Several weeks ago, my old and dear friend Doug Robbins, Ph.D. died from complications from liver replacement surgery. Doug was a regular contributor to Advanced Aquarist and Aquarium Frontiers before that, and an avid aquarist with both freshwater and marine aquariums.
Everyone in our hobby and discipline will miss his enthusiasm and knowledge. Pictured above is Doug on the left, Peter Wilkens, Randy Donowitz, and myself. This picture was taken at the Writing Center at Pratt Institute, when Peter Wilkens came to the USA to visit me. For some of you younger aquarists who may not know, Peter Wilkens, in my opinion, is the true father of reef keeping. Though quite incomplete, a useful introduction to the development of reef keeping can be found at the following link, where some of Wilken’s contributions are listed.
By doing a search by author you will find 8 articles by Doug Robbins published in Advanced Aquarist. Doug also wrote numerous articles for Aquarium Frontiers; some of you may have copies of those issues. Doug Robbins has kept fish and small animals in glass tanks for almost his whole lifetime. His father started him in the hobby and until Doug’s death he maintained his father’s 50 gallon Metaframe stainless steel, chromium plated fresh water community display tank. Doug maintained that tank for 40-years. He also maintained a 30 gallon minireef and a small backyard goldfish pond. This while at Pratt Institute. When he moved to Hawaii, after retirement from Pratt, he took the 50-gallon Metaframe with him and reestablished it as a beautiful Dutch style freshwater aquarium. He also set up 50-gallon reef tank. Here are pictures of flame angels – tank raised – and an adult housed in that tank, with a link to that article. As you can see from a reading of his articles he was deeply committed to the ecological movement and marine conservation.
I first met Doug around 1966, when we both became instructors at Pratt Institute, he in Social Science and me in the Humanities. Ultimately, Doug became the chairperson of the social Science department. For many years I would pick up Doug at Pratt, drive to Columbia University, the Post-doc. Center, and pick up Craig Bingman, where upon we would head North to Greg Schiemer’s and Bob Starks’ and together check out LPSs that appealed to this collection of coralaholics. Those were the days. Doug will be missed by all of us.
“Aloha! I am a huge fan of your online magazine and thought you might be interested in this. It is a dream come true. I think every diver dreams of finding something that nobody has ever seen before. Just think 2 days ago nobody knew this type of fish existed. This fish is a hybrid of two fish found only in Hawaii.
This is what the authority on fish said after seeing the picture:
“Amazing! I am as sure as I can be withhout DNA testing that that is a potteri fisheri hybrid and none have ever been documented until now.”
Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences and Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/staff/pylerichard.html
Both of these fish are not found anywhere else in the world, endemic to Hawaii.