New (er)! Spiffier Bio:
The diversity of life has always fascinated me; but
the systematics of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians was blown
away by the expansiveness and degree of unknown of the fishes. Few
people had "companion animals" overseas, but many friends had
bowls and aquariums with goldfish, guppies and other tropicals.
Back to the U.S. in the late sixties I stuck to the trade as a retail clerk, a livestock wholesale worker (for Pratt's in San Diego), and eventually formed an aquarium service business with a school friend. This business cycled larger and smaller, and supported me all through college and beyond. It eventually became an employee-owned corporation with aquaristic retail outlets, fabrication (principally large acrylic systems), water feature construction, manufacturing and distribution divisions. Subsequent to the tax law changes, water-shortage "scare", and general decline in the California and U.S. economy in the late eighties these businesses were sold and liquidated. I worked for three years as a consultant and buyer for the mass-merchandiser PetCo in their bid to upgrade their stores, incorporating livestock.
Is there a difference between what you do for money and for a living? Not me. Nowadays I write articles and books for the diving/underwater natural history and ornamental aquatics interests, and manage my rentals and securities. I browse the electronic bulletin boards to "chat" with others daily, and often travel, to go "hashing" (sort of running), writing and photographing with friends around the world.
Have been an avid hobbyist since first memories. Active in the local SDTFS from the sixties; helped in development of all three goldfish/koi clubs in San Diego. At times more active in scientific (AVMA, IAAAM, ASIH) and industry professional/business associations.
Have many wonderful friends in the hobby, trade and science of aquatics, and dearly enjoy my involvement; it is my life's work and passion. A/The central thread to everything I have attempted in writing, presentation or action in the interest has been/is "to enhance peoples love of their own lives through an appreciation of the living world". I see the hobby/business evolving, much like and approaching western Europe, with a real interest in biotopes, the underlying science, understanding the technologies employed... This is an era of consumer awareness; there are less aquarists, but more conscientious ones that are becoming more aware and demanding value. I look forward to the availability of many more species of tank-raised marines, real aquatic plants, and ready, inexpensive access to useful information and graphics.
Robert (Bob) Fenner is a content provider to the pet-fish (ornamental) aquatics hobby and trade, dive/travel adventure and underwater natural history genres; writing, photography and videography. Though retired since 1994, he continues to produce in this field as well as consult on aquaculture and public aquarium installations.
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.
Bob has been an avid aquatic hobbyist since day one and is active in hobbyist and scientific organizations. He has served on numerous Boards, judged shows and given many programs.
Helped form and run (President) of the employee-owned corporation, Nature Etc., Inc. in San Diego, started in 1973; a turn-key operation in the field of ornamental aquatics, designing and building ponds, lakes, fountains and waterfalls (Aquatic Environments), designing, installing custom aquarium systems and maintenance (Aquatic Life Services), and operating retail outlets (Wet Pets).... currently does consulting, content provision to the trade, sciences and hobby of aquaristics.
Topics for presentation to hobbyist groups include subjects in system design, construction, set-up; livestock selection, collection, acclimation, health, nutrition, travelogues to many countries, photography, videography, making money in the interest.
MASC Science Fair 2012 11/19/11
Question for Bob Fenner 10/12/10
Bob Fenner Interview 5/28/2009
Re: Bob Fenner Interview 5-30-3009
Re: Bob Fenner Interview 6/1/2009
Happy Birthday! 8/23/08 Happy Birthday Bob! Don't ever get old! :-) -Sara M. <Heeee! No way! BobF>
Happy Birthday Bob 8/24/08 Bob, I just wanted to say "Happy Birthday"! Thank you for another excellent and informative year and I'm sure that there will be many more to come. God Bless! Joe W. Wichita, KS <Thank you my friend. BobF>
Give the Puffer a Beer! 8/23/2008 Hello Crew, I would like to thank everyone involved for an excellent job of education administered daily. Just wanted the wish the big cheese a Happy Birthday and was wondering how the crew was going to help him celebrate the big day. All the best Bob, enjoy! Tom <Thanks Tom... am very glad to be "on the right side of the lawn". Cheers! Bob Fenner>
RMF Birthday wishes 8/23 Hello crew, Thank you to everyone involved that makes WWM the finest education to this hobby. As an avid reader of the dailies, I did not want this day to pass without any mention of a Happy Birthday wish to Bob. Happy Birthday Bob! <Danke!> I owe you a beer for all your help. <I'm there!> (If for some reason I have your birthday on the wrong day, then I owe you numerous beers until I use the search engine to find the real date!) Tom C <Thanks Tom... tis today... Man, if 55 is considered middle-age, does that mean I'll live till 110? BobF>
Fenner Speaking Availability 6/20/07 Hey Bob, Do you happen to have any plans for the weekends of July 7th, July 14th or July 21st? I know it is short notice, but I am getting requests for this date and you are at the top of the list. Regards, Kim Lowe MARSH <Hi Kim! Unfortunately bz on these days... the HHH Red Dress Run cooking the first date, out to HI the others! Wish you were on the itinerary! Cheers, BobF> Forward to Bob Please 6/19/07 Could you forward the following to Bob Fenner please, for his email does not work. <Really? Only have the one... Where did you try to send to?> Thanks! Kind sir, <Nathan> My name is Nathan Nehoraoff, I am 17 years of age and just finished high school. I am contacting you today in regards to my brother. He is a UC Berkley graduate and is quite the aquarist. Whenever he has free time he's always browsing WetWebMedia and quoting you, Mr. Fenner. <Heeee!> Anyway, his birthday is coming up (August 16th) and rather than getting him the usual card and giving him money in it I was wondering if I could possibly purchase one of your books off you, and have you sign it? I will pay for the book, as well as your autograph and shipping. <Sure. Will ask the boss (Diana, wife) as she is the "keeper of the kingdom" (owns all the copies here)> He lives in La Jolla, and I in Del Mar. <Oh! And we live in "East La Jolla"... okay, Mira Mesa... quite hot today eh?> Thanks a lot, Nathan N. <Welcome my young friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: Forward to Bob Please 6/19/07 Thanks a lot for the quick reply it is greatly appreciated, Mr. Fenner! I got your email off of your biography (BobFenner@wetwebmedia.com<BobFenner@wetwebmedia.com>). The url is http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/bobfbio.htm <Ah, thank you. We've recently switched mailservers (and ISPs period) and haven't gotten around to figuring how to add the old email addresses as yet> Sounds great Mr Fenner. Let me know if that goes well :P Hopefully it does! <Will do> East La Jolla, eah? I don't know about you two, but I love these summer days :P Have you been to the beach lately? It's quite a shock going in the water at first because it's so cold, but once you get used to it it's truly worth it! <Ah, yes... Have lived in SD since the late sixties... Many happy times along and in our 72 miles of beaches> Mr. Fenner, you're my brothers Brad Pitt... <Haaaaa! When do I get to go out with Jenn Aniston... and... with that Tomb Raider gal?!> A great many people believe Brad Pitt is a great actor, and would love to get his autograph. You're just the same Mr. Fenner, just a different line of work. <I see... and thank you> Feel free to forward the latter to your wife :P Maybe she'll slightly forgive you for all the time spent on the computer responding to Wet Web Media articles rather than spending it with her. <A good idea!> Have a great day, Nathan N. <Thank you again Nathan. Bob Fenner>
Re: Please help, Leaf Scorpionfish has gotten worse 9/30/06 Thank you, I will do so now. Got to love the folks at the LFS who pretend they know what they are talking about. Adam <I was one of those/these for twenty some years... over time, it did dawn on me... I knew/know squat whale oh! Cheers, BobF>
Speaking schedule for 2006??? 1/17/06 Bob, <Scott> Just curious if you are still speaking at clubs these days and if so what is your schedule for 2006? <Am about all topped off thus far. Have a few hobby club pitches and some of the "club of club" do's... and regional conferences... that and some industry and scientific gatherings, a few scuba/dive adventure trips... and the year is gone! Thank goodness I don't have a day job> Yeah, I know you've busy (and will being seeing you at WMC2006 in SAC) but hey you're a high-energy guy! We are a new club in Northern California (specifically in the San Joaquin County which is near Stockton/Sacramento) and have had local talent speak at our club but would like to bring bigger names; so, we thought of you. <grin> <Heeee!> The first time I heard you speak was at the 2000 WMC in Sacramento, <Ooooh, what a good time. Is coming about again... in April> then again when SEABay (when I was sort of part of the board at the time ) when we hosted the WMC 2001 in Monterrey. <Oh yes> I've always enjoyed your broad knowledge (photography, fish, filtration, etc) and your enthusiasm (speaking ability and all that). <Okay, I will co-sign that loan application> Finally my wife gets the house of her dreams! Can't wait to tell her! Let me know if speaking at a tiny, start-up club in Northern California is within the realm of possibilities. Thanks! <Please make your dates/times of meeting known... Maybe 07 will work out for all... See you about! Bob Fenner> We've switched to bi-monthly meetings (last Saturday of the month) so here's what we have for 2007. Feb 24th Apr 28th Jun 30th Aug 25th Oct 27th Dec 15th Scott Noack VP of Northern Valley Reefers http://www.nvreefers.org <Scotter, have run out of time, inclination for more obligations for 06... Can/could we revisit this all later in the year for 07 possibly? Alternatively, if you, others in your club would like to come out on some dive/adventure travels with myself (most are posted on WWM, others I'll just go do with you/rs if/when you have time/interest), other friends, you're welcome to do so. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Congratulations - 12/11/2005 Just wanted to say congratulations to Mr. Fenner for winning the MASNA Award. Well deserved in my opinion. Tom <Thank you Tom... recognition from ones friends, peers, industry-types is very gratifying. Glad to find that folks find ones efforts of use. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Happy birthday to you Bob!!! We noticed that it was your birthday today when we went to the question page, and wanted to tell you happy birthday and hope you have a wonderful day.... thanks so much for all of the info that you have to offer. Mark and Marci =) <Thank you my friends... now, about the next fifty years... Bob Fenner>
Re: Speaker Blurb (for upcoming MACNA in Baltimore) <Man is this me? Can you come along next time I'm out begging at the banks? How 'bout St. Pete's gate? Bob "Glows in the dark" Fenner" Bob, Please look over and let me know James ---------- Robert M. Fenner "Sources of Mortality on the World's Reefs: How Important is the Aquarium Hobby?" Are collectors for the aquarium trade the "defilers of nature" and "raiders of the reef" that some critics claim? A former marine livestock collector, underwater photographer, and advocate of responsible aquarium keeping takes an objective--and introspective--look at the how the majority of aquatic life meets its fate in and out of the world's seas. What types and degrees of mortality are due to human activity, including ornamental aquatics? Bob Fenner is a marine biologist, former science teacher, and a leading proponent for the sustainable collection, sale, and keeping of reef organisms. His professional experience encompasses livestock collection, wholesaling, as well as aquatic retail, design, construction and maintenance as a manager, owner, hatchery worker, retail clerk, technician, and consultant. He is the author of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist (Microcosm). Bob lives in San Diego, California, and is active disseminating aquatic information via wetwebmedia.com.
The Many Talented Robert M. Fenner
Richard F. Stratton
You would think that after nearly six decades in the fish hobby that I would be tough to stump, but that is hardly the case. The fortunate thing is that I have an ace in the hole. Living in the same town with me, even if he is half an hour away, is Robert M. Fenner. I can always call him in regard to aquaristic problems that have me stymied, and I have yet to stump him. That is partly understandable because Bob is a smart guy, and he has spent almost as much time in the aquarium hobby as I have.
Since Bob is twenty years younger than me, he can't match me on time of experience, but his variety and full-time devotion to the aquarium trade has given him a most decided edge. Besides that, he has taught biology and even aquarium science at the college level. Perhaps it is not so surprising that he is a veritable cornucopia of information. The reader will understand better once I give the full range of his experience.
Most hobbyists know of Bob from his book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, a book that I consider a candidate for the best book on the marine hobby ever written. I am not alone in my praise for this book. It is typical Fenner, bristling with information in easy-to-understand terminology. While you may have read his fish books, one of them is of the type that you might not think would originate with him. That would be his book on sushi bar etiquette called, If you Knew Sushi like I Know Sushi. As it turns out, in addition to his other talents, Bob is an accomplished chef.
I have noticed that whenever I visit the Fenner domicile, I not only learn about new developments in the aquarium field, I also get information about real estate or low-flush toilets. Burning with energy and enthusiasm, Bob has about fifty rental houses in the area, and he takes care of most of the maintenance himself. Although he has been married for ten years to the beautiful Diana Fenner, he takes care of the cooking and housework himself, enjoying his own vacuuming and yard work. When Bob does hire on help, though, he apparently goes first class, as the last time I was over there, the gardener had a law degree!
A skilled fish and underwater photographer, Bob is almost as well known for his photographs as for his writing. And the man actually understands computers and all the peripherals that go with them! This is the type of thing that only teenagers and very young nerds are supposed to know! I stand in awe of his skill in this area alone--and I know where to go if my computer crashes!
The source of some of Bob's skills will become apparent in the telling of his life story. Born in Rhode Island, Bob was the son of a career navy plumber. When he was eleven years old, his family moved to Japan for three years. While there, Bob got a job in a strange type of establishment that was sort of a combination restaurant and aquarium shop. Bob had already taken an interest in fish as practically a toddler when he acquired some guppies. He learned to accommodate his growing collection by use of the old time large-mouth pickle jars. Obviously, Bob gained some knowledge about cooking and fish keeping from the aforementioned establishment, but his first job at a bona fide fish shop assigned him to the duties of changing betta bowls. The crew mixed their own malachite green solutions for cleaning the bowls. One time they miscalculated and produced too strong a solution, whose residue killed all the bettas. But Bob learned from his mistakes and went on to jobs in fish shops and aquarium maintenance.
During a stint in the Philippines, Bob worked for the famed fish exporter Earl Kennedy. Although primarily assigned to packaging and shipping, Bob also collected marine tropicals from the coral reefs. Having survived learning scuba diving, on his own, by trial and error, Bob later attained advanced certification at the YMCA scuba program.
Winding up eventually in San Diego, Bob worked at various aquarium shops and pond maintenance facilities while attending school. Mullet physiology, of all things, was Bob's thesis on his way to attaining an advanced degree in marine biology. He later taught high school chemistry, biology, and physics. And, as a matter of fact, his countenance has a certain resemblance to famed physicist Richard Feynman, to my perception, at least. I told Bob about that, and he took it as a compliment--as he should, of course! Although I count Bob as a much-valued friend, I haven't known him long, as we seem to accidentally have evaded one another, even though we belonged to the same clubs and even spoke at some of the same groups. A 'sliding doors' type of coincidence kept us from meeting one another, although I would occasionally hear about him, and I read his writings, of course. I do recall that we met casually at a local marine group and chatted for a bit a couple of decades ago. But it was not until famed explorer and fish collector Ross Socolof sent me an inquiry about him that Bob and I really made close connection
Because most of Bob's writings have been about marine life, few people are aware that he has equal enthusiasm for freshwater fish. He is quite familiar with all of them, of course, from his work, as well as his hobbyist interest in them. As a matter of fact, Bob was friends with cichlid maven Guy Jordan, one of my dearest friends. The 'sliding doors' phenomenon was still in effect, obviously. In any case, I am often astounded by his knowledge of relatively obscure freshwater fish. Fluent in Japanese, Bob seems to be quite at home with the scientific names, too. In fact, I am always about half a sentence behind with Bob because I spend half my time figuring out what organisms he is talking about. In my own defense, I would point out that most of us pronounce the scientific names differently. Hence, if the subjects are switching around, it is easy to get left behind a few steps. But I don't think that Bob ever gets behind when I am talking!
While I have been all over the world snorkeling and scuba diving, I am a real piker by Bob's standards, as he still spends several months a year on scuba trips. I can't think of many people who have Bob's experience in the area of exploring the ocean. Most of us with worldwide experience in scuba diving are asked to name the best place in the world to dive. Most of us equivocate and give amorphous responses. After all, the diving in the southern California area can be good if you travel out to the islands away from all the runoff from rivers and sewers. As a point of fact, the undersea life near Monterey is world famous, so it is difficult to pinpoint the very best diving, as it depends on the interests of the diver. If pinned down by tropical fish enthusiasts, I usually recommend the Indo-Pacific. I think Bob would agree with me, but his favorite is the Red Sea. He has me trumped there, as I have not been to that area, but other divers who have been have been equally full of praise for the area
Despite many offers and contemplated trips, we have not been diving yet together. That is my fault, as I am harder to get off the dime in regard to trips these days, but it is foolishness on my part, especially since our wives both enjoy diving, too. The next time a trip to the Red Sea is planned, I am going. After all, why shouldn't I make the most of the multi-talented Bob Fenner? Having him as our guide to the Red Sea would be almost as ostentatious as Bob's email@example.com> Date : Sun, 9 Nov 2003 21:09:49 -0500 Subject : Re: Fenner Family Bob I am helping compile all the descendants of Captain Arthur Fenner. I saw in an e-mail in which you mentioned you have a sister who is into the family genealogy. Could you put me in touch with her? <Sure. Her name is Brenda (Ellen) Fenner, number 760-731-3116> I suspect we are "cousins". Any chance you are the son of Milton Alexander Fenner? <That is our fathers name> We have some interesting parallels. Both Fenners from the East Coast living in Southern CA, about the same age (I was born in 1948). I have my degree in Biology because of my interest in Marine Biology, but never worked in the field. I was certified to dive in 1969 and became an Instructor in 1971. Have a trip planned to Nicaragua in February and Papa New Guinea in August. Salt water aquaria has been a hobby of mine on and off for 30 years. Would love to hear from you. Richard Arthur Fenner <Neat... indeed some amazing parallels. Bon voyage on your upcoming trips! Bob (Robert Milton) Fenner>
Praise and Celebration! 8/22/10