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Rusty Wessel resides in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, where he maintains over 11,300 liters (3,000 gallons) of freshwater aquariums, predominantly containing species of the family cichlidae, which he successfully raise and breeds.
Rusty has taken his hobby to a point where he has successfully collected fish from the countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, from 1983 to the present, for a total of 26 trips to this date. A beautiful and elusive cichlid discovered during one of his expeditions to Honduras was named by Dr. Robert Rush Miller, emeritus professor of the University of Michigan, after him in the June 1996 edition of Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine, Theraps Wesseli.
Rusty is as well a prolific author and photographer, and his writings or photographs have appeared in wide distribution specialized and prestigious publications, like Aquarium Fish Magazine, Aquarist & Pondkeeper, Buntbarsche bulletin, Cichlid News, Ad Konings' Cichlids yearbooks, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium and Tropical Fish Hobbyist.
In the organized hobby, Rusty is currently the "Convention liaison" and "Back issue sales person" for the American Cichlid Association and a speaker participant for the ACA speakers program. He is past chair of the ACA board of trustees (1990) and past convention chair (1990, 1996). In addition, he is an active solicitor for the "Guy Jordan Endowment Fund" (A fund set up under the ACA to grant endowments for cichlid research). On the local level, he is currently the treasurer for the Louisville Tropical Fish fanciers. Rusty has been awarded with the greater honor the American Cichlid Association gives to its distinguished members, the ACA fellowship.
Rusty has lectured and judged numerous fish shows throughout the United States, including the annual "Florida Tropical Fish Farmers" show and several ACA conventions.