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FAQs on Aquatic Education

Related Articles:  An Education Submerged. Part 1: Culturing Veneration By Ryan Bowen, Editorial: The joy of fish clubs by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs:    Heteractis magnifica (Quoy & Gaimard 1833), the Magnificent Sea Anemone.

Aquaculture as a Career     9/19/14
Hello there crew,
I appreciate that you exist for questions. I have asked you many and you have always been helpful. It is time now that I ask you some questions that I have not yet had answered. I am very interested in learning more about aquaculture as a career. I am currently completing my BS in Biology and plan to attain a MS in Marine biology, I dream of getting a PhD in aquaculture. (it is strangely odd for me to type PhD, as I am accustomed to typing pH with the capitalization juxtaposed, but I digress.)
I have managed a saltwater retail store for a few years, did the ordering, maintained the systems, installed large commercial systems, managed several varying freshwater and marine ecosystems, maintained aquariums of clients.
I am really wanting to study ornamental aquaculture.
So my questions are these:
-What schools are recommended specifically for this type of study?
<Mmm; would have to search (on the Net likely) or ask around... of folks, friends actively/current in the field. But I will state that it's just as
if not more important that you ally yourself with specific people, graduate advisor who shares similar values, goals... and that you engender to have a deep and wide understanding of the field: Nutrition, disease, marketing, statistics, biology....>
-Do you know anyone who would be willing to guide me to a better understanding of my journey?
<Mmm; which part of the world do you live in, want to live in? I am hoping that Carol Cozzie-Schmarr of Ocean Rider (bcc'd here) will chime in>
Preferably with a PhD in aquaculture if there is someone.
-In the opinions of yourself and others you may know, is this a viable field of study? What are the career prospects and pay grades for someone in this field?
<Is a viable field; most places, positions not well-paying... even transient by and large... but better than years before. You may well have
to relocate... a few times over the years>
-It seems that permitting and regulations are the most difficult challenges for the persons who have shared with me thus far, what other issues consistently plague people in this career?
<Well; the search for "more standard" career... Companies, positions come and go. I STRONGLY encourage you to travel, visit places... Like the Big Island... NELHA/OTEC... Have been out last week visiting Bali Aquarich myself this last week... Bob Fenner>
Best regards,
Sophia Britt-Wessels
Biology, MTSU

On NPR, "Sixth-Grader's Science Project Catches Ecologists' Attention"; re: Pterois volitans, minimum salinity>    7/27/14
> Hello Bob,
> An interesting piece of work from a 6th grader.
> http://www.npr.org/2014/07/20/333192387/sixth-graders-science-fair-finding-shocks-ecologists
<Ah yes>
> The follow-up article is worth reading, too. As NPR have pointed out in their addendum, some lab work had already been done in this direction.
> http://absci.fiu.edu/2014/07/just-because-people-keep-asking/ >
> What’s interesting to me is that it supports something I’d read 20+ years ago (in the now defunct Aquarist & Pondkeeper magazine) about Pterois and Dendrochirus spp being found in estuaries in South/Southeast Asia, but not seen much reported in the aquarium literature. I’ve mentioned this online a few times but without experimental work to back it up, have never described these fish as truly euryhaline.>
> Overall a reminder that motivated aquarists can (and do) provide useful raw data and observations (breeding behaviour, intraspecific communication to name but two) for the wider ichthyological, biological community. One of relatively few scientific fields where this is the case.>
> Cheers, Neale
<Does bear sharing. Cheers, BobF>

Slightly different, peer review of college paper    2/5/13
Dear Crew,
I was wondering whom among your ranks had the highest degree?
<I think Neale (Monks) and Marco (Lichtenberger) have doctorates... don't know re the rest of the crew>
 I am currently writing a paper on the ecological importance of stony cnidarians vs. their soft-bodied cousins, and few of the resources for processing, and critiquing such types of papers are unreliable at my college. I want to ensure that my paper is completely correct in terms of physiology, and morphology of Cnidaria. I also am using both my old bio advisor, and a book entitled Invertebrates by Richard C. Brusca as points of reference.
<Ahh, an olde standard. I have a few editions>
 This paper is aimed at convincing those who know little to nothing about cnidarians, the fact that stony cnidarians are keystone species. I would also like to source WWM, and several of Bob Fenner's articles in my paper.
Would I be allowed to do this?
<Certainly. Am not familiar w/ the "how" of such citations, but most all my in-print work is in pulp 'zines (and books) that were "picked up" by citation services (BIOSIS, The Zool. Abstracts) over the years. That is, can be found, cited via computer search bibliographic tools>
 Could I entrust my paper to a highly educated member of the crew for review?
<Have bcc'd Neale and Marco here; up to them>
Considering I am miles from any coast, or marine program I don't trust my bio professors as much as I probably should on this one. If it would be bothersome to the members of the crew, than please just advise me on the correct citations needed.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Slightly different, peer review of college paper    2/6/13

I fear my knowledge on cnidarians is too limited to review papers on this subject, but I do wish you good luck and success with your paper.
In my opinion degrees are irrelevant here, you need someone, who works/worked on the specific topic for a proper review.
Cheers, Marco.
<Thank you Marco; and I agree. And will gladly look over Bryce's paper if he'd like. Bob Fenner>

Questions of new caliber (Bob?), higher ed. choices     10/13/12
Dear WWM,
I recently began to look more seriously at future goals, which in and of itself seems daunting, and concluded that I needed advice. I confronted my advisor about possible careers in the field of marine biology and received this response "Right now it is better for you to be focused on getting your bachelors, which is already biology. I do not believe that you are of an age that would mean you can seriously consider any sort of interest anything substantial for your future. Worry about that later, or Google something." I was somewhat less than thrilled by his response, and have started looking for a new advisor. My questions for you would be as follows: What are some careers in Marine Biology? What sort of degree would you recommend getting? Do you know of some internship possibilities that would be beneficial to partake in? I have decided to ask WWM because the amount of knowledge in taxonomy, chemistry, metabolisms, lighting factors suggests more than a GED level of knowledge, praying that I am right about this hunch. I realize that this is a slightly more intensive email than is probably received, and if you don't have the time to answer I understand, just please be considerate enough to let me know before deleting the email. Thank you for your time, and have a terrific day!
<Hello Bryce. I'm cc'ing Bob Fenner this reply, because he may want to chime in. But as someone who's been through the academic process (albeit starting out in marine zoology and ending up in palaeontology) my comments might be useful to you. Anyway, by far the single most important thing to understand about marine biology is that there are many, MANY graduates chasing a very small number of jobs. Indeed, this is one the basic facts about science across the board. So you need to work around making yourself as employable as possible. Remember that there will be lots of people applying for the post you're after, and that many of those people will be at least as well qualified and often happy to work longer hours (and more weekends) than you! As well as this, biology as a science has changed massively in the last 20-30 years. Where once marine biologists were experts on a kind of fish or the fauna of a certain area, modern "biologists" tend to be specialists in very specific areas, such as genetics or population modeling, and these fields require less interest in animals and more technical and mathematic skill. Fish taxonomists for example very, very rarely concentrate solely on things like bones and gill rakers as they did in the past; nowadays they may examine the physical attributes of the fish they study, but DNA from tiny samples taken from specimen fish is the primarily focus for devising new taxonomies. This doesn't necessarily mean such researchers never see whole fish -- in fact most will go on collecting trips periodically -- but much of their work is laboratory-based and highly mathematical. There's also much less security involved in being any kind of scientist than there was in the past. Tenured positions and permanent jobs are rare; young scientists especially will be reliant on grants and often end up moving city, even country, every 3-4 years when one grant dries up and they start out working on another in another institution. Hmm… what else? You ask about jobs. Most people who call themselves "marine biologists" will be working in quite practical fields, most commonly measuring things like water quality and fish populations, usually as part of a coastal resource institution or agency. (Yours truly had just such a job for a while, working for AURIS in Aberdeen.) Aquaculture can be a major employer too. These can be good, steady jobs, but the work itself won't be as varied as research. Hope this helps a bit, Neale.><<Well done Neale. B>>

Pharmacy Degree Question    1/5/12
<Hello Paige>
I created my own Pharmacy education site called http://www.pharmacydegrees.net
a personal project that I've finally gotten to a stage that is "presentable". I would like to submit my website for your review and inclusion in the resource section of your site:
I created http://www.pharmacydegrees.net as a resource for new college students to find in-depth and unbiased information about picking the right Pharmacy degree to fit their needs. I spent a good amount of time researching each school and providing information to find the best program to fit their needs. I'm hoping that after you take a look, you'll think its a valuable enough resource to include a link to my site in your list of resources.
<Will do here as well as in our educational section>

I'd appreciate the opportunity to answer any questions, or take any other steps in order to get my site's link listed.
Thank you for taking a look!
Paige Dagmar
<Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>

Marine Biology, life     9/27/11
Dear Mr. Fenner,
Hello again, sir. Bryan Clifford from Chicago(countless emails but none for a while as I have learned to navigate the sight <site, but a good homonym>
better, answers for everything!). As always I will start with a thank you for all of your hard-work and dedication, spreading the abundance of knowledge you and your crew possess. Your work has indeed enhanced my appreciation of the living world, made me want to share my knowledge with ALL I encounter and most certainly fostering the stewardship of our glorious planet.
<Wowzah! Great>
After much deliberation I believe the time is right for me to take the next path on my personal evolution as a hobbyist, a marine biologist. I was hoping maybe you could offer some of your world-famous advice! I live in Chicago as I have said. Would I be better suited moving to a coast and looking into being able to be "hands-on" with an ocean?
<Mmm, in two principal ways yes. First, to afford you further stimulus/momentum for your goals, and secondly to expand your contact base>
I understand you cannot make such drastic decisions for me
<Ah yes; only state, knowing what I know (which is decidedly not much about anything) what I would do given presumed and stated circumstances>
but your advice is greatly appreciated. I've read as much information as I ever have in my life. I am ready. I just turned 31 years old and if I do not do it now I'm not sure I ever will. I hope you are well wherever you may be at this time.
<Have been out in Fiji... in Labasa, Vanua Levu, the last month plus>
Thanks again to you and the crew for everything. I will look forward to future conversation!
<Indeed a pleasure and honour to consort w/ you; aid you in making such important life journey decision/s. I do hope/trust our paths will cross in future. If/when you're going to be in S. Cal., please do look me up. Bob Fenner>
Re: Marine Biology     9/27/11

As always Mr. Fenner your words flow fluently and effortlessly much like our worlds wondrous oceans. It appears I have much to do!
<Ahh, there is time>
What a joy this whole experience has been and willingly will continue to be for me. I am now consumed with the thought, knowing and not knowing what I do and do not, it is my responsibility to humbly share and hungrily search out information on our worlds oceans and inhabitants. I can say as honestly as I've ever uttered a drunken truth(for relation purposes Bob!) my journey begins now!
I will someday shake your hand sir and lift a glass sir, as I will make this journey a righteous one. After all that I've read I certainly feel like I know you much better then you know me(lucky you!). I will be in touch along this possess and keep you informed on my progress. Thanks again sir.
<A journey unfolds. Life to you my friend. BobF>
1st steps toward Marine Biology 10/20/11

Mr. Fenner,
<Hey Bryan>
How are you sir? Hope all is well if you're still in Fiji or wherever you may be!
<Am back, but badly sick. Thank you for your well wishes>
First of all, I feel like I know you so well and you have no idea about me. I've had the privilege of exchanging countless emails with you but as you do this so often I'm sure you get skewed from time to time.
A brief summary of some of our exchanges: 1) Bluespot Jawfish and their being a SUBTROPICAL species that should be bought and sold as such 2) The feeding requirements and necessities of ocean life including the HOME aquarium 3) The wherewithal to be a solid informed consumer e.g. CONSCIENTIOUS 4) For enhancing the appreciation of the living world, inspiring to share our experiences with others and fostering the stewardship of our GLORIOUS planet (Robert Fenner- The Conscientious Marine Aquarist) 5) And lastly of my decision to advance my hobby into a career with such minds as YOURS, Eric, Anthony, Julian and so many more wonderful scientists
<Mmm, well, Eric Borneman was studying to be a scientist. The rest of us... just common practitioners>
who have made it their own personal mission to ensure the survivability in both the home aquariums and wild reefs. I'm not sure if it is common practice but after said exchanges you've invited me on trips and to join your website. I do really appreciate the support you have given me over the years and honestly have you to thank for giving the abundance of knowledge that I do and mostly do NOT possess. I am but a grain of sand on this planet but if I can help in anyway it is my duty to follow through. I've studied many martial arts over the last fourteen years, love great jam music, even dabbled in some college football some years ago but most of all what has captured my heart/mind is the ocean and all of its beauty, wonder and danger. I wanted to fill you in on my current status. And again thank you for everything including taking your valuable time to help a prospective biologist like myself. I recently applied for a grant to attend college here in Chicago for my general education classes.
<Ah good>
I was hoping when I am a little closer you can help me with my decision of what four year University would suit my needs.
A little more background on myself is I am the proud Father of two beautiful children (Riley 5, Collin 3) which is why I want to stay here and get as many courses completed by the kids. I also just contacted a LFS to see if they wanted an extra enthusiastic hand. They told me they had a full staff even after I mentioned my desires and goals.
<Do keep asking... And do check in often w/ the Shedd re possibilities>
Was also hoping maybe I could use you as a recommendation.
<Go ahead>
You command respect in this industry and I have no problem being a Fenner minion if you will! I know you do not know me but after many exchanges I feel as if I do know you! I have you to thank sir for the final push of this journey beginning. Hope this finds you well and in great health. Look forward to hearing from you, our eventual raising of a glass and that handshake I vowed to receive!
<Cheers! Bob Fenner>
re: 1st steps toward Marine Biology 10/21/11

Thanks as always for such a timely response! I am awfully sorry to hear about you being sick and hope it's nothing serious. I do feel selfish even discussing my issues now. Alas here I go! Common practitioners is like saying Bruce Lee was just a martial artist!
<Indeed he was... a very good one>
Well I suppose this why I've been taught over and over, yet still apparently haven't learned, assumptions can't always be trusted.
<I'd add a note re the vagaries of language as well here>
I've assumed this because of the vast amounts of published works and resources you've all combined to share with the world. I didn't think there was such opportunity for non scientists.
<Mmm, actually... Let me offer a definition: science is a set of attitudes, methods, and facts derived from "scientific" process... of hypotheses and replicable testing... Knowing the folks you listed, including myself... we do not practice science. We do use other peoples' scientific results quite often. Most pet-fish writers (that I've met) are NOT scientists, though many of us: Charlie Delbeek, Jules, EricB, myself do have scientific degrees. Several do not, but have read/studied to understand>
To me it makes it that much more amazing at what you have and continue to accomplish. I now feel even more overwhelmed knowing this. I have to believe that this is my destiny, as all roads have led me here. I fear I might be biting off more then I can chew. I know you aren't here to help me alone and I apologize for taking up so much of your time already. I think I have to do a bit more research on you before I make any more "assumptions".
Hopefully then I can have a little more direction in what I am trying to accomplish. Which is in any way, shape or form to help save our wild reefs.
Feel better sir.
<Am trying to Bry... now taking other's Cipro! BobF>

Request for bg info for my Senior Thesis Project, Neale  12/27/10
Dear WWM Crew,
Hello my name is Theresa. I'm writing to you with, what I see as an unusual question. I'm currently doing background research for an experiment I will be performing on 9 Cortez Round Stingrays (Urobatus maculatus) and I'm having a very difficult time finding any information on them. My experiment will entail working with a local aquarium store's touch tank and the rays that are housed in it to find a diet that will allow for a healthier living experience.
<Quite a topic! How will you assess such... healthiness?>
This research will be my Senior Thesis for my undergraduate degree in Biology. I will be measuring Oxidative stress, Growth, Bacteria loads on the top and bottom of the rays and well as in their feces, behavior patterns and what they are eating.
Although I do already have a good amount of research done I was wondering if you have any peer reviewed research articles that might help me with background information and methods for measurement.
<I do not... but having taught H.S. to college level Bio. courses, and attended college myself for many years, and generating articles utilizing bibliographic searches... I am aware of how to go about looking up pertinent literature. Please read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm and the linked FAQs file above>
The two main sections that I need more information on is how I might measure oxidative stress without drawing blood and without stressing the rays out from transferring them into a holding tank and just the basic signs of an unhealthy ray.
<The first, not able to discern w/o manipulating the specimens... as far as I'm aware. The second; you'll have to do a bit of reading and develop a quantitative protocol... A random revisiting time-wise of observing the animals, counting aspects of their behavior you determine is "health" related. Further, do investigate common statistical methods for judging "confidence limits" on the significance of your findings>
Thanks for your time. Sincerely Theresa
<Am going to share your mail w/ (Dr.) Neale Monks, who helps out here as well, as he has more recently been involved w/ "doing" real science than I. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
<<Hello Theresa. As Bob says, there are a few issues here that will need further investigation. Measuring "healthiness" is always difficult and with fish tends to involve things like growth rate and fecundity, things of value in aquaculture but may not be practical here. There have been some nice works on Tetraodontiform fishes over recent years thanks to their value in genetic research, and like your Stingrays, these aren't easy to breed or as fast-growing as, say, cichlids or sunfish, so they're more challenging lab animals. Do review recent studies of Tetraodon nigroviridis and Takifugu spp. for example. An interesting and very readable paper is "Takifugu obscurus is a euryhaline Fugu species very close to Takifugu rubripes and suitable for studying osmoregulation" by Akira Kato et al. One very real problem you have is a small sample size; nine specimens may be too small a sample for your results to have statistical significance. In your case you might try to compensate for that by studying the animals across a long period, arguing that growth rate is sufficiently slow that it mightn't affect your results. If this was me, I'd be using something I could measure very simply, for example ventilation rate. I'd collect data at least twice per day, ideally at least once during the resting phase and once during the active phase. I'd collect data across several weeks, preferably 3-4 months. To ensure the data was reliable, I'd control other factors as far as practical: temperature and water chemistry/salinity especially. Obviously diet would need to be controlled too, because digestion will affect the rate at which oxygen is required, if only because fish can adjust activity rate depending on the availability of food in their environment. Alternatively you could measure swimming activity using a video camera to record the distances swum within a certain randomised period, such periods taken several times per day. I suppose it might be possible to measure oxygen concentration in the water, and if you know the oxygen concentration in the same tank without any fish, you might determine how much oxygen the rays were using. But honestly, I think variation in oxygen taken up by filter bacteria and other microbes would make this unworkable. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Request for bg info for my Senior Thesis Project, Neale   12/29/10

Dear Neale and Bob,
Thank you for the suggestions. I will assessing healthiness by looking at the oxidative stress, bacteria loads, and behavior. There are three articles done by Christina Semenuik that look at the effects of unnatural diets on Southern Rays at the Stingray City Sandbar in the Cayman islands.
These articles are really where I'm basing my study off of. Semenuik found that the fatty acid profiles of the unnatural diet was not providing the proper fatty acids to the rays, she also looked into the costs that the group living was having on the rays themselves, and the final study she did was on the hematological aspects such as immunosuppressants, oxidative stress, and general health. I am unable to draw the blood of the rays so I was hoping that looking at their ability to ward off bacteria during different diets would show basic health. Semenuik et al. found that the rays that were not only unnaturally grouped but also eating unnatural diets showed higher oxidative stress, lower general health and higher amounts of immunosuppressants. So going off of that if the rays exhibit higher levels of bacteria loads, and high levels of oxidative stress then the diet currently being fed to them is not providing the proper nutrients.
<I see. Sounds a worthy topic for investigation.>
The plan would be to study the rays once or twice a week for a month while on one diet then at the end of the month the diet would be changed (due to my distance from the study site and the fact that it is a store I would be unable to take measurements everyday). As far as I know the temperature, salinity and pH levels of the tank are controlled as much as possible (The rays are housed in a touch tank). What do you mean by "measure the ventilation"? Do you mean count the amount of times that the spiracles open?
<Yes, breathing rate in fish can be estimated by counting gill movements per minute or some similar measurement.>
Thank you for your time.
Articles by Semenuik et al.
"Using Fatty-Acid Profile Analysis as an Ecologic Indicator in the Management of Tourist Impacts on Marine Wildlife: A Case of Stingray-Feeding in the Caribbean" "Costs of group-living for a normally
solitary forager: effects of provisioning tourism on southern stingrays Dasyatis americana"
"Hematological differences between stingrays at tourist and non-visited sites suggest physiological costs of wildlife tourism"
<Would consider doing a pilot study on something smaller, easier, e.g., Mosquitofish that would allow easy measurements of growth rate and fecundity, and perhaps compare these against sampled gill ventilation rates. If you can establish that growth rate and fecundity go down as gill movements go up, i.e., the more stressed the fish is, the less rapidly it grows and breeds, you'd have some objective connection between breathing rate and the healthiness of the fish (assuming growth and fecundity are the same thing as healthiness). Or something along these lines anyway. Cheers, Neale.>

question...answers appreciated... School Sci. project   8/21/09
I realize that everyone here will probably laugh at me, and criticize the fact that I am going to create a science fair experiment with a marine fish tank;
<... Why would someone do this?>
but I know the basics of the tank and how most of it runs. I also have someone that is experience in set up, balancing and what I need in a tank to make it successful... matter of fact he's helped me quite a bit with this whole escapade my school calls a senior project....not to mention Mr. Fenner's book, Marine Aquarist, helped quite a bit in learning the components and the aquatic life.
Any ways... all I need from you are ideas.
What would be a good experiment to do on a marine fish tank?
Choices that I considered are:
dealing with lighting and algae growth; and if so what type of algae would be good to study on growth (the more I think about the types that would be good to use the more I get confused as to how I would set it up or explain it).
<Choose a species, genus of common use: Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha, Caulerpa...>
Also how
lighting affects its growth (primarily I was planning on using factors such as types of lighting-black lights, normal lights, florescent...-); or intensity of lighting or both. Alternatively, I could also do an experiment on the chemical balances of a fish tank and how to make the purest marine tank; <Purest? By what measure, measuring?>
considering of course the algae and fish/crustaceans put in the tank. The idea would be to somewhat simulate the ocean by adding different organisms to the tank at varying times,...of course making the precautions that the tank can handle said fish ( I know the point system). Another factor would be allowing enough time for the tank to stabilize after adding types of algae that may excrete or may absorb factors and/or components from the tank.
<A very complex possibility>
Just so you are aware: the tank will be less than 55gallons more around 30gallons to 45 gallons, I will have a sub pump along with basic filtration and needed lighting. I have yet to create the tank because I have yet to get everything approved but to do so I need to be able to explain the factors and fully understand what I am doing with my project.
<Yes; have devised a few such sci. project experiments myself and been a judge amongst many for the Greater San Diego Science Fair for years>
Google does not help me understand or pick a topic for my project because all Google is to me is a fact dump, I would rather take the opinions of experienced people rather than stumble upon misguiding, easily misinterpreted information.
I greatly thank you all for your consideration even if you choose not to help me.-Ashley-
<Mmm, perhaps a good idea/process for you to visit others projects and build your "question: modeled around their approach... Bob Fenner>

World Ocean Conference Manado Call for Papers on WOC 2009 Symposium  11/13/08 <Yeah Pete (Peter Rubec)! Just back from Manado today! Saw various signs re. Will post/share. Cheers, BobF> Dear Sir/Madam, Deadline for abstract submission of WOC (World Ocean Conference) symposium in Manado 2009 is extended until November 30, 2008. Information about symposium and the sessions, please see on our website; http://www.woc2009.org. The abstract submission for Coral Reef Management Session ( http://www.woc2009.org/symp_ses.php#9), please send to Ofri Johan, ofrijohan@cria.indosat.net.id and please indicate what kind of your presentation oral or poster. I would inform you that specially for national participant, the registration fee is free for presenter, Rp. 300.000 for public and Rp. 200.000 for student (S1,S2 &S3). Should you have any queries concerning submission of abstract, the symposium, and the conference, please do not hesitate to contact the Conference Secretary (http://www.woc2009.org) or alternatively you may contact me. Look forward to your active participation. Sincerely Yours, Ofri Johan, M.Si Organizing Committee Coral Reef Management, InternationalOceanScience, Technology and Policy Symposium, WorldOceanConference 2009, Present Address: Research Center for Aquaculture Agency for Marine and Fisheries Research Ministry of Marine Affair and Fisheries, Indonesia Jl. Ragunan 20, PS. Minggu, Jakarta Selatan, 12540. Indonesia Email: ofrijohan@cria.indosat.net.id,, ofrijohan@yahoo.com

Classroom resources   6/24/08 Hey Bob, <Ryan!> Thanks for coming to the PNWMAS meeting up in Portland last weekend. You're the biggest name and best presenter we've ever had! <Heeee! Please allow me to render the second half of the resp. to your question re whether the industry/dealers have been improving in recent years... compared to some years prev. In addn. to the stated "club effect" (really dissemination of useful information, letting on re businesses), I count the Net as being a substantial beneficial influence in alls effective knowledge, including the trade> I am the young guy who sat up in the front corner--the future teacher. <Ah, yes> I thought I'd ask you if you had any cool ideas for incorporating aquariums into classrooms. <Oh yes... most importantly, the orienting, choosing of students to investigate, direct/do such> I've done a bit of work here, (see http://www.uoregon.edu/%7Eoimb/Academics/GK12/aquariumlessons.html) for some. <Excellent indeed!> I'm also teaching physics, which I've never done and never been any good at. So if you have any pointers there....I'd love to hear them. <Oh, buoy! Most important to "inherit" the "hooks" (demo. gear) from some kind progenitor... or an extra open period (called diff. things... prep. basically) to gather, make these... Easier as the years wear on.> Anyway--thanks again, your style is great! I bet you were a great teacher. <Indeed... I do believe I was... Knew the material, how to present, evaluate the understanding, appreciation of it by the students. Had their best interests in mind... I do miss the "demand audience"... Heeeeee!> Ryan Lenz <Bob Fenner>

College  2/1/08 Hello, I have emailed you guys before about advice on some tanks and tank set-ups. But my issue here is that I am currently a high school senior and I am very interested in aquatic life, biology and anything to do with mainly aquariums. I was wondering if you guys could give me some advice and what I should study in college that relate to these topics because I would possibly like to do something of the sort with my life. I am more interested in work with aquariums and tanks. Just looking for some sort of input on this matter. Thanks, sorry if the questions a little out of the ordinary. <Do get your hands on a copy of Jay Hemdal's "Aquarium Careers" book: http://wetwebmedia.com/aqcareers.htm and read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/AqSciSubWebIndex/aqedfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Marine Biology Colleges   1/1/08 Dear Mr. Fenner <Josh> While this email has nothing to do with marine fish in the saltwater fish in the aquarium business, I am a student in high school looking for at marine biology as a major. I was wandering if there are any colleges/universities that you would recommend for marine biology. Thanks for your time, josh <Much to say here... Is there a particular field you hope to "end up in", or application (research, teaching, culture...) that you know/feel at this point? Very important to be looking for some appropriate institutions at this point/your age... as they do "fill up"... and often have limitations on "out of State" students... Have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/AqSciSubWebIndex/aqedfaqs.htm Please do... Do you intend to do some of your "lower" class work more locally? I do encourage this by and large... the Community/Junior Colleges are excellent in most places... a bargain economically, much more convenient, often a better education experience for the coursework... and you can actually see the campus from the parking lot! And it may be free to park!!! Please respond to the above questions and send back to me. Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine Biology Colleges  1/5/08 Mr. Fenner, Thank you for you quick response and guidance. I am at the point probably looking into the research field, but I ultimately have found I have found a new passion in marine mammals after a trip to Sea World and Discovery Cove, where I had the fortune to swim with the dolphins in Orlando Fl, <Neat animals... Tursiops> I do not plan on attending a community college near by (I'm live in Central Il) and my dad is not fond of community colleges so at this time I believe this would not be an option. <I see> I would like to go to a university that is located in Hawaii, California, or Florida. <All three States have excellent choices... I strongly encourage your visiting them...> But I am open to any other University that is known for their marine biology department. Thank you for your time, Josh <There are several such schools... Mmm, along with visiting, thinking about specialties, sub-specialties, it is a VERY good idea to seek out someone whom you identify with, think that you'd like to have as a "graduate advisor" in time. Do take a look at Rob Toonen's lab on Coconut Island, the University of Hawai'i for example. BobF>

2 very quick questions and then I have to join reality... JC Aquarium courses, degrees, Pangasiid ID, sick Echidna...  7/28/07 <Heeee! Definitions please> Thanks for your help! <Welcome> I have one more situation: I am very new to the marine world. I am taking a course in Aquarium Science at Oregon Coast Community College in Newport, Oregon (new program). <Neat! Have just perused this site... very exciting to realize such one and two year programs exist...> Question 1) Where do you get all your info? Do you all have years of experience, biology master degrees? <Mmm, many years of collecting aquarium literature, reading critically, writing (few processes make one learn better...), have an extensive pet-fish, fisheries, ichthyological library... Worked in the ornamental aquatics trade earnestly for decades... Do have many years of formal academic education, degrees in the life sciences... My brief bio. here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/bobfbio.htm> A few select books you rely heavily on? <Yikes... there are many... Ed Noga, Fish Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment seems pertinent here... the Modern Coral Reef Aquarium tomes by Fossa and Nilsen... Debelius Atlas series...> Question 2) My snowflake eel is bloated. Yesterday it happened. I watch this dude every day. I have read all the info and I am saddened to think that it is going to die. Yes it was eating guppies, our lionfish died two days ago (in a different tank). I am afraid we got some 'bad' fish, however the Pangasiid is doing very well. <Mmm, I see... this group/family is tough...> Could this be a possibility-the 'bad' guppies? Or is there something else going on? <Might well be related to something in/on the "feeders"...> The ell is still alive this morning. Thanks ever so much! Really! <You have read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snoflkeeldisfaqs.htm and the linked files above? Bob Fenner>

Marine Biology Courses (on-line)   6/18/07 Hello folks . being new to the hobby (but grew up on the water), and having now worked my 90gal reef for a while, I was searching for a "101" course designed For the home aquarist, not a college degree. Lots of what my friend Pete (a marine biologist) tells me gets somewhat lost, either by confusion or mostly by overload!. I have "Googled" my fingers off and can not find what I am looking for. I m sure if there is one, you all would know. Thanx for any pointers . Bruce <Mmm, the only such curriculum that comes to mind is the Advanced Aquarist Online "MACO" courses. I would Google this name. Bob Fenner>

Marine Biology Schools   3/1/07 Hello, Mr. Fenner and Company. I've got a question that has been on my mind for a while. I'm looking for some colleges that would be considered the "top" schools for marine biology/ecology. One school that I have looked at is UCSD in La Jolla, with its Scripps Institute (is this an oceanography or biology institute?). <The former... with four post graduate (doctoral) programs... Marine: Geology, Chemistry, Biology...: http://sio.ucsd.edu/> I just went to Birch Aquarium-it's a great place. <Mmm, yes... a public aquarium under the aegis of UCSD...> Anyhow, I was just trying to figure out what schools would provide the best education in the marine biology field, preferably   ones with doctorate programs. Thanks for the help! <There are actually quite a few schools of interest in the field... and more importantly, considerations as to where/how one should direct their efforts now, and as an undergraduate... For instance, it is a VERY good idea to attend a place that you are able to "learn maximally" as well as become familiar with people whom you hope to work with/for later... In topic/s that you have earnest interest in... I STRONGLY encourage you to "get out", visit these institutions, people... some are even "pet fish" types... e.g. Rob Toonen at the U. of Hawai'i... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqSciSubWebIndex/aqedfaqs.htm And let's chat further. Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine Biology Schools  3/1/07 I plan to do some traveling real soon.  My first thoughts for a marine education was the U of Washington, <A good school... esp. for fisheries> but from what i can see their marine science department is quite young, but growing.  U of Hawai'i really stands out as a choice that's very attractive, what with all the diversity of the ecosystems and such. <Also a fine choice> Miami seemed like a good choice too, but "learning maximally" as you said may not be possible there, I think the weather would do me in. <The humidity?> The link you referred me to had reference to some sort of "MSA camp"   that happens on Catalina-you wouldn't happen to know what MSA stands for, would you? <Mmm, no> The description of the camp sounded right up my alley. One last note, I lament the lack of a public aquarium near me to volunteer or work at. The closest one is Aquarium of the Pacific, but sadly, that's an hour plus drive away. Alas... <Perhaps some other exposure....? BobF>

Re: Marine Biology Schools   4/21/07 Hello again, Mr. Fenner.  I've just received a lot of new information on my future college choices for pursuing marine biology.  U of Washington stands out very much for undergraduate work---Seattle is my favorite city in the US and all the rain would make it so easy to study. <Well-stated> I was also recently recommended UC Santa Barbara.  The Hawai'i schools are still very much in consideration.  All these schools I am confidant in admission for---I have good grades and I play bassoon, a very uncommon instrument.  My new consideration is where I would like to go for graduate/doctorate work---and where my future intentions would be best cultivated. <You are wise to consider this... I want to encourage you to select a different locale than undergraduate school... for exposure to other folks, facilities, circumstances...> My first thought for doctorate work would be Scripps, <! A lofty goal indeed!> but I wonder if there are any such schools for doctorate work in Hawai'i; location near such a diverse ecosystem could only be beneficial. <Mmm... as you delve into your lower class studies, become more familiar with an actual field or fields... I would seek out information on folks who are involved in similar investigations... correspond with them... perhaps visit... Let this influence you> I do not see U of Washington as the optimal place to do my graduate work, as fishery science does not appeal to me as the reefs.  I got into this hobby because of my early exposure to the wonderful reefs of Maui, and they still never fail to amaze me.  My area of interest in the ocean is becoming rapidly conservational.  I would like future generations to be able and see the reefs, and I would like to help the effort against the destruction of the reefs.  I would like to have an understanding of the ecology and chemistry of the reefs, and I do not think that the focus in U of Washington is on ecology as much as it is on fishery science, but correct me if I'm wrong. <You and I's understandings are in agreement> I feel that Scripps may have a more tight focus on ecology and chemistry, and I know it is a nationally acclaimed institute.   <Mmm, yes... and very "high powered"... not so much of an interest in "outreach", practical issues if you will...> Your comments on my thoughts would be much appreciated.  Also, an area of my own curiosity---which branch of marine biology did you get your doctorate in? Thanks again for your time. <I have no doctorate... I worked on hormonal manipulation of Mullets (for reproduction/aquaculture) for my thesis... Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine Biology Schools   4/22/07 Ah, I did not know that about Scripps. I guess my search is on for a post-graduate program more focused on the conservation elements of this science.  Maybe this search will take me to another country? <Perhaps> I  would think that Australia would have some good schools for this, <Some excellent ones...> but I'll look further.  Thanks again for your help! <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Zebra Horn Shark (Heterodontus zebra)   12/14/06 Hey there! Thanks for the quick response and links! <Welcome> I still couldn't determine a suitable temperature for keeping the zebra horn shark. what would you say is the appropriate temp.? <The low to upper 70's F.> Also what size does this usually get in captivity? <Three feet, a meter or so> I am expecting no more than 4 feet maybe 5! <Yes... fishbase states 125 cm. as maximum length> Also do you have any tips on keeping these animals? <Mmm, myself... just what I have posted on WWM, our site> I research anything before purchasing or even accepting fish! <Good for you, the planet> I currently let them practically overrun my house with many tanks and different species! anyways I want to be responsible and care for them as best as I can! I want to become a marine Biologist and also wanted to ask you if you knew any good schools for this? <There are several... and other concerns rather than just academic excellence to determine which is "best" for you. Which part of the world do you live in?> I know I ask a lot but i really appreciate your time and patience with me! Thanks and much respect, Andre <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pet-fish formal education   12/14/06 I live in the U.S.A. in the south. I grew up In California but currently reside in Atlanta. I think there's a school in Savanna. But am not quite sure. I really enjoy this hobby and want to do it as a profession. What school do you recommend? How long is the average schooling for a Marine Biologist? thanks a million times. What would we do without you guys? Probably pull out our hairs trying to find answers. sincerely, Andre <Mmm... there are some folks I've met in your area... that work at the U. of Georgia as Bio. prof.s... I would definitely try locally first... for your undergraduate degree... Another strong suggestion is to volunteer at the fab. new Atlanta Aquarium... And I do encourage you to get involved with the local marine/reef club (some very nice folks there, and I do believe I'll be participating with next years Saltwater U. again with them...). Lastly, a suggestion to pick up, memorize Jay Hemdal's small book: "Aquarium Careers"... We'll be chatting, Bob Fenner> Question about Marine Career   8/17/06 Hello WWM Crew, <Nathan>             I am 20 years old and going into my junior year of Fresno State College in California. Right now my major is in business with an emphasis on real estate. <Good fields> My passion has always been with animals and over the past four years it seems to be with marine animals. I have been keeping reef tanks for about three years now. Although I like real estate, everybody says to follow your passion and do what you love, my passion being with animals. <Mmmmmm, please read/listen carefully... I too agree/d with this position... and hence went ahead with many years of formal education in the life sciences, principally organismal... But at the same time, fully realizing that I would/could not "get along" with a minimum of economic "freedom" (the capacity to choose what one wants to do...), sought the means to earn/save/invest enough to pursue "life appreciation" interests as well... Hence, I encourage you to read George Clason's "Richest Man In Babylon"... and formulate, regularly examine a "path" that will allow you both avenues as well... For me, it was saving 5-8 percent pre-tax income from working in the aquatic service industries (designing, installing and maintaining aquarium systems, ponds, lakes) in vehicles that gained faster than the gov't devalued the currency (mostly stocks and bonds), then real estate (starting in 1973)... I retired from much in the way of paying work in 94. Much, much we can chat re> Now I am looking into careers having to do with marine animals. I have been researching and I like the Aquarist type position (there are a lot of other positions related to this one that are also interesting).  So I guess my question is what should I do?? Should I switch my major to Marine Biology (which is not that great at Fresno State)? <A very good idea... to help you gain further insight, theoretical knowledge, socialize with folks of similar mind, goals...> Should I do Saddlebacks Community college Aquarist degree ( http://www.saddleback.cc.ca.us/faculty/janderson/MarineAquaProgram.html)? Should I just try and get a full time job at an aquarium (aquarium of the pacific, Long Beach has an open Aquarist position) or maybe at a fish business? Would the experience help more than the classes? <Both are strongly advised...> I would be fine moving down South, as I have a lot of family there. Maybe you have some other ideas? I'm also PADI certified. <Ahh, one good notion here... to plan at least one trip a calendar quarter... get out even for a long weekend... enjoying yourself... in different surroundings... diving, visiting public aquariums, aquaculture facilities...>   Any help would be appreciated. I need to make a decision soon so I don't continue to take and pay for business classes that I don't need. Thank you for taking time to read this. Hope to hear from you soon. -NN p.s. I know, check out Jay Hemdal's "Aquarium Careers". I'm working on it. Also, please feel free to ask me questions. <None for now... do keep your passing lanes open. Bob Fenner>

Public Aquariums... discover, discern your destiny, seek your path, become yourself   1/25/06 Hello, I love saltwater fish and love taking care of my little reef tank enough that I want to work in a public aquarium. <Think we all did at one time or another.> I'm 18 and a senior in high school and I'm starting to plan out pretty much the direction I want to take. What would you think would be the best step toward working in a public aquarium? I really like saltwater fish and reef type invertebrates but I don't really care much for penguins, seals etc. . There isn't an aquarium around here and the closest I could do would be work at Petco *gag* (One time they played with their sump and accidentally turned their tanks into freshwater overnight killing everything but a snowflake eel--probably fixed the ick problem though...) Anyhow, what would probably be the best thing right now? <I'm baffled...you want to work at a public aquarium but there are none around you. I don't know of any other options outside of working at "*gag*" Petco. The best step I guess is moving near one and submitting an application to them. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks <You're welcome><<I strongly encourage you to get/read Jay Hemdal's "Aquarium Careers" (review, link on WWM). Pursue your path, dream. RMF>> Why not just read the experts?   12/28/05 Hi guys, <Steve> My reading of most aquarists is the never ending trying this and that. <Human nature...> When it is all over seems like many leading aquarists come up with any number of conclusions and then they often decide maybe all the ways are somewhat good or even a mix.  When I read the marine biologists books on the reef hobby they say they know with out trying. <... don't know if I'm discerning your meaning here...> For instance just by knowing places a marine animal is most often found, they can  tell you what conditions are needed in the marine tank for that animal to survive and what part of its nature life span will be lost by not matching for instance a average temp from the places it is found. It seems like these guys have all the answers and most of them do not even have a reef tank. Are you guy's just rebels or is there more to it? Thanks, Steve   <It has been my experience that many folks with academic backgrounds in aquatic-related sciences have valid input, knowledge to share of husbandry matters... But the vast majority that have not actually been aquarists are often woefully, practically ignorant... not able to keep animals alive extent... Earnest aquarists in turn have much useful, applicable "scientific" knowledge re various chemical, physical, biological aspects. Science is more a way of knowing than a personal trait in my estimation... Bob Fenner, who is a bit of both>

Important discourse re career/s, life, pet-fishing 12/14/05 Bob, <Jeremy> In your book, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist," in the foreword is written: "To you, the aquarist.  May your brush with captive marine fishes and invertebrates enhance our appreciation of the living world, inspire you to share your experiences with others and foster stewardship of our planet." <Yes... an earnest desire/belief> Working in a civil engineering firm, I have taken that message seriously.  The motto here is that water will be this century's oil. <Interesting... and so> Currently, I work in the land development discipline planning and developing utilities for planned subdivisions and communities.  Lately, I have really started looking toward the environmental side of civil engineering as well as marine biology especially since Texas A&M-Galveston is little under an hour away from me.  Ever since I started this hobby, (about a year ago) more than anything it has made me appreciate the ocean and the balance that it has, since we take such measures to imitate such balance and stability in such small tanks. <An important issue that I appreciate as a benefit of the hobby/interest as well>   It really bothers me to see what is going on with pollutants and the fact that the engineering aspect only seeks the bare minimum as far as standards are concerned and that people couldn't eat the fish (if they wanted to) out of the surrounding water of most cities. <Mmm, not all folks have this minimalist/lower-est common denominator view you'll find> Houston is not alone.  I wouldn't dare use the immediate surrounding Gulf waters in my aquarium.  Also, I have been reading up on what is going on with the oceans and that it may be a big factor in what is causing such a hurricane spike in not only the quantity of storms, but the power these things have been generating lately while churning not too far away.  Scary stuff.   <Yes> Since you are knowledgeable and active in the marine biology field, do you have any advice on where I would start looking as far as pursuing this as a career as far as what to look for in a degree plan? <... A very important question... would/will need to know much re your background, value system, future goals/ambitions to render an opinion with much confidence> As much as I find the biology of marine life and pathology of diseases/treatments interesting (considering I have a tank full of crypt...), I think that I am looking for more along the way of preservation and environmental engineering, although I would consider a minor in the biology area.  Nemo and Dory are cool and all, but I don't want to be limited to just that.    <Indeed... do not limit yourself more than "natural" influences...> I will be going to go upstairs the environmental dept and talk to some of their people before too long as well.  Although I am only 25, the window of changing career and degree paths without turning my life upside down won't be open too much longer. <Good point> I take night classes at a local community college to get my core classes done and I am almost done there.  I will have to make a decision sometime next year.  I just received a packet from A&M-Galveston, so I will also be taking a quick visit out there for more info as well.  I am just looking for actual experiences and backgrounds so I have a better idea to know what to ask and what I am looking for when I get there.   I know you must get a ton of mail and I certainly do not want to add to any load or cause any unnecessary inconveniences, but any advice you have would be helpful.   Thanks, Jeremy <Am glad to proffer my input, share my help in your ongoing planning> Now I get to go home, take apart my LR formation and corral my fish into the sick tank!  Last night, I went ahead and added a nitrifying bacteria culture to the QT and wanted to let it settle overnight. <Good> The adventure never stops around here...  Other than the crypt outbreak, the tank is really nice when functioning properly.  Should be even better once I upgrade to a 180+ gallon size.  If it doesn't work out, I have friends with tanks that size who will take the imperator and possibly hippo tang. <Also good. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

A Question for Bob F, A personal sharing of job/life development, Emperor Angel sys.   12/8/06 Hey Bob, <Jeremy> Attached is an email that you responded to about a year ago. <Ah, yes. See, re-read> It is just now that enough has changed/happened for a worthwhile response.  A little over a month ago, I transferred upstairs to the environmental dept.  What I do is monitor the rainfall gauges and sample the water going through the storm lines.   <Interesting work...> The first time I went out in the field, I was conducting tests like Ammonia, pH, Chlorine, Copper, Fecal Bacteria, etc. and laughing to myself thinking about the aquarium and testing the water and how much I have already learned just by keeping a fish tank. <Yes>   When they tried to explain to me that the substance on a rock called Blue Green Algae is really bacteria called cyanoBACTERIA, I almost lost it.  My tank is finally rid of it too! <Good> I think I may have found what I am/was looking for (or at least on the right tracking to finding it) when I wrote you last December.  I asked you about Marine Biology.  For what it looks like, the major I was seeking was Environmental Biology / Conservation.  Any particular thoughts on this field? <A growing focus, need for general and specific understanding/progress> Some of the stuff I see out there is really something (in a negative way).  Sometimes just flat out insane...  At least now I feel like I am part of the solution.  I know I can't change the world, but I can do my part to help out.  It looks like I will be working upstream from you keeping as much crap from going into the ocean as I can.  I am starting on a project in the Port of Houston, so I will get a little bit of marine experience in.   I was in a wedding on the shore recently and I sampled some water.  Not during the ceremony, but afterwards and after I changed out of the tux. Just in case you were thinking otherwise...  I used some empty Ozarka bottles and people looked at me like I was crazy, but oh well. Surprisingly, it was ok.  The spg was at 1.021, pH at 8.2, Amm, Nitrite were at 0 and nitrate at 5.  What should I have been looking for in terms of pollutants that may have killed my fishes if I had dumped it in my tank?   <In the way of classes of chemicals? Metals, organic compounds of various sorts, saponifiers, pesticide residues... the topic is vast> I didn't want to risk it and dumped the water in the front lawn.  Are there any test kits I can buy from the LFS to test it? <Doubtful... Please see Hach, LaMotte websites... Perhaps Aquatic EcoSystems as well... Really, a trip to a/the library is in order here... CRC Press has some very good "standard works" on the topic of water quality...> Now on to other things.  Recently I wrote you about general advice in planning for a bigger tank.  Will an emperor angel really outgrow a 210 gallon system?  (If he does, he becomes dinner) <Yes, it really will> That's it for now.  Take care, Jeremy <I look forward to your further sharing of your unfolding (evolution in its true meaning) personally, career-wise. Bob Fenner>

Lingua Latina, H.S. education in the U.S.  11/14/05 Dear Mr. Fenner, <Michael> I have e-mailed you before many times for your expert advise. This e-mail, though, is of a different nature. I am fighting at my high school to have Latin courses offered. I would greatly appreciate if you, and/or any other scientist at WetWebMedia, could email me a letter to "To Who It May Concern" explaining either how having Latin in high school helped you in your career as a scientist, or would have helped you. Unfortunately my school's superintendent fails to see the importance of the language, so I am collecting letters from my peers at other high schools who are taking Latin courses as well as scientists of as many fields as possible. Thank you very much. Mike Bux <... as the saying goes, "How are you going to know where you're going if you don't know where you've been?". Latin for me was a very useful adjunct to other coursework for understanding word roots principally... Though like many young people I also had an avid interest in our (Western) heritage, including Roman. Understanding the "what" of things, even just to the point of knowing their names, is critical, ahead of further investigation. Most of the English lexicon is derived from Latin and Latinized terms... Especially if folks intend to continue in scientific or medical fields, a working use of Latin is useful... Bob Fenner> 

A Marine Fish Tank as Science Project Material  9/13/05 Dear Mr. Fenner (and anyone else reading this), I was wondering if you could offer some suggestions to me.  I am taking Biology Honors in high school.  One of the requirements for the class is to present a science fair project in the county science fair.  I want to do a project having to do with marine biology.  I have a 55 gal FOWLR and it has live sand too.  I was hoping to be able to do a project using it.  I have been thinking for a long time about what I could do, but nothing is coming to mind.  Since you are so knowledgeable on this topic, i was wondering if you could offer any suggestions of a project for me to do.  I would like one that would be impressive, yet one I would be able to do with what I have.  Any advise whatsoever would be most appreciated.  I've looked online at other suggestions, but they haven't been suitable for me. Please send this to anyone else you know that might be able to offer suggestions and advise. Thank you very much! Mike >>>Hello Mike, Science project huh? Well you could do a project on the Nitrogen cycle/nutrient breakdown and how the live sand facilitates this process. You could feature the annelids and other organisms that live in the sand bed and help this process along. You could do some  research, make some observations, and do a drawing of where the various organisms and bacteria are found in the sand bed. Depending on the fish present, you could do a project on territoriality, maybe territoriality in relation to water temps and how, or IF this effects the frequency of aggressive interactions. You could do a project on metabolism, food intake and growth rate at different temperature ranges. If you had a young pair of clowns, you could do a research project on hermaphroditism. If you had a pistol shrimp and appropriate goby you could demonstrate commensalism and associated behaviors. The fact is, you've given me absolutely ZERO information on the fish present, so I'm afraid I can't help you as well as I could otherwise. The possibilities are myriad, but you have to work within the constraints of what you've chosen to keep. Good luck Jim<<< Teaching?  9/10/05 I am in ocean city, maryland <... capitalized> I teach high school marine biology we always set up about 15-20 saltwater tanks:  blue crabs, fiddler, clams, whelks, oysters, minnows, etc. local animals from our bay and local fishermen or marinas I am looking for fact sheets on them including CARE-food-anatomy, habitat, behavior, reproduction, mating, etc any suggestions <... lesson plans, curricula...? Develop it, borrow it... does your school district have such?> do you KNOW WHERE I can find  powerpoints that  have already been made on line? for example--------Beginning of course: "what is marine biology" "careers in marine biology" <What? Write, make them... you'll actually (hopefully) learn the subject material... so you'll be capable of presenting it...> and then--any ppts on the other topics that would be included in marine bio or oceanography I do not want to reinvent the wheel if someone has already done them!! reatha tillman <Your name... proper nouns... capitalized... good gosh. Bob Fenner, former H.S. Biology, Physics, Chemistry teacher.> Skimmer Placement, Pet-Fish U. Hey Bob, First let me say what a great site this is, more information than one can ingest. <Mmm, "small bites, meals..." No need (I hope), reason to "over-eat"> Have read  " The Conscientious " from cover to cover about six times now, what a great piece of work, required reading for newbies like myself! I will be converting a 125 gal. tank from fresh to salt water, fish only. We have been using the Sealife Systems 200 wet/dry and overflow/prefilter and wish to continue with this. I will heed your advice and purchase an Aqua C EV 120 for the skimmer duties, now my question. Is it best to run this skimmer in the sump, drawing intake and exhausting water back into the sump, or can I draw raw water from my prefilter via 3/4 flex hose to the intake of the skimmer pump? <You can... and there is some small advantage here... in terms of "efficiency"... but to put or try to place this in perspective, there is more to be gained via regular maintenance...> I have read so many ideas on this site, that I am now confused. I know it's best to use unfiltered water to skim, so thought I might add a 3/4 barb to bottom of prefilter box and plumb direct to pump, with skimmer in sump; or should I just leave well enough alone and put the whole set-up in the sump and hope for the best! <This last is very likely what I would do> Just an afterthought, Bob, you should create a Saltwater University and hold a two week course, just for people like me. You'd make a fortune! Thanks for all your help, and wishes for continued success. <Thank you for your kind words, enthusiastic sharing. I have gotten past the need, desire for money, but do find merit in the idea of getting together, formal instruction and the fun I/we might have in such a setting. Bob Fenner>

"Ocean Camp" - Planning for the Future  Hi, My name is Alex and I live in Sacramento, CA. <<Hello Alex. I'm Marina, and I live just upcountry from you (up Hwy. 88). I have to go to Sacramento whenever I need to shop for anything more than eggs and beer... I'm JOKING! (But not about the shopping, it's dismal up here.)>> I'm 15 and trying to figure out a career choice to lean towards and am thinking marine biology (or of the sorts - dealing w/the ocean) or veterinarian. <<Fantastic! My kids just both turned 16 and aren't quite where you are yet, and they're MILES ahead of where I was at that age (thought I wanted to be a horse trainer). I'm going to suggest considering not just the life sciences, but also earth sciences - something like Marine Geology - the future in this is great (more so than the too-popular, dolphin-hugging and oh-so-typical Marine Bio majors), burgeoning prospects, and it overlaps with many other disciplines, such as marine archaeology, meteorology, energy exploration, etc. In other words, you would never want for work, and it would ALWAYS be fascinating.>> I currently own one 72 gal SW tank and a 50 gal FW with the financial help of my parents. <<Very good of them to help feed your brain that way.>> Anyways, my grandmother wants me to get into a camp that deals with the ocean. <<Oh! Is she buying? Sign me up, too, please.>> Just this past weekend I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium (no great white shark - though I saw 500lb tunas & Mahi-Mahi scramble for 140 lbs of squid!). I was wondering if anybody in the "crew" knows of any camps that might be of interest. Thank you very much! -Alex <<Didn't till I Googled, and I have some links for you. I hope you scuba, or might be willing/able to learn to scuba. Let's start with the Ocean Institute in Dana Point (near my old stomping grounds down south, Orange County area). I've purposely kept the links generally to California camps, though doing a general Google will "net" you national results.  http://www.ocean-institute.org/html/summer_camp.html  This from the Paytan Chemical Oceanography Lab: http://pangea.stanford.edu/research/paytanlab/outreach.html  Ever been to Catalina? It's a LOT of fun (gotta see the buffalo if you go, I've always had a BLAST there). http://www.mountainandsea.org/  Wanna hug dolphins (do watch out, young males can be especially aggressive, there's more stuff they don't tell you, but I don't want to upset your grandmother <wink>)? http://www.seacamp.com/  MORE camps (you didn't exactly expect this, did you, but hey...) http://www.guideddiscoveries.org/  (That "Tall Ship Camp" looks to be the shiznit - unless you get seasick like me, then get Transderm patches.) http://camppage.com/california.htm  http://www.mysummercamps.com/camps/Academic_and_Pre-College_Camps/Marine_Science/  http://www.longbeachmarineinst.com/education/secondary_science/teens.htm  Whatever you do decide upon, DO avoid "CYA Pine Grove Youth Authority". Very near me, and it's an "invitation ONLY" sort of "camp". Best of luck to you, Alex, and DO have fun! Marina>> 

Ocean Camp in California - Alex Picked Catalina Island Marina, Thank you SO much for the info on the camps. I have decided to do the http://www.mountainandsea.org camp. Just thought I'd let you know! -Alex <<Wow, Alex, I am so excited for you! (And the timing couldn't be better now that Sac is *really* starting to heat up, yeah?) I know you will love the island, and I think this will be the experience of a lifetime. Take lots of photos, and send us some follow-up, please. All my best to you, Alex. Marina>> 

Ocean Camp Was Great! (Late Reply)  10/6/05 Marina, <<Alex!>> I just got back from the MSA camp (July 10-15) and thought that I'd tell you about it. <<I/we appreciate the feedback.  My apologies for the late reply, I have been unable to participate in WWM as previously.>> It was awesome and I had a lot of fun. We camped at Two Harbors in Catalina, as well as ate there. There was about 40 boys/girls at the camp. The food was great (every breakfast / dinner) catered by the local restaurant. We had eggs, bacon, sausage, hamburgers, burritos, chicken, potato wedges, etc. Also, the snorkeling in the kelp forests' / beds was great. <<In my opinion, rivals coral reefs - except for the chilly part.>> The typical day was wake up at 7:00 AM, eat, drive / kayak to snorkel spot, eat lunch, snorkel, come back, do skill session (either sailing, fishing, or dance) / play at beach, eat dinner, shower, campfire. Bedtime was at 10:00 PM. I also opted to do the SCUBA diving. It was a 1-tank dive run by a dive shop in Avalon. It was my first SCUBA experience and I really enjoyed it, but, I do not think it was worth the $125. The staff at the dive shop didn't seem very enthusiastic about anything and we (the 5 campers that went) thought that they were rude. <<Sorry to hear that, they have a duty, in my opinion, to *everyone* to be friendly and helpful.  Not all dive shops are like that.>> But, nonetheless I enjoyed the dive - especially being able to touch and get close to a huge black sea bass (over 5 ft long and about 350 lbs). <<HOLEY CANOLI!  I'm glad it didn't think you might be tasty.>> The snorkeling was also amazing. I saw hundreds of Garibaldi, but the most numerous fish was the kelp bass. I also saw 5 adult bat rays, and some sort of round ray (about 1 ft diameter?). In fact, on the last day we went to a mud flat a waded out about knee deep in the muddy bay while dragging a net, and when we brought it back on shore we had caught 10 of these rays! <<Sounds like we need an old friend of mine, Matt Moreno, who now teaches Marine Bio to high school students in L.A.>> I would definitely recommend the camp to anybody interested in science and would also go back myself. -Alex <<Alex, that is fantastic.  I'm very glad I was able to help, and that it led to an experience of a lifetime (unless you're hooked for life and end up like Bob - permanently pruned fingers).  Your friend, Marina.>> PS - I am resending this because I never got a reply. Since the camp, I have become SCUBA certified (Actually, just a few hours ago I was in Laguna beach practicing buddy breathing, octo ascents, etc.). I have pics from camp if you want me to send them. Later <<I'm really sorry for not getting back to you, life has turned our lives upside down and net access was touchy for a while there.   But oh HECK YEAH we like piccies, for sure!!  How'd you like diving Laguna?  When I dove the place it was in February many years ago.  Big surf (7'+), c-c-c-cold water (>55F), and lotsa swell (thank you, Western Medicine, for Transderm!).  But it was gorgeous and exciting and SO very worth it.  Our family is planning on getting 7mm suits for whoever wants to give it a try (can't forget hoods, gloves and booties) as we haven't been diving since Bali last year.>>

Conscientious Comment 3.15.05 Bob, Great issue this month. Please forward this message to Ryan Bowen concerning his article about aquarium education. <Jim, Ryan here today!> First of all, I enjoyed reading your article. I have been teaching my son's 4th grade class about aquariums by setting up a freshwater planted aquarium in their classroom. I go in once a week on my lunch break and combine blackboard education with hands on. I got some ideas from the Tetra Aquademics program, but have pretty much followed my own curriculum. <Fantastic! I'd love to run a few things by you for the next piece.> I'd be interested in sharing my experiences with you, as well as assisting you with the development of a more formal curriculum. I plan on continuing this program next year, and have support from our LFS. I'm also considering setting up a larger aquarium in the lobby of the school and soliciting some of the kids from this year to help set up and maintain it. <Jim, look for another message in your inbox from my personal email...I would certainly love to continue this offline. Until then, Ryan> 

School for marine bio. career and Bamboo Sharks Hello crew!  Just wanted to say that I am a  huge fan and read the site and your books daily.  The service you provide  is invaluable to me and many, many others.  Thank you. <Wowzah!>     Now for the questions:   First, I am going to enroll in college in the coming semester and plan on taking biology, and any chemistry that is required to get into marine  biology.   <Take as much of this field as you can> Basically, I want to work with all sorts of marine life whether  it be feeding, training, or doctoring etc.  My question for you is,   will marine biology credits get me into this type of work? <Mmm, yes... but other factors, experiences are just as important... Your personal attitude, personality/people skills, your practical experience (apply, volunteer often and wide to garner relations, knowledge, breadth... to public aquariums, the pet-fish industry, learning institutions... try to get jobs that are related...)...> If not, what  other education or credentials am I gonna need?  I realize a veterinarian  degree isn't something I can do overnight and I'm already twenty four, but  it's never too late to follow your dreams. <Never. We are them to a large extent.>   Any info or website's  would be cool. Secondly, I have been planning a shark tank for quite some time now, and I am finally gonna have the space and money to do it.  Here are my  plans, Dimensions: 8' long, 4' wide, and 2' tall.  My calculations  make this a 420 gal.?   <Let's see... eight times four times 2 is 64... and there are about 7.5 gallons per cubic foot... this is about right> I believe I am finally settled on the  livestock.  This is going to be a dedicated shark tank with the showcase  being two Brownbanded Bamboo's and probably a school of very small, (but fast)  fish for movement and color.  I haven't decided what species yet.....any  suggestions? <Maybe a grouping of one of the more social tangs... with a hump of live rock in the middle...>   My question is that I know that the maximum size for this  shark is just under four feet, but, in captivity, or rather my system, will  they reach this size? <Eventually at least near three feet> I am wondering because I don't want an empty looking  tank and planned the tank size for their maximum size.     Once again thank you, and I will be talking to you  guys soon!  Mike <Keep dreaming, planning my friend... applying yourself. Bob Fenner>

Education ideas Our club has been asked to come up with an education program for kids kindergarten through fourth grade in exchange for a room to hold our meetings. <A good deal!> I was hoping you could give us some ideas as to what we could do.  We are going to put in a reef tank but would like to do something more.  Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Tom Stange Vise-President CTARS <Mmm, artwork is always inspirational... perhaps photos of the members tanks... saving up, preserving lost specimens in jars could be very useful... Taking the time to visit, present simple programs to the children there is likely the very best influence. Bob Fenner> Getting into the hobby I have a Black Ghost Knifefish (4.5") that I suspect has ich or velvet because I see a light (dull white) flour-like  on one part of his body. He also has it under his gill area, his head stripe is also yellow? Is this Ich or Velvet?  < Probably ich.> His tank-mates are an angel and a gourami at the moment. How long does it take them to grow to their final height? < Growth rates are dependent on temp. food and the cleanliness of the tank. The higher the water temp , the better the food and the cleaner the tank the better. About two years with every thing being perfect.> How long should I wait to upgrade from a 29 to a 55 gallon tank. < When the nitrates exceed 25 ppm and you can't keep them under that number with a normal water change and weekly maintenance.> I also have a  common silver angel that's tail fin is torn, I suspect a newly added Blue Gourami did it, will he be fine or is medication needed? < In nature the tail fins are often nipped or torn. Watch for bacterial infections and treat with Nitrofurazone if needed.> I'm curious, how long do fish live without water? < Not long depending on the species.> Also my Birthday is coming up (12/25 how exciting for me) and I am trying to persuade my parents to buy me a 65 gallon tank to start my first saltwater tank. Do you know any words that can help me convince them, because I love fish and I always wanted my own saltwater tank? < Instead of a tank ask for a good book on saltwater fish and read it all the time. I bet when your parents see you reading this book all the time they will be happy to get you that tank down the road when you are ready.-Chuck> I mean this is my only hobby and I also want to become a Marine biologist (will be taking a marine biology class in my senior year of high school which is in 2 years) Can you help me with everything listed above? Thank You and Happy Holidays < I still recommend you try and accumulate a good aquatic library and join a local or national club so that you can learn from others in your area. There may even be a marine biologist in the club. Who knows?-Chuck> Sharks and School Dear Bob I was wondering if you know of any good colleges that have good aquatic programs (sharks and diving and stuff like that) since I will be needing to go to college in a few years. <Best to check with the various BB's here. Ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ re "where it's at"... Do look for and read Jay Hemdal's "Aquarium Careers" book as well... excellent> Also do you think I would be able to find a job at an aquarium like maybe the one in Baltimore and do stuff w/ the sharks there or something. <Yes. Best to ask about volunteering at a close-by institution (a very common "in" to later paying jobs)> And if you think it would be hard to get one there do you know anything that might help me to get one there.  I'm already thinking about getting a shark in a few months. <Have you perused Scott Michael's re-do of his "Aquarium Sharks and Rays" book? Please take a look at this (available through Seachallengers.com). Bob Fenner> thanks in advance Adam

Eckerd College Student 6/20/03 Ian, I was just reading the WWM crew page. I haven't visited it in several years, back when I used to send Bob reams of questions. I read that you were interested in Eckerd College. I'm currently working on my degree on Marine Science/Marine Chemistry at Eckerd. If you have any questions about the school, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at maupincr@eckerd.edu or chris@mote.org. <Thanks for the offer Chris, I will probably be applying this winter to Eckerd (Will be a senior in HS this year!). If I have any questions I will make sure I ask you first. Good luck, IanB> Best, Chris PS, Hi Bob <Howdy, Bob F> Chris Maupin Natural Sciences Collegium

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