About Me

July 18th, 2006

Rather than trying to write up a coherent essay about myself, I decided to use a FAQ format:

How did you get into aquariums?

Growing up, I had aquarium on and off with varying degrees of success. I never tried live plants when younger, but I did keep all of the common ornamental fish, plus some of the shrimp, snails, crayfish, crabs, and newts that were available. My childhood AGA 20G-high tank is still in use today!

When did you start adding live plants to your tanks?

Back in 2002, my wife thought it would be a good idea to add an aquarium to our living room. Little did she know, that this small room accessory would turn into a renewed obsession with aquariums. As soon as we decided to setup an aquarium, I started researching what other folks were doing on the Internet. For no particular reason, other than the beautiful pictures I saw on the web, I decided to try a few common plants (swords, ludwigia, anacharis) from PetSmart. Additionally, a co-worker bought me Amano’s Nature Aquarium, Nature Aquarium World: Book 1 (Natural Aquarium World) which introduced me to planted tanks on a whole new level. From there, it’s just history.

What is a guitarfish?

I first came up with the name “guitarfish” to use as a handle on an online forum. Unable to come up with any “good” handles, I started to think of the things I enjoy. I love to play my guitar, and I love my aquariums. Thus guitar + aquarium fish = guitarfish. Little did I know, at the time, that there is actually a family, Rhinobatidae, of rays called guitarfish. I apologize in advance to any visitors to this site looking for large ocean rays, only to find a site about freshwater weeds and attractive bait fish.

You like nature, huh?

Growing up, I spent a lot of time running through the woods, climbing trees, catching frogs, watching deer and squirrels, and generally spending time outdoors. This has given me a large appreciation for the natural world. I’d much rather spend my vacations hiking on wilderness trails then going through amusement parks. (I do enjoy a good roller coaster on occasion, however.) When I visit these nature parks, I try to photograph them, and share them on this site. I don’t think most aquarists’ interest in nature is confined to a glass box filled with water.

What camera do you use?

Canon Digital Rebel XTi 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens (Black)Right now, I’m using the Canon Rebel XTi (400D) with a variety of lenses. If you like or dislike one of my photos (or articles), I love to receive comments and criticism.


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26 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Maryn Says:

    I did not realize you had a site. Nice pictures. I love the new camera work. Keep the pictures coming…k bye.

  2. Lori Benoit Says:

    Hi – You seem like the guy to ask about finding hydrilla in Maryland. I’m a graduate student doing research on hydrilla, and want to collect it from the MD – D.C. area.

    Where was that reservoir you saw all that hydrilla? Any other suggestions?

    Like your website – nice pics!


  3. Cathy Wilson Says:


    All those times we’ve chatted in the Fitness Center and you never mentioned your blog! Beautiful photos.

    See you on the elliptical!


  4. Aylwin Says:

    Nice photos and Beautiful cichlids. Your aquascape is a real inspiration. will try one soon ie early 2008.

  5. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks everyone! Aylwin, good luck with your aquascape!

  6. roger Says:

    thanks for your page. i found it the first time when i was searching google for ideas to build a raised brick garden. of course to find the brick garden i had to scroll past your other pictures. which i did. but of course i then had to see the rest. wow. in a later search i found a page from gwapa where they spent a meeting checking out some guy’s brick pond. gee, i thought, that looks just like that guitarfish guy’s pond but its not in the middle of a nature reserve. sure enough it was you

    so here are my questions. did you dig to twenty inches below ground to keep the fish alive over winter? does the solar pump work well? if so which brand and model? how much did the bricks cost? is there a best place to get them? and did you have experience with bricks and mortar or did you figure that out as you did it?

    by the way, i just learned online about how to seed a lawn. i did mine and then i did my neighbors. maybe you have a dog (mine has just been released from yard-exhile) but if not i could offer some pointers.

    again, i’m thankful for your page. it has been added as a favorite.

  7. guitarfish Says:

    Roger, thanks for your comments! I always enjoy hearing how folks come across the site. Lawn seeding is an art I’m unfortunately not able to take much part in with two dogs ruling/ruining our yard.

    To answer your questions about the raised brick pond:

    1. I did not dig into the ground for the pond, as I empty it every fall. I built a cement slab just below ground level, and built the structure on that.

    2. The solar pump provides adequate circulation for my pond. It’s a cheap pump from ebay, that doesn’t seem to have any brand associated with it. I wouldn’t consider my model top notch technology, but it works well enough, and was cheap enough to be replaceable. I’m sure that the more expensive models with battery backups are more reliable, but I have zero experience with those.

    3. I don’t remember the exact cost for bricks, but you can easily price that out at your local hardware store. There are calculators on the internet to help you determine how many bricks you need for a brick wall. Search around and you’ll find one that works. Or, just buy a couple dozen bricks to experiment with, and extrapolate from there. Obviously, the size of your structure will determine the ultimate price. They can be found at any hardware store. I used the hollow ones.

    4. I had zero experience with bricks and mortar, and earned a new respect for masons everywhere. Your back will hurt. I’m a big believer in learning on the job, so I read a bunch of DIY sites on the internet about brick laying, and went to town. I’m sure that the top bricks in my pond are much more even and level than the bottom ones, but it worked out okay. It probably took me 10x as long as a professional, as I think it took me at least 2 days to do it.

  8. thierno barry Says:

    i m exporter of fresh water fish ; aquatic plants from guinea west africa .
    if you desire please contact us .
    my phone is xxxxxxxxxxxx (edited out for privacy)
    thierno barry

  9. Apistobob Says:

    Nice site good info and good photos. I believe that plants are a big key to happy apistos and you are a great example of that. If you are interested check out my site http://www.dwarfcichlid.com


  10. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for your comment Apisto Bob! I’ve come across your dwarfcichlid.com site a few times in the past. There’s a lot of good information on there, thanks for sharing! Dwarf cichlids are amazing fish, and plants only help them thrive. I’m glad you enjoyed the site. 🙂

  11. frank Says:

    amazing tank designs but i have to ask where are you getting your pieces of wood and rock from?

  12. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks Frank!

    The wood in my scapes is either African bogwood from the local fish store, or Manzanita from manzanita.com.

    The rock is either slate, collected locally, or porous mossy rock (basalt) from a California landscape yard. The story behind this rock can be found here.

  13. Thomas E. Eichhorst Says:

    Hey Guitarfish,

    Very nice aquariums and a great web page. I have been working on a book on worldwide Neritidae for about seven years and would like permission to use a couple of your photographs showing a close-up of the mouth of Vitta usnea – the olive nerite in your tanks. I have a single specimen I have had in an African cichlid tank for six years. The use of a photo or two would be great – and credited to you however you like. Thanks,


  14. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comment Thomas! I have emailed you regarding your photo request. Your book sounds fascinating!

  15. neil frank Says:

    Super site… great photo essay of the Convention.
    Where was the pic taken of the Neuse River?

  16. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks Neil! I believe that was in the Croatan National Forest in North Carolina.

  17. Quân Says:

    I really love your blog, man 🙂
    I hope you will write some more articles on Sulawesi shrimps.
    And also on Tylomelania snails may be ? 😉
    If you’re OK, i will put your blog into my blog’s fav’ links


  18. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks Quân! I’m definitely on the lookout for more Sulawesi shrimp, but unfortunately, all of the ones I had didn’t make it, and I haven’t been able to find a reliable source for them at a reasonable expense. As soon as I do, you can expect some more posts, however. The Tylomealania snails look intriguing as well! Thanks for the link in your blog!

  19. James Says:

    Are you on AquariaCentral.com?

  20. GBose Says:

    A lovely site!

    What’s this about a backyard raised brick tank? Please post pictures!


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