Sam Garcia, Jr. interview, # 2

Sam Garcia, Jr. at Aquarium Fish Depot in San Diego.
 

Not long after I started this blog back in 2015, I reached out to a unique fellow cichlidophile, whom I’d never met, to see if he would be interested in an interview. Thankfully, he said he would be happy to do it. Fast forward nearly five years, and I thought I would reach out to him again. This long-time aquarist is different than most because he’s also an artist who focuses on fish illustrations and aquarium art.

Sam Garcia, Jr. is not only an awesome artist, but he’s a fantastic fish keeper and a super nice guy. Sam Scalz, as he’s known in the art community, is also quite busy these days. In addition to fish keeping and his art business, which includes t-shirts, he also helps out at his friend Ron Soucy’s shop, Aquarium Fish Depot, in San Diego, CA.

Continue reading this post…Sam Garcia, Jr. interview, # 2

Jeff Turner interview

Jeff Turner, President of Boyd Enterprises – maker of Chemi-pure filtration media. 
All cichlid keepers have favorite products or brands that they use. I am no different. Today’s interviewee owns the company that produces products used regularly by aquarists all around the world, me included. In fact, I’ve been using one of his products for almost as long as I’ve been keeping fish. You may not know the interviewee by name, but I can almost guarantee you’ve heard of his products. If you haven’t until now, today’s your lucky day.

Jeff Turner is President of Boyd Enterprises. As such he owns the Chemi-pure line of products. “Chemi-pure is the unrivaled filtration media for maintaining an aesthetically pleasing and healthy aquarium.” Jeff is also President of Reef Aquaria Design and Jellyfish Art, custom tank building companies.

An aquarist and businessman, Jeff has been in the hobby for over five decades. While his career was built around marine aquariums and systems, Jeff is a freshwater enthusiast and also a cichlidophile. In fact, the tank in his work office is a cichlid tank.

I had not met Jeff prior to this interview but I reached out to Chemi-pure in hopes of getting an interview with him. His folks got him in touch with me and, as they say, the rest is history.

Lots to cover so let’s get going!

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Drs. Chloé Laubu and François-Xavier Dechaume-Moncharmont Interview

 

Professor François-Xavier Dechaume-Moncharmont. 

 

Dr. Chloé Laubu. 
 

A few weeks ago, I was searching for a scholarly article on something cichlid related and stumbled upon some interesting research on convict cichlids. I downloaded the paper and read it. I then looked up the authors and discovered that they regularly use cichlids in their research. I reached out to them about doing an interview for the blog and, thankfully, they agreed.

Professor François-Xavier Dechaume-Moncharmont is a behavioral ecologist who teaches at the University of Lyon in Lyon, France. His research focus is the evolution of decision making, within a sexual context, of fish.

Dr. Chloé Laubu is a former student of Dr. Dechaume-Moncharmont, and her research focuses on mood and personality of convict cichlids in a sexual context. Dr. Laubu works in the Laboratoire Biogéosciences at the University of Burgundy. The two researchers have authored several papers together, and their research is quite complementary.

 

With the introductions out of the way, let’s get started.

Continue reading this post…Drs. Chloé Laubu and François-Xavier Dechaume-Moncharmont Interview

Jay Wilson interview

Jay Wilson

It goes without saying that the longer you participate in a hobby, the more you’ll learn about it, including the names of fellow hobbyists. Over time, you’ll come across the same name more and more frequently. This is what led me to today’s interviewee.

Let me introduce Jason Wilson, or Jay, as his friends call him. I had come across his name several times either via YouTube or in conversation with another hobbyist. As it turns out, Jay is a renaissance man of sorts. He’s into a little bit of everything associated with the hobby. Intrigued, I decided he needed to be interviewed for the blog. I reached out to him back before the holidays to see if he would be interested. His response when I asked, “I’d love to.”

Leaving the Navy after a 13-year career, Jay needed a new purpose in life. Though having been a fish keeper since he was small, it was only seven years ago that he found that new purpose….in cichlids. In fact, his interest in cichlids helped save his life. If you’ve ever met him or visited his YouTube channel, Jay Wilson – Glass Box Therapy, then you know he’s high energy. In a very short time, he has channeled much of that energy into cichlids. Let’s get started!

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Oliver Lucanus interview

If I asked you to compile a list of cichlidophiles you know 1) who make regular trips to cichlid locales to collect fish, 2) who regularly speak at cichlid conventions, and 3) and whose name you hear regularly in the hobby, how many people would be on that list? I bet your list wouldn’t be very long but I also bet that Oliver Lucanus would be on it.

Pictured is Oliver doing what he does…alot. Photo courtesy of Oliver Lucanus.

At the OCA 25th Extravaganza back in November, I attended Oliver’s presentations. They were chockfull of great photos and were very informative. After his second talk, I introduced myself and the blog. I asked him if he would be interested in doing an interview. He smiled and said, “sure”.

You may know Oliver as a long time aquarist and wildlife photographer. What you may not know is that he’s also been importing fish for more than 30 years. Furthermore, he’s an author, who’s book “Below Water – the Amazon” has become a favorite of cichlid hobbyists, especially those keeping SA fish. In fact, he has a new book coming out soon titled, “Xingu – Below Water”. For those unfamiliar, the Xingu is a tributary river of the Amazon in Brazil. At over 1,000 miles long, the Xingu runs north to south and is home to some of the most beautiful and fascinating fishes in the world. Oliver’s experience diving and collecting in this river is expansive, and his photos of cichlids in their natural habitat are amazing.

Let’s go!

Continue reading this post…Oliver Lucanus interview

Lisa & Martin Hoeber interview

Super Cichlids logo. Image from Lisa Hoeber.

Just over two years ago, I interviewed Lisa Hoeber of Super Cichlids. At that time, Super Cichlids was an online-only retail store. Fast forward to this summer and that changed in a big way. Lisa and her co-owner husband, Martin, opened a physical store with the same name in their hometown of Dover, Delaware. Shortly before their opening, I e-mailed Lisa and Martin asking if they would be interested in doing another interview. Thankfully, they happily agreed.

If you’re in the Dover area or within a reasonable driving distance, I would encourage you to visit their store. I haven’t been myself, but I have seen numerous photos. The place looks amazing! I know Lisa and Martin, and they’re first class. If you visit, I would expect that you will experience the same unbridled friendliness that you’ve experienced interacting with them at their vendor booth during fish shows and conventions. Even if you can’t visit their physical store, certainly go to their website. They have great deals all of the time.

Continue reading this post…Lisa & Martin Hoeber interview

In memoriam – Don ‘Z-man’ Zilliox

Don Zilliox.

Just before the awards ceremony at the OCA Extravaganza this past weekend, two members from the Tropical Fish Club of Erie County (TFCEC) made a short presentation.  They presented a $100 check to the Jim Smith Fund in memory of long time TFCEC member, Don Zilliox, who passed away last month.

The cichlid keeping community has lost a great treasure, and I am very saddened. Though I never had the privilege of meeting Don in person, I know he was an outstanding fish keeper and a great guy. How do I know? Keep reading.

Continue reading this post…In memoriam – Don ‘Z-man’ Zilliox

Dr. Hans Hofmann interview

Hans Hofmann

In 2016, while looking for a new interviewee for the blog, I ran across the website of a research laboratory at the University of Texas, Austin. I checked out the website, looked at a few of the lab’s publications, and it became quickly obvious to me that the lab’s director, Dr. Hans Hofmann, was someone I needed to interview.

I reached out to Dr. Hofmann, introduced myself, and asked him if he would be interested in doing an interview for the blog. He replied within a couple of days and happily agreed. We began the interview process, but work caught up with him, and we weren’t able to get it completed. So fast forward to the present, and we did a complete reboot of the original interview.

Since receiving his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Leipzig in Germany, Dr. Hofmann has received numerous fellowships and awards for his work at the University of Texas, Stanford University, Harvard University, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In addition to running the Hofmann lab at the University of Texas, he has served as Director of UT’s Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and UT’s Center for Biomedical Research Support. He has given over 130 invited keynote lectures and seminars but has also given numerous public outreach presentations.

Needless to say, getting Dr. Hofmann to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions with me was a real bonus. Outstanding stuff ahead. Buckle in!

Continue reading this post…Dr. Hans Hofmann interview

Chris Carpenter interview

Chris Carpenter

Several years ago at one of the annual American Cichlid Association (ACA) conventions, I overheard a conversation about some shell dwelling cichlids. Being a dwarf cichlid enthusiast myself, my interest was piqued upon hearing the word “shellies.” I wasn’t eavesdropping but I clearly heard something equivalent to “You should check with Chris Carpenter. He keeps all kinds of shellies.” Like any hobbyist who constantly builds their knowledge base, I filed that name away.

In the years since that convention, I have heard Chris’ name mentioned numerous times. In an effort to ensure that my interviews on the blog cover all corners of cichlid keeping, I needed to get someone to talk about shell dwelling species. Because he is widely regarded as an expert on these fish, I looked him up and sent him a note about doing an interview. He promptly replied and happily agreed.

 

Continue reading this post…Chris Carpenter interview

Dave Schumacher interview

Dave Schumacher

About a year ago, I was looking for some cichlids that were proving to be difficult to find. I began thinking to myself “Who might have these fish?” I remembered hearing about a guy in Texas who often has some of the more difficult to find species, so I went to his site – Dave’s Rare Aquarium Fish. The owner, Dave Schumacher, didn’t have what I was looking for, but I thought “Why not ask him to do an interview?” I did, and he agreed.

As a kid, Dave was always into reptiles and amphibians. He got his first job in high school at a fish store in Houston that focused on cichlids but the store owner was wanting to carry reptiles. The owner didn’t know how to care for them and didn’t want to handle them. It was at that store that he became fascinated with cichlids.

After high school, he moved to San Marcos for college at Texas State University, and while there, got a job at Armke’s Rare Aquarium Fish. He worked there for a couple years, then bought the business in 2006. Not long after, he moved everything a short drive south to San Antonio. Currently, his shop houses more than 200 cichlid species.

Dave’s been an active member of the Hill Country Cichlid Club, alongside Greg Steeves (who I interviewed back in 2017), where he’s been on the board and even served as secretary of the American Cichlid Association. He travels a few times each year speaking to clubs about Mbuna, Lamprologines, building his shop, and basic cichlid genetics/nomenclature.

Let’s get this started!

Continue reading this post…Dave Schumacher interview