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November 2011 Calendar

Tropical Fish Hobbyist’s November 2011 Desktop Calendar is now available.

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Our 2011 Calendar Cover

2011 Calendar Cover

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Posted November 1st, 2011.

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October 2011 Desktop Calendar

Tropical Fish Hobbyist’s October 2011 Desktop Calendar is now available.

Click on the size below that best matches your desktop.


Our 2011 Calendar Cover
2011 Calendar Cover

Visit the Web Extras section of for additional downloads, videos, and much more!

Posted October 5th, 2011.

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Live Chat with Jeff Turner

A reef tank designed by Jeff Turner of Reef Aquaria Design, Inc. Photograph by Jeff Turner.

For those of you who missed the live chat with reef aquarium and scuba diving expert Jeff Turner, you can read the transcript here.

Crazygar: Jeff how are you doing this evening?

JeffTurner: OK got stuck in Atlanta, planes and weather.

Crazygar: Welcome to the wonderful world of flying.

JeffTurner: Will make it to Des Moines sometime tonight.

Crazygar: Ohh, Iowa, how exotic.

JeffTurner: yeh, just got back from the Bahamas on a lionfishing trip

JeffTurner: yep, a few fishbowls here and there

Crazygar: Ok, I am going to begin the interview. As people appear they can follow along. Jeff is on a tight schedule this evening and so it starts…

Crazygar: Jeff Turner, owner of Reef Aquaria Design, Inc., is known for creating some of the most impressive reef tanks you can imagine. He has built custom aquariums for private residences—including those of celebrities—and institutions such as the Smithsonian and the Miami Children’s Museum. We are honored this evening to have the opportunity to get a chance to speak with him about reefs, diving, and everything aquatic.

Crazygar: Before I begin the interview, I would like to remind everyone about a few ground rules before proceeding:

Crazygar: 1) While the interview is in progress, I would like to ask everyone from refraining from popping in with a question or comment. Please write down your question, as we are having a small open forum at the end of the session.

Crazygar: 2) When the Open Forum begins, I will queue people on a first come first served basis. Remember, we only have a limited amount of time, so there can only be a limited amount of questions. If not all questions get answered, I am sure Jeff will answer them via the PM system in time. Remember, like the rest of us, he has a life outside as well.

Crazygar: 3) Use the PRIVATE MESSAGE Command on the right hand side of your chat window to ask to be put in queue for a question, an updated list of “order” will sent (privately) as more participants increase.

Crazygar: 4) Please ensure its only ONE question. If there is time, you may have the opportunity to ask another one.

Crazygar: Now that the rules and welcomes are down, let’s begin…

Jeff, how are you doing this evening?

JeffTurner: made it to Atlanta, delayed and will get to Des Moines by midnight

Crazygar: I hate planes.

Crazygar: How did you start in the aquarium business?

JeffTurner:  I was basically born into the marine aquarium trade way back in 1962. My dad was the second president of the Florida Marine Aquarium Society in 1957, and he, Bob Straughan, Dick Boyd and a few other diver/aquarist started the club in 1955. Some of my earliest memories of aquariums involved my father building aquariums in the garage and my brother and I collecting fish, live rock, plants and corals for our aquariums. Built my first glass tank at age 7 and started servicing aquariums after school once I got my drivers license. I incorporated at age 15 under the name JAT Enterprises, Inc. and was President of the business club during high school.

Crazygar: People who have seen your work are amazed by your ability to so carefully replicate a slice of a coral reef in an aquarium. What inspired you to start creating these intricate setups, which you refer to as “fishbowls”?

JeffTurner: Creating a “natural balance” living display goes back to thousands of hours on and underwater along the coral reefs of South Florida. When you have viewed the real underwater reefs thousands of time, it comes natural to replicate the ocean environment. I have a photographic memory of these reefs and have set up literally thousands of marine aquariums in homes, offices, public displays, competitions at the FMAS show and at least a hundred trade shows through the years.

JeffTurner: Each and every time I stack a liverock foundation in an aquarium, I look at the pile of rock and determine how I would like to place the pieces of the puzzle to best optimize the layout to the view of the human and the aquariums location in the space, while balancing how the water currents will ultimately flow in the aquarium. Placing the living interior in the aquarium is like the icing on the cake, you have worked so hard to get the aquarium ready for this moment you had better make sure you eyes will feast on the end result.

Crazygar: Where did you come up with the idea to make an aquarium a piece of “living artwork” that compliments the design of the surrounding space?

JeffTurner: This goes back to learning it from my father. He was an engineer, artist, diver and aquarist and I was a good learner. As a young boy I would go with my Dad to meet a new potential client from time to time and the client would sometimes ask, “Where do you see the aquarium fitting into my living room”. What I realized back then was that we are not only engineers, plumbers, electricians, and marine biologists, but we are designers and artists too. The aquarium actually becomes a piece of living art within a space.

JeffTurner: The aquarium design and cabinetry are the canvas and the living interior is the fluid art. As a matter of fact, a well-designed and thriving coral reef aquarium becomes the focal point of a space. Coral reef aquariums are dynamic pieces of ever changing living art!

Crazygar: We know that you are an avid scuba diver. What influence does diving have on your work?

JeffTurner: Love to dive and fish. I have been collecting marine life for aquariums for over forty years, it’s in my blood and I try to spend as much time on the water as possible. Diving will always influence how I layout the next fishbowl and also remind me how of how vast the oceans filtration system is. When I look at a natural coral reef now, I think about how important it is for us as aquarist to teach others about the plight of the worlds reefs through our “educational windows to the sea”.

Crazygar: What is your favorite aquarium that you have created?

JeffTurner: Wow! That’s a hard one, so many fishbowls so little time to fish! Probably the greatest honor I have had was to build the Indo Pacific Coral Reef Aquarium, located in the Sant Ocean Hall at National Museum of Natural History, for the Smithsonian Institution. Each aquarium we build is special to us. We strive to make everyone better than the last while working to help our owners and aquarium service technician’s maintain past aquariums as thriving coral reef aquariums.

JeffTurner: sometimes technologically challenged, but can build a heck of a fishbowl. glad I answered some previous questions or I’d be a fish out of water! Thanks to Crazygar!

Crazygar: ROFL Jeff, this one is going down in the books.

Crazygar: What is the largest tank you have built?

JeffTurner: The largest glass tank is the round glass aquarium system at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey. The total system is about 3,500 gallons and the unique glass aquarium is 2,000 gallons. We are currently building a 5,600 gallon reef in Roanoke, Virginia.

Crazygar: What is the most difficult aspect of creating reefs that hold thousands of gallons of water?

JeffTurner: Typically the actual construction of the tank on site, or delivery of an aquarium that we built offsite is the most difficult aspect of a fishbowl project. Many different challenges await a large installation and it all comes down to proper planning and careful execution.

Crazygar: When planning out a reef tank, do you focus more on the fish or the corals?

JeffTurner: Both, and the live rock quality and shapes. You have to create a quality foundation for your corals to grow into while balancing what fish might inhabit the aquarium over time.

Crazygar: How do you choose what corals will be included?

JeffTurner: We really like to feature aquacultured corals in our displays and primarily choose these corals over wild caught specimens. I like the three dimensional aspect of placing gorgonians within an aquascape and I personally collect most of the gorgonians we place in our aquariums.

Crazygar: How do you go about selecting fish for a reef tank?

JeffTurner: We utilize responsibly collected wild caught marine fish from reputable suppliers and will always buy aquacultured fish in the initial set up phase of a large fishbowl. Choosing exactly which fish we place in an aquarium usually involves the owner of the aquarium and I will give them a copy of Scott Michael’s “Reef Aquarium Fishes” as a general guide. I like tangs, clownfish, wrasses, gobies, angels, grammas, and try to stay towards the path of “friendly fish”.

Crazygar: Why did you start creating jellyfish aquariums?

JeffTurner: Another good one! Funny story, we had a local architectural firm interview us for a hotel restaurant project and they requested that we build a jellyfish aquarium, “jellyfishbowl” I call it of course. The restaurants designer, Patrick, was from France and was flying to America in a few weeks and I suggested that I would take him on a “tour de tank” when he arrived. My intent was to show Patrick the differences in reefs vs jellies and I really wanted to build him a great BIG 20 foot reef!! I picked up Patrick and his assistant and we visited a local restaurant with a jellyfish aquarium built by a competitor of ours and then took them to view a thriving reef aquarium. He loved the coral reef aquarium, however was set on us creating the long jellyfishbowl and we obliged.

JeffTurner: The aquarium we constructed for them is 20 feet long by 2 feet wide and 5 feet tall, about 2,000 gallons. I had seen many jellyfish aquariums through the years and thought that we could create a better “mousetrap” than some I had previously seen, especially considering the fact that it was twenty feet long. We decided to create two opposing kreisels that would suspend the jellyfish, while having them mix in the middle of the aquarium and then flow from kreisel to kreisel. We lost a few jellies while tweaking the flow pattern in the beginning and eventually the flow dynamics worked out great. This was the FIRST jellyfishbowl we ever created (two thousand gallons to boot) and I believe we are on to a great future with this copyrighted design.

JeffTurner: We recently refined and duplicated the design in a 9 foot version and it is operating like a well oiled machine. We also added LED lights to the new one and the owner can change the color of the jellies to what ever color he feels like that day. Jellyfish are spineless and brainless, however people are fascinated seeing them float aimlessly.

Crazygar: How does setting up a jellyfish tank differ from a regular fishbowl?

JeffTurner: Jellyfish need to be fed a consistent amount of food several times a day from our experience. They also seem to do better in cooler water, say 65 to 75 Fahrenheit, and will basically shrink in warmer water of 80 F. You don’t need a lot of light on a jellyfishbowl and should have a protein skimmer and do regular water changes.

JeffTurner: There have been a tremendous amount of Moon Jellies this summer in the keys and its has been a stinging experience collecting tropicals, lobster and reef restoration efforts with CRF

Crazygar: How were you selected to create the Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Aquarium at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History?

JeffTurner: The design firm, (Design and Production in Lorton, Virginia), of the Sant Ocean Hall interviewed several aquarium contractors with the Museum staff. I had the opportunity to present to both parties and to also take the designers representative to the large round glass reef in Red Bank, New Jersey. After one of our meetings, dealing with dozens of questions by the Design Team and Museum staff, the primary contact I had with the design team patted me on the back as well walked down the hall after the meeting and said “ you are going to build this aquarium”. They interviewed many competent builders, however my passion of all things aquarium and historical record of creating successful reef aquariums pretty much sealed the deal.

JeffTurner: It was, and is to this and every day, a tremendous honor to work with the Smithsonian and I still love to go there to work on the aquarium and hear the kids screaming “Nemo, Nemo, Nemo” and to listen to the public talk about the beauty of the thriving coral in front of them. I am just a regular guy who has a talent and I love to help others learn through our “educational windows to the sea”.

Crazygar: How did you come up with the final design for the 2000-gallon reef?

JeffTurner: Jeff’s reply; We were pretty much regulated by the fact that we were putting a very heavy object in a 100-year-old building and the weight load restrictions had us keep the aquarium at around 1,200 gallons plus a 90 gallon mangrove refugium and huge custom sump of 800 plus gallons. The total system holds 2,100 gallons and I laid out the “Aquatic Lab” as ergonomically as possible. It’s really a super space, behind the scenes, and every good aquarist dream type tank. Every great aquarium needs great access, and a well thought out workspace and life support system to stand the test of time.

JeffTurner: I looked at this aquarium design from a twenty-five year perspective and we continue to work with the Smithsonian to keep it looking great. Part of my continued responsibilities with this aquarium is to review weekly reports and help with the mechanical and biological aspects. Phil Wind and the Team at Reef eScape do a great job helping managing the aquarium with the Smithsonian’s staff.

Crazygar: Can you tell us about the tank that was featured in Architectural Digest?

JeffTurner: This 680 gallon reef aquarium system was created for a famous Miami Beach architect who had a “hole” in the wall that needed some life in it. The aquarium is 120” long by 27” wide by 46” tall and we featured lots of great marinelife from South Florida in this particular aquarium. My boat actually stays on a lift at this family friends house and we enjoy going out collecting cool Caribbean fish like Cuban Hogs, Pygmy Angels, Yellowhead Jawfish, Swissguards Basslets and sessile organisms like deep water gorgonians and different colored riccordia and zooanthids. This aquarium is a classic example of living art! And fits in well with the colorful art on the white walls and minimalistic space.

Crazygar: How is the 250-gallon living coral reef aquarium that you wrote about for the “Adventures in Aquascaping” column in TFH Magazine doing today?

JeffTurner: After 11 years running we will empty it out next month due to the dreaded “purple monster sponge”!! This stuff is growing everywhere and we can’t get something to eat it! Between the rocks, around the corals, in the overflow, and on the sand, it’s certainly photosynthetic however grows behind and under the rock. We will take the tank down in October, flush it through with fresh water and bleach for a day, and then reset with brand new liverock and coral frags, less the purple sponge and old water. Over forty years with salt water aquariums and I have never seen this gelatinous purple sponge grow so well, kinda like an algae but hard to tear off the rocks and you never get it all off.

Crazygar: Did you ever get a ride in the red Ferrari?

JeffTurner: Actually no, but my wife and I did get to ride in their newest dream car a 1956 Chrysler 300 called “Passion”. Its got a NASCAR engine in it and you had better hold on! If Roger is listening in on this chat we NEED a ride in the red Ferrari! Once we get rid of the “purple monster sponge” of course.

JeffTurner: update, the purple sponge is dying back due to a tripple treatment of Chemiclean and several water 30 gallon changes!

Crazygar: Does that mean you get a ride that car?

Crazygar: Do you have a tank in your own home or at Reef Aquaria Design? Can you tell us about it?

JeffTurner: I built an aquarium for our house 14 years ago and it’s empty! My aquarium is the Atlantic Ocean and we just arrived back from a Lionfish research trip on our boat to Bimini in the Bahamas. Lots and lots of lionfish out there, never release a non-endemic species into the wild! These guys are fat and happy in the Atlantic, basically eating every small fish that wanders close to their mouths. We saw 11 lions on one dive and have speared 27 while snorkeling on a shallow wreck.

At the office I do have a 26 gallon bowfront tank with clowns and soft coral. We built a really great new display for MACNA this year and I will set it up tomorrow. Hopefully lots of you all will get to see it this weekend at MACNA or on the web. It’s going to be cool with some surprises in it!

Crazygar: You should try Freshwater Jeff…

JeffTurner: yeh, FW sounds good and goldfish are cool

Crazygar: What is the best piece of advice you can give to an average hobbyist who wants to set up a living reef of their own?

JeffTurner: Determine the budget you have for the aquarium project and plan accordingly. Your investment into a quality aquarium and equipment is important. You should look at housing creatures that do well in our closed aquarium systems and to support aquaculture with your wallet by buying aquacultured specimens whenever possible. Patience is essential in this hobby and educating yourself before you take the big plunge is critical to your long-term success. Seeing healthy reef aquariums kept by friends, or at great local fish stores, is also a good idea to help educate yourself on what they do to manage their beautiful aquariums.

JeffTurner: I actually love fw planted tanks, but spend off time fishing and diving

Crazygar: Typical reef setups designed by hobbyists only hold few fishes, but your reefs are bustling with fish life. How do you manage to maintain the relatively high bioload without sacrificing water quality?

JeffTurner: Regular water changes, phosphate absorbents, carbon products, good protein skimming and refugiums all play a roll in water quality management. You really have to feed the heck out of large reef aquariums with loads of fish or they will eat your corals.

Crazygar: If you were to pick one fish you are most knowledgeable about, what fish would it be?

JeffTurner: Clownfish of course! I was responsible for creating the first financially successful marine ornamental aquaculture distribution network at ORA and company has sold millions of these wonderful tank raised clownfish that did not have to be taken from the wild reefs.

Crazygar: Most of us name our favorite fish. Can you give us (3) names and types of fish that stick out in your mind?

JeffTurner: Of course Nemo, the movie star! The Royal Gramma and Blackcap Basslets are two of my favorites. Turbo is the name we gave one of my clients Niger Trigger that cant stop swimming full speed!

Crazygar: Reef Aquaria Design, Inc., and you personally promote the use of sustainable collection practices and aquacultured animals. What is your advice to hobbyists to lessen their impact on the environment when planning a reef of their own?

JeffTurner: Its 2011! And we have come along ways whereby you can easily set up a totally aquacultured fishbowl with the plethora of tank raised and maricultured corals out there. You can also trade frags with your friends and even breed your own marine fish! Plan to use as much aquacultured, maricultured and sustainably collected marinelife as possible in your aquarium. Sharks, jacks, groupers, snappers, large eels and the like are cool, but they will outgrow your aquarium and really are best viewed at a public aquarium or the ocean itself.

Crazygar: You recently took over as National Sales Manager for Boyd Enterprises. Can you give us a bit of a preview of what to expect from Boyd in the future?

JeffTurner: My wife Joleen and I actually bought the company and have retained Eben and Matthew Boyd, two of the founders sons, to help us produce quality Boyd Enterprises products and to run the company. We now have six months of operations under our belts and we plan to strengthen the companies’ position in the marketplace while helping to educate a whole new generation of aquarist about how wonderful it is to have a successful aquarium. As industry leaders we need to set the example and we plan to work diligently at helping other succeed with their aquarium endeavors.

Crazygar: As we near the end of the Q&A Session, I’d like to thank Jeff Turner for letting us get to know a bit more about himself. As always Jeff, it’s a pleasure having a conversation with you and it was an honor to finally interview you for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine. Before I get to the open Forum (where I have some people just buzzing to ask you a question) I have one random question I ask each interviewee…

JeffTurner: We really love the aquarium business and will be in it for life!

Crazygar: That’s actually great to hear Jeff, but now it’s time for “THE RANDOM QUESTION”…

Crazygar: Are you ready?

JeffTurner: Yes ready to type for real now

Crazygar: ROFL, can you specifically name a very embarrassing moment when setting up a public tank and how you managed to ‘recover’…

JeffTurner: I built a 1,600 curved glass reef in North New Jersey, beautiful and filled for a month, when one of the laminated panels cracked

JeffTurner: We emptied the aquarium and replaced the panel, not a drop of water on the floor, just had to shell out a bunch of money to fix it with a new panel

Crazygar: Augh, that is definitely a good recovery Jeff.

Crazygar: Before I get into the “Open Forum”, I’d like to give Jeff a standing ovation. He is currently typing from an Airport Terminal on an iPad. Big round of applause people!

JeffTurner: The owners were very pleased at our actions and the aquarium is operational today!

ScottFish:  Bravo!

JeffTurner: Your only as good as your last fishbowl

Crazygar: ROFL

Crazygar: On behalf of Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, the people whom have shown up for this event this evening, we’d like to thank you for taking the time to chat with us this evening and let us get an insight to your world.

Crazygar: At this point, we’ll have an open Forum where you can ask Jeff some questions in turn, please respect the question being asked by not typing until your turn. A transcript of this chat will be up shortly within the TFH Forum and TFH Magazine Website shortly. Thanks and Jeff, I turn the floor to you for some questions. Remember, at 9pm (Eastern Time), the interview session concludes… Lined up are Johnsreef #1, Carbon_Man #2…

JeffTurner: A fish guys job is never over, we have clients that we maintain their aquariunm for now 24 years straight

JeffTurner: The aquarium is actually three home owners later

Crazygar: Sturdy. Good job sir.

Crazygar: Ok, now we have Johnsreef waiting to ask you a question…

johnsreef: do you ever use angels or other non reef safe fishes

JeffTurner: Yes, sure have and sometimes regrete placing them into the reef in the first place

JeffTurner: just had a Flame Angel that could not stop eating corals and clams

johnsreef: i hope my emperor stays calm

JeffTurner: we took the 600 gallon down last week after weeks of trying to catch him with the trap and nets

JeffTurner: back operational without the flame!

Crazygar: Next is Carbon_Man, thanks Johnsreef!

Carbon_Man: Mr. Turner, I’ve seen your Jellyfish tank at the W hotel in Fort Lauderdale and it’s amazing! My question is, what was your most challenging aquarium build and why?

JeffTurner: basement tanks, you have got to get the glass through small windows and build them in place

JeffTurner: Basement tanks, you got to get the glass through a small window and then build em downstairs, never to be taken out again, other than in pieces!

JeffTurner: internet is slow here in Atlanta

Crazygar: When is your connecting flight?

JeffTurner: 9 pm and we are three gates away so can leave in 15 minutes

Crazygar: Besides, we are all aquarists, we understand patience Jeff, you’ve been a real sport this evening!

JeffTurner: No problem and happy to share our experiences

Crazygar: My GF and I have a 53GAL tank drilled and waiting to be setup Marine. Like yourself, we are into Gobies, Basslets and my favourite Grammas. Other than the usual, what oddities would you recommend from these species that would be considered different but easy to keep?

JeffTurner: building aquariums is a passion of mine, and our team, and we endeavor to do the best every time

JeffTurner: We saw some rweally great Sargassium Triggers in Bimini this past week, planktavoires for sure

JeffTurner: Jawfish too, yellowheads are great but need a deep sand, rubble area

JeffTurner: they are calling our plane time to goooooo!!!!!!

Crazygar: Ok, bye, don’t miss your flight!

Crazygar: Thanks for joining us!

JeffTurner: thank you

ScottFish: Thanks!

FredO: Thanks!!!

Crazygar: Well folks, this has been the weirdest Interview that I have conducted to date. I would like to thank Jeff Turner once again for being a trooper through all this. Plane Delays, missing files, slow Internet but none the less, he’s been a real sport. I would also like to apologize to all that were wishing to ask more questions. But I think Jeff is looking forward to MACNA which is being hosted in lovely Des Moines Iowa this year.

Crazygar: Since y’all are a quiet bunch and the guest of honor has finally managed his flight to Des Monines, I will now conclude the Interview session for tonight. Once again I’d like to thank Jeff Turner for hanging in there through a series of disasters and the good folks at TFH for their continued support of this wonderful hobby.

Crazygar: Please do check out so see the wonderful things they do and have currently done! Thanks all and have a safe and good evening.

Posted September 27th, 2011.

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September 2011 Desktop Calendar

Tropical Fish Hobbyist’s September 2011 Desktop Calendar is now available.

Click on the size below that best matches your desktop.


Our 2011 Calendar Cover
2011 Calendar Cover

Visit the Web Extras section of for additional downloads, videos, and much more!

Posted September 1st, 2011.

Add a comment

The Full Interview with the Stars of Tanked

The cast of the reality TV show Tanked from left to right: Robert "Redneck" Christlieb, Wayde King, Heather King, Brett Raymer, Agnes Wilczynski and Erwin "The General" Raymer.

All photographs courtesy of Animal Planet.

Tropical Fish Hobbyist: How did you get started in the aquarium manufacturing business?

Wayde King: I started with aquariums as a little boy with my family. We had fish tanks in our house and then my parents got divorced and remarried. When she remarried, the man’s name was Shelly and he had the only [aquarium] service going on in New York City at the time. I used to go out and service with him and clean the aquariums and set them all up, and then we moved into designing. His business continued to grow and he became friends with the manufacturer. As I got a little older I moved out to San Diego to start with the manufacturing. Then they moved to Las Vegas. That’s where it all started.

I’ve been doing this for pretty much my whole life. But I went to school and I was in active service. I had some jobs in between and I was doing things and going back and forth until we started the company.

It took five years for us to become #1 in the world in custom shapes. At the time there were companies building some tanks—custom glass tanks and little tanks here and there. We have an oven so we actually molded the acryllic—we do thermal forming, which actually bends the acrylic and it shapes it to whatever is in your house: For example, if you have a little cove in your house and you wanted to match the radius we can do that.

We started doing more of that than anybody in the world and we became #1 in custom shapes in a very short period of time. All the fish stores said “Hey, I’ve got a company that can do it,” and they kept calling us. We’re out in the factory, we’re sanding, we’re polishing, we’re learning. We make mistakes and we fix them and we kind of mastered it and we became #1. It did very, very well over that short period of time.


The guys at Acrylic Tank Manufacturing create custom-shaped aquariums.

TFH: What inspired you to create these monster tanks?

Wayde: A lot of people just approached us and asked, “can you do this?” A lot of people said things couldn’t be done and we felt differently and we decided to go for it. Some of the hotels called us and said they wanted this or they wanted that, and by with the years of experience and just us being the shop and the practice and bending of the material I just kind of said, “yeah, we can definitely build it.”

So Brett went out and started selling. He says he can sell anything and I told him I can build anything. It was like a match made in heaven. He sold something and I said alright I can build it. It fit like a glove.

TFH: What is the largest tank you’ve ever created?

Wayde: That’s hard to decide because there are so many different tanks. Let me explain: You can have a huge cement tank and put panels in it. Then you can have a huge FRP [fiberglass reinforced plastic] tank and put panels in it. And then you can have a solid, all acrylic tank.

It’s very hard to move a tank say from here to Michigan. That’s a wide load and then you have to get permits and it’s called tracking. So that means the truck is so big that it can’t go down the highway without a permit or a wide load. It would have to get off the off-ramp and then back on the off ramp, it’s done during late hours, and each state has their own permits and travel times.

We’ve done a pool down in Florida that was about a million-gallon dolphin pool that had a bunch of panels in it all the way through. We still do, and we let people know that we still do a 50-gallon tank up to whatever size they want. If it’s the size of a Costco building and they want us to put panels in it, we do it, and then we put in the life support.

Let’s say you were in Connecticut or New York and you wanted an aquarium and you call your local pet store. Your pet store guy would say, “Okay, how big of a tank do you want? Do you want glass or acrylic?” And the customer sometimes really didn’t know what he needed for the tank. We were the only manufacturer at the time that did the tank, the stand, all the woodwork, the façade, the pumps, the filters, the coral inserts that go in the aquarium, and the fish. Then we set it up and installed it anywhere in the world.

We travelled everywhere, and we did what we call a turnkey system: We do A through Z. And then we call the local service guy that takes care of it in the local area. Over the years we’ve met hundreds of them and we’ve become good friends with a lot of them, and they actually take the aquarium from that point on and service it for the client.

Acrylic Tank Manufacturing creates everything for an aquarium, including custom-made inserts to go in the tank.

So let’s say Kobe Bryant wanted an aquarium. Our local guy would call us or he would call us directly. We would build the aquarium, set it all up in his house—and we do everything, we do pumps, stands, filters, coral, sand, fish, everything—and when it’s done and up and running we would hand the keys over to the local service guy and he would take the service over. He would feed the fish and take care of it and charge a monthly service fee.

A lot of doctors and homeowners and all these people, they didn’t want to deal with buying a tank from somebody and then the stand from somebody else and the pump from here or mail order this, they wanted to have a system done. We feel we’re the only ones in the world now that actually can do that. “One stop shopping” Brett calls it.

Wayde is helping Brett get into a monster tank.

TFH: What is your favorite tank that you’ve created?

Brett Raymer: The favorite one I’ve created is one we actually happened to do over in Scotland. I flew there a few times and it’s 32 feet tall and it’s 11 feet in diameter. It was on the Gleneagles Estate and it was a big hotel where people went golfing.

Wayde: They sold plots on the golf course.

Brett: They sold like 11 plots and people built 11 homes on them. One of the homes is four stories tall and has this aquarium in the center of the house. It was fun building it and it was fun seeing it and it’s beautiful.

Wayde: They built the house around the aquarium.

Brett: It was pretty interesting because in Scotland, at the time, they didn’t have a crane that could actually lift it, so they had one come in from London. It was 11½ hours of travel time for us to actually put the tank in so it was pretty interesting. It was the middle of winter, it was raining, very cold over there, and we finally got it done and it was unbelievable.

Wayde: You know, one of the things that Wayde and I really enjoy doing is aquariums or windows for conservatories, nature centers—and we do a lot of work for those types of facilities. We are doing the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium in Fort Myers, Florida right now; we did the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, and we’re getting ready to do Gumbo Limbo Nature Center’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Boca Raton, Florida. We also did the California Academy of Sciences, which is more of a science building,”

We’re big fish lovers. We have a huge retail store here in Las Vegas. The reason we got into aquarium building is because we’re big fish nuts, and we want to give people a great, exotic aquarium where they can house fish as opposed to making those small, little 20-gallon or 30-gallon tanks. We want to make exotic stuff people can use to hold animals

TFH: What are your favorite fish?

Brett: I like the clown trigger. It kind of reminds me of myself because I can be a clown sometimes but I can be very aggressive. That’s the personality of the clown trigger; they’re really colorful, they have a very colorful personality, but—like I said—they can be aggressive at some times.

TFH: What celebrity tanks have you worked on?

Wayde: We’ve done Dr. Dre, Kobe Bryant, David Wright from the New York Mets, Jorge Posada from the New York Yankees, Barry White, Chad Ochocinco from the Cincinnati Bengals. We did a tank for Usher’s car—Usher had a car and we put an aquarium in it for MTV. We’ve done a couple of the Real World seasons, we did the Real World Vegas. We’ve done Monster Garage, Extreme Home Makeover, and Man Cave.

Brett: There are a lot of celebrities that we’ve done where we really don’t know who they are. We’ve done so many tanks, but when you’re dealing with celebrities it’s very rare that you deal with the celebrity directly. The ones we mentioned will call us up and are part of the sale. They’re into fish.

TFH: Do you ever include live coral in the tanks?

Brett: We design live reefs all the time.

Wayde: There are basically four types of aquariums: terrarium, freshwater, coral reef, and saltwater. And then you can get into like snake terrariums, bird cages, planted tanks, and stuff like that. The real main one to us is a saltwater aquarium.

Brett: Remember, we build aquariums for everybody. We don’t do full setups all the time, but if we have a freshwater guy in South Carolina that orders a 1000-gallon tank from us, and he’s going to do piranha, pacu, or Jack Dempseys, we’ll make it. We do make all the things that we were saying.

We like to call ourselves saltwater specialists, that’s what we specialize in whether it be reef or just fish only. But we do everything.

TFH: How much can some of these tanks cost?

Wayde: $200 all the way up to a few hundred thousand dollars, into the millions. The one we did in Scotland was $1.6 million—and that was for his home.

Brett: There was about $200,000 worth of fish—every kind you can imagine.

Wayde: All different species from all over the world.

Brett: From puffers to triggers to angels to sharks to butterflies and stingrays.

TFH: What made you decide to participate in a reality TV show?

Brett: About 5½ years ago we sat in our old building, where we had a big group office and five or six of us sat in one office. People used to walk in and say, “You guys are great, you guys are awesome, you guys build crazy stuff—you guys should be on TV!” Not one person, but 50 or 100 people used to say it regularly.

I said, “Wayde, everybody is saying that we have to run with it.” We came up with this crazy idea to formulate a show. Orange County Choppers was pretty huge at the time, and we said we could do the same thing that those guys do but with aquariums. We had a company out in LA come and film it and they pitched, but it didn’t go anywhere for like 1½ years. Then we got a hold of my friend Mike Scores from New York, and he got a hold of the production company, and the production company sold it to Animal Planet.”

TFH: What happens when you and your family see the show, complete with the comments made solely to the camera? For example, what happened when your wife/sister found out the “shark sticks” were only mop handles? Has Heather forgiven you yet? Check out the video where Heather jumps in a shark tank.

Wayde: Well, the funny thing is, at the time she thought they were real shark sticks. We had to tell her that to get her in the tank. But after the fact, after she stepped out of the aquarium, we kind of filled her in that they weren’t. So it didn’t wait until we actually saw it on TV. She knew at that point and she wasn’t happy

Brett: We will never live that down. Wayde is still on the couch!

TFH: Are there any other surprises that she is going to find out about this season?

Wayde: There are surprises every day. This is the funny thing— Brett starts this stuff, then when he calls her in to discuss it he says, “Wayde, you tell her.” So he puts me on the spot and gets me in trouble all the time.

Brett: It’s different when you’re not married to her. When she’s your sister, you can do whatever you want. I don’t have to go home with her, I don’t have to sleep next to her, and I don’t even have to see her. But she can take care of herself; don’t worry. She might be little, but you know what they say about dynamite…

TFH: What is your advice for someone setting up their own saltwater tank?

Wayde: I always tell this to people. After someone is done they always want to go a little bigger, so if you have the space to go bigger, do it now because you’re going to want it later.

Brett: Wayde and I also, being in the industry for so long and seeing everything that has come about, we have five products that are going to tap into the marketplace within the next few weeks.

The bottom line is Wayde and I love the aquarium business. We’re both scuba certified, we’re divers, we love to be in the industry, we love fish, we take our fishkeeping very seriously. We don’t want people to think that we’re just these aquarium builders and we don’t care about the fish. It’s very important that everybody knows that we love fish, we’re knowledgeable, we have a huge, huge retail store in Las Vegas that’s probably one of the best stores on the west coast, and it opens up soon. I want people to understand that not only are we aquarium builders, that we are fish enthusiasts, hobbyists, and we want to do whatever is in the best interest for the animals.

TFH: Speaking of the animals, how do you care for some of the more exotic and difficult-to-keep species, such as the parrotfish in the Mob Experience tank in the Tropicana?

Wayde stands in front of the "Mob Experience" tank at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino.

Brett: Parrotfish, what they do is they like to spin a cocoon and hibernate at night. They have a beak, so they like to chew on corals. When you put clams in and hard-shelled foods they’re actually very comfortable with that.

Wayde: We make sure any of the fish that we’re going to get are eating and are in good shape and condition. Reality TV is reality TV; most of the time everything looks like it’s done overnight. We don’t want people to think that it’s being done overnight—people need to understand that all the builds and everything that we do, they don’t happen instantaneously; it takes time. We do whatever we can to ensure the proper environment for the fish, whether it be food, feeding, so forth and so on.

For the full article about Animal Planet’s new reality TV show Tanked  visit

And to see highlights from the show click here.

Posted August 16th, 2011.

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August 2011 Desktop Calendar

Tropical Fish Hobbyist’s August 2011 Desktop Calendar is now available.

Click on the size below that best matches your desktop.


Our 2011 Calendar Cover
2011 Calendar Cover

Visit the Web Extras section of for additional downloads, videos, and much more!

Posted August 1st, 2011.

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Live Chat with Mo Devlin

For those of you who missed the live chat with cichlid and aquatic photography expert Mo Devlin, you can read the transcript here.

Mo Devlin talked live about aquatic photography and cichlids. Photograph by Mo Devlin.


Crazygar: Ok, let’s begin folks…

Crazygar: Within the Cichlid World and Aquatic Photography, one name that really stands out is Morrell Devlin also known as AquaMoJo. We are honored this evening to have the opportunity to get a chance to speak with him about various aspects of life both Aquatic and Non-Aquatic.

Crazygar: Before I begin the interview, I would like to remind everyone about a few ground rules before proceeding:

Crazygar: 1) While the interview is in progress, I would like to ask everyone from refraining from popping in with a question or comment. Please write down your question, as we are having a small open forum at the end of the session.

Crazygar: 2) When the Open Forum begins, I will queue people on a first come first served basis. Remember, we only have a limited amount of time, so there can only be a limited amount of questions. If not all questions get answered, I am sure Mo will answer them via the PM system in time. Remember, like the rest of us, he has a life outside as well.

Crazygar: 3) Use the PRIVATE MESSAGE Command on the right hand side of your chat window to ask to be put in queue for a question, an updated list of “order” will sent (privately) as more participants increase.

Crazygar: 4) Please ensure its only ONE question. If there is time, you may have the opportunity to ask another one.

Crazygar: Now that the rules and welcomes are down, let’s begin…

Crazygar: Mo, how are you doing this evening?

AquaMoJo: I am well, thanks. Looking forward to chatting tonight.

Crazygar: One thing that comes to mind when your name (or screen name) is mentioned, is your “Mascot” on your Website ( Can you explain the story behind this wonderful fish?

AquaMoJo: That’s an interesting story. About fifteen years ago I acquired a very beautifully marked Amphilophus citrinellum from Jeff Rapps. The fish was unusual in that the markings were VERY symmetrical…and the colors appealing.​/Red%20Devil%20137b.jpg

I got the fish as a future mate for another Citrinellum that I had for many years…”Rocky”.

AquaMoJo: I put the pair in a divided tank hoping they would breed. Nothing happened for several months…then a year. Around that time a very good friend of mine was looking for a wet pet…so I gave him the fish. From that point on she laid eggs regularly. LOL I even brought her back for a short period of time, put her back in the divided tank…and nothing. So I gave her back to my friend.

AquaMoJo: Rocky died a bachelor and a virgin at 18 years…and her beautiful “eye flower” became the defining feature in the Aquamojo Logo. I’ve had dozens of this species complex over the years. She was by far the prettiest.

Crazygar: If you were to pick one fish you are most knowledgeable about, what fish would it be?

AquaMoJo: Hands down, it would have to be Managuense. My large male “Jumbo” was a rock star. If you Google “Jumbo Managuense” it’s at the top of the list with pages to follow. That fish was known worldwide. I still get e-mails asking about him…and folks saying they got this particular fish because they saw him.

Jumbo was by far the most aggressive fish I have ever owned. He was the only fish that ever bit me…behind my arm as I was reaching across an open tank…and the only fish that I had to distract to put my hand in the water for tank maintenance.

AquaMoJo: I only ever bred him one time primarily because of his aggressive nature. He bred through a divider and beat himself up pretty bad trying to get to the female. I could talk for hours on this fish alone. He was thirteen when he died suddenly.​se/Jumbo%20603b.jpg

Owning them and knowing them are two different things. Over the years I have kept dozens of this species. I’ve also kept different variants of the fish….from the gold morph to the most recent Honduran variant. As many know I post a LOT of photos and a disproportionate amount of them are of my managuense. I spend a lot of time standing in front of that tank, watching the fish’s behavior and interaction.

AquaMoJo: Several years ago, Wayne Leibel made a comment that has stuck with me till this day. He commented that it’s not the scientists or other eggheads that really know the fish, but the hobbyists. The latter count scales and rays, classify, lump and split the fish. We’re the folks that stand in front of the tank for hours watching the fish.

AquaMoJo: Case in point….Over the years I had noted that for a short period of time after new fry started swimming…usually day two or three…they would surround one parent or another apparently nibbling on the slime coat. I called Wayne and he said it was called “glancing”…contact feeding that was seen often in Discus, thought to happen in other cichlids, but never documented. I was fortunate enough to capture this behavior on video and photos.

AquaMoJo: Here’s a video you might want to bookmark to watch:

AquaMoJo: It‘s interesting behavior that brings more questions to mind. Why do they do that? Is it for the same reason that mammals drink mother’s milk? Is there something in the mucous coating that helps the immune system of the fry? Who knows…

Crazygar: Most of us name our favorite fish. Can you give us (3) names and types of fish that stick out in your mind?

AquaMoJo: I only ever named two cichlids…Rocky (A. citrinellum) and Jumbo (P. managuense). If I was pressed to give you a name for another fish with a name it wouldn’t be a cichlid. I had a Pacu ( Brutus) that I brought home in a sandwich bag…literally. He was as big as a quarter. At his peak he was 36” long and 22 pounds. Something that size is hard to forget. LOL We’ve all made mistakes as hobbyists. Brutus was one of mine. I think this species of fish along with the Red Tail Cats shouldn’t even be sold in the hobby. Brutus spent seven years in my basement pond. …another fish I could talk about for hours…but I guess that’s what makes them memorable.

Crazygar: How did you get started with Tank Busting Fish? Most of us stick with the smaller, more “tame” fish in this hobby, what was your drive?

AquaMoJo: When I was a kid, my father had a “big” aquarium…55 gallons. He kept community type fish, but always leaned toward the unusual. Fish like Glass Cats, Butterfly Fish, Loaches, etc…and unbeknownst to me at the time, cichlids…Angelfish. He set up a small tank for me and I kept a few oddities. The Congo Puffer being the first. Then for my 14th birthday he brought me home an Albino Tiger Oscar. At age fourteen, I had a fish that ATE other fish. I was hooked.

AquaMoJo: I’ve had tanks in my home since then. I was into the big weird stuff. I had a couple of Snakeheads 18”, Ret Tail Catfish 36” Giant Gourami and even electric catfish. I just kind of gravitated over to what I have today, Central American cichlids. For a while I had South Americans as well…but the water here in NE Pennsylvania comes out of the tap hard as nails and doesn’t do well with the softer water cichlids.

AquaMoJo: So my dad got me in the hobby. One day when my then 8 year old daughter came to visit, he took her to the store and bought a goldfish. She brought it home in a bag…big smile. My dad said, go ahead honey, put it in the tank. She dumped it in and it was eaten by a large Oscar almost before it was wet. With that he turned to Gillian and said, See? Big fish always EAT little fish. LOL And here I am still…as an adult…digging big fish that eat other fish.

Crazygar: On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being most aggressive, 5 being semi-aggressive), can you give us a fish that you’ve kept that would fall into Category 1 and Category 5?

AquaMoJo: I guess you could answer that in a couple ways. Aggressive to me or to other fish?

AquaMoJo: For category #1 toward people, nothing beats a big CA cichlid as a wet pet. I’ve never had a Managuense that wasn’t a glass banger. It was the only fish that ever bit me…twice. So he wins.

AquaMoJo: Hands down, Nandopsis beani for aggression toward other fish. When I first got some wild fish from Rusty Wessel he said, now when they breed, that fish will kill all the other fish. Then kill the mate. I’ve had aggressive fish before. So I divided the tank giving the females (there were three) access to the male’s side through a hole. The female bred, and before I could get out the “spares” she went on a killing spree then beat up the male so bad I had to keep it in a hospital tank for weeks. They’re insane. Actually Rusty said “Keel” Love that southern accent. LOL

AquaMoJo: For category #5 Umbee, Dovii, some of the Paratheraps. It’s really difficult for me to put fish into classes like that. I think a lot of the aggression issues are because of other factors affecting the fish.

Crazygar: What special care do these larger, somewhat more temperamental fish require that would be less than normal for the average fish found in Stores?

AquaMoJo: Here’s a photo I like to show people when it comes to “compatibility” in the tank.

This is a Pacu, a Citrinellum, a Red Tail catfish and a Blue Gourami in the same body of water…the pond.​t%27s%20wrong.jpg

AquaMoJo: Big water inevitably will give you fewer issues. That’s one of the reasons I stock my tanks so light. If I had to carve on stone what I think is the single best thing you could do for ANY of these fish, it would be “Big Frequent Water Changes”. So part of the difference is a commitment issue. More diligent tank maintenance takes time and money.

AquaMoJo: Lots of people buy several of a species to try and get a breeding pair. Here are three things you should do if this is the plan…in order of importance:

AquaMoJo: 1.    Get a divider.

AquaMoJo: 2.    Get a divider. – Really. Yes they are getting along now. But when they bonding or breeding, that will change. And like most accidents, it will happen when you aren’t there. You can’t time it…but you can plan for it.

AquaMoJo: 3.    Be prepared to separate the fish (see 1 & 2) after the spawn has been removed. The larger CA cichlids appear to go through a post partum period where the owner can expect increase aggression and unpredictable behavior.


AquaMoJo: For all of these larger than average fish the bottom line is to basically always be attentive to protecting “Adam from Eve”. Sometimes there’s hell to pay in the garden. LOL

Crazygar: Most of us here, keep fish that would be considered “feeders” to your fish, have you kept small fish that could be kept fine in a 30GAL tank?

AquaMoJo: No cichlids. I do have a bunch of small catfish and pleco. But they are mixed in with the cichlids.

Crazygar: What the maximum gallon age of the “aquatic residences” (I would say Aquariums, but somehow it does not suit your fish) currently running at your home?

AquaMoJo: Right now I have about 3000 gallons of water across 23 containers. Two years ago I took a couple large “vats” off line as well as the 1600 gallon pond I had in the basement. That cut 2000 gallons of water. Loved having the pond….it just ran its course.

Crazygar: How much floor space is allocated to all your fish? From what I seen on your website, you must have a massive home!

AquaMoJo: I have most of my tanks in the basement of my home. I honestly couldn’t give you square footage. In addition to our home we have a farm. I have a half dozen large tanks there as well. The rule of thumb here is that the tanks in my home are reserved for the species I am either breeding or photographing. The tanks at my farm are used exclusively for grow outs. None of the tanks there are set up for photos. I just do a tank shuffle when I want to take pictures of a species not in the Fishroom.

Crazygar: What types of food do you feed all those fish? Do feed any of these fish live foods?

AquaMoJo: I use Xtreme Aquatic foods exclusively for prepared packaged food. They have a great product. Their 9mm monster pellet was a godsend when it came out. With the large mouths I have to feed it makes it much more efficient to feed them a few large pellets and KNOW they are getting the food rather than smaller and having the excess not eaten and potentially foul the water. I use their community flake and also their new cat scrapers for the bottom feeders.

AquaMoJo: I am also big proponent of variety in a diet. All of my fish, in addition to the pellet, are fed dried krill, raw shrimp, scallops, and occasional live insects (crickets, earthworms, super worms). The key is understanding the dietary needs of each species and catering to them. The only other live food that I use are the fry from other fish that I usually feed to the grow outs.

Crazygar: As I ask everyone… do you keep a tank strictly for “display only”? What type of tank is it?

AquaMoJo: I used to keep a 300 gallon tank in my living room. I took that down after one too many “water incidents” on the hardwood floor…one in particular that involved a the 22” Pacu. I consider ALL of the tanks in the basement as display tanks. I keep them pristine with clean glass and water. Most house only a single species of fish or a couple fish from an individual biotope.

Crazygar: When you went on the collecting trip to Honduras in 2006, what was the most “memorable” part of the trip?

AquaMoJo: Our target fish in Honduras was actually NOT a cichlid. Several years ago Rusty Wessel had collected a fish called Anapleps dowii, the four eyed-fish. He had given some of them to the Denver Zoo. Through an accident, the zoo lost all of the fish. Anapleps anaplebs is in the hobby and more or less available. The dowii was not. We had to travel to the Rio Cholteca in Teguchagalpa.

AquaMoJo: It was a very unique collecting experience. Most of the fish we collected were netted or hooked in daylight. During the day we collected Amphilophus Hogaboomorum, another fish endemic to the area. The A. dowii had to be caught at night. The fish lays near the top of the water with two eyes out and two eyes below the surface. We caught them by shining a flashlight at the surface, and while catching the reflection of the light in their eyes, sneak up and net them. Much like frog gigging. You had to be extremely quick with the net as the fish would shoot across the top of the water incredibly fast.

AquaMoJo: We caught about a hundred of them. Rusty sent some to the Denver Zoo, some to Shedd Aquarium and the rest to one of our crew to raise in their Florida fish farm. It was particularly gratifying when I went to the Shedd Aquarium during the Chicago convention. In the biotope area there was a Honduras section and in that tank were the A. dowii we collected. I couldn’t help thinking that at least SOME of what was in that tank were collected by me. It was an “ah-ha” moment for me…one of the first times I felt as if I was making a difference in the hobby.

AquaMoJo: But THAT wasn’t the story. As I said we collected at night and as such, had to make the four hour ride back to our base camp at night. You aren’t traveling highways in Honduras. Lots of the trip was on roads that could only be described as treacherous. I was riding shotgun with Eddie Martin driving. Four others were in the back of the overcrowded van sleeping. We were traveling up over a mountain pass and coming down the other side. The road was narrow with little or no shoulder and spine chilling drop offs into the valley below. I closed my eyes for a second and when I opened them saw what could ONLY be described as a left hand turn in the road. We were going too fast per usual. I squeezed my arm rest and looked over at Eddie. Cool as a cucumber he says to me, “Man, I really hope we make this one.” LOL. Driving is always a challenge on these trips.

Crazygar: What were the environments like you collected in? Rocky? Plants?

AquaMoJo: It varies. For the most part it was in rivers. But we did collect fish in water sheds that were more swamp like. The Managuense I have were collected in a very small body of water just off the beach from where we were staying. I can remember walking through the water sinking up to mid shin in muck trying not to think about what exactly was squirming around my feet. Lots of the fry are netted along the shallow water near the bank in vegetation.

AquaMoJo: Here’s a photo of one of our “all stars” Warren when we were in Mexico.​arren%20100b.jpg

AquaMoJo: This water was just nasty. I remember Warren yelling, “Hey, I think I found a body.” He was serious. It ended up being a large garbage bag. It really underscores what you see however. You have to remember that all of these areas were not pristine wilderness. Lot’s of the fish were found in waters that had a fair share of garbage and crap. And you also had some very beautiful areas like Tamasopo Falls in Mexico.

Crazygar: Have you attempted to recreate any of these biotopes at your home?

AquaMoJo: Not really the environment, but I don’t cross specie variants. For example, I have two variant of P. fredrichsthali…one from Cenote Escondido and the other from Honduras. Neither of those fish will ever be in the same tank. Same thing for many of the Convicts I brought home.

Crazygar: You’ve done some wonderful cover shots for TFH Magazine, my favorite was Parachromis managuense with spawn, how did you manage such a wonderful photograph! It truly sticks out in my mind as a favorite cover shot!

AquaMoJo: Why thank you… I assume you are referring to the cover that had the fry? Part of it was pure luck and the other part timing. Shortly after the fry are born they will swim close to the side or back of the tank and apparently graze on the algae on the glass. I only clean algae from in front of the tank for photographic reasons. Well this one time the fry formed a “sheet” across the front of the tank. When I take pictures I generally set up my lights in one particular area of the tank creating a “sweet spot” where I either lure the fish or wait till they cross into its path. All of the lights were in place and I was able to get in close with a Nikkor 105mm VR lens. It’s one of my favorites as well and one of the few covers…I think…that showed a fish that was literally half the size of a grain of rice.

AquaMoJo: Photographing fish when they are breeding it the best. Not only are they at their most vibrant colors…they are literally out of their mind and could care less that the camera is a few feet from the glass. The managuense are my all time favorites with fry.

Crazygar: How long have you been with the ACA? What drove you to join up and take a more active role in fishkeeping?

AquaMoJo: I joined the club back in the 80’s. Back then I had met Chris Persson on line through his site the cichlid scene ( ). Neither of us had ever been to the convention and we decided that it would be great to finally meet in person and experience the convention. So I joined, met Chris and he became one of my closest fish buddies.

AquaMoJo: I became more active with the club when the position for Publicity Chairman opened. I own an advertising agency and have been in marketing and advertising for over thirty years. So it was a good fit. The rest just fell into place. What I can tell you is that once you have attended one of the conventions it really sets the hook. You can’t help but feel like part of something bigger.

AquaMoJo: I’ve always believed that my true contribution back to the hobby has been through my photos. Over the years I have had hundreds of correspondence stating that someone acquired a fish simply because they had been looking at some of the photos of mine that I posted. Good friend once said that one thing was for certain. If the fish gets into one of my tank, its life will be well documented. I like that.

Crazygar: Being the Chairman of the ACA, what duties are required of you? What is a typical day of ACA duties like?

AquaMoJo: Wow. Good question. I was the Chairman last year. This year I am on the BOT. The chairman basically is the focal point of the board. The collective board is where the real “work” generates. For the most part it depends on what’s on the table. Over the last couple years the club has addressed some very dicey issues. In particular during my year as Chairman, the “hybrid” issue was on the front burner. Often times heated, the discussion is still ongoing.

AquaMoJo: Right now our focus is on maximizing the effectiveness of our website. We’re an organization of volunteers and always looking for help. I want to repeat that again, the club can always use help. If you are interested in volunteering, contact me. Right now we are in need of a really good coder for our site. (Commercial off…)

AquaMoJo: My everyday activity centers on keeping the club’s name out there. People associate me and “Aquamojo” with the club. I’m a member of over three dozen fish forums across the web…both national and international. I post my photos, answer questions, and try and get as much exposure for the club as possible. In addition I produce ads for publications and online.

Crazygar: I see that the ACA is being hosted in the Nation’s Capital this year (Washington D.C.), are you planning to take in other sights other than fish or are you pretty much booked solid for this Convention?

AquaMoJo: Our annual BOT meeting will take the better portion of Thursday. I am giving a short talk on Friday as an introduction to the convention. My son will be with me, so we are planning on hitting the Smithsonian or the National Aquarium. Beyond that, just playing it by ear.

Crazygar: Hurriken asks; “Today in the Fishroom” has been a real treat for us here at TFH Forum and it isn’t only the photography but that you create photo essay’s that make these posts so unique.

You posted one interesting piece called “Today in the Fishroom~12/15/09 Analysis of Motion” in which you posted captures of Cichlids in action and described how the fish used it’s fins and body to move. Can you describe how you came up with this idea and the process of putting it together. I’m sure it took some research.

AquaMoJo: I was reading a book:”Fish Behavior, in the Aquarium and in the Wild.” (awesome book – highly recommend it). The idea for the series came when I was reading a chapter on Caudal fins and speed. I started to watch more closely exactly what was happening when the fish swam. It’s really quite amazing when you think about it…the mechanics. Watch an angry fish flaring at the tank. The fish starts flaring their operculum and contorting their body to look bigger. Then they start moving that caudal fin while simultaneously stopping forward motion with their pectoral fins. Wound tight for action….you can SEE it. Awesome.

AquaMoJo: I really strive to give my photos some personality. Many of what I consider my best happened shortly after I “clicked the shutter” and thought, Yeah…that’s not gonna work. This picture in particular:​ium/Intermedium-401.jpg

I never really expected to get that shot.

Crazygar: Are there any “Today in the Fishroom” posts that you are particularly proud of?

AquaMoJo: Yes. In particular I am very proud of the thread showing the development of the managuense fry. One of my lighting techniques is to move the gravel away from the glass bottom of the tank and put a diffused flash below pointing up to illuminate the bottom of the fish. I’ve taken lots of macro photos of the fish.

AquaMoJo: Like most fresh ideas it hit me suddenly that the fry once born are moved to the tank bottom. So I was able to shoot from below the tank pointing up. In this manner I was able to document the fry as they grew day to day up to the moment they first started swimming.

AquaMoJo: The fry when born are miniscule in size. In perspective the gravel looks almost like boulders.​se/Hondo-Manaquense-1260b.jpg​se/Hondo-Manaquense-1271.jpg

AquaMoJo: Over a period of about a week I took over two hundred photos culminating with the fry’s maiden flight.​se/Hondo-Manaquense-1281.jpg​se/Hondo-Manaquense-1283.jpg

AquaMoJo: And of course lots of photos then and now…of adults with fry.​se/Hondo-Manaquense-1286.jpg

Crazygar: Did you ever think for a minute, when you were younger, that you’d be this involved in the hobby as you are now?

AquaMoJo: No. Not back then. But as an adult I can see how it was inevitable. My family…brothers, sisters and parents…never do anything half cocked. We all have our particular obsessions. Mine is fish and photography. My father collected cactus and was well know in that area. My brother collects guns and motorcycles. My younger brother is a well known motocross racer as are his kids, my nieces and nephews.

(2011.07.07 – 17:31:38) AquaMoJo: My niece once said something to me that kind of sums up the drive it takes to keep you in the field. She’s a nationally ranked motocross racer at age 15. She said, “do you know how you win one of these races?” I told her no…how? She said, “You don’t get off the bike until the race is over.” True that. The longer you stay involved in the hobby the more ingrained it becomes in who you are.

Crazygar: Your picture on your website ( looks like you are going to explode! How much do you bench press and what was the highest amount you’ve ever lifted? (J.B., my Co-Admin here on TFH, suggested a good Publicity shot would be you bench pressing myself… I don’t think so…)

AquaMoJo: Well thank you. My max bench press is 450 pounds. I’ve been a bodybuilder, a power lifter and in strong man contests. As a powerlifter I dead lifted 750 pounds at a 198 pound body weight. A few years ago I won a local strongman contest…with a series of events culminating with pushing a Ford pickup with 800 pounds of sand in the rear up a 10% grade for a hundred yards.

AquaMoJo: I tell my son and anyone that listens…it’s not what you get…it’s how long you keep it. I’ll be 56 this year.

Crazygar: I guess that extra strength comes in handy when moving those large fish! Obviously you maintain a healthy lifestyle (unlike myself), what is the secret of your success with sticking to it?

AquaMoJo: “Do or do not… there is no try.” Yoda

I’m committed to the lifestyle.

Crazygar: Your car… what type is it? I noticed the custom plates, “CICHLID” on the photo on your website (…

AquaMoJo: The car in that photo was a Camaro SS. Today I am driving a 2006 Corvette. When I first got that plate they misspelled “CICHLID” and sent it as “CICHILD” (sick child). My wife said….Perfect! LOL

Crazygar: What does your Wife think of this hobby that has you hooked?

AquaMoJo: Lisa is VERY supportive. We have quite a menagerie. For me it’s fish, for her horses. Mutual support. I’m her biggest fan…..and full disclosure….she’s reading this over my shoulder. LOL

Crazygar: In regards to other Pets, can you tell those whom don’t know about your mini-zoo you currently have at home? Hi Lisa

AquaMoJo: We have five dogs varying in age from 18 years to 5 years…five cats…and two horses at our farm. “Moah’s Ark” We do a lot of work with the local shelters. My wife is already talking about the next when one of the senior’s kick. LOL Sounds cold…but there ya go.

Crazygar: Does your Wife assist you in the Fish Keeping aspect in your home or is it a strictly Mo thing?

AquaMoJo: That’s a big N-O.

AquaMoJo: Now…that said, I have had quite a few tank emergencies that she has graciously and without judgment (I sure hope she’s reading this) helped me to attend. I’ll never forget one night when we woke from a sound sleep when we heard what obviously water was pouring out on the floor. We worked like a NASCAR pit crew, cleaning it up and getting the fish into other tanks. She rocks.

Crazygar: Any children Mo? And do they assist and help with the Animals?

AquaMoJo: I have three kids. Chad, 36, Gillian 32 and Jake 22. Jake is the only one that lives locally. My other two are in Texas. Jake helps me with the lift and tote end. He has a tank at home with an…I can barely type this….an AFRICAN cichlid. Coincidentally he will be coming to the convention with me. There’s still hope that he will come over to the dark side.

Crazygar: ROFL. As we near the end of the Q&A Session, I’d like to thank Mo Devlin for letting us get to know a bit more about himself outside the Aquatic World. As always Mo, it’s a pleasure having a conversation with you and it was an honor to finally interview you for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine. Before I get to the open Forum (where I have a ton of people just buzzing to ask you a question) I have one random question I ask each interviewee…

Freshfish: (groan)

Crazygar: What is your favorite color of socks and why?

AquaMoJo: I think i answered that for Scott. lol

Crazygar: I was asleep

ScottFish: (boxers or briefs)

AquaMoJo: It would have to be white. I spend a lot of time in the gym and a good pair of socks is (are?) key.

AquaMoJo: Boxers

Crazygar: Great! On behalf of Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, the people whom have shown up for this event this evening, we’d like to thank you for taking the time to chat with us this evening and let us get know you better as a person, as a ton of “fishy” questions await you…

AquaMoJo: It’s been an honor and I really appreciate the opportunity to chat. Thanks again to the ACA’s good friends at Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine and this awesome forum. You guys are cichlid rock stars.

Crazygar: Before we get to the end, we have a small “quiz” based on this evening’s interview with Mo. All of you can participate to win a copy of David B’s book “Cichlids”. Please send all answers to… And here is the question…

Crazygar: “Where the collection point was for the new variant of Parachromis managuense that Mo is currently raising?” Please send your answers to with the subject line: Live Chat Quiz Answer.

Crazygar: At this point, we’ll have an open Forum where you can ask Mo some questions in turn, please respect the question being asked by not typing until your turn. A transcript of this chat will be up shortly within the TFH Forum and TFH Magazine Website shortly. Thanks and Mo, I turn the floor to you for some questions. Remember, at 7pm (TFH Standard Time), the interview session concludes…

Crazygar: Ok, first runner up?

FishyPastor: Do you prefer digital or the old fashion cameras?

AquaMoJo: I first learned photography on film camera. I do believe that gave me a leg up on taking photos with digital. Learning the basics of alerture, shutter speed…made the transition much more pleasurable.

AquaMoJo: Digital hands down. Less expensive mistakes.

AquaMoJo: I had my first camera in 1972.

Crazygar: Thank you FishyPastor.

Crazygar: Anyone else?

Crazygar: CentralStar has a question.

Crazygar: CentralStar…

Centralstar: Do you still have thelarge Male Breidohri, love to see more pics of him

AquaMoJo: lost my connection there for a second.

AquaMoJo: I do. He’s doing well in a 300 gallon tank.

AquaMoJo: I did post some a little while ago. I’ll make it a point to grab some more soon.

Centralstar: thanks look forward to meeting you at the ACA 2011

Marco_Arroyo: Are you going to take some of your photos to sale at ACA?

(2011.07.07 – 17:49:20) AquaMoJo: Likewise. I’m the guy who looke like Mr. Clean

Crazygar: ROFL

Crazygar: With the ACA website, what is all needed to be done to it?

AquaMoJo: Marco…I hadn’t really thought of that. I should. I am getting my site ready so that I can sell them on line.

Centralstar: I have the same hairstyle

Marco_Arroyo: thanks

AquaMoJo: Gary…we need web help like breath.

AquaMoJo: Technical stuff that most of us are not equipped to do.

Crazygar: Such as what? I’m curious what needs to be done?

Crazygar: As I am sure others are as well watching this.

AquaMoJo: If you or anyone would like to help….PLEASE let me know.

Crazygar: Sounds like an interesting project, we’ll chat offline about this…

AquaMoJo: Updating pages. Getting the subscription module up so we can let the forum keep track of members rather than old school excel sheets

AquaMoJo: That’s the biggest thing.

Crazygar: Ok, you folks are running vBulletin, we’ll talk.

AquaMoJo: Thanks for whatever you can do. Like I said, we are an organization of volunteers. We always welcome the help.

ScottFish: (back in your Geek box Gary.)

AquaMoJo: Boxers

Crazygar: Sigh

Freshfish: rofl

Crazygar: Do you have any idea how many members are currently with the ACA?

AquaMoJo: Did Monica from Bulgaria sign off or is she still on now?

Freshfish: please don’t ask what color those are…

Crazygar: I believe so…

AquaMoJo: Gary…last time I looked…800

Crazygar: Wow, that’s quite the membership.

AquaMoJo: It fluctuates around the convention time…and geo location.

Freshfish: mo- do you have any lighting advice for those who only have little point-and-shoot cameras?

AquaMoJo: That’s tough. The single best piece of advice I give folks on aquatic photog. is that they need to get the flash off the camera and over the tank.

Freshfish: i don’t see myself taking on yet another hobby (like photography) but I would like to get better pics of my fish and geckos…

AquaMoJo: I guess you could look for some kind of a slave flash that would be triggered by the on camera flash.

Freshfish: so you think a slave flash on top of the tank would be the best bet?

AquaMoJo: Yes

Freshfish: ok thanks, i’ll check that out

Crazygar: Thanks Freshfish, and now it’s Boopers1….

AquaMoJo: Fresh…PM me. I’ll give you a few more tips. I lost m conection again for a second.

Crazygar: Boopers? Are you there?

J.B.: if you could include me on the reply to Freshfish i’d appreciate it, Mo

Boopers1: Yes.

AquaMoJo: I’ll make a post in your photo section

Freshfish: I’ll make a thread on the forum if that would be OK, mo?

Freshfish: or that will work…

AquaMoJo: Sure

Bowcrazy: What can you do if the camera has a built in flash and no way to trigger a remote flash?

AquaMoJo: Tough one. Your best bet would be to try and add some kind of external light source. Another strip light…overheads…anything that will give you more in the tank.

AquaMoJo: 99.9% of all of my fish photos are shot with external (three or more) flash units. I can toss a lot of light on a very small area

Bowcrazy: Would placing a reflected light that is brighter than normal work better than a direct light sourse

AquaMoJo: marco…I use three-four Nikon SB-900 flash units. I can illuminate a subject at 20 feet with one flash….imagine what four pointed into what is essentially a two foot area can do?

AquaMoJo: Most of the photos are shot at an ISO of 100 or less. Very slow “film”. I use 1/250th of a second and an aperture anywhere from f22 – f45

AquaMoJo: Bow…reflected light will give you less shadows.

AquaMoJo: If you use direct light….diffuse it. Put a piece of white cloth or a light diffuser on top of the tank.

Bowcrazy: Thanks that answered my question better than the local photagrapher did

Marco_Arroyo: thanks my friend

Crazygar: Thanks guys, sorry for the confusion.

Crazygar: (which my world generally is)

AquaMoJo: No problem Bow. Ask anytime. I love sharing the hobby..both.

Crazygar: Anyone else with a question for Mo?

AquaMoJo: Marco. My pleasure amigo!

Crazygar: Mo does not bite folks… We seem to have some hesitation here tonight Mo, I apologize for this.

AquaMoJo: Marco are you coming to the convention?

Marco_Arroyo: yes mi amigo ill be there with all the crazy mexicans

Marco_Arroyo: and of course dave and troy heheh

AquaMoJo: We’ll send out advance notice to lock up the women. LOL

Marco_Arroyo: Woooooow

AquaMoJo: Has anyone seen the aquamojo facebook page?

J.B.: Mo-we all know Jumbo was your favorite, but which of your current or recent past stock would you say is your 2nd favorite?

Bowcrazy: I clean my tanks very well before trying to get a shot but I still get what looks like water spots on some of the pictures – is that a cleaning problem – other than just water what can I clean the face of the tank with

Crazygar: slow down folks, let’s que up…JB…

AquaMoJo: I love that big Zonatum that I have.

AquaMoJo: He’s always ready for pictures. 14″ I DID start calling him the blue beast.

J.B.: i figured…it’s one of my fave photo subjects of yours too

AquaMoJo: Bow…here’s a really good tip. I don’t clean the front of my tanks with glass cleaner.

AquaMoJo: I use a product called Zymol. It’s a car wax. I remove any mineral deposits then I wax the glass.

Freshfish: wax the glass? wow that’s the first time I’ve ever heard of that- what does that accomplish?

AquaMoJo: It covers any tiny scratches that stand out like a sore thumb when taking pictures

Bowcrazy: I think I have that product in my Harley cleaning equipment

Bowcrazy: thanks

Bowcrazy: I will try that

Crazygar: Wow

Crazygar: Car Wax?

AquaMoJo: Try it. You will be amazed. Think about it. If it’s waxed…no water beads.

Freshfish: I suppose that only works on the outside of the tank, though…

Bowcrazy: I have all glass tanks – works on glass as well as plex

Crazygar: I will definitely have to try that Mo

Bowcrazy: I would guess it would also help keep down water spots from forming

AquaMoJo: Fresh. Yes. That would kill the fish. Razor blade the inside.

AquaMoJo: I have one Plexi tank…a 300 gallon…and I hate it.

Bowcrazy: I am a glass only keeper

AquaMoJo: Truthfully should replace it. The scratches over the years affect my photos.

Freshfish: I actually use a wide putty knife on my 90gal. razor would take me a year and I’d end up swimming in the tank… lol but i’m going to try that wax on the outside thing, just don’t tell my hubby where it went! rofl

Crazygar: Freshy, YOU COULD swim in that tank.

J.B.: i wonder if she’d stick to the filter like her fave fishies

Freshfish: your point being…?

Freshfish: ha

Hurriken: ha ha

Freshfish: ha

Bowcrazy: Fresh please stay out of my Harley bucket

Bowcrazy: lol

Crazygar: Ok, any more questions?

Freshfish: yes, how many bullets do i need right now?

Crazygar: 4

AquaMoJo: No one asked me why I photo fish, dogs and flowers but nevr thought to take up photographing pretty women.

Crazygar: We figured the fish were contained.

Freshfish: lol

J.B.: i have a quick question

Crazygar: No chance to run

Crazygar: JB…

AquaMoJo: Fresh…I tell people to shoot me twice. The first bullet just upsets me.

AquaMoJo: JB…shoot. I’m not in a hurry to go anywhere

Freshfish: depends on where you’re shot, i suppose

AquaMoJo: Fres…don’t take that literally

J.B.: with your love of photography, Mo…how come you never looked into taking pictures of some of the beautiful women there in california

Freshfish: LOL

Freshfish: if someone ever shows up at the ACA with a big viola case…

AquaMoJo: Let me run that by wife number three. LOL

Bowcrazy: I would guess the fish don’t complain about having their pictures taken in the buff

AquaMoJo: If you show up at a convention with a viola case, we’re just expecting it to be full of fish.

Freshfish: *sigh* it would be, too

Freshfish: or plants…

J.B.: little blue and red ones with filter marking on them, if you’re talking to fresh

Crazygar: Ok folks let’s get this back on track…

Freshfish: *decides to take up cannibalism and make a canape out of jb*

Freshfish: wait- we have a track?

Crazygar: Ok folks.

Freshfish: it’s “ya’ll,” not “folks”

AquaMoJo: That’s my fault. How many people keep managuense?

Freshfish: i’d love one- if they wouldn’t eat my tetras

ScottFish: I can’t spell ‘em

Freshfish: lol

AquaMoJo: I have a funny story about tetras

Freshfish: uh oh

Hurriken: as far as breeding goes is there any fish that you struggled with until finally having success?

Freshfish: *tars and feathers ken for trying to be all serious again*

Hurriken: oh wait tetra story first

Hurriken: hopefully cardinals

AquaMoJo: When we were in Honduras I was snorkeling looking at some fish. I felt this real tickeling on my back. When I looked over my shoulder a school of neon tetras were nibbling on my back hair.

Freshfish: ah- much better

Freshfish: ewwwwww

Freshfish: rofl

AquaMoJo: It was amazing.

ScottFish: it must of been love for them and Mr. Clean

Freshfish: some fish have no taste. cories like gary’s toe jam.

AquaMoJo: I felt like one of those hippos that get there teeth cleaned my birds.

Bowcrazy: That is a real slow way of removing hair — Isn’t it?

Hurriken: Sucker fish like Scott’s jokes

AquaMoJo: They were just tasting…not nibbling

Hurriken: I was kidding you all have to go silent

AquaMoJo: so…is everyone “fanned” on my aquamojo facebook page?

Freshfish: i am!

Bowcrazy: Do you have any tricks up your sleave to get a fish to hold still for a picture?

AquaMoJo: Help a brother out. LOL

Bowcrazy: Not yet

J.B.: unfortunately, i don’t do the facebook thing

J.B.: i’m not sure that “un” should be there, actually

AquaMoJo: Yes. With some of the larger guapotes they are responsive to anything moving in front of the tank. I set my lights up and wait for the fish to get within range. When they do i dart my hand out…invariably they will stop.

Bowcrazy: Don’t do Facebook — how do you communicate now days then – antique phone?

AquaMoJo: No joke. I wave my hand.

AquaMoJo: The one advantage to shooting at such a high speed (1/250th) is that it doesn’t matter if they are standing still

AquaMoJo: some of the best photos were taken of fish jut swimming

Marco_Arroyo: Do you have the nikon 300??

AquaMoJo: Marco…I have a d300, d200, and a d3.

Bowcrazy: My problem is not the speed of the shutter but the slow reaction of the camera – like a 3 sec. delay

Marco_Arroyo: wow d3 rocks

AquaMoJo: Yeah. That is tough, Bow. One thing about digital is that you can erase your mistakes. Just take as many photos as you can. for every one you see of mine, there are a dozen in my delete file.

Bowcrazy: By the time my old camera gets around to taking the picture the fish has moved on

AquaMoJo: Marco the d300 is my workhorse. the d3 is at my ad agency pretty much full time

AquaMoJo: Keep clicking. Timing is everything…literally

Bowcrazy: I guess it is about time a break down and get a new camera or go back to using my old SLRs

AquaMoJo: Sell the SLR’s and get a moderately priced digital. Nikon D70 is a great camera. You can buy them used on Amazon.

Hurriken: I have a D80

Hurriken: and SB300 flash

Bowcrazy: Sell my SLRs – as what antiques – lol

AquaMoJo: You can’t go wrong with that camera…or flash. Do you use the Commander Mode?

Hurriken: A little bit but I have not photographed my fish in quite a long time

AquaMoJo: Check your decent camera stores. They just had one hear locally that I sold an old Nikkormat and a Pentax body and got $150

Hurriken: everytime I do I have to read the book again!

Marco_Arroyo: do you still have the lenses of your pentax??

AquaMoJo: SOmeone had asked about digital vs. film

Freshfish: I just looked and used Nikon D70s start around $450

Hurriken: What do you use for backgrounds?

AquaMoJo: I learned how to do macro photography when I was in the Army. I shot autopsy photos. You had to get the setting right the first time. There was no digging them up for a reshoot.

Bowcrazy: I might go visit with our local photographer about some of his old cameras – I know he has like 15 cameras and most are Nikons

AquaMoJo: Marco…no. They went with the cameras for a few extra dollars

Marco_Arroyo: ok

AquaMoJo: I paint the backs of my tanks twice. First coat is a “frosted Glass” paint. That gives it an opaque textured finish.

AquaMoJo: Then I spray them with flat black. The combination of the two seem to help with giving me that black background effect.

Bowcrazy: I still have all my lenses and filters for my pentex – all lenses are the univeral screw in type

AquaMoJo: Wow…remember that? Screwing in the lens. LOL

Bowcrazy: Guess I should list them on ebay or something

AquaMoJo: Wouldn’t hurt

AquaMoJo: I still have an old Brownie box camera

AquaMoJo: THAT’S an antique!

Crazygar: Big time

Crazygar: We have quite the quiet bunch here this evening.

Freshfish: shhhhh- I’m busy learning stuff

AquaMoJo: Marco…I understand Media Luna is in bad shape?

Freshfish: (and pricing out cameras… lol)

Marco_Arroyo: well not really, the bad thing is that theres a lot of gang memeber on rio verde

Bowcrazy: Question – if you were going to set up a tank just for shooting – what would you recommend for a size, background and substrate if you where shooting only freshwater tropicals

Marco_Arroyo: i was going to go the last month but i cancel because of that

AquaMoJo: I wasn’t refferring to the gangs. I hear that there are quite a few Pleco infesting the water

Marco_Arroyo: theres still obviously the carpintis/labridens hybrids

Marco_Arroyo: well theres tilapias but i havent seen plecos lately, i think juan miguel just went with allan rollings a few months ago i will ask him

AquaMoJo: Bow…same paint job as described above. Depending on the size of the fish you are going to photo…I would use a 20 for large fish…ten for smaller. Suspend the tank over an opening and light top and bottom.

AquaMoJo: I must be confusing that with Nututun. Juan had an excellent article in the BB

AquaMoJo: Bow…no substrate…clean bottom to light the fish. Have you seen any of the photos where I light top and bottom of the fish?

Marco_Arroyo: yes thats on palenque, chiapas

Bowcrazy: Yes – I was just thinking about setting up a tank for shooting – I only have 18 tanks from 10 gallon to 125 gallon – I raise mostly Mollies and Angelfish

AquaMoJo: It really makes a difference:​natum-1025.jpg

AquaMoJo: Marco…I saw that video that Dan Woodland shot. It was sickening.

Marco_Arroyo: yes that was on the river chacamax

Marco_Arroyo: it was devastating

Marco_Arroyo: we call them pez diablo

Hurriken: I have a Kodak Retina from 1953

AquaMoJo: That would make a great shirt. We have an animal in our home we call El Gato Diablo.

AquaMoJo: WOW…What’s that bad both worth?

Marco_Arroyo: heheh that will be great

Freshfish: I have La Beagle Diabla

AquaMoJo: Mine got it’s name because it eats hot peppers. It’s a cat.

Marco_Arroyo: hehehehhehee

Crazygar: I am wondering if anyone else has other questions they’d like to ask Mo? We have 9 minutes left of the official open session…

Freshfish: Mine gets her name for eating out of the cat litter. I’m BEYOND glad that none of my cats eat peppers!!

Bowcrazy: I think I have asked most of the photography questions so I will shut up

Hurriken: TIs there a species that was difficult to keep or breed that you ended up having success with?

AquaMoJo: One of the things I pride myself on is answering any PM or E-mail from folks with questions. If you would ever like to reach out…please don’t hesitate. This is a great hobby and it’s always wonderful to talk with like minded folks.

AquaMoJo: Yes. Hericthys labridens “Media Luna”. I had them for a while and had no luck. Then one day…bang. I put a lot of them back into the hobby back then. My most difficult that I have YET to breed is Vieja ufermanni.

Hurriken: I think you still keep those

AquaMoJo: A lot of the foks that keep or kept the labridens had problems with bloat. I (knock on wood) haven’t seen that.

AquaMoJo: I do.

Hurriken: No interest in Africans?

Crazygar: 5 minutes kids…

Crazygar: Oh no, fighting words…

AquaMoJo: As a matter of fact a good friend is going to give me some compressiceps at the convention. My first foray into that area.

Hurriken: One of my favorites!

Hurriken: Have you photographed any pikes?

) AquaMoJo: I did shoot a bunch of photos for the fish labels for Xtreme aquatic foods. they asked if i had any Africans. I said no…and they sent me six boxes of fish. LOL

Hurriken: Took my 5 years to get my Comps to spawn

Hurriken: *me

AquaMoJo: I took the photos and donated the fish to a local childrens hospital. My son kept one for himself. A purple one. LOL

Crazygar: They have purple fish?

AquaMoJo: I took some pike pictures at one of the conventions.

AquaMoJo: Purple with a yellow stripe. Wild stuff.

J.B.: i’ve got lots of africans, mo…you’re welcome to come to GA and take pictures of each and every one of them if you’d like

AquaMoJo: My sone is coming to the convention with me. He’s 22. he might see something he likes. Trying to swing him to the darkside. He’s just not disciplined enough to want to clean tanks.

Crazygar: I would like to thank all whom attended this evening with the live chat with Mo Devlin. I hope we didn’t tire you out for the ACA in a couple of weeks. Thanks and a good and safe evening to all.

Bowcrazy: Let me know how you did it if you ever get him into it

Crazygar: This has been the most interesting open session I’ve hosted, thanks Mo for making it quite a unique experience.

AquaMoJo: Folks….it’s been great. Thanks again to TFH and the good people at Xtreme Aquatics for sponsoring this. You know I am certainly not shy…please don’t you be. See you on the web.

Freshwater_Tropi: This has been a lot of interesting information. Ive been watching quietly, I loved it all. Thank you Very much Mo

Crazygar: I am ducking out here to eat some Subway that Erin has brought me that has been sitting for 1hr.

Bowcrazy: I have 7 grandchildren and can’t get even one of my kids interesting in fishkeeping

Freshwater_Tropi: I haven’t asked anything, But I have learned a lot…

AquaMoJo: My pleasure Freshwater.

Bowcrazy: Thanks Mo for all the answers to my questions — note to self – get out the car wax to clean tank fronts

Crazygar: If you want to hang around MO, it’s totally up to you, but this umbre needs to eat.

Freshfish: Thanks Mo- and I’ll be watching for that thread for helping those just with little P&S cameras- I’m sure there’s tons of folks who’d love those tips

Freshfish: hahaha Gary’s hungry- go figure

J.B.: thanks mo

Bowcrazy: Crazy grab and hand full of flake food and wash it down with some tank water

AquaMoJo: The End


AquaMoJo: Later folks

Freshfish: Bowcrazy- i totally agree, that’s what a REAL man should do, right?

Hurriken: the trick is to get friends and family into the hobby and then when they get bored you take all of the equptiment

ScottFish: Wasn’t someone supposed to win something?

Crazygar: I’m ducking out. Food beckons. Thanks again Mo, totally appreciated the evening.

Hurriken: Look at the color on that guy

Freshfish: cya gary

Crazygar: Yes, will be collecting the answers.

Bowcrazy: I won free answers – that suits me

Crazygar: L8R folks. Be safe.


Posted July 11th, 2011.

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July 2011 Desktop Calendar

Tropical Fish Hobbyist’s July 2011 Desktop Calendar is now available.

July 2011 Calendar

Click on the size below that best matches your desktop.


Our 2011 Calendar Cover
2011 Calendar Cover

Visit the Web Extras section of for additional downloads, videos, and much more!

Posted July 8th, 2011.

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The Cichlids are Coming!

Join the American Cichlid Association in Washington, DC on July 21-24 to learn about everything cichlid. Photograph by Mo Devlin.

By Rose Orso

For the first time in 10 years the American Cichlid Association (ACA) Convention will be held in the northeast part of the country. This years hosting club, the Capital Cichlid Association, would like to invite all to come to our nation’s capital for the 2011 convention. Fittingly, 10 years ago, when the Capital Cichlid Association was formed, one of their goals was to host a national convention. This year, that goal will be achieved.

Highlights for this year’s convention include:

Fish Room and Art Show




An impressive lineup of cichlid speakers

And last, but not least, friends and fellow hobbyists who share their knowledge, experiences and passion about the cichlid hobby.

The 2011 ACA convention will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel Washington D.C. – Silver Springs, and convention guests and their families can tour some of the many attractions in the Washington D.C. area. Come early, or stay on after the convention and see the sights!

Maps and directions too many of the areas attractions will be provided by the Capital Cichlid Association at the hotel.

Please go to the Capital Cichlid Associations website, for complete details about the convention weekend.

The cichlids are coming, won’t you come too?
















Posted June 20th, 2011.

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June 2011 Desktop Calendar

Tropical Fish Hobbyist’s June 2011 Desktop Calendar is now available.

June 2011 Calendar

Click on the size below that best matches your desktop.


Our 2011 Calendar Cover
2011 Calendar Cover

Visit the Web Extras section of for additional downloads, videos, and much more!

Posted June 10th, 2011.

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