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A Sketch of The Krib

in which Erik rants about what he's doing here

First, a little history: The Krib has been in existence since January of 1994, which puts it officially as the first fish-oriented pages on the web. The site is not a business, it is a hobby, run by me, Erik Olson, in my increasingly-rare spare time (just look at how often I've done an update in the last 10+ years). Much of what I'm saying here is from 1998-2002 when I last did any hardcore work on the site.

It started when I decided the budding World Wide Web would be a great new medium in which to present a new article about planted tanks. What would be different about my article is that I could include all the background references, basically all clipped Usenet postings from my own personal archive from 1991, as links off the main document. This quickly caused me to convert my Usenet archive as well (something which quickly became a large part of the content). As time passed, I was able to host articles by others written specifically for the site, and add scanned photos, many sent to me by the authors themselves.

Several months in, I renamed the site (originally "Aquariums and Tropical Fish", since it was the only one) to "The Krib" after the emergence of two other web sites with weird acronym names (personally, I hate acronyms... I had to live with stupid acronym names in grad school and I vow never to name anything I have with an acronym). I thought up the name spontaneously while trying to spawn those buggers; it seemed like a bad enough pun. Meanwhile, January 1995, my advisor at the University of Washington kicked me off their network (partly annoyed that the Krib was getting far more hits than our official pages, but mostly because I was done with my thesis and needed to move on)...and The Krib moved to Caltech (where it often got more hits than their official pages too, but they were nice enough to let the site stay). I joined forces with Dustin Laurence in order to plea with Usenet directly to buy disk space to host the Krib, the Usenet rec.aquaria FAQ's, and his ftp archive [list of contributors].

By 1998, Dustin's interest faded, and his old ftp archive was integrated into the rest of The Krib. And thanks to the amazing advances of DSL technology, I moved the site to its third and current home at, on PC assembled from frankenstein parts (upgraded several times from a 486 to its current 2018 i5 form) sitting only a few feet from our real fish.

The Krib has actually changed little in format since the time of its inception, even through all of its major activity during its first 5-8 years. I like simple layouts. It's kind of interesting to see many of these things come and go (and in some cases return): frames, blinking text, transition effects, funky javascript, massive inline images. It's ironic that my 1998-era stylesheet, which never got to the "works best on a 1024x768 display" phase so popular in the early 2000's, sort of works OK on smart phones.

One aspect that still seems to surprise some people is that there are no ads, no social media plugins, no tracker bugs. This is also very important to me. I would like people to feel like they can read a post praising (or critical of) some product or vendor and know that this was not influenced in any way by any sort of business relationship. The closest thing I get to any "kickback" is that I also host the Aquatic Gardeners Association and Greater Seattle Aquarium Society pages on this same server, and these organizations pay a portion of the ISP fee. I think I can afford the remaining bit without having to shove a bunch of banner ads in your face. :)

Occasionally I drew some criticism because I do not attempt to present a unified or single approach to problems. Some readers are surprised to see methods that flatly contradict each other. My reasoning is this: The Krib is intended as a place where one can go to find many original references: articles, posts and images about the aquarium hobby. It is more important that I include the actual words of the authors than try and summarize everything, as this may alter the original intent or opinion. Likewise, you'll hear very little of my words in the database, except where I feel I have something original to contribute. I think having many voices is a good thing.

That said, there is a sister site, The Aquaria FAQ, whose mission statement is to be a place where beginners can quickly turn to learn about the hobby. On the FAQ, one might expect to read that aquatic plants like 2-4 watts per gallon of fluorescent light, while here on the Krib you will find some actual data points to verify it (and where the rule breaks down). For that matter, one could do the actual research oneself, by traipsing through individual articles by plant tank keepers!

Another thing the Krib is not is an interactive forum. You can't post here. Seems like once a month someone asks me this. These are articles or postings I picked up from other venues and I thought were useful to keep.

I don't really add articles these days, mostly due to time constraints, and the huge wealth of information being posted every day. Usenet is mostly a cesspool, the mailing lists (APD, the Apisto list, etc) have given way to forums, which themselves have given way to Facebook and other social media groups. The amount of information out there is overwhelming. But it is my hope that keeping this site, "time boxed" as it is, will prove helpful to some hobbyists.

Up to The Krib This page was last updated 29 July 2019