this "hidden knowledge database" programmed in your head to figure out how to assemble everything.
However, what you don't have "programmed", you can always find by tapping into "The Matrix" (sorry, had to borrow the term) of hobby knowledge that is "out there." Have you noticed that? You must acquire the arcane knowledge that you need by internet search, haunting the LFS, or hanging with your fish-keeping buddies and visiting their setups? Fun, yes, but often frustrating. There is really no formal "aquarium construction guide" out there. None. Yes, lots of books talk about the theoretical and broad implementation of this gadget or another, but no one has really written a treatise with turnkey information about how to construct a properly equipped reef.
So, if you have the DIY thing in your game, and you can write a bit, there's your calling- write a book on how to equip a modern reef system, with detailed diagrams and step-by-step instructions on how to assemble it. Woah! That would upset the entire balance of the universe, because suddenly, hobbyists would have a legitimate resource to turn to for reference on how to do_______! You'd no longer have to go though painful trial and error while building what you feel is a properly-equipped aquarium! Oh sure, there are some of you who would scoff at the idea, saying that the painful accumulation of this knowledge and the skills to pull of these projects SHOULD be gained through blood,sweat, and tears- you've gotta pay your dues by searching for obscure information and failing a few times on the way.
Okay, wierdos, how would you feel the next time you fly from say, LA to New York, if the two guys up front were "paying their dues" during YOUR flight? Or, if the guy in the surgical scrubs patting your arm as you fall asleep on the operating table is "figuring out your procedure as he goes?" Yeah, not so good, huh?
So my request is that SOMEONE, somewhere in this big aquarium-keeping hobby world, creates a book or series of articles on exactly how to incorporate some of the "fundemental" hardware into our systems. Not only would it be good for the hobby, it would be awesome for the animals we keep, and manufacturers of aquarium equipment would realize the value, too- and possibly increase sales, because hobbyists would actually have a good guide as to how to incorporate said piece of equipment into their reef systems.
Ok, enough of this nonsense for now. I'm off to figure out how to incorporate a carbon reactor into a nano system I'm working on...sigh.
So, I say to you: Search for knowledge. Share said acquired knowledge. Complain more.