How Aquarium Societies Can Help You Avoid Common Fish Keeping Mistakes
Where can aquarium fish hobbyists go for general information and help? Hobbyist organizations are an excellent source of knowledge in all aspects of the hobby, and can provide great tips on fish, systems, supplies, and local stores. There are local aquarium societies in many cities in the U.S. that cater to both freshwater and marine enthusiasts. There are also national hobbyist organizations that are even more specialized. These organizations can help you get to the next level, as my guest Bill Shields will tell you..
Bill Shields started keeping fish at the ripe old age of six. Sometime after college, Bill started working "officially" in the aquarium industry, becoming general manager of three Docktor Pet Centers in the Harrisburg, PA area. He joined the Susquehanna Aquarium Society in 1974 and was formally introduced to the organized portion of the hobby. He became very active in all facets of the society, and later joined other hobbyist organizations. During a hiatus from working in the retail aquarium industry, while Bill worked as an elephant handler and “midwife,” he and a group of eight formed the Tampa Bay Aquarium Society in 1992. In 1995, Bill was hired as a breeder for 5-D Tropical, Inc., an aquarium fish production and import/export facility in Plant City, Florida. Join us as Bill and I discuss aquarium fish hobbyist do’s and don’ts, and how to avoid common mistakes.
Bill Shields, a lifelong aquarium fish hobbyist who started keeping fish at the ripe old age of six, grew up in South Florida in the 1950's. During his youth, Bill's entrepreneurial streak had him collecting guppies and mollies from the town park's pond and trading them with the local fish store for other fish and supplies. After college and various jobs, Bill finally started working "officially" in the pet trade as a salesman, store manager and then, finally, general manager of three Docktor Pet Centers in the Harrisburg, PA area. During this time, an invitation to attend and join the Susquehanna Aquarium Society in 1974 became his formal introduction into the organized portion of the hobby. Not long after joining, he became Vice-President , President, and then member of the Board of the Directors; later he was named Hobbyist of the Year in 1976. After joining the American Killifish Association (AKA) in 1974, he realized he had jumped to the next level of the hobby.
After a hiatus from the pet trade--during which he was an elephant handler and midwife for 37 Asian elephants births-- Bill's avocation became his vocation. His aquarium fish expertise earned him a position as a professional fish breeder at 5 -D Tropical Inc, an ornamental fish production and import/export facility, in Plant City, Florida where he has worked since 1995. Finding no organized fish club in Tampa, FL, Bill's life came full circle as he and eight other fish keepers founded the Tampa Bay Aquarium Society (TBAS; website: tbas1.com ) in 1992. Bill remains active with the TBAS and other hobbyist organizations. He has served on the committees for two national AKA conventions, in 2000 & 2006, as well as the 2009 North American Native Fish Association (NANFA) all held in the Tampa area. In addition, Bill manages the annual Aquarium Beautiful Competition for the Florida State Fair.