What do you think about our hobby?

piranhapat

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Is it just me or the hobby just not the same community . I been in the hobby for over 40 yrs. I never saw no LFS back then. Now it's pretty much a ghost town. Today we have online is probably part of reason. Second high rents. Where is everybody ? I know the summer is here and it's the slowest time of season. Even I'll be away, But just don't see the frag swaps or talk about trades like the old days. All I see how much coral gone up. Yes, harder and less coming into trade with restrictions. But aquaculture should be picking up the slack. I don't know what happen even the reef a palooza this year was down. The community what kept this hobby going. Wonder if LFS will ever comeback. I think its going to take someone that hits the lottery and loves the hobby is only person can survive a LFS. Too tough to make it in todays world. What's your opinion.?
 

marrone

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The internet has taken a big bite out of LFS, as it has for a lot of other business too. I think for areas where it's expensive to operate, high costs, online has forced them to either lower their margins, move to a cheaper location or get out of business altogether, with the later being the more common thing. Plus you throw in the ability for online places to be able to get more different items/livestock than what most LFS can carry, or possibly even have access too, it makes it very hard to keep a LFS going. I see a lot of stores in the city that have been empty for a long time or just closed down. The model has changed, and yes it's very hard to make it in today world, trying to compete with Amazon and such, but are they really different than says Sears or JC Penny was back 100 years ago?

I think the problem with the swap is everyone is doing them. So for something that was kinda special, seeing things or people once or twice a year, it has now become common place and if you miss one there is another one right around the corner.
 

A4edwin

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I jumped into this hobby a year ago and I love. Since I?ve been in I?ve seen three lfs go out of business. And it is very sad. Personally when it comes to live stock I won?t order online I need to see the fish or coral first hand.
 

Charley

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Agree with all the above. Unfortunately for LFS, this is a hobby and trading, selling on the side from the basement or home is what makes it a hobby and fun. Have not sold corals as of yet, but I guess as corals grow why wouldn't I. The other part of it is that the equipment is so expensive, it makes it so compelling to do this for anybody.

I think a LFS has to become a destination for customers. a real reason to want to come in. Perhaps selling mostly high end hard to get corals, maybe a touch tank for families to enjoy, etc. Some LFS, the fish look terrible and very unattractive to buy anything and making the entire store feeling like a bad experience in general. Not blaming any LFS, there are alot of reasons for this.

This is not an easy hobby for long term success and not a straight line in terms of advice and help. So many times I wanted to throw in the towel and I have a ton of patience. Quite sure many have thrown in the towel that are not on the forums and that we do not see. LFS has to be so good at giving correct advice, helping customers along and bring new people into the hobby to replace the dropouts. Not helping that it is a very expensive hobby with high risk of failure without due diligence on a consistence basis. Would be so much better for the hobby if great LED lights, pumps, etc were $199 and under. LFS seem to be a victim of the high price points of great equipment known to do a great job but not helping to build a wide, profitable customer base. Would love to get some of the new stuff out there from Apex, Triton etc.....but do I really want to pluck down another 600 bucks or so? Rather have a few nice dinners and run the same old equip. Sure, it would be cool to have the new stuff but only at $199 am I in for sure. So now I wish my corals would grow faster to make a few bucks and let the hobby pay for itself. Vicious cycle.

Now coral prices seem to have gone thru the roof. I think LFS have to accept that this is sadly mostly a high end hobby and should cater to those who can afford otherwise it is simply a non profitable race to the bottom with no floor.
 
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saltykid85

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To me the, biggest reason, which is overlooked, maybe because we are all guilty of it is the internet, not amazon or brs per se, but these message boards, Craig?s list etc. I?m the 90?s when I wanted a tank, and I didn?t know anyone getting rid of one, I more or less had no choice but to go to the lfs and buy one, as well as lighting, skimmer etc.

When I wanted a bigger tank, or different lighting, I had to go buy new again, and the stuff I already had either stayed up and running, went into storage, or to the trash. When I was done with it, it was done. But now with the prevalence of the online message boards, I can see my old stuff, thus negating the next person looking to get into it, from going to the lfs and buying it all over for them. For me as well, if I want something, I can look on here , or craigslist, and buy and take something out of someone lfs closet, they weren?t using anymore, instead of buying it new at the lfs.

I guess best example would be a car. If cars only ran 5 years before becoming scrap metal, everyone would have to buy new and dealerships would be more plentiful. But there is the option to buy used, which lowers the demand for new cars, because there is another option other than new.

Also, another thing I believe hurts is the high price point items. If I had a 125 in the 90s, I bought a retrofit t5, for 300-400, and changed bulbs, that?s it. Left more money for livestock, other items etc. now, with 400 dollar less that cover an 18x18 area (to light a 125 tank, it went from 400 to 1600 just like that) apex, and the terrible Margins on them at the lfs, I?m. It sure why an lfs would push it. If a customer comes in with 800 dollars of money budgeted to spend, why would I sell an apex that will eat that budget and net me 80 bucks (mark up on those suck) when I can sell them more live rock, fish and frags and more of that 800 will end up in my pocket, not Neptune .
 
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saltykid85

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Lastly, I agree, rap was down. To me, the concept is gone. It?s not an experience, but a big store. A store you have to pay $20 a person ($80 an average family of 4) to get into, only to go spend money at a bunch of little stores, just like paying a fee to enter a mall.

There isn?t anything to learn, classes to take part in etc. they do have speakers, but one of them has been doing it every single year I can remember, and the other one is a ceo of online retailer, people go to these to learn about reef, not building a .com business.

Would be like going to Disney, paying the $100 park fee, and the only thing in park were shops and eatery?s. That?s nice to have, but what draws people is the experience , a chance to learn or do something they don?t normally get to do ima regular Saturday at a pet store .
 
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Fishtankfrank

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so would you say that the LFS should maybe try to create new revenue streams? maybe hop onto the subscription business model. @prestigeaquatics- what do you think about selling memberships to 4 frags a month for x amount of money (something that works for you as well as the consumer)

just a thought from one business owner to another. I'd like to hear your thoughts on that
 

XclusiveReef

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I think it would be a good idea for LFS to have like a monthly meetup where they can raffle off a prize but charge a fee like $10-20 bucks a person and give the people who attend a discounted price on anything they buy. It's simple a store does not have good selection it will fail,. if a store has good selection but prices are too high it will fail..
 

A4edwin

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Why are there posts missing on this thread now? People want selection and products to be in stock. When I wanted my Vortech mp10 I called numerous stores only place that had it in stock was manhattan aquarium. So I got it from them. As of recent I go to New York reef aquatic for livestock. I was there two days ago and they?re stocking Eco-Tech radions. Nyos skimmers and reactors even Neptune apex. Though I didn?t check the prices this would make me go there before going online and ordering. There?s nothing worse than having to wait for something you ordered.
 

Charley

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I would add an espresso bar, use trendy wood colors with metal, etc.. Stores look so outdated in our hobby. Generally a very lackluster experience especially for new potential non hobbyists.
 

Zoous

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This hobby is like a drug addiction. The amount of $$$$ that we need to spend just to get the latest equipment and the most colorful fishes and corals is really at an all time high in my opinion. It's just crazy how much people spend on their fish tanks.
 

Geraud

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I get my equipment from local stores, since if something breaks... I want them to still be around when I need a replacement during the same day, and not in a week from now.


Plus with prices being fixed for main brands... there is really no advantage in shopping online.


The only exception is for stuff I cannot find locally (aka in Manhattan, eg: ESV salt), then I will get it online.


Side note: local stores should still be able to make money off fish... cannot really frag a yellow tang ;-)
 

Eddie7144

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It's getting ridiculously expensive, from Live stock to hard ware, stores selling memberships, taking a purple torch and calling it a black torch or a black light torch and charging 5x what it's really worth, or charging $ 1000 buck or a single zoa polyp. It's taking alot of the joy and fun out of the hobby
 

piranhapat

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It's getting ridiculously expensive, from Live stock to hard ware, stores selling memberships, taking a purple torch and calling it a black torch or a black light torch and charging 5x what it's really worth, or charging $ 1000 buck or a single zoa polyp. It's taking alot of the joy and fun out of the hobby
So true, I remember mushroom $5. Now it's ridiculous . Zoe also $5 a head. Easy to grow and crazy priced today. Today equipments is nice options but how many whistles you want is up to you. Price on fish basically been fair. Some take advantage especially online. So by judging looks like the coral is where it got most expensive. That's the bigger demand today.
 

Geraud

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One thing I am wondering about is really how long people stay in the hobby now compared to how long they did in the past.



Nowadays I see many people start a "tank build" on forums, then 6 months later are in the "leaving the hobby, selling equipment" section, I would assume that corals do not get passed that much from person to person through fragging, and rather get bought and just die.



So it does not really come as a surprise that coral prices stay high.


The hobby is easier due to forums/equipment/availability. But I feel that a lot of people do not do their homework about the one thing that money does not buy: patience.
 

Clown guru

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Firstly, yes I reside in Spring Hill, FL..."BUT" I'm a native New York born in L.E.S. lower Eastside Manhattan. That is why, I joined this forum. Is the closet I'll be to New York City. Onto this thread , there's a lot of speculation, questions and reasons why? Having a LFS it's a big risk and less not forget a large amount of capital investment especially in New York City. There are many buyers, that will always find something to complaint about a store, the fish looks poor, not enough livestock inventory, or the prices are too high. I'm not a business owner, a retired, who loves the hobby continuously for 15 years or more. Now we have many online stores, making it more difficult for the LFS. 90% online stores are home based. Regardless, all stores get they're livestock from the same distributors. So if you believe purchasing from an online store the quality is better all because the price is 10-15% cheaper it still adds up after you pay the shipping cost. Ecotech products are MAP so whoever sell there product is all the same price, whether online or at your LFS. I rather pickup mines at the LFS, support my sponsors the ones paying yearly fees on MR. Now you have many basement frag tanks selling corals, ok. I'm a firm believer there's nothing wrong with making a little money on the side. **** gotta pay the rent. But honestly, those selling a polyp for $750-$1000 they don't have an aquaculture certification, reseller tax certificate. Bet you don't probably don't pay member fees. I breed clownfish rarely new to breeding, I have an aquaculture certificate and reseller certificate in the state of Florida. I have sold clownfish at highest $75 per clownfish and my thread was deleted. Now I'm a born and raised American in the United States. Pay my taxes ad now retired at 62 years of age. There's nothing wrong with the hobby! Is these stealth sellers, selling these high-end corals out of their basement.
 

Thatguy96

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I'm all about supporting the LFS but I'm also all about making a few friends in the hobby you can trade with. I know this is tough for the newbies that are just starting to figure things out but the prices are pretty nuts fr corals these days!
 

Charley

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Here is one definition of a hobby from Wikipedia:

"A hobby is a regular activity done for enjoyment, typically during one's leisure time, not professionally and not for pay. Hobbies include collecting themed items and objects, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits, playing sports, or pursuing other amusements. Participation in hobbies encourages acquiring substantial skills and knowledge in that area. A list of hobbies changes with renewed interests and developing fashions, making it diverse and lengthy. Hobbies tend to follow trends in society, for example stamp collecting was popular during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as postal systems were the main means of communication, while video games are more popular nowadays following technological advances. The advancing production and technology of the nineteenth century provided workers with more availability in leisure time to engage in hobbies. Because of this, the efforts of people investing in hobbies has increased with time.

According to the serious leisure perspective, a hobby is an enduring serious leisure pursuit having no significant professional counterpart and being too poorly remunerated to constitute a livelihood.[1] Hobbyists are distinguished from Amateurs, who do have professional counterparts (e.g., professional actors, scientists, entertainers, athletes) and from specialized career volunteers with their interest in altruistically serving other people."

Most important are the first few words: A hobby is a regular activity done for enjoyment

LFS stores looking not so good, high prices of equipment, corals are one thing but I think most people leave in the end because the hobby is not enjoyable and expensive,

Just this weekend, my tank took an unexpected turn for the worst. For no apparent reason the breaker trip and the pumps shut off for a bit. I think I noticed this within a few hours or less, turned the pumps back on and all seemed ok. Starting the day after some SPS started to turn. 1 fish died and I am clueless as to why. So will do the needful: water changes, etc. This was a good year and a and half things going ok. Believe me, I wanted to leave the hobby. I will stick with it, but by no means is this fun, it is quite the opposite. So who needs a hobby like this where things can turn south so fast, the high costs, the responsibility to maintain to perfection and consistently. I did this to have a nice thing to look forward to after work not another burden and difficulty, pressure to maintain etc..

To me, this is the core of it.....if people were so enamored with our hobby they would stay in it........but it is in reality an extra burden and responsibility to an unacceptable extreme for a hobby that most people don't want. They want relaxation and fun.
 

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