News / Industry News & Events / Robert M. Fenner, 1952-2020 (05/14/20)

Robert M. Fenner, 1952-2020

05/14/20

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A great friend and charter contributor to CORAL Magazine, Robert M. (Bob) Fenner died in his sleep at his home in San Diego, California, on May 7, 2020. His family said the apparent cause of death was a heart attack. He was 67 and actively working as a writer, underwater photographer, aquatics educator, and internet publisher.

Bob is considered to be one of the pioneers of marine aquarium keeping and a champion of the ethical, sustainable collection and husbandry of aquatic animals. His landmark book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, is one of the bestselling aquarium titles of all time, with more than 100,000 copies in print.

The founder and driving force behind Wet Web Media, a wide-ranging, long-established, content-rich site and helpline for keepers of marine, brackish water, and freshwater aquariums, Bob was a lifelong teacher who mixed science with wit as he advised aquarists of all skill levels, from rank beginners to professionals at major public aquariums.

Dr. Neale Monks, a British zoologist and writer who worked closely with Bob, said this in a message to CORAL:

There are others who will be able to explain Bob Fenners influence on the marine aquarium hobby, and the aquatics business, and his love for reef diving and underwater photography. But for my part, Bob was a dear friend with whom I worked on a daily basis for almost 15 years, helping to maintain the unique and incomparable WetWebMedia website.

As idiosyncratic as the man himself, with a layout barely changed since the Stone Age of the Internet, WetWebMedia is a sprawling mass of articles, photographs, and those mailed-in appeals for help he referred to as FAQs.

Every day hed tackle questions from aquarists keeping anything from a high-spec reef tank through to a goldfish bowl, and do his best to help them out. He had strong opinions on certain things (Melafix, for one; and text message grammar for another) but what a work ethic he had!

For a man who lived life to its fullest, who enjoyed his beer, sushi, and late nights out, barely a day went past when he didnt log into the WWM website. Hed check through the days messages, and send out helpful replies in a speedy manner, and on some days there might be twenty or thirty messages, some simple, but others long, rambling, or otherwise difficult to solve.

God only knows how many fish, frogs, turtles and invertebrates are alive today (or at least lived full and happy lives) thanks to this generous titan of a man. Its often said after someone passes that they will be irreplaceable, but it isnt hyperbole here: Bob, you will be missed.