The Saltwater Aquarium Hobby is All About the Money


We’ve been criticizing the “Tanked” television show for a while now, and perhaps some of you have thought us a little unfair in our approach. Some readers are probably tired of hearing about the show, and believe me we’re tired of talking about it, but at the same time we’re also tired of seeing this atrocity being paraded in front of tv viewers on a weekly basis. Despite all of that, we’ve stumbled across some very telling footage giving us a little insight into the minds behind Acrylic Tank Manufacturing. In this video from ReefAddicts, Marc Levenson talks with Brett Raymer, who starts out by saying “we made the show”, which goes against their initial excuses that Animal Planet had full creative control over the content. Perhaps Brett was just making a very generalized statement, but it’s what he says next that made my jaw drop. He says that “ultimately, we’re all in this for business”. My response…speak for yourself. This hobby is money driven yes, but the typical aquarium businessman can barely make enough in sales to keep the storefront open, let alone take home enough to make a reasonable career out of it. Not to mention, most hobbyists and website like AquaNerd are in no way in this hobby for the financial benefits. In fact, it’s actually costing most people to be in the hobby.

Continuing on through the interview, Brett starts bragging about their very own line of additives that they will be selling shortly, which are designed to cycle a new aquarium overnight. We’ve been very critical of “wonder” additives, and they are no way to successfully start an aquarium. Yes, biotic additives are very helpful in saltwater aquariums that have an established cycle, but they should only be used as an additive and not the heart and soul of a large aquarium system. Brett also makes the bold claim that public aquariums do the same thing, leading listeners to believe that ATM is doing what everyone else is doing. Well, I’ll be the first to tell you no, this is a wrong statement. From my experience at Moody Gardens, which isn’t the most sophisticated or disciplined aquarium around, biologists would quarantine any and all livestock for an extremely long period of time. After that, they wouldn’t just dump 50 or 6o fish into an aquarium only a couple of hundred gallons in volume. Instead, the aquarium would introduce a small number of fish into a single display at any given point. On top of all that, the public aquarium utilizes sophisticated filtration that consists of ultraviolet sterilizers, ozonizers, massive protein skimmers, and so on. All of the aquariums seen on “Tanked” have tiny filtration systems and outdated technologies from what we can tell. But I guess it’s all the same right?


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  • Boris

    I agree with the sentiments of your post. I like the show a lot, but I am not learning much about the show. For the most part you only see the before and after like all the shows on Home and Garden. You learn very litte “how to”. Everything seeems fast and easy, but in reality setting up a tank is slow. The show should discuss the additives that they put in.

  • I was surprised hearing about how the industry is going down. I guess it’s HIS industry, the old fashiond fish-only tanks, that is going down. Reef aquariums industry seem to be exploding right now.

  • Very well said Brandon!

  • mr.wilson

    He is what he is, a relic from the 80’s and 90’s. His business is dying for the same reason that DVD rental shops are disappearing; people found something better.  

  • If you look at it from an entertainment angle, The OCC never told you “How to” build a bike. They Just showed us cool bike builds. Having said that… if people want to get into the hobby and look to these guys and get the wrong information on how to put a tank together it is not going to help the industry at all. When a Saltwater Aquarium crashes, so does the Hobbyist.