Aquariums are a special kid of hobby. You might start out with a goldfish in a bowl, or you might end up with a wall-to-wall setup filled with corals and plants and several kinds of fish. Or maybe you have stingray and arowana.

Aquatics are a growing, thriving industry—and community. In the Philippines and around the world, hobbyists are working together to increase awareness of the hobby and to educate the public about aquatics. On the other side of the fence, pet care companies are working closely with hobbyists to provide better care for fish and plants. One of those companies is Seachem.

What is Seachem?

Seachem was founded in 1979 by Dr. Leo Morin. Dr. Morin was a hobbyist who was not satisfied with commercially available solutions to aquarists’ problems. He ended up creating his own solutions, and starting his own company so he could share these solutions with others.

Seachem provides a vast array of products for aquariums of all kinds, covering “the full spectrum of aquarium requirements in freshwater, seawater, reefs, and ponds.” Their website is a treasure trove of information, useful for beginners and veterans alike.But what makes Seachem different is that it prides itself on being owned and operated by hobbyists. “All employees are hobbyists who maintain aquariums at home and at the office.”

Recently, Seachem USA’s Brian Miller visited the Philippines, and he too shared stories of his own aquarium.

In addition being hobbyists, Seachem’s staff are also biologists and chemists. They spend much time studying fish, corals, plants and other occupants of various aquariums, in order to create products that are safe and beneficial. “We take pride in our responsibility to living creatures,” says Miller.

The Seachem Community

That responsibility includes a constant dialogue with aquarists all over the world. Seachem welcomes distributors and retailers to their facility in Georgia. In particular, guests are invited to participate in Seachem Academy, where staff are happy to talk about relevant marine biology and the extensive research that goes into their products.The company website is full of FAQs, manuals and instructions to help you along in the hobby. Trickier concerns can be discussed in the Support Forums, with separate sections on reef aquaria, planted aquaria, cichlids, freshwater aquaria. The Library section is full of articles, dose calculators and reference material that are thoroughly researched and well-written.

But people make a community, and what a vibrant aquarist community there is in the Philippines! At Miller’s talk on September 12, local groups showed their support not just for Seachem and local distributor Eric Fabrico, but for the hobby in general. In attendance were the Philippine Arowana and Louhan Society (PALHS) and its affiliate groups, the Philippine Stingray Club, Betta Enthusiasts of the Philippines, Philippine Cichlid Association, PNAS-Hardineros, Guppy Club of the Philippines, Team Isdaan-Flower Horns, and Team Zabarte Flowerhorn Group.

All About Filtration

In the recent Seachem seminar at Microtel by Wyndham-Mall of Asia, Miller talked about the basics of filtration, and the elements that are harmful to fish, like chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. In a short chemistry lesson, he explained that these particular elements need to be decreased or detoxified to create a safe environment for the fish. Products like Prime, AmGuard, Stability and Pristine are recommended for these.

But there are many other factors that need to be controlled in an aquarium. What if the fish is injured? Injured fish are a source of excess protein in the water. Miller recommends Stress Guard, which prevents secondary infection and detoxifies ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.

Some hobbyists keep brackish or estuarine fish. Brackish Salt helps make sure the aquarium has the ideal environment for them, and is safe for live plants too.

Remember the goldfish in the bowl? Seachem has Gold Buffer and Gold Basics for them.

A special niche in this hobby is the planted aquarium. Miller took the time to explain the special needs of such aquaria. For instance, algae might be a problem, so Potassium would be recommended to kill algae on stems and leaves. Flourish Nitrogen and Flourish Phosphorus would be useful for aquaria with few or no fish, and many plants. Seachem even offers Flourish Glue, a form of cyanoacrylate that can be used underwater.

Reefkeeping

Miller wrapped up his seminar with aquavitro, a special line of products for reef tanks. While he talked about products like premier, envy, propel and carbonate, outside the event venue was an exhibit displaying not only aquavitro reef and plant products, but tools too.

While Miller visited the Philippines to talk about Seachem’s new products, but more importantly he was here to hear from local hobbyists. The open forum gave the fish groups a chance to pick Miller’s brains about dosage and their tanks’ special needs.

And of course, what product seminar is complete without a raffle?

This appeared in Animal Scene’s November 2015 issue.