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Bob Goemans' Biography

With over sixty years in both the freshwater and marine hobbies, I often look back and think about the changes I’ve seen. My beginnings in the hobby are still very clear in my mind. - I was born and raised in Queens, New York and the early post World War II years were hard on our family. Yet, I maintained a freshwater 10 gallon glass aquarium with a slate bottom and metal frame. I gathered live foods such as daphnia and mosquito lava from local ponds, even if I had to walk 10 miles with pail in-hand to feed my guppies. During some of my grammar school summer recesses I was sent either to my grandparent’s farm in New Jersey or my aunt’s tavern that was located at Rockaway Beach, New York. At my grandparent’s potato farm I cared for their vegetable garden and fed the chickens and pigs. At my aunts tavern I sometimes swept the dance floor in the mornings, but actually spent most of my time at the beach, which was only a hundred yards away, where I became an excellent swimmer. Those summer ‘vacations’ certainly helped the meager food budget for the rest of our family while I was away. And while away my Mother fed the guppies dry food and I think those guppies were actually happy to see me return. I learned respect for nature at an early age, and also that farmers had a hard life and how important they were to the rest of the population.

At this early age I joined an aquarium society in Jamaica, New York, and at their monthly meetings my questions always centered on natural looking aquariums and how to improve water quality. The answers, in the late forties were always water changes and to maintain a good growth of live plants. Actually, still good advice these days! At one society meeting a guest speaker who had just come from Europe showed a new device that could draw water through bottom gravel. He thought it would result in a healthier aquarium and the item was called the ‘French Invisible Filter.’ It was made by a gentleman named ‘French’ and ‘Invisible’ because its porous tube-like body would be buried in the substrate with only its clear chamber-like portion containing an airstone remaining above the substrate surface. The speaker said this was the first showing of this item in the United States and he thought it might prove to be a major improvement in aquarium keeping. How right he was!

The gentleman had only two such devices with him and was kind enough to offer one for the night’s auction before he returned to Europe. I was the only bidder and purchased the item for twenty-five cents. That was big money for me in those days as I can remember a newspaper costing two cents! This was the first ‘undergravel filter (UGF)’ ever sold or used in the United States. After purchasing this ‘filter’ it was placed in my aquarium within a few inches (7.5 cm) of the front glass and connected to an air pump. Within a month’s time the dark line of waste matter just below the gravel’s surface became much less visible. In those days all I knew was that waste products were being removed somehow and my aquarium looked cleaner. It appeared I had a healthier environment for my fish. At a following meeting I was asked to come up on the front stage and then questioned if I thought the filter was working as discussed in the previous meeting. I explained what change I had seen, but was laughed at by many of the attending experts. Over the next few decades the UGF became a standard accessory and saw many physical changes.

During the next 60 + years, whether in the USA or the Far East, have maintained aquariums of different sizes and complexity. In fact, had as many as eight aquariums going at one time ranging from 10 to 320 gallons and collected specimens for many of them from the South China Sea to the Caribbean. And over the past 35 years have seen my writings go from general chatter written for a local aquarium society newsletter to those in major aquarium magazines. - In the 80's and the 90's, wrote for Marine Fish Monthly for almost 14 straight years, along with a couple of the decades of monthly columns and various articles in Freshwater Aquariums and Marine Aquariums (FAMA), which were incorporated into Aquarium Fish International (AFI), which sadly ceased its operations in Oct/2012. Have also written for Tropical Fish Hobbyist (TFH) for about two decades, and also Bob Fenner's Digital Magazine and for UK magazines, e.g., Marine World, Practical Fishkeeping, and Marine Habitat. Have also written a series of 5 booklets on aquarium husbandry, and also self-published a CD-ROM book, The New Wave, dedicated to aquarium microbial processes with co-author Sam Gamble. And in 2009, with coauthor Lance Ichinotsubo and TFH/Microcosm, published the extremely successful 'The Marine Fish Health & Feeding Handbook.' Add to this writing the lead article for the return of the renown Sea Scope, my first ‘fiction’ e-book titled ‘What Price Profit’ an environmental thriller, the development of a very successful website –, occasional articles for i-5 Publishing (Marine Fish & Reef USA/Coral & Reef USA magazines) and in 2016 an e-book published by TFH titled ‘Marine Aquarium Filtration, Quest For Camelot,’ continue to stay quite busy.

In fact, millions of words have been written these past years and hand written mail, faxes, e-mail and phone calls have been received from all fifty states, Europe, Australia, Mexico, the Far East, Mid East, Canada, Africa, South America, and numerous Caribbean Islands. It seems like the only place I have yet to receive mail from is the Moon! I’ve also provided many question and answer sessions at our home, spoken at various aquarium societies and marine conferences and even did a TV show for a local ABC station. Presently, and for the last 35 years, we reside in the foothills surrounding Tucson, Arizona, and are just a few hours by auto from the Sea of Cortez where we vacation frequently.

Several years ago I retired from a subsidiary of General Motors where my position title was ‘Environmental Contract Manager.’ Should also add here I have no allegiance to, or paid affiliation with any aquarium product company. Nor have I ever been paid for the use of my name. As for our home in Tucson, Arizona, its been something like Grand Central Station, especially these past twenty years with people coming and going, with our phone always near a meltdown condition. My wife deserves many kind words for her continued patience and support.

Even though I’m not a scientist or a marine biologist, nor do I profess to completely understand the ocean’s entire and intricate ecology, my respect for its delicate existence and for those who depend upon it for their subsistence remains paramount. And because of my independence from aquarium product companies, you have, at least in my opinion, a source of information that is free of any preferential treatment and filled with years/decades of personal experience.

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