Claudia Dickinson was influenced at an early age by her grandfather, an entomologist and horticulturalist, and her father, a scientist and world-traveled underwater photographer, resulting in a life surrounded by creatures from land and sea. The greatest inspiration for Claudia has been her father, Dr. Dwight Smith, known affectionately by friends and colleagues as "SUBSEE," as he taught her to find the beauty in all creatures, great and small, and gave her the impetus to follow her dreams. In the 1960s, succeeding a profusion of devised receptacles, at the age of eight Claudia’s first ‘real’ aquarium came into her life ~ in fact, as remains characteristic of her in whatever new ventures are taken on, she was to start with not one, but eight aquariums!
The focus in Claudia’s fishroom today is on cichlids from South America, Central America, Madagascar, and West Africa, with an emphasis on, and dedication to, conservation. She also has a passion for fancy goldfish and catfish, along with an assortment of other species. Housing an average of 50 to 60 tanks, totaling 2500 gallons, Claudia has discovered that her fishroom is not large enough, and so she is having a separate house built just for them.
Author of numerous articles, which have appeared in magazines such as Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Cichlid News, Buntbarsche Bulletin, and Modern Aquarium, Claudia has also authored a book, "Aquarium Care of Cichlids," and has been recognized with significant awards from the Federation of Aquarium Societies, the Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies, the American Cichlid Association, and the Greater City Aquarium Society. She has a love for photography and has published works in this field as well. Currently serving her fourth term on the American Cichlid Association’s Board of Trustees, and Life Member of the organization, Claudia also serves as ACA Ambassador-at-Large, ACA Buntbarsche Bulletin Managing Editor, ACA Membership Coordinator, ACA C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program Coordinator, and is a member of the ACA Conservation Committee, and ACA representative of Aqua Havens for Education. On the local level, she demonstrates equal allegiance to the Greater City Aquarium Society.
Founder, author, and coordinator of the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program www.CARESpreservation.com, Claudia is dedicated to this major conservation effort which has been met with great enthusiasm and success as it encourages hobbyists worldwide to devote tank space to one or more species-at-risk, while forming an information network between aquarists, scientists, and conservationists.
Expeditions to the Amazon River and jungles of Peru, and the Amazon River and Rio Negro in Brazil, have brought invaluable first-hand experiences and observations of exactly how our fish live in their natural habitat. Claudia has discovered the great extent which the five walls of our aquariums inhibit the natural behavior and affect the health of our fish, and ways that we, as aquarists, can best deal with their natural instincts within these bounds that we provide.
Passionately committed to drawing public awareness to the urgent need for aquatic conservation, Claudia encourages integrating our youth into this effort. With her deep care and devotion to assisting in the sharing of information amongst hobbyists, she finds great joy in introducing and fostering camaraderie amongst fellow aquarists, and promoting membership in local societies.
Life at home includes six large and dearly loved birds, her many fish, nine dogs, three Shetland sheep, a cat, pet chicken, and any other exotica that may venture that way. All appears tranquil, and it is, until the next exciting adventure comes along!.