On the day in 1996 that changed Ken Nedimyer’s life, he was a dawn-to-dusk live-rock farmer and reef-fish collector in the Upper and Middle Keys, little known outside the small marine livestock–harvesting community in Florida where he was respected for his hard work and strong sense of environmental ethics. His Sea Life, Inc. business kept in intimate touch with nature, but it hardly promised to bring him fame or fortune.
For a generation of new marine aquarium keepers cutting their teeth on Acropora and Montipora fragments, the notion of a large angelfish being the icon of the saltwater hobby can bring looks of bewilderment.
An accidental rock anemone reproduction event some years ago, when about 20 small ones showed up in a tray with an adult, convinced me that there was a possible opportunity for captive culture. There were two unknowns: could we predictably reproduce Epicystis crucifer, and, more important, would the offspring have the colors of the adults? The abundance of and low demand for the common brown and tan color morphs make any efforts
The name Helmut Debelius is a byword for reef fish and invertebrate enthusiasts, not only for divers but also among marine aquarists worldwide. The Fire Shrimp, Lysmata debelius, Debelius Reef Lobster, Enoplometopus debelius, the Blue Mauritius Dwarf Angelfish, Centropyge debelius, and the Softcoral Seahorse, Hippocampus debelius, as well as several other species, bear his name, and his books occupy the shelves of every serious marine student of coral reefs.
In 1977, a major cold front struck the southeastern seaboard of the U.S. Snow fell in the Florida Keys and the water temperatures plunged in that normally tropical environment. Ken Nedimyer, a young reef fish collector from Key Largo, bore witness to the first of several events that, collectively, would drive the region’s most dominant species of coral to the brink of extinction. Ed Haag talks with Ken Nedimyer, CORAL November/December 2009.