Hard at work out in the field!

Exploring  reefs, collecting marine life, and keeping aquariums became my passions from a young age.  My passion for aquariums followed me through high school and college, culminating in a pivotal experience during my senior year. I spent several weeks at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology, where I discovered the world of fish larvae—a revelation that would shape my career. This newfound interest led me to pursue a graduate degree in aquaculture.

Meanwhile, I started keeping pygmy angelfishes in my saltwater tank at home. The Centropyge were the perfect aquarium fish; being small, beautiful and full of interesting behavioral quirks, and so they became the focus of my graduate thesis.

Following graduate school, I set up my own hatchery and taught myself how to raise clownfishes, dottybacks, bennies, gobies and grammas. I also kept a few Centropyge pairs and dabbled with the larvae whenever I could. Bit by bit, I developed a rearing process for my favorite fishes. This breakthrough led to the founding of Reef Culture Technologies (RCT).

Over the next decade, RCT played a pivotal role in the aquaculture industry. We successfully bred and produced a variety of rare, highly sought-after pygmy angelfish species. These efforts not only fueled our research, but also resulted in numerous published contributions to the field of aquaculture.

Driven by a desire to broaden my knowledge and impact on fish breeding,  I started the Larval Fish Project (LFP). The project uses eggs collected from the ocean, which allows me to work on larval species without having to spawn them at my small hatchery. This presented an exciting challenge: identifying the specific needs of these diverse larvae to ensure their survival. But the LFP wasn’t solely about culture techniques and survival rates. It also provides a unique opportunity to photograph living marine larvae and document their fascinating transformations, from morphological changes to the development of intricate pigmentation patterns and intriguing behaviors. It’s these very intricacies that make larval rearing such a captivating field of study.

Alongside my aquaculture endeavors, my passion for the ocean evolved into a love for diving and underwater photography. Capturing the ocean’s natural beauty and highlighting the negative impacts of human activity fosters greater awareness and care for marine environments. Diving also provided valuable insights into how young marine fishes grow and develop, helping my efforts to keep them alive. Additionally, it enhanced my understanding of their reproduction and granted me better access to their eggs

While I started to breed marine fish to reduce the need for wild collection, experience has instilled a healthy dose of realism. Many wild-caught marine ornamental fish remain too challenging and expensive to cultivate at profit.  Now, I culture fish out of sheer fascination, spending months in my hatchery culture bottlenecks and documenting larval stages. Each new species presents an opportunity to advance my techniques and inspire others in the field. My journey is one of continuous exploration, fueled by a relentless passion for the ocean and fishes. Every new discovery, every hurdle overcome, brings me closer to unlocking the secrets of larval fish.