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Marine Breeder’s Workshop: New Decade, New Location


Marine Breeding Initiative MBI Workshop 2020 – a new decade, a new location

via the Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI) and Augsburg University

The MBI Workshop is tailored to provide the most cutting-edge captive breeding information to hobbyist breeders and professional aquarists in a setting that promotes interaction and the free exchange of ideas. The workshop is the only event of its kind that is dedicated to you, the marine breeder!

If you are interested in the captive breeding of marine ornamental fish or invertebrates on any level, this is the event to attend. Not only will you hear the latest information from some of the most innovative people involved, but you will also have ample time to chat with them directly and meet other breeders who share your passion. There is no other event that brings together marine breeders from all walks of life and experience: academics, professionals, and home hobbyists, united through their passion for the marine aquarium’s final frontier.

Tal Sweet (MBI organizer, center) with speakers from the 2019 event (left to right): CORAL Sr. Editor Matt Pedersen, Kathy Leahy (Kathy’s Clowns), Noel Heinsohn (Fundación Grupo Puntacana), and Paul Anderson (Mystic Aquarium).

A New Decade, a New Location

The 2020 MBI Workshop will be following a format similar to what we’ve used in the past–an informal reception on Friday evening, Workshop all day Saturday, and a casual get-together on Sunday–so plan your travel accordingly!

After 10 years of the MBI Workshop being centered in Southeast Michigan at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, we enter the second decade of MBI Workshops with our 11th annual gathering. We also enter a new location for this gathering of marine ornamental aquaculture enthusiasts: the 2020 MBI Workshop will take place July 17-19, 2020, centered around the new and beautiful Hagfors Center on the Augsburg campus in Minneapolis, MN.

The Hagfors Center on the Augsburg University campus in Minneapolis, MN.

The Marine Lab at Augsburg University

“Twenty years ago, Associate Professor of Biology William ‘Bill’ Capman created a large multi-tank coral reef aquarium system on campus to inspire interest in biological diversity, to serve as a teaching and research tool, and to provide living specimens for lab demonstrations. In the years since, the aquaria have been integral to Capman’s teaching, making interaction with marine life a unique aspect of Augsburg’s biology laboratory experience, exposing students to biodiversity they would not see elsewhere, and promoting careful stewardship of the world’s ecosystems.” – Augsburg University, late 2017.

A pair of Ningaloo Australian Black Clarkii Clownfish tend a nest in one of seven reef aquaria at the Augsburg University Marine Lab. Image credit: Bill Capman

Officially launched in 2018, the Marine Lab at Augsburg has quickly established itself as an incredible resource for the university’s biology students. Today, the marine breeding lab at Augsburg represents a rare oasis of coral reef life to engage students year-round. It’s a place where a wide range of marine fishes and invertebrates not only thrive but spawn and sometimes even grow up under the watchful eyes of Capman and his students.

Get a firsthand look at the MoLaRS larval rearing system that has been established at Augsburg. Image credit: Bill Capman

Not only will MBI attendees get the unrivaled opportunity to engage with experts and fellow aquarists interested in the field of ornamental aquaculture during the workshop, but there will be opportunities to spend time in Augsburg’s lab with Bill Capman, including a special after-hours gathering to try to catch a glimpse of one of several nightly spawns in the facility’s showpiece reef aquarium. Whether you are a devout reef-keeper or a hardcore marine fish breeder, an evening in the lab will be a lasting memory.

The several-hundred-gallon reef aquarium is an integral teaching tool for Augsburg biology students. Many fishes are actively spawning in this system. Image credit: Bill Capman

Come for the Marine Fish and Invertebrate Breeding, Stay for Everything Minnesota has to Offer

Explore Minnesota says it best: “The state capital, St. Paul, and neighboring Minneapolis make up the Twin Cities, an incredibly rich and diverse area with dramatic skylines, exciting pro sports, award-winning theater, renowned restaurants, and a booming craft beer scene.”

While you’ll come for the once-a-year gathering of marinelife breeders from around the globe, you may wish to extend your stay beyond the MBI Workshop to enjoy all that the upper Midwest has to offer. Of course, you might know Minnesota for the famous Mall of America (situated near the MBI Workshop location), and you’ll be just minutes from hiking trails in the Mississippi River Gorge, the only gorge in the entire length of the river. Birders will certainly enjoy the two active bald eagle nests within walking distance of campus. But there is so much more.

Extend your stay even further, perhaps taking the 2.5-hour drive north to Duluth, MN,  the most inland seaport in North America, situated at the westernmost tip of Lake Superior. Check out the beautiful Great Lakes Aquarium and drive over the iconic Lift Bridge. From there, journey northeast up the iconic North Shore, or make plans to travel the world-renowned Boundary Waters.

Or you may choose to head south to experience the rich rural countryside, rolling hills, limestone bluffs, and springs creeks of Minnesota’s Bluff Country. Quiet and relaxing, the area is home to both a rich Amish community and some of the country’s best-kept fly-fishing secrets, not to mention the unmistakable presence of the mighty Mississippi River in this region.

Whether you focus your time on the Twin Cities or extend your trip north or south, there is no better time to visit Minnesota than the peak of the summer season (unless you’re a fan of the many winter activities Minnesota is famous for)!

Keep a close eye on the MBI Workshop website, follow us on Facebook, or join the MBI Facebook Group for the latest updates, where we’ll announce speakers and further event details and opportunities during your stay. You can learn more about the Augsburg Marine Breeding Lab on Facebook.

Register now at


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