Chris and Jeff of SaltwaterSmarts.com

Chris Aldrich and Jeff Kurtz of Saltwater Smarts [Photo Credit: Toledo Free Press]

Saltwater Smarts is a unique online resource created by long-time aquarists Chris Aldrich and Jeff Kurtz to inspire and entertain a new generation of marine aquarium hobbyists while helping them acquire the reliable, authoritative knowledge base they need to succeed with a saltwater system. By clarifying key concepts, techniques, and terminology, as well as sharing expert insights from fellow enthusiasts and industry professionals, Chris and Jeff hope to promote a more accessible, sustainable, and enjoyable marine aquarium hobby. Read more about our mission and the contributors who are part of our team.

Your head start to marine aquarium success!

“Caribbean Chris” Aldrich


Chris Aldrich is an entrepreneur who lives in Key Largo, Florida with his wife and son. He is the co-founder/director of Saltwater Smarts and the owner of Blacktip Aerial. He also regularly takes part in a live rock mariculture project off the coast of the Florida Keys, which focuses on sustainably producing live rock from terrestrial-sourced rock and supplying it to the saltwater aquarium industry.

Chris has been in the aquarium hobby for over 20 years on both the saltwater and freshwater sides. His admiration for the blue waters of the Caribbean earned him the “Caribbean Chris” moniker and serve as inspiration for his current 127-gallon Caribbean reef biotope system.

Chris enjoys spending time with his family and is also an avid SCUBA diver, fisherman, boater, kayaker, hockey fan/player, tropical traveler, and outdoorsman.

Jeff Kurtz


Jeff Kurtz is a freelance writer/editor living in Northwest Ohio with his wife and two teenage children. He is the co-founder and editor of Saltwater Smarts, former senior consulting editor for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, and the editor for Healthy Living News. Over the years, Jeff, formerly known as “The Salt Creep,” has contributed numerous feature articles to TFH Magazine as well as other aquarium-hobby publications. He has also authored several books for TFH Publications, including The Simple Guide to Marine Aquariums, The Simple Guide to Mini-Reef Aquariums, The Saltwater Aquarium Problem Solver, and Clownfishes and Other Damsels.

Jeff has been an aquarium hobbyist for over 30 years and is an avid SCUBA diver. His current setup is a 125-gallon reef. He has occasionally been known to dabble in freshwater aquariums, as well. In addition to his involvement in the aquarium hobby, Jeff is half of the musical duo The Kurtz Brothers, who perform around the Toledo area.


Than Thein for Saltwater Smarts

Than Thein

Than is the owner of Tidal Gardens and Advanced Reef Aquarium. His love for all things underwater began early on when dogs and cats were strictly off limits, but a fish tank? Sure! What started with a 10-gallon goldfish tank eventually turned into a 5,000-gallon greenhouse coral propagation system.

Jay Hemdal for Saltwater Smarts

Jay Hemdal

Jay is the Curator of Fishes and Invertebrates for the Toledo Zoo. In addition to his fish and invertebrate curation leadership at the Toledo Zoo, Jay is also an accomplished author. He has written more than 150 articles and six books on a variety of aquarium-related topics since 1981.

Paul Baldassano for Saltwater Smarts

Paul Baldassano

Paul (PaulB) has been in the hobby since the 50s and holds two aquarium-related patents, including his invention the Majano Wand. His current reef aquarium was set up in 1971. He is also an avid SCUBA diver and Vietnam veteran.

Paul Poeschl for Saltwater Smarts

Paul Poeschl

Paul is Supervisor of Collections for Living Exhibits Inc. where he helps manage, collect, and acquire fish for their exhibits in zoos and aquariums across the country; prior to that he was the lead fish husbandry technician for several years at LiveAquaria‘s Diver’s Den. Paul has been in the industry for over a decade and a hobbyist for twenty five years.

David Bowers for Saltwater Smarts

David Bowers

David is the marine biology teacher at Bellevue City Schools in Ohio. He is also an adjunct instructor of coral reef ecology at The University of Toledo and has worked as a marine science education consultant for the University of Houston. He has over 20 years of saltwater aquarium keeping experience. In 2011, David’s marine science class was awarded the MASNA National Classroom of the Year.

Joe Garza for Saltwater Smarts

Joe Garza

Joe is a U.S. Navy veteran who was bit by the saltwater bug while exploring the oceans of the world during his service. He began in the hobby during the 90’s when he kept a FOWLR tank, which later developed into a passion for SPS corals. Joe currently maintains 500 gallons of reef aquariums, shares his love for the hobby with his three children, and enjoys helping his fellow reefkeepers.

Ellery Wong for Saltwater Smarts

Ellery Wong

Ellery is a mechanical systems engineer at a Fortune 500 technology company. He has professional automation experience in the automotive, appliance, printing and robotics industries, as well as over 25 years as a saltwater aquarium hobbyist. He currently maintains a 365-gallon SPS/LPS system while regularly traveling for work, which presents a variety of challenges he enjoys tackling.

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