In this episode I talk with Chris Lukhaup, known affectionately as The Shrimp King. Chris' work with venerable brands such as Dennerle helped advance the freshwater shrimp keeping hobby and helped fuel a boom in the nano tank side of aquarium keeping. He is a renown expert on crayfish and has identified and named numerous species. His forthcoming book on crayfish identifies some 800 species inside of nearly 400 pages. And his underwater videography has become a sensation as he has exposed people to many fascinating freshwater habitats few have seen before, serving to inspire aquarist and nature enthusiasts alike.
Here we discuss his origins in the aquarium hobby and industry, his life as a professional touring musician, life, love, consciousness, enlightenment, his underwater videography, some shrimp keeping advice, and more.
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Thomas Minesi, Congo Nature Photography
1:27:28This time I deep dive into the Congo with Thomas Minesi, known on Instagram as Congo Nature Photography. Thomas lives in the city of Kinshasa in the Republic of Congo and has become well known for his personal explorations into the Congo River and his documenting the natural habitats of Anubias. Every freshwater aquarist will know this most hardy and versatile plant and Thomas brings the eye of the hobbyist to his exposure of Anubias and other West African biotopes to aquascapers, aquarium and nature lovers alike. Insights and first hand observations from someone living deep in the heart of one of the great tropical zones can make all of us better aquarists, and Thomas is doing his part to show us the depth and wonder of perhaps the most important plant in the aquarium hobby.In this episode we discuss Thomas' history in the Congo, explore many facets of Anubias in the wild and how it relates to its application in the aquarium, other West African species he's finding, and much more.You can find Thomas here: IG: congo.nature.photography YouTube: @thomasminesi7366
1:08:47My guest for Episode 10 is George Farmer. George has been an active contributor to the world of aquascaping and the broader aquarium hobby for nearly 20 years and has authored multiple books on the subject that are now staples in thousands of hobbyists libraries. His well known YouTube channel has been a source of inspiration, information, and entertainment for countless people seeking a point of entry and an ongoing aquascaping community leader. He was pioneer of interfacing with aquarium industry brands as an influencer and creator and brought a much needed level credibility and integrity the the hobby, and continues to write columns for multiple aquarium publications.George found his way into the deeper realms of aquarium keeping through profound personal struggle. As a soldier in the U.K. he experienced trauma that would haunt him for years, and aquascaping and eventually aquarium content creation provided a new path in life that proved profound in helping him to heal and find greater purpose. With the bold decision to delete his Instagram account and focus on his YouTube channel and other creative projects, George has reinvented himself yet again with a new focus on the aquarium as a meditation and healing tool and the wider possibilities of aquariums as portals to mindfulness and human well-being.In our conversation we catch up with George's plans for 2023, discuss his reasons for and newfound benefits of deleting his Instagram account, touch on the healing and therapeutic dimensions of aquariums, and much more.
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1:21:42My guest this time is with aquascape lover and YouTuber Ryo Watanabe. Ryo has gained notoriety for his Japanese aquarium store tours, though his channel @RyoWatanabee features a lot of entertaining and useful videos about his own aquariums and his evolving fish room. Being based in Japan– the birthplace of Takashi Amano's Nature Aquarium style of aquascaping– Ryo has access to the hundreds of aquacaping-centric retail aquarium shops throughout the country. Showcasing these stores to a worldwide audience gives hobbyists and fellow aquarium shop owners alike a glimpse into the setups, systems, and practices of the huge Japanese aquascaping market. And Ryo's unassuming and endearing style makes his videos truly fun to watch.In our conversation we discuss his humble beginnings in the aquarium hobby, ADA (Aqua Design Amano) in multiple contexts, Hakkai Stone, the current scene around the hobby in Japan, and of course plenty about Japanese aquascaping shops.You Tube: Ryo Watanabe @RyoWatanabeeInstagram: @ryowatanabee
1:03:41My conversation this time is with Logan Rando, a passionate aquascaper turned aquarium content creator and teacher. Logan cut his teeth as a video editor for the well known aquascaper and YouTuber Juris Jutjavevs. Eventually deciding to meld his love for filming, editing, and aquascaping, he decided to start his own channel and accompanying social media bringing an energetic and polished style to content offerings. Like many, Logan has found a level of fulfillment through the aquarium hobby that has given him a deeper sense of purpose and creative inspiration that he truly loves exploring and sharing. Logan brings an energy and clarity to his message with the perspective of the newer generation of aquascpaer in an interesting and engaging way that is evident throughout our talk. In this episode we discuss Logan's aquarium-keeping origins, his time working with some well known European aquascapers including Green Aqua, trials and challenges that face most every aquascaper, issues working with lots of tissue cultured plants, the future of aquarium related content creation, and much more.
Mark-Jan Fioole, MJ Aquascaping
1:09:15My guest for episode 7 is aquascaper and YouTuber Mark-Jan Fioole from his popular channel MJ Aquascaping. Based in The Netherlands, Mark has grown up in a culture where aquariums are a much more common fixture in homes and offices, and the overall hobby of aquarium keeping has a long and established history. During the pandemic, Mark made the transition from just posting his aquascaping hobby on social media to starting a committed YouTube channel, which has quickly gained momentum in the wake of Mark's laid back and direct approach to teaching aquascaping basics and more. In our conversation we explore Mark's rise to becoming an aquarium content creator, talk about tips and topics from his many videos, as well as his insightful report on the overall aquarium scene in The Netherlands, and much more. YT: @MJAquascaping IG: @mj.aquascaping
Alex Vella, alexscapes
1:10:51Alex Vella is an avid aquarist, aquascaper, terrarium and paludarium creator, and co-host of The Aquascaping Type, a popular YouTube channel that showcases the art of creating and maintaining beautiful aquatic environments in home aquariums. With a passion for all things aquatic, Alex is constantly experimenting with different plants, fish, and invertebrates to create stunning displays in her own small aquariums and terrariums. In addition to her work on The Aquascaping Type, Alexandra is also a brand ambassador for Oase, a leading manufacturer of high-quality aquarium equipment. You can also find her busy at every AquaShella, where she is always enthusiastically creating and sharing. Whether she is sharing her expertise on YouTube or helping others bring their aquascaping visions to life, Alex is dedicated to spreading the joy and beauty of aquatic life.In our conversation we take a casual approach to discussimg a wide variety of topics including her work in her home studio, he deep exploration of the small paludarium style, her new online venture offering complete terrariums, supplies, and equipment, and much more.
2:15:30Heiko Bleher is the most prolific tropical fish collector of all time. He has discovered and described literally thousands of species over his 60+ year career, many of which are some of the most commonly kept and globally beloved in all the aquarium hobby. HIs mother and grandfather paved the way for his profound passion for freshwater natural biotopes with his first Amazonian expedition when he was just 4 years old. Now 78, he continues his relentless schedule racking up over a dozen separate expeditions in 2022, and discovering another 14 brand new species. He is an encyclopedia of tropical fish knowledge, a master of some of the most highly prized aquarium fish such as Altum angels (which he fist discovered) and discus, and aquarium hobby historian, world traveller, renaissance man, and all around intensely interesting character. Opinionated and outspoken on topics he has earned the right to be, Heiko Bleher has created his share of controversy over the years. But his obsession with exploration and discovery, tropical fish, and sharing his experiences with the world makes him true living legend of the aquarium hobby and industry. He has left an indelible mark on the entirety of freshwater aquarium keeping, and if you ask him, he is far from done. In our conversation Heiko tells his story from his first experience in the Amazon with his mother at age 4, goes deep into multiple facets of the history of tropical fish collection, shares some momentous discovery memories of species like the rummy nose tetra and Amazon sword, recounts several pivotal moments in aquarium history, and much more.
Mark Chen, TMK Aquarist
1:52:08Mark Chen, known best as TMK Aquarist on Instagram, is the owner of Nature Design Studio in Los Angeles specializing in custom aquarium installation and service. He has gained notoriety for a lovely discus planted tank featuring wild discus and a wonderful balance of plants. This holy grail style of aquarium is notoriously challenging, and mark has experienced his share of challenges along the way.In this conversation Mark and I discuss many points regarding discus planted tanks, drawing on our collective experience and theories. Mark also shares the story of his incredible expedition to wild discus habitats with the legendary Heiko Bleher. Throughout it is an engaging and informative discussion covering a lot of practical knowledge about discus and the business of aquarium installation and service where the two are often at odds with the expectations high end service clients usually have.
Joey Mullen, The DIY Fishkeeper
2:23:32This time my conversation is with Joey Mullen, widely known as the DIY Fishkeeper, and the The King of DIY. Joey came to rise in early days of YouTube, seeing a platform for expanding awareness and sharing his passion for aquariums. He never thought it would grow into an online empire of exposure, influence, and success at a scale previously unknown in the aquarium hobby. As one of the first online influencers, and before the term "content creator" existed on social media, Joey has seen it all from a unique position– the top. The arc of his online career and growth as a hobbyist has landed him in a coveted place of greater balance and a more intimate connection with his audience, though which he has found his lane and can truly enjoy the ride. From his new famous gallery and studio space where he has created an enviable collection of fresh and saltwater aquarium displays, Joey keeps the fires of inspiration, entertainment, education, and passion burning for tens of thousands of hobbyists around the world. Love him or not, this interview exposes the wit, intelligence and authenticity of one of the aquarium hobby's most recognized individuals.In this episode we discuss a huge array of topics including Joey's early days in the hobby, his true ambitions as an influencer, advice for aquarium content creators, internet trolls, fish behaviors, the state of the industry, and more. Joey even interviews me in the last segment by asking me several burning questions about planted tank aquascaping.
Chris Lukhaup, The Shrimp King
1:18:24In this episode I talk with Chris Lukhaup, known affectionately as The Shrimp King. Chris' work with venerable brands such as Dennerle helped advance the freshwater shrimp keeping hobby and helped fuel a boom in the nano tank side of aquarium keeping. He is a renown expert on crayfish and has identified and named numerous species. His forthcoming book on crayfish identifies some 800 species inside of nearly 400 pages. And his underwater videography has become a sensation as he has exposed people to many fascinating freshwater habitats few have seen before, serving to inspire aquarist and nature enthusiasts alike.Here we discuss his origins in the aquarium hobby and industry, his life as a professional touring musician, life, love, consciousness, enlightenment, his underwater videography, some shrimp keeping advice, and more.