The aquarium techs, or “aquarists”, that are entrusted to maintain and install some of Chicagoland’s most incredible aquariums are among the best trained in the nation. This kind of training doesn’t come from simple hands-on experience or by coming from a hobbyist background, it comes with continuing education for everyone from our newest employee to our most tenured and even the company owners.
Aquariums are a blend of chemistry and biology; zoology and husbandry. Mechanically speaking: carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. Then, mix in the need for an understanding of water filtration for both the aquarium and different municipalities. The point is, aquariums are difficult to professionally service even by someone who is familiar with such a diverse skill set, and that is why our employees are tested and trained rigorously and continually.
One major part of that training is our partnership with the National Aquarium Training Center. Blue Planet has long felt that there need to be national standards for professional aquarists. With help from NATC, we started working toward developing these.
It’s easy for anyone to plant a flag in the sand and start a business servicing or installing aquariums. We’ve come across many people over the years with the attitude of ”I’ve maintained aquariums for years and you can’t tell me what’s right or wrong”. To make an analogy, that would be the same as having an amateur astronomer teach university classes on how the solar system came to be. They might have a bit more insight than someone who walked in off the street, but are still a far cry from a professor who spent years of daily study to gain full expertise of their subject. This is why national standards will be an important part of protecting the fish and animals collected for our enjoyment in aquariums and for the enthusiasts that purchase them.
NATC has really impressed us in the diversity of their courses, new content being added regularly, and grading systems in place. Each of our aquarists is tested weekly, and internal competitions for the aquarist with the highest marks keeps competition stiff and learning fun.