Last week we learned of the passing of Perry Tishgart, an undisputed pioneer in the aquarium industry and the founder of Champion Lighting & Supply. Perry was a man who can best be described as being rough around the edges and while he would take umbrage with anyone calling him a ‘nice guy’, he was an unquestionable lynchpin of support for many people and their companies in the saltwater aquarium world for decades.
As a young lad in the early days of our personal reef aquarium journey during the 1990s we fawned over the ‘exotic’ aquarium gear in the analog paper aquarium catalogs that we would receive in the mail. The catalogs from Pet Warehouse, That Fish Place, and Debron Aquatics showed us all a whole world of reef building possibilities when it came to aquarium gear but for many diehard reefers the most exciting and stimulating was by far the Champion Lighting & Supply catalog.
We wish we still had a classic example to page through but we can still remember the black print on non-white paper which tended to be beige, light blue or a pale yellow and filled cover to cover with products we’ve never heard of, or gear we had heard of but which we’d never seen for sale before. Simple things like heavy duty pumps and metal halide lighting got us thinking about how differently the US & Japanese made Iwaki motors performed, or the tradeoff between intensity and lifespan of metal halide lamps whether you used probe start or pulse start ballasts.
Simply knowing these options existed for superficially identical products put us on a path of thinking more critically about reef aquarium products, how they perform, how they last, and which ones were the best value for a given reef tank application. We still remember our starting positions at various retail aquarium stores and lobbying to start buying reef gear from Champion Lighting & Supply so we could offer them to our customers, but more importantly so we could gain more experience playing with these coveted reef toys.
Twenty five years later we’re still on the path of reviewing aquarium products, a lifelong experience that was nurtured by Perry Tishgart’s Champion Lighting & Supply Company. Even though his name was never in the spotlight, we wish we had the foresight to tell Perry how influential he was in the lives of many aquarists and companies including this very website you are reading now.