First, we’d like to thank all who wrote in to enter our contest. We had a tremendous response, with more than 1,000 entries — and we read every one of them. So many of you wrote great, sometimes moving descriptions of how our magazine has affected your fishkeeping — and even your day-to-day lives. We appreciate all your feedback and found it very difficult in some cases to narrow down the entries.
After much deliberating, we present the winner of AFI’s 20th Anniversary Contest:
Congratulations to William Van Der Velden of Jacksonville, Florida! You won our grand prize from Doctors Foster and Smith!
Thanks to Doctors Fosters and Smith for their generous grand prize. And now, the winning entry:
“Aquarium Fish International has influenced my entire family’s hobby on many different levels. To begin, I purchased a subscription to the magazine in an effort to support my niece’s Girl Scout Troop‘s fund raising. The reason I picked your magazine is mostly due to my daughter Christina, who is 6. Christina loves all animals. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed to be allergic to cats and dogs, and the effect of those allergies were even worse than you could imagine due to the fact that she has cystic fibrosis, which makes her extremely susceptible to lung problems. In an effort to make her feel better about not being able to play with our three dogs, which we now have to keep outside, I bought her a fish tank. I eventually bought a tank for myself, only to follow with my wife, who wanted one of her own. We have a combination of fresh and saltwater tanks, so the diversity of your magazine is absolutely perfect for our needs. It not only supplies a wealth of knowledge in its amazingly illustrated articles — it has also introduced us to a number of products and websites through the sponsors that advertise in Aquarium Fish International. This has provided endless information beyond the popular topics and subjects that are discussed in between the covers of your wonderful publication.
Christina will check the mailbox every day after she comes home from school in anticipation of the magazine being there, and when the magazine comes in, my daughter and I spend hours together with the magazine. She’ll look at the pictures, and I’ll read the articles to her. We then take information we learn together and put it to practical use. We often read in front our fish tanks, so she can compare the vivid pictures to species in our tanks. I can proudly say that she can name most of the species of coral not just in my reef tank but…in Aquarium Fish International and our local pet stores. She also assists me with the maintenance of the tanks, as well as feedings. She will often come to me with your magazine in her hand and ask if we could go buy items that she sees in the magazine. … Christina has also been asking me if she could have a saltwater tank for her seventh birthday. I am proud to say that I believe your magazine has helped spark her interest in the hobby and has also led to educational trips to zoos and aquariums in our geographical area. So your magazine does not just further my education. It improves my skills in aquarium care and teaches my wife, so she can take care of our tanks during my naval deployments. It is also a learning tool for my daughter, gives her something to look forward to and assists in the bonding of our entire family.”
William Van Der Velden
We truly did receive a lot of noteworthy entries. Although we can’t run all of them, we’d like to share just a few.
“Aquarium Fish Magazine…changed my feelings of frustration over my mistakes and fish losses….After reading the articles in FishKidz, I donated an aquarium to the school where I taught. It started with the tank in my office. I moved the tank to the front office hoping that it would give a feeling of calm to the office staff and parents. The principal said when parents came to the office in a foul mood, he would have them sit in the area where the tank was set up for a few minutes, and watching the tank would calm them. The idea then spread to a sixth-grade science class where the teacher and students were taught how to set up and maintain their tank. There were students who were so interested they were allowed to maintain the tank as far as feeding and water changes. The teacher noticed changes in behavior of some of her students. I brought some of my back issues to the school library. Students in upper grades in the middle school read the magazine articles that related to the type of aquariums their parents had at home. Some would even talk to me about their hobby.
I lost my tank in 2005 when the levees failed during hurricane Katrina. I evacuated to Virginia, thinking I would be home in a few days, which turned into two months. My husband and I no longer live in New Orleans, and have not been able to set up an aquarium….I will always be an aquarist at heart.”
“I learned about the Greater Pittsburgh Aquarium Society and their auctions through your magazine. Their auctions are an excellent place to purchase fish directly from breeders at great prices. I also learn a lot by talking to others in the hobby at their regular meetings. I teach science at Williamsport Area High School in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and keep fish at school. There are three tanks in my classroom where I breed and raise cichlids. My students enjoy feeding the fish and have given most of them nicknames. When I’m finished reading your magazine, I take them to school for students to read. I also maintain our school’s 125-gallon marine reef and our 65-gallon African cichlid tanks that are located in the central hub of the school. The 2,100 students and staff that make up our school community view these tanks daily. Our special needs teachers use them as a therapeutic tool for their students. Our biology teachers use them to teach about marine biology and resource conservation, and our chemistry teachers use them to measure water quality parameters. I’m sure that my knowledge in this hobby comes in large part from reading Aquarium Fish Magazine and that I’ll continue to use it as a resource.”
“As a special education teacher, I need to use any type of equipment at my disposal to engage my students. I teach both biology and earth science to a wide variety of students. Some have learning disabilities, others have emotional disturbances, and some are just plagued with the ‘normal’ trials and tribulations of adolesence. I have found that all my students learn better in a hands-on environment. I work hard to use whatever resources are available to create that type of learning atmosphere. Aquarium Fish International has proven to be a very valuable resource. I have access to a small freshwater aquarium. I have used this to demonstrate many different biological and earth science principles and concepts. These include symbiosis, habitats, and reproduction. Aquarium Fish International has proven to be an excellent resource. I use it to solve problems I have encountered in maintaining the aquarium.
The different features inspire me to create imaginative lesson plans. The question and answer sections answer many of my own questions. I leave Aquarium Fish International out in the classroom for my students. Many of them are ‘reluctant’ readers. They are unable to read above a fourth-grade level, and so refuse to read. I consider reading the most important of all skills….Aquarium Fish International provides high interest reading for my students. It has interesting articles and beautiful photographs! The students pour over the magazine, showing each other the pictures and reading the captions out loud! This may not seem like an important issue, but to see them voluntarily picking up a magazine and reading is wonderful….”
“I first started enjoying this magazine about 15 years ago. At that point, I was only 8 years old and mostly enjoyed the pictures. Each publication of Aquarium Fish International would introduce a new type of fish that I loved. As I got a few years older, I was able to read more and more articles (with a lot of help from my parents). The more issues I looked at, the more I wanted a fish tank. After much pleading, my parents finally agreed to buy me one. The tank was a simple 10-gallon tank with hot pink gravel, filled with mostly swordtails and platies. To everybody else, it may have been just a simple fish tank, but to me it meant the world.
Developmentally, the magazine has had a positive affect on me. When I was younger, I was not a great reader; I also struggled with reading comprehension. My teachers began noticing that my reading skills were improving immensely. After speaking with my parents, the teachers attributed my reading success to be directly related to the avid reading of the magazine. Since then, I have continued to read the magazine….I love your magazine. It has affected me and everyone in my family. Now that I no longer live with my parents, they had to buy a small fish tank because they realized how much they enjoyed the hobby. My brother keeps two big oscars in his tank. We are all fish enthusiasts, thanks to this magazine. Thanks for an educational 20 years of publication, and here’s to 20 more!”
North Bennington, Vermont