ALA 2020 Convention is especially proud to introduce an exceptional panel of speakers, who will cover a wide variety of fascinating topics and specific areas.
Richard “Rit” Forcier has kept tropical fish since age 10. He has been a member of the Aqualand Aquatic Society, Bristol, CT, since 1982 and its President in 1986, and is the past President of the Exotic Fish Society of Hartford, 1985. These two clubs merged to form the Greater Hartford Aquarium Society in 2009. He has been a member of the American Livebearers Association for over 15 years and was elected to the ALA Board of Directors in September of 2002. He became Vice Chairman in April of 2003 and was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors in October of 2003 and reelected three times. He retired in December 2008 but retained his seat on the Board as a Director. He was elected Chairman for a second tenure in January of 2012. Recipient of the Northeast Council of Aquarium Society “Betty Muller Award” for lifetime service and achievement, March 2006. Honored by Aqualand in December of 1999 with honorary lifetime membership for his “sincere dedication and generous support”. Honorary member of the Pioneer Valley Aquarium Society (MA). Rit earned a BS degree in mathematics from Villanova University.
Chuck Davis has been doing tropical fish for over 63 years. He has owned two pet stores and a tropical fish import/wholesale business. He wrote the society news column for AFM for ten years. Chuck had been the editor of the “North Jersey Aquarium Association Reporter” for more than 35 years. He had been elected to the American Cichlid Association Board. Chuck was instrumental in organizing the first collecting group trip to Peru and Costa Rica. Chuck has collected and maintained over 150 species of catfish and was awarded with over 700 trophies at various fish shows. He has collected fish all over South Florida for the past 22 years. Chuck Davis is also widely known for his artwork of tropical fish, using variety of art mediums, including toilet seats.
Bob joined the organized hobby (NJAS) around 1971, ran his first show about the same year Became a life member a few years later. He won awards showing guppies on local shows. He began showing in IFGA shows in 1978. He has been in the top 10 IFGA for the last 11 years and counting. His main lines are black, half black yellow, half black green, half black pastel among other colors. He had also been running IFGA shows for years. His fish have been on the cover of TFH magazine, futured on TV show, and he has been on radio shows as well. Together with his wife Pat, who is a NJAS life member, Bob maintains over a hundred breeding and raising tanks. Currently the president of South Jersey Guppy Group. Bob Larsen is a noted breeder, author, lecturer, and an ambassador for guppies and the aquarium hobby.
Joe Gargas, a native of the South Suburbs of Chicago, began his interest in Tropical Fish in the mid 60’s when his aunt gave him his first fish tank with guppies. His interest in tropical fish stayed and grew throughout his teen years which grew into walls of aquariums. In the late 70’s he became a Law Enforcement Officer in the South Suburbs of Chicago. During that time, he worked extensively in breeding Discus as well as other hard to breed species of fish making extra money in the process. Joe began writing for several Aquarium Fish Publications and had a column in one of them that ran for 7 years. He also put together and began teaching a class “Advanced Freshwater Fish Keeping” at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. In the early 90’s he was approached by the Wardley Corporation (an aquarium fish food company) and was offered a job as a consultant. He also began doing the PIJAC “Freshwater Fish” certification seminar throughout the USA, Canada, and the UK, speaking on all aspects of the aquarium hobby. After Wardley Corp was bought out in the mid 90’s by the Hartz Mountain Corporation and Joe was offered the job of the director of research, he and his family were relocated to the Tampa Bay area where he lives today. Joe lectured worldwide on behalf of the Wardley Corporation on all aspects of tropical fish keeping and developed many products. He currently has a hatchery where he is breeding discus, rams, and angelfish selling to breeders and high-end stores across the country. He is an active member of the Tampa Bay Aquarium Society. Through his research and expertise, he has helped aquarists/hobbyists keep their fish alive and remain in the hobby. He was granted by the US government 13 patents on new technologies and applications for potable water, swimming pools, fountains and the aquarium fish industry.
Mike has been seriously involved in the aquarium hobby since grade school days, and is a certified Fishaholic, although he claims to be “in a program”. He is interested in all aspects of aquarium keeping, but his chief interest lies in livebearer species and the cichlids of the Americas. A member of most national specialty societies, including having been the editor of the American Livebearer Associations journal for eight years and a term on the American Cichlid Association’s Board of Trustees. Mike runs a business specializing in aquarium literature, and he and his books can often be seen at fish shows in the Great Lakes region. He is frequently called to judge at those shows, in addition, Mike is the one of the area’s most sought-after auctioneer.
Anton Lamboj has been an aquarist since the age of ten. In 1980 he began to take a special interest in the cichlids of West and Central Africa. These interests led to his academic education at the University of Vienna, which began in 1988. Works for his Master degree and Ph.D. were focused on the systematics of West African cichlids, which still embodies both his major work and his aquarist interest. Anton’s scientific work combines morphological and anatomical methods, as well as ethological studies and molecular methods. As an aquarist, Anton is also interested in many other groups of fish, with a detailed focus on anabantids and killifish. His prowess in breading rare livebearers is unmatched in the hobby. Over the years, he has made about 30 field/collecting trips to Africa as well as several trips to Asia and South America. Having authored more than 400 papers, both academic and hobbyist, in ten languages, including five books, Anton has also given over 500 presentations in 23 countries all over the world. Up to now, he has described 4 genera and 23 species. Anton is a lecturer and associated scientist at the University of Vienna, and is also chief editor of the Austrian aquarium and terrarium magazine, ‘Aqua Terra Austria,’ as well as the President in Honor of the Austrian Association of Aquarium and Terrarium Clubs, honorary member of the French Cichlid Association, of Nordiska Ciklidsällskapet (Scandinavian Cichlid Association), of Hill Country Cichlid Club (Texas), and Multicolor Ailingen (Germany). In 2011 he was honored for his international work for the hobby as a ‘Mastère fédéral d‘aquariophilie’ by the French Aquarium Federation FFA.
Les Wilson is a lifelong hobbyist and one of the founding partners of Cobalt Aquatics, overseeing Marketing, Product Development, and Sourcing. In Cobalt’s first 6 short years, Les’s projects at Cobalt have redefined the fish nutrition category with the Cobalt Probiotic flakes, and have won numerous industry awards for their innovative products like the Neo-Therm heaters, and CA Mysis frozen foods. He also brought Fishgeek level products like the Egg Rockers and Original MJ powerheads to the US hobby. Prior to founding Cobalt, Les spent 17 years with United Pet Group aquatics as an aquatic biologist and Director of Marketing for the Equipment and Consumables group, responsible for the Marineland, Tetra, Instant Ocean, and Jungle brands and private label projects in those categories. Les personally spearheaded many of the projects you know today, including his favorites: Marineland’s LED lighting, Bio-Spira Nitrifying bacteria, Corner flow tanks, and the Deep dimension aquariums. Les has also served 3 terms on the World Pet Association (WPA) Board of Directors and chaired the Aquatics Committee and was the founding chairman of WPA’s Aquatic Experience show in Chicago. Les is currently serving on the Marine Aquarium Society of North America (MASNA) show committee, which manages the annual MACNA show and conference. Les regularly speaks on fish related topics at hobbyist clubs and associations around the country and has been a featured speaker at the American Cichlid Association (ACA) annual conference, the American Liverbearers Association (ALA) annual conference, and HH Backer Pet trade show industry expert seminars and panels. Keeping to his fishgeek roots, Les is a member of the ACA, ALA, MASNA, and Florida Fancy Guppy Association.