Past Speakers

Les Wilson
Guest speaker Les Wilson is one of the founding partners of Cobalt Aquatics, overseeing marketing, product development, and sourcing for Cobalt. Prior to founding Cobalt, Les spent 17 years with United Pet Group - Aquatics serving as an aquatic biologist for Marineland aquarium products and as the director of marketing for the equipment and consumables group, responsible for Marineland, Tetra, Instant Ocean, and Jungle Labs brands and private label projects in those categories.

Les and his two partners started Cobalt International with the goal to get back to their roots as fish geeks and give back to the hobby the lessons they have learned. Over the last six years Cobalt has taken off with innovative fish geek products like Cobalt Premium Flakes with probiotics, egg rockers, MJ pumps, and Neo-therm heaters to name a few! Les is also active in the aquatics industry, speaking at clubs and events like ACA and ALA, as well as serving six years on the World Pet Association board of directors where he creates and chaired the aquatic sub-committee that started Aquatic Experience, and is currently serving on the MASNA board helping with the MACNA Conference and other conservation efforts.

Birger Kamprath
Birger Kamprath has been keeping fish of one form or another since the age of ten. Forty-five years later this childhood hobby persists as strong as ever, and you will find many aquariums in his home. Most are dedicated to the Mochokid catfish of Africa, a fascinating group of species that offer challenges in understanding the care and breeding of this family of fish.

Supplementing his fish keeping, over the past few years Birger has turned amateur writer and photographer, writing catfish related articles as another expression of his interest in these fascinating creatures. His interest in catfish brought him to the on-line world of in the mid 2000's, where he sits as a moderator and spends many hours conversing and sharing insights. His first nervously accepted speaking engagement was to the 2012 Catfish Study Group Convention in the United Kingdom but is now excited to continue to share knowledge on the fishes of the often mysterious continent of Africa.

You will find Birger living in the Canadian Rockies, self-employed as a log-fitter and timber-framer in the Bow Valley town of Canmore, Alberta. You will also find him practicing and teaching karate as the head instructor of a non-profit karate club, where he engages community youth in age-old teachings focused on self-improvement and humility. Many hours have also been spent getting to know the lakes and streams of Western Canada, with both a fishing rod and dip net.

Josh Cunningham
Josh Cunningham has been keeping and breeding African cichlids for almost twenty years. He started fishkeeping with African cichlids from Lake Malawi and Lake Victoria in a 400 sq ft basement, breeding four to five different kinds of cichlids and trading the fry back to his pet store for fish food and filter media.

At some point in his life, a decision was made to move to a different area and a bigger house. Once this move was completed, Josh was without cichlids for a couple of years before acquiring a 55 gallon tank. Once this tank was set up and stocked, multiple tank syndrome kicked in again, and he expanded the amount of species he kept and added a few tanks to the main floor of his house.

At this point, Josh decided that he wanted a fishroom in the basement. Designs were made. tanks and fish purchased, and a "Fishaholic" was born. Today he has spawned over 100+ different species of African cichlids and has achieved master breeder status in the Michigan Cichlid Association and Ohio Cichlid Association. He was also named the Grand Champion breeder of the American Cichlid Association in 2015 for most spawns in a year. He spends his time in the fishroom doing more changes and working with many different species. In addition, he also run a business called Cunningham Cichlids, LLC and is also the President of the Michigan Cichlid Association and Co-Chairmen of the 2017 American Cichlid Association Convention taking place on July 13-16 in Novi, Michigan.

Ervin Daniels
The Michigan Koi and Pond Club was founded the March of 1996 after the founder, Gil Orris, took some advice from a pond supply store on how to get rid of algae in his pond which resulted in the death of every fish in his pond except one. After losing 15 mature koi he felt that there had to be a better way to learn about the hobby and that others in the area were probably also experiencing “learning pains” and may want to join in. Seventeen people attended that first meeting at his home and the club has met continuously since then, enjoying, seeing and learning about the many members' ponds and gardens.

The MKPC is one of the oldest and largest koi and pond clubs in Michigan and is member of the Associated Koi Clubs of America (AKCA). The club has produced an annual pond and water garden tour since 1998 with homes representing at least 20 communities and have had well over 5000 people learn a little about the hobby through these tours. They have also produced three different educational programs using slides, video and computer technology on our hobby that have been presented to various groups and are available to other groups at a modest fee. They have members just learning about the hobby that have yet to have their first pond to members with decades of experience in the hobby. Some members have very small ponds with either a few or even no fish to one of the largest being a beautiful garden with half a dozen ponds from 1000 gallons up to one of 25,000 gallons and more koi than you can easily count.

Ben Van Dinther
Ben is the owner of the Water Colors Aquarium Gallery. He started keeping fish when he was eight, but it was not until he saw a picture of Psuedepiplatys annulatus, the Clown Killi, that the hobby became an obsession. He is a fellow of the Grand Valley Aquarium Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan and holds top honors in the Horticulturist Award Program.

Pat Hartman
Pat Hartman has been keeping fish for over 40 years. Although not a founding member, he has been a member of the Southwestern Michigan Aquarium Society (SWMAS) in Kalamazoo, MI since early 1979, and is active with the Grand Valley Aquarium Club (GVAC) in Grand Rapids, MI. In the early 1980’s he developed a special interest in livebearing fishes, and rapidly became involved with the American Livebearer Association (ALA) where he served in various capacities including Chairman.

Pat is involved in most every aspect of the ALA, having won several major Show Awards at the ALA Convention, participates in the Species Maintenance Program, serves as auctioneer, and has finally reached the elusive magical level of 150 species in the Breeder’s Award Program. Pat was also instrumental in the formation of the ALA Vern Parish Fund where he served as Co-Chairman from 1996-2007. Today he specializes almost exclusively in wild species of Livebearers. Pat was honored by being named “Fellow of the ALA” in 2006.

Pat is also active with the North American Goodeid Working Group (NAGWG), and finally made his first trip to Mexico in Nov 2014 for the 4th International Symposium on Viviparous Fishes, along with the GWG Meeting, visit to the Fish Ark, and collecting goodeids in the wild. He is making his second trip to Mexico in February 2017 as a part of the first ever NAGWG Goodeid Study Tour.

Pat will share some of his experiences & expertise with a program entitled “Wild Livebearers I Have Known." This talk will cover various aspects of keeping livebearing fish, including what is a livebearer, biology & breeding, importance of species maintenance, collection locations, & examples of wild habitat. Detailed descriptions of various species of Goodeids and Poecilieds are also presented.

Ted Judy
Ted Judy is an addicted aquarist with over 30 years of fish keeping and breeding experience. He is a generalist who enjoys all types of fish from anabantids to tetras, but always finds plenty of room in his fish room for fish from West Africa (especially the dwarf cichlids). Ted’s club affiliations are the American Cichlid Association, the Madison Area Aquatic Hobbyists, and the Milwaukee Aquarium Society. Ted is a former high school science teacher who now dabbles as a fish importer, retailer and wholesale distributor. He is a prolific speaker, proficient writer, and wants to be a better photographer. See more of Ted’s hobby by visiting his video blog at

Jeff Cardwell
Jeff Cardwell visited MCAS to share his 2015 collecting experiences in Brazil. Jeff has been active in the aquarium hobby for more than 50 years. He maintains over 60 aquaria and his interests and expertise extend to catfish, killies, rainbowfishes, and cichlids. Jeff has traveled extensively to collect aquarium fishes on more than 40 trips to Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Surinam, Uruguay, Mexico, El Salvador, the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. An enthusiastic keeper of North America's native fishes, his collecting trips have also taken him to many parts of the United States. Both as a speaker and a judge, Jeff has been a familiar figure at shows throughout the Midwest for more than thirty years. He is an active member of the American Cichlid Association, the American Killifish Association, the American Livebearer Association, and the Circle City Aquarium Club.

Gary Mousseau
Gary Mousseau has been raising guppies since the age of nine, and has been an International Fancy Guppy Association (IFGA) competitor since 1987. He is one of the best guppy breeders in the country. His program discussed his beginnings as well as his accomplishments in over thirty years of showing IFGA show guppies. Gary has also kept and bred Corydoras with his son, Tim, since 2001.

Jeremy Basch
Jeremy Basch lives in Columbus, OH but is originally from Westlake, Cleveland, OH. He started keeping fish around twenty-two years ago when his father took him to a pet shop. At around sixteen, Jeremy started working at one of his local fish stores and started to acquire various-sized aquariums and fish. He became hooked.

This continued until 2004, when he setup his first fishroom. Currently, Jeremy is on his third modified fishroom design which now contains over 100 aquariums ranging in size from 2.5 to 150 gallons. Over the years he has bred over forty species of fish, including many cichlids, catfish, rainbows, killifish, livebearers, and invertebrates. He was also the first person in the world to have the Jaguar Catfish, Liosomadoras oncinus, spawn and give viable offspring in his tanks!

Jeremy's main foci are the cichlids and catfish from South America and the killifish from West Africa. He is a current member and the Chairman of the Columbus Area Fish Enthusiasts (CAFE). Other fish associations he has belonged to include the Ohio Cichlid Association, the Greater Cincinnati Aquarium Society, the American Killifish Association, and the American Cichlid Association. Jeremy has written a few articles which have been published in the 'Buntbarsche Bulletin' (ACA's quarterly journal), his hometown club's newsletter the 'CAFE Menu,' and in 'Amazonas Magazine,' the latter sharing his first successful breeding of Liosomadoras oncinus, the Jaguar Catfish. Jeremy can be seen at many fish shows and conventions throughout the Midwest.

Heather Burke
Keeping fish since the age of 12, Heather Burke has a keen interest and passion for the aquarium hobby. She has kept fish for over ten years and has been active in aquarium societies for most of that time, successfully keeping and breeding a combined 40 species of freshwater fish and invertebrates. Heather comes from Lansing and currently associates with the Grand Valley Aquarium Club. Her interests are broad and range from nano species to cyprinids to wild-type livebearing fishes and dwarf cichlids. She is obtaining a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University. She is also a current Preuss Pets employee in the freshwater fish department.

In the summer of 2014, Heather engaged in a double-internship that spanned May-August. This started off for her in the Preuss Pets breeding room and ended at the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan, MI. This talk, previously performed for GVAC last year, takes a look at insights on captive fish management from the two gained perspectives; that of the pet trade and that of the Department of Natural Resources.

Christopher Newell
Chris Newell has kept fish and plants for thirty years. He first joined the Motor City Aquarium Society in 1995 and has since held many positions with us before his current role as our Program Chair. His biggest passion in fishkeeping is keeping wild-type livebearers, but he maintains a good assortment of other fishes, including dwarf cichlids, and has recently begun to keep a wide variety of dwarf freshwater shrimp.

Chris enjoys having plants in his aquariums and is a known "plant nut." An example of this is his collection of immersed-grown Cryptocoryne plants, which flower regularly. His fishroom is mid-tech and has grown to include over a hundred aquariums. Faced with an ever-growing electric bill, Chris looked into plant-friendly LEDs in order to ease the cost of lighting his aquariums. His fishroom has gone through a complete lighting overhaul and is now equipped with DIY LED lighting that is easy on the checkbook and keeps his plants lush and healthy.

Robert Lupton
Robert Lupton is the owner of Flip Aquatics, LLC based out of Warren, Ohio. His business focuses on American-bred and tank-raised shrimp, fish and propagated plants. Robert is known all across the country for his freshwater dwarf shrimp. Since 2010 he has worked with multiple genuses of shrimp to gain a better understanding of their care, breeding and other environmental factors that lead to successful keeping.

Robert graduated from Westminster College with a double degree in accounting and business administration. After graduating Robert started a medical weight loss clinic in Pennsylvania but after a year decided to pursue his dream of making a business out of his passion for the aquarium hobby. In July of 2014, Flip Aquatics, LLC was formed. Since then, Robert has acquired a 4,000 sq ft breeding facility equipped with over 300 tanks.

Robert's dream is to provide the US market with US bred and tank raised shrimp. He believes that breeding shrimp in captivity and indoors will help reduce the spread of disease and parasites amongst the hobby. Flip Aquatics plans to help reduce the amount of shrimp taken from the wild. The shrimp Flip Aquatics produces spend less time traveling and therefore lead to better results amongst hobbyists.

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