Albert J. Klee, 2005
Cichlid Room Companion

Albert J. Klee

United States
last updated on 31-Dec-2005

I think it is just proper to reproduce here a biographical sketch that will appear in the next edition of The Toy Fish, written by Sam Wineberg:

Dr. Albert J. Klee has a diverse educational background, holding five American university degrees including Engineering, Business, Mathematics, Modern Languages, and Computer Sciences, as well as a diploma from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, where he studied Hispanic art and culture.

Al has traveled to 37 foreign countries and reads and translates nine languages. He has collected reptiles, fishes, birds, insects, and mammals from South and Central America for the Cincinnati and Detroit Zoos, and has discovered several new species of fishes and a new genus of cichlids (Apistogrammoides). He has also served as a consultant to the Fleischman Aquarium at the Cincinnati Zoo.

He is an Honorary Member of many aquarium associations and societies and has written hundreds of articles on fishes, both popular and scientific.

He has been an Associate Editor of the Aquarium Journal, Contributing Editor of Tropicals Magazine, Contributing Editor of the Swedish aquarium magazine, Akvariet, Editor of The Aquarist’s Notebook, Editor and Publisher of Aquarium Illustrated, and Editor of The Aquarium magazine. His articles, some of which are indexed in the Zoological Record, have been translated into many foreign languages and published in journals all over the world. Al’s writings have not been all serious, however. In 1961 the San Francisco Aquarium Society published a book of his humorous aquarium columns and cartoons called "The Finny Bone!"

Although he has authored a number of small booklets on various aquatic subjects, he is widely recognized as the leading author on aquarium history matters, his best known work being "The Toy Fish – A History of the Aquarium Hobby in America, The First One Hundred Years". He is also the author of "The Guppy, 1859-1967", and "The History of Ichthyology".

His two-volume 700-page "Anthologica Aquatica", consisting of his aquarium articles published between 1951 and 1971 (comprising about 75% of his work to date) was recently published on CD for the Aquarium Hobby History Society.

Al is, along with Robert Criger, a founder of the American Killifish Association, and is responsible for the term, "killifish,” being widely used throughout the aquarium world today. He was the first Chairman of the AKA's Board of Trustees and its first Fellow. He was author of the original AKA By-Laws, the first Editor of The Journal of the American Killifish Association (JAKA), and the first Editor of its Killifish Index. His interest in fishes is diverse, and Dick Stratton credits him with the idea of first establishing a national cichlid association, although he had to leave it to others as he was just starting up the Aquarium Illustrated magazine.

Braz Walker, one of the aquarium hobby’s "greats” once commented:

"There is a rare breed of individual who can hardly maintain an interest without an intense drive toward mastery of the subject at hand."

"One such individual is at the same time a warm and sharing human being with linguistic capability in a number of tongues useful in the scientific pursuit of his chosen laity, plus a tremendous storehouse of related technical and practical knowledge with a spring-trap mental key for withdrawing the knowledge for scriptic or oral presentation. Because of a facility for presenting ordinarily indigestible material in a completely palatable way, it was perhaps inevitable that Albert J. Klee would one day be willingly drafted into the professional service of his non-professional ichthyological and aquaristic peers."

He is university teacher, explorer, discoverer, researcher, scientist, author, adventurer, husband and father, but most of all he is a naturalist who loves nature equally as well as the knowledge of it. His affinity with nature is evident in his written word and in his chosen epitaph, "Knowing that Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."

"There are perhaps few persons, certainly within our aquatic field, who more thoroughly research and analyze material before signing their names to it than Albert J. Klee. Truth and accuracy are of prime importance to him, and he is quick to see issues developing and to comment on them editorially. His literary resources, many of which are retained in his head, are of such that few aquatic inquiries cannot be answered no matter how obscure. His is the education of conviction and assurance, for he is one of the rare experts who finds no difficulty in saying that he does not know if indeed this does occur. It seldom does, but if it should he can probably find the answer in short order."

"Many to whom near perfection in their field comes easily lack patience and tolerance with those for whom the plodding is a bit more soggy. To be a "stickler for minutiae," to quote his own words in a personal letter of a few years back, Al has at the same time helped plenty of little old ladies across the street with their attempts at literalizing, and at least one medium sized, not-too-old man."

Diane Schofield, noted aquarist and writer, provided this observation:

"If you have never met Al Klee, you indeed have an experience in store for you. Frankly, he's one of my favorite people in the hobby - he's like meeting an IBM machine with a sense of humor. He is also the only person that I could sit through the same speech within a two week period of time and not try desperately to find any old opportunity to go out and powder my nose, hide under the tablecloth, or seek an opportunity for a short beer on the second go around. In short, this boy is a fabulous personality."

Finally, one of our most distinguished aquarists, noted fish farm entrepreneur, and discoverer of new fish species in the jungles of Central America, Ross B. Socolof, wrote:

"When the history of the aquarium hobby in America is brought up to date, his name and accomplishments will probably shine brightest. He is one of the most accomplished aquarists of all time.".

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