Turning the aquarist’s hobby into a lasting, joy-bringing, and consciousness-raising lifestyle is the primary goal of Biota Aquariums, one of the exhibitors in this year’s Aquatic Experience. Founding member and CEO Kevin Gaines is excited to share his passion for aquarium keeping and introduce potential hobbyists to the simplicity of the Biota aquarium at the event. “Being responsible doesn’t have to be complicated—or boring,” said Gaines. It is his belief that, by providing new aquarists with the tools that they need to maintain their own aquatic environments, Biota Aquariums can, indeed, eliminate confusion, stress, and disinterest from the novice aquarist’s experience.
Gaines himself has been working with and keeping aquariums for many years. “I’ve always been interested in the ocean and fascinated with aquariums,” he said. In fact, Gaines began keeping his first saltwater aquarium, which belonged to his parents, at the age of seven. Yet, Gaines’ interest in the ocean was not contained to the small glimpse that his aquarium provided. Growing up in Daytona Beach, Florida, Gaines often went fishing with his father on the weekends, and even picked up the pastime of surfing. As a result, it came as no surprise to those who knew him best when, during his junior year at the University of Florida, Gaines traded his pursuit of becoming an oral surgeon for a chance at a career in marine biology.
Since then, Gaines has been influential in the aquaculture industry. Immediately after graduation, he helped found the Coral Reef Ranch, an outdoor coral farm in Homestead, Florida. Later, Gaines became a founding member (and, eventually, president and CEO) of Oceans, Reefs, and Aquariums (ORA), the world’s largest marine ornamental fish, coral, and clam farm. Presently, in addition to his work with Biota, which he conducts with co-founder and long-time friend Tom Bowling, Gaines serves as a board member for the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). These are only a few of the titles that Gaines has held in his career. Furthermore, Gaines finds that his experience in working for “all sides of the trade” enriches his work for Biota Aquariums.
As a long-time aquarist, Gaines has often been frustrated by the complications that beginners face. “The experience has always been the same,” said Gaines. “It’s been very hard to replicate success for the beginner.” Gaines attributes this difficulty to the myriad of decisions that novice aquarists have to make with little to no education on aquarium keeping. New hobbyists “almost have to take a crash course in marine biology to understand which fish get along together and why, and which ones are appropriate for a small aquarium,” said Gaines.
Gaines believes that it is for this reason that Biota Aquariums is truly a boon to beginner aquarists. “Biota Aquariums was started to address that fundamental problem of getting the beginner involved and helping [him or her] to become successful,” said Gaines. “We feel like we’ve removed a lot of variables that have notoriously contributed to the high attrition rate in the marine aquarium hobby.” As the “only provider of a complete, sustainable saltwater aquarium ecosystem,” Biota Aquariums is able to achieve success for beginners by offering pre-designed, 13.5-gallon saltwater aquariums that include three appropriate and compatible fish and optional corals. All of the organisms included in a Biota aquarium are captive-bred or tank-raised before being conditioned at Biota’s Marine Life Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. By simplifying the marine aquarium, Biota hopes to not only inspire awe and interest among novice marine aquarists, but, more importantly, to help “cultivate the next generation of Earth’s stewards.”
Support Biota’s efforts by donating to its Indiegogo campaign beginning on Sept.12 and visiting the Biota Aquariums exhibit at Aquatic Experience, which will feature a display of Biota-designed aquariums. Learn more about Biota by visiting biotaaquariums.com.