The latest club to join the University of Rhode Island is open to both humans and fish — offering students the opportunity to gain aquatic experience while also spreading awareness.
Aquarium Club was just recently recognized by Student Senate this past month. One of the founders, a senior aquaculture and fishery technology major named Tyler Bulin, explained that a group of seniors had the idea after noticing the lack of opportunity on campus for students to be able to work with fish year-round. The members opted to make the group a common interest club so anyone on campus who had the slightest interest working with fish and aquariums could come together.
So far the club is producing live feed for fish, designing tank systems to have a more robust or diverse tank and they’re trying to start breeding fish, Bulin said. Currently, there’s only one tank on campus in the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences (CBLS), which is about 50 gallons. Professor Chris Lane had set it up a few years ago and asked the club to take it over for him. Bulin said that another professor in the CBLS building hopes to set up a tank in his office, which would give the club another project to take on.
Since the club is still fresh, they only have a small space in the aquarium building at the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) on URI’s Bay Campus. Bulin explained how members are trying to set up a Clownfish breeding operation and by doing so, he hopes to bring something to show off at URI’s welcome days and “First Night.” He also hopes to get more tanks implemented on campus – like the Memorial Union and CBLS. Additionally, the club has held a feeding demonstration for Artemia hatching, and Bulin would like to do another one within a few weeks with a different type of feed.
Within the club, everyone has different projects to work on, Bulin explained. While one group is working on the CBLS tank project to feed fish and check/clean the water, another group checks on the Artemia at the GSO Center. Club members also help volunteer at Biomes Marine Biology Center in North Kingstown.
“We want to work with fish, and that’s what we do,” Bulin said. “We don’t sit down and talk about it, we don’t go into the scientific literature about it, we just work with fish.”
Bulin said that he has always enjoyed working with fish. Growing up in central New Jersey, he was always either catching or eating fish, since he lived 20 minutes away from the ocean. He went to a specialized marine biology high school and said he really liked working with the fish there in tanks. At URI, he said there are labs where students get to do this, but it’s not the same thing. In the major, he can work on something for a semester, but doesn’t have the opportunity to take on a project for his entire college career and see tangible results.
“We are supplementing the knowledge that people might come into this with from having a fish tank at home or being in one of the majors,” Bulin said. “We are giving them that knowledge that way they can take it, and even if it’s just for their own personal use, they can have a fish tank at home and do it right.”
Bulin hopes that this semester, the Aquarium Club will have a tank in GSO with fish in it that are breeding. Then next year, the club’s goal is to continue to work with the few projects they’re starting up and working on now, but also start up tanks in different places around campus. He said they would like to get different species of fish and potentially give them away or sell them to people. The club would even like to help students who have tanks in their dorm room.
“Everyone in the club is really passionate about it, we’re really driving to get this going,” Bulin said. “Be sure to keep your eyes peeled. We’re small now but next year or two, expect to see this club growing.”
Aquarium Club welcomes not only aqua culture or marine biology majors, but anyone who is interested in learning more about how to keep fish tanks or how to breed fish. For meeting times and more information, visit their Facebook page at