Our kind thanks go to Joe Lichtenbert, who submitted this guest contribution in remembrance of pioneering marine fish breeder Bill Addison.
Bill Addison passed away in his sleep February 17th, 2012 at the age of 85. He had broken his hip in early November and spent a couple of months in rehab before he was allowed home. But before he could spend his first night in a long time in his own bed, he fell and broke his arm. So back to rehab. He came home again a couple of weeks ago where he died in his own bed. Although Bill suffered from diabetes requiring daily injections, a serious case of arthritis, and macular degeneration, he NEVER complained. His famous words of wisdom were, “So be it!”. Bill was a WWII vet. His personal exploits would make you proud to be an American. Bill was also a very accomplished tropical marine breeder.
Back in the early 80’s, he raised his first batch of Pearl Headed Jawfish. He had about 90 fully matured individuals in a singular tank without any gravel. Knowing their desire for burrows, he drilled a false bottom with the same footprint of the tank. This bottom contained 90 holes. Each hole of had a 3” piece of piping aligned below each hole. As you walked up to the tank, all 100 fish would scurry for one of the 90 holes. It was like musical chairs because there were always 10 fish with nowhere to go. He had a 300 gallon round tank with several hundred fully matured clarkii. Two of them paired off and relegated all the other fish to the opposite side of the tank. He had a spawning pair of Golden Three Spot Damsels in their own 300 gallon tank. Each time they spawned, they laid a band of eggs four inches wide around the entire circumference. He had a pair of Clown Triggers. When their tank was approached, they would raise their heads out of the water to observe the visitors. As soon as they realized there was no food coming, they would literally shoot a five foot long stream of water at the visitors. And there are many other stories that can go on like this.
Because of Bill’s knowledge of various species’ mating habits, he was able to spawn nearly 80 different species, many of which he commercialized in and he had a fair amount of success rearing at least a few individuals of most others. Along this line was Bill’s greatest contribution to the hobby. He was the absolute very first individual to commercially spawn and raise various varieties of Pseudochromis. He would bring in wild caught individuals and pair them off. In confined spaces, the female was killed by the male in the process of the first spawning sequence. Bill persisted until he was finally able to raise a couple of spawns. What he learned was that the species became domesticated. The female could now survive an unlimited number of spawning sequences. Due to the work Bill did to domesticate the fish and developing the proper feeding regime, virtually anyone can propagate the fish today.
As most would know, Bill established C-QUEST down in Puerto Rico back in the early 90’s. C-Quest subsequently became the largest and longest running marine propagation company in the world. But it, like so many other million dollar operations before it, never made a profit. Because of his age and deteriorating health, he sadly decided to shut down the operation a couple of years ago.
Along the way, Bill became in inspiration to virtually everyone who crossed his path. It will be a long, long time before anyone can match his success at commercially breeding and raising such an array of species. If you ever met him, you know that he had left an indelible mark in your memory. One of the most satisfying moments in his life was to win the enviable “Hobbyist of the Year” award at a MACNA Convention some many years ago. He so much cherished that award.
The family is not planning any of the traditional services. Instead, he will be cremated and his ashes will be spread across the mountain passes that he so loved. I, and the world, have lost a great and inspirational man.
– Joe Lictenbert, February 22nd, 2012.
Additional remembrances of Bill Addison from Martin Moe, Edgar Diaz, Jeff Turner and Matthew L. Wittenrich were published this morning at Coral Magazine.