It’s my great pleasure to bring you yet another interview with one of the aquarium world’s most well known authors/hobbyist. Mr. Bob Fenner is our guest this time around.
A little bit about our guest:
Here is a full bio of Bob Fenner found on Wet Web Media. And a brief excerpt from that bio…
Bob has “lived” the science, hobby and business of aquatics in the Philippines, Japan and United States. All phases; collector, wholesale, jobber, retail, design, construction and maintenance. All levels; manager, owner, hatchery worker, retail clerk, technician. Except for a stint teaching high school sciences for four years, he has worked all his life in the field of ornamental aquatics.
Academic experience includes fifteen years of college, a couple of life science degrees and a teaching credential for chemistry, physics and biology. Published works include several studies on aquatic biological and chemical questions, and an extensive book and article publishing (helped author a few books, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, Fishwatcher’s Guide to the Tropical Marine Aquarium Fishes of the World, Natural Marine Aquariums Reef Invertebrates…) and photographic background in aquatic industry and hobby fields. Have taught High School sciences and Marine Sciences and Aquariology courses at the State University, University of California levels.
And on to the questions…
AquaNerd: First of all, what have you been up to lately? Any new projects, presentations, etc?
Bob Fenner: Am out presently in Singapore, attending Aquarama… the industry trade show… off to a farm tour on the morrow… Just ahead of this was out in Sulawesi/Indo. with Rob Bray, friend who owns/runs “House of Fins” in Conn… diving, making pix… am writing more or less continuously… mostly independent submission articles for the pet-fish and dive-adventure genres… Two weeks back was in London, Ontario/Canada at the 50th anniversary gathering of the CAOAC giving pitches… on Candiru Catfishes (basically), FW Algae…. and chatting with many fine folk there including visitors/fellow presenters Heiko Bleher and Gary Lange… the week before that in Michigan giving some four pitches in three days!
AquaNerd: What possessed you to get started in this hobby?
Bob Fenner: Mmm, always have had a keen interest in the “real world”… including the biota… but being a child in Japan not many chances for much other than aquatics… so gravitated to their enjoyment, study… then later one of few jobs available was working in the trade… getting “warm fuzzies” (vs. “cold pricklies”) for doing well in the field, I continued in it on moving to the U.S., including having a service co. business with a friend in college and beyond
AquaNerd: Who (or what) has been your biggest inspiration? Who has been your biggest supporter?
Bob Fenner: Gosh… hard to state… overall… likely “nature” itself has been the
biggest… And support? No one single, large influence, but time to time
positive reinforcement from others, successes in keeping, culturing various
AquaNerd: What possessed you to pursue a career that is so closely tied to the aquarium industry? Also, can you tell us what exactly your “career” consists of?
Bob Fenner: More default likely than outright choice… Again, the sorts of paid work available was limited in my youth, circumstances… But in later teens, I did more consciously choose ornamental aquatics as a “career” path… as the activity, experiences greatly appealed to me… and I made the active decision to favour “fun” over likely to potential greater income streams… as the field encompassed many enjoyable side interests… Diving, photography, writing, chatting with friends, travel…
AquaNerd:Hhow many books/articles have you written, and which is your favorite or most helpful?
Bob Fenner: Mmm, some nine “books”, several hundred articles… likely the Conscientious Marine Aquarist as my fave… but I want to clearly state that there are easily a handful of other people who should get credit for its utility and beauty… for layout, photo-work, editing… This is the only work I have been involved w/ that has had more than “one edition”.
AquaNerd: What topic do you just love to talk about, more than all others?
Bob Fenner: … in a word, life… What is important, speculations on the nature of the truth… goodness, beauty, happiness
AquaNerd: What is your absolute favorite fish, coral, or invertebrate?
Bob Fenner: No one favorite… I have been amazed and entranced with all I’ve had occasion to experience
AquaNerd: What is your favorite aspect of the hobby?
Bob Fenner: Sharing it with others
AquaNerd: What are your thoughts on aquarium filtration? like which one is your favorite/most effective?
Bob Fenner: Likely refugiums… as they offer so much flexibility, stability, possibilities
AquaNerd: What has been your favorite and/or most useful piece of reefkeeping equipment?
Bob Fenner: My mind
AquaNerd: Where all do you or have you traveled, and what effect does this take on your personal aquariums?
Bob Fenner: I have been to all countries in the “new world”, most of Asia, not much of Europe or Africa. I mainly go “dive traveling” (and hashing) in the tropics… broadly twixt 20 degrees N. and S. latitude
AquaNerd: What other hobbies or activities do you partake of when not wrapped up in aquariums?
Bob Fenner: Gardening, hashing, cooking, reading… the biz of life
AquaNerd: What is the best source to learn about aquariums and corals?
Bob Fenner: Mmm, a mix of broad reading, visiting/chatting with others of similar mind, interests, goals… visiting natural environments
AquaNerd: In closing, what advice do you have for aspiring reefkeepers?
Bob Fenner: Keep an open, curious mind… Do bear in mind the possible good you can do via recording, reporting your experiences, observations… Consider culture… Share
AquaNerd: Thank you so much for your advice and contribution to the hobby. Best of luck with everything and thanks again.
Bob Fenner: Thank you Brandon. Bob Fenner