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Bob Fenner is a friendly neighborhood pet-fish ichthyologist. Other than stints teaching he has lived the aquatic industries the last thirty years in the U.S., Japan and the Philippines.
Robert M. Fenner (fennerrobert(at)hotmail.com)
8586 Menkar Rd.
San Diego, CA 92126
BSc. degree in Zoology, minor in Classics and Chemistry,
MSc. Fisheries work on Hormonal Manipulation of Mullets; Teaching Credential, K-12, College Classes, University of California San Diego, San Diego State University.
Pertinent Academic Experience
1) Research and thesis writing on Hormonal manipulation of mullet fishes for aquaculture, role of the senorita,
Oxyjulis californica, as a cleaner, acoustic biology of the garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicunda, Taxonomy of Balistid fishes.
2) Writing curricula as a High School Biology, Chemistry and Physics Teacher
Related Practical Experience
1) Development of self-originated California corporate business. President/CEO for eighteen years. Wrote Operations Manuals for all Divisions, Employee Stock Owner ship Plan. Corporate name Nature, Etc. Inc.
2) Self-published manuals "Water Feature Design, Construction & Maintenance", or "The World According To Carp",
"If You Knew Sushi, Like I Knew Sushi, A Guide To Sushi Bar Etiquette".
3) Environmental assay (impact) data collection, enumeration, writing; making known to lay people through public forum and writing.
Pertinent Work Experience
1) Thirty years in the pet fish and herptile industries in Japan, Philippines and U.S.A.; all levels, positions. Pres./CEO of Nature, Etc. Inc. doing habitat enhancement.
2) Four years physical and biological High School teaching, Community Resources Sand Diego State University, Marine, & Aquariology: The Science, Hobby and Business of Aquatics at University of California, San Diego Extension.
3) Environmental Consulting, identification, analysis, presentation for University of San Diego Environmental Studies Lab, Sea Science Services. Fishes, polychaetes.
4) Several hundred articles in print in hobby, business and science of ornamental aquatics and diving topics. Published in many periodicals, several languages. Extensive travel, discourse in field.
Scuba Diver thirty years, widely traveled. Twenty plus years writing for Pet-fish and Diving hobby and trade publications. Extensive industry and scientific involvement; trade show, seminar, symposia experience. Extensive computer work background; spreadsheet, desk-top publishing.
Born 8/23/52, Northkingston, Rhode Island, U.S.A.
Health Excellent; Run, lift weights, scuba, free diving.
Diversions include reading, writing, guitar, philosophy, sushi bar going. Single and live in S. California principally.
I was born in Rhode Island, the smallest State of the U.S. but grew up in the orient as my father was career military.
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.
We had very few jobs "on base" for the "dependents" but I was fortunate to secure employment at a fish store that was associated with a restaurant in downtown Sasebo. Other vainglorious work overseas includes two years working for a Betta culture business, collecting and processing marines in Manila.
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.
Hello, May I speak with Mr. Fenner please?
UPDATE: re: Hello, May I speak with Mr. Fenner
Interview at SplashingTime.com 5/18/09
Re: Interview at SplashingTime.com 05/19/09
French Angel -- Question, & Petco reminiscences, current issues 8/18/08 Hey, crew! <Jon> I've emailed you guys quite often over the last few years. Just to set the record straight, again, I work at Petco (run the fish department). A lady brought in her French Angel (Pomacanthus paru) for adoption to us today. Her son caught it in Florida sometime last year and he's about 2 inches long. While I originally thought this was quite small, I hadn't checked the Caribbean Angels section on the site until a bit ago when I read that they were extremely slow growers. <Yes> Right now, he's in quarantine. He'll then be going into a 50G tank for the time being until I can find a good home for him and transfer him. Question of the hour: How long can he stay in the 40G as a 1.5/2 inch juvenile? <Months> It's a tank filled with live rock for him to graze on and a refugium filled to the brim with Chaeto just breeding small mysids and others constantly. I would PREFER to keep it for a while until I set up my 180 next fall, but want your input as I'd rather give the fish away or trade it for some frags if this plan does not seem feasible. <This fish should be fine where it is till then> I've read previously on WWM that small juveniles can be kept in a smaller tank for a while before adulthood when they need to be transferred, but I'd rather get more input on this. Cheers, Jonathan <And you, Bob Fenner, who was a consultant/buyer for this mass-merchandiser... for all the aquatics depts. back in 91-94.> -- Jonathan Philpot
Re: French Angel -- Question 8/18/08 Thanks for the fast reply, Bob. I figured that was going to be the answer but just wanted to double check. <Real good> We could go on about Petco forever, I'm sure. <Ah, yes. I enjoyed my time there... trying to "make real" the pet trade to excellent business people... Brian Devine(formerly of Toys R Us), who is still there as Chairman... Larry Asellin (my boss, head of merchandising and distribution, formerly of Oshman's), Mike Woodard (head of operations, formerly of Safeway)... exhausting, but rewarding work...> Take care, Jon PS Petco's fish departments need to be run by more reefers like me. <We do agree... I tried to convince corporate to allow "my" depts. (reptile and aquatics) to be run as separate areas w/in stores, having their manager take ownership... hire/fire, set schedules, do ordering... No dice unfortunately> Not to toot my own horn here, but there is a stark contrast between our store and the multitude of others I'd visit. Petco could be a viable place to purchase fish, equipment, etc. if they only were a bit more scrutinizing with their hiring. <Too centralized...> Granted, I put hours into keeping the tanks immaculate and try my best to dip everything upon arrival. I don't HATE the reputation that the chain has, just that the chain has created the reputation it owns by crappy hiring and business decisions. <Is an issue with any/all large bureaucracies my friend. Best to always do your best... and try to be satisfied that this is so. Cheers, BobF>
Re: French Angel -- Question 8/18/08 I had a bit of control of the ordering for a while, Bob. The power was pretty much stripped away from me by corporate, unfortunately. For a few weeks we avoided having expert level fish in the store that we end up selling to novices. I can only work a few days of the week, and while I try to refer people to WWM, your book, and my local reef club, it's hard to see someone come in and complain afterward about an unknowing employee selling them a fish that they can't keep and blaming me in the process. <Understood> It has the customer lose faith in not only me (for some reason), but the company as well (which I have my gripes with and I do end up sending people out quite often). Frankly, it's a bit depressing since I work tremendously hard when I'm there to actually help people stay in the hobby rather than recommending them taking 45 Tiger barbs for their 20 gallon tank because they are half an inch long right now and we can make a profit. Possibly why I have such a big gripe with corporate retail. <So... what will you do?> Frankly, I've been thinking if introducing Petco to possibly sponsoring my local reef club would be a good route. The company has such a horrible reputation (really for good reason) that, especially since some of the newer people are really trying to push salt water with an actual genuine interest, it could only help. What's your bet on whether or not a corporate bureaucracy such as Petco could possibly be interested in something like that? ;) <I do "believe" the folks there are interested... in good husbandry practices... for all animals... They DO such a fine job with companion animals... It's more like "they" don't "get" aquatics... nor have any large chains IMO as yet... but, having done my best for three years at the beginning... I don't know any better how to "make known what needs to be" to bring such a watershed change over the co., its practices... To me it's obvious that livestock depts. must need be run locally... for each stores personnel to take possession, in actuality, soul/heart and fiscally, to make them work... Delegating, running them from "top down" by folks who don't know enough... will never (has never) work/ed> But, then again, a company who had it's CEO and other top guns eat Natural Balance Dog Food might be up for anything... - Jon <Again, I was VERY impressed with the caliber of folks throughout the organization... The operations staff (the stores and the regional et al. mgr.s above) were excellent... But it defies human nature (which I'm very careful not to do) to expect the local fish store staff to excel given no control over the set, livestock purchase, management of their time, dept... This is simply the way things are. Bob Fenner>
"It's Martinized"! 9/11/07 Hey guys, and girls, just thought I would drop a line to tell you all thanks for providing a great service to the fishkeeping world. But on to my other reason for writing, I am a craigslist addict, and recently came across this post (http://raleigh.craigslist.org/for/419178670.html) , just figured I would bring it to Mr Fenner's attention. Once again, thanks for all that you do for our kind. Lewis Bridges <Heeee! Interesting... Guess it's better to be referred to in some positive note... Could have been named Bob Murphy... Bob Fenner> Consultation 3/8/07 Bob, <Scott> I was wondering if I could fly you down <Up I guess... am in S. Cal.> to do a consultation of sorts for me. I have a 1200 gallon reef tank in an orthodontists office that I maintain. Over the past year since planning started countless issues have arisen, and countless are continuing to arise. My client and myself are reaching the end of our ropes and would appreciate a critiquing eye from the best in the biz. Is this something that you have the time to do? Scott Johnson Owner Critter Cabana www.crittercabana.com <Mmm, let's see... I do have this title on a biz card somewhere... but it might be just as expedient to e-chat here (and of use to others)... or (groan) on the phone. Don't have much going on for another couple weeks (retired in 94...) but... BobF>
Koi World interview request Hi Bob! My name is Eve Adamson and I've interviewed you in the past. I am working on two articles for Koi World magazine--one on common mistakes of beginning Koi keepers, and one on color and patterns in Koi--how Koi got to look the way they do, why some are so expensive, how the process of breeding for color/patterns works, etc. <I see> Would you be interested in doing a phone interview on either or both of these subjects? I'd love to include your vast expertise yet again. I'm on a tight deadline but if you any time in the next few days, just let me know when and at what number I can reach you. Thanks Bob, in advance, for any help. I hope to hear from you. <Am out of town Saturday, but will be around on Friday (PST, California), 858-549-XXXX Bob Fenner> -- Eve Adamson Pardon Moi Francais... or syntax, word usage...? I like what you have to say and there is a lot of info to reed on your site if we look ,but your word usage seems odd. <It is indeed a bit "strange" as in unfamiliar or not-so conventional. I grew up overseas (Japan and the Philippines) and read and travel a great deal... and I guess hang out with, converse a great deal with non-English speakers. Do you find my efforts at trying to communicate via the written word difficult to follow? Have you suggestions for improvement? Thank you for your input. Bob Fenner>
That Hormonal Manipulation of Fishes paper dear sir I found your paper about hormonal manipulation of fishes when I was searching in internet. it has some good information. as I want to use some of them in my studies, I need some information about you as author. <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/bobfbio.htm> please sent to me your complete name ,year of publishing, your colleague's name(s) and some other information. <No colleagues at that time. Self publication date 1976) I also have a question: can we say that the first attempts of study on sex hormones in fish start along with the first time that man use the pituitary extract to induce maturation in fish? I searched to find it ,but nearly all the references are from 1960and latter .would you please guide me in this case. I am looking forward hearing from you. <Actual applications date back to the forties... but not really popularized till the 1960's. Bob Fenner> sincerely yours Reza
Dear Dr. Fenner (Doc!?), To my horror I realized I addressed you with the wrong title ("Mr." instead of "Dr.") in my previous message. <No need for horror or honorifics... no doctor/ate, pls, "just Bob" will do> Please accept my sincerest apologies. The knowledge you've expressed in TCMA and on the WWM have truly spark my interest in transitioning from a freshwater aquarist to a marine aquarist. <Ah, good> I apologize for my careless error, and my occasional longwinded-ness. I just find the prospects of starting a new project like this to be quite invigorating and rewarding, and I find myself getting swept up in the excitement! :) -Russ <No worries my friend. Bob Fenner>
Happy b-day! happy birthday Bob! I hope you have as much fun on your birthday as I usually do on mine (I inflict my taste for bad movies on friends and family, I call it good fun, they call it getting even). Hope the move goes well <Zo, Mike and I are moving as we key! Am sore all over... and am ready to move more frequently henceforth to avoid this nonsense... and Pinkster, we're off to my fave sushi bar (Meiki's) tonight... thinking of you> and your new digs turn out to be better than expected. <Oh, yes... larger lot, more space for the dogs... a bit quieter (further from the death business military base...) and less dusty... further from the sand and gravel plant...> Hopefully in a month or so I'll be able to write and actually have a question relating to a real live saltwater set up. : ) <Ah, good> tell Zo Pinky says hi! <Done!> be chatting with you my friend, (your speech patterns are a viral meme : ) ) Mike <And you. Bob Fenner>
Happy Birthday!! Dear Mr. Fenner: You obviously don't know me, but I've followed up on your articles in the numerous fish hobby magazines you have written for throughout the years. I'm most impressed with your knowledge and work, and commend you for what you have done for the hobby through your scientific strides. <Thank you my friend... One often wonders if folks are reading...> I found your website today by chance (I've been out of the reef-keeping hobby for several years, but enjoy browsing the web to see the latest developments in anything related to fish-keeping), and lo and behold, I discovered it's your birthday today! So let me wish you a grand birthday as you so deserve for simply being the outstanding person you are. <Ah, great that we have found each other! Again, thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Sadat PS: You really should smile in your pictures, you are a very handsome man! <Ah! Just saw this in moving the message... People say they never see me not smiling in person... Bob Fenner>
Re: Your Offer of work Hi Bob, Yes. Sue gave me your number. <Ah, good, and yours to me> Hope you had a nice trip. I was going to invite you out for a beer when you were here in Kona.. but I guess I tired to contact you too late. <There's always some time later... btw do you know of the folks down in Tasmania who raise H. abdominalis for the hobby? They had some interesting anecdotes re Amanda Vincent and her organization...> I am looking to add a more detailed section to my getting ready page where it explains how to cycle your salt water tank...or how to get started. Something not to complicated but with enough information so the fresh water and first time hobbyist can set up a tank. It seems so simple to us. but as you know the biggest mistake people seem to make is stocking animals in their tank before it is ready. or they overload the tank. Do you think you would be interested? <Sure> I know there is a lot of free links out there to this info. but I wanted something classy for the OR site. <Okay> Let me know what you think and what the costs would be. <About how many words? Graphics?> Perhaps later we could use the section to do a spin off for a few columns on the Horse Forum column in FAMA. <Very nice articles thus far... you could easily knock this/these further pieces out.> Let me know what you think... Mahalo, Carol Cozzi-Schmarr <Bob Fenner>
Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento My name is Brian Prestwood. I took over for Dave Sheehy as speaker coordinator for the Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento. <Congrats!> I spoke to you about speaking at our club again at WMC 2001. We could cover all your travel and lodging expenses plus pay a $100 honorarium. Are you available on 7/20 or 11/16? <Yes to both dates. And no to the honorarium... Though stipendium peccati mors est, I forego such input. Sign me up and I'll be there... and make it known if I may be of assistance otherwise. Bob Fenner>
RE: Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento Off by one error, sorry. Our meeting in July is on the 21st, not the 20th. And, it's a special one. The three northern CA clubs (MARS, Seabay and BARE) are hosting a picnic at Steinhart aquarium with a behind the scenes tour. It is an all day event. Several of the members pointed out that you are the obvious choice for this casual event. Would you be interested in attending and doing a short talk too? <Oh, absolutely... Just finished reading David Powell's account of his life in the public aquarium biz, including his time spent with Earl S. Herald... and was up there for a day during/between the recent WMC... taking pix, reliving the many times I've visited... For sure. Bob Fenner>
Fenner Family Hi, My maiden name was Susan Fenner. Do you know anything about your ancestry? <Mmm, only a bit. A sister is interested in genealogical matters... Ours isn't particularly glorious... but am glad to be here, a human, what have you> The Fenner family has a very interesting ancestral tree and if you have an interest I'd be happy to share with you. It's interesting that my father was a science teacher and a real scholar on all aspects of science. I'll be on vacation for a week, but I'll await your reply and get back with you. Thanks, Susan <Okay, chat with you then. Bob Fenner>