Frank Hoff, Jr.
Frank Hoff (pictured in 1974), one of the pioneers of aquaculture in the United States, died on January 28, 2010.
Harvey Persyn, one of the founding fathers of shrimp farming in the Western Hemisphere, who knew Frank throughout his career, has prepared an obituary that documents Frank’s aquaculture accomplishments. During the early years of shrimp farming in the Western Hemisphere, Frank was one of the industries’ most reliable suppliers of shrimp hatchery equipment and supplies.
Frank began his career as a marine biologist at the Florida Department of Natural Resources Marine Research Laboratory in 1966, where he became involved in a project to spawn and rear black seabass in captivity. By 1969, he assumed the role of head biologist of the newly formed Aquaculture Division for the State of Florida. Frank was considered one of the pioneers in the development of spawning and rearing techniques for tropical marine food fish (primarily pompano and seabass), marine aquarium fishes (several species of clownfish and angel fish), oysters, freshwater prawns, phytoplankton and zooplankton.
In 1966, he graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Biology, and in 1976 he received his MS in Marine Science from USF.
In 1974, he became the founder and general manager of Instant Ocean Hatcheries. The marine facility was boldly located in Dade City, Florida, right in the center of an orange grove, miles away from the sea. Using only synthetic seawater, he pioneered recirculating filtration systems and techniques and successfully produced marine clownfish and angelfish in captivity, attaining commercial production levels that were sold to the aquarium industry. As a part of this process, he perfected plankton-rearing techniques that were widely copied and adopted by the entire aquaculture industry.
In 1984, Frank founded Florida Aqua Farms, Inc., which specializes in macro and micro marine algae, rotifers, invertebrate feeds and equipment (nets, filters). It continues today under the direction of his wife Nancy, daughter, Autumn, and son, Dustin. Many of the products they sell are Frank’s own inventions.
In 1987, Frank established Aquaculture Supply, which he developed into a very successful business to meet the needs of the tropical fish industry as well as the shrimp farming industry in South and Central America. Frank was well known in the shrimp farming industry for selling and shipping the right equipment that was personally field-tested. He was often called upon to solve technical problems in shrimp hatcheries, and was always available for phone consultations to his customers. He sold this business in 1999, thinking he would retire or slow down, but was soon off to other endeavors.
He became a technical consultant and helped establish Oceans, Reefs, and Aquariums, Inc., a subsidiary of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Ft. Pierce, Florida, that produces marine tropical fish for the aquarium industry.
The Florida specialty “Aquaculture” license plate features a clownfish motif, a tribute to Frank and the industry he helped create. He had over 17 professional publications, including his very popular “Plankton Culture Manual” and “Conditioning, Spawning, and Rearing of Fish with Emphasis on Marine Clownfish”. He was a founder of the Florida Aquaculture Association, and has served as its President, and almost permanent member of the Board of Directors.
Frank had many interests, and was an over-achiever in everything he attempted. He was a recognized expert in Southeastern Indian cultures, and an avid collector of artifacts. He was not the guy with the boxes of arrowheads and pottery, but went about it in a careful and scientific manner, maintaining catalogs and creating beautiful displays that should be in a museum. He published a book, “Shell Artifacts, Emphasis on Southeastern Collections”, which features his impressive work.
Frank’s life story is made all the more amazing when one learns that he suffered from severe polio. His body was deformed and metal braces and crutches supported his spindly legs. His malady could have easily caused him to give up, but instead he enthusiastically moved on to the next challenge. Frank was loved by all who knew him, an optimist, always ready with a smile. In his last days, he was working on another book.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughter, Autumn, son, Dustin, granddaughter, River, and brother, Bill.