Bios – Combined experience of over 100 years!

Rick Oellers attended the University of Southern Maine and formed New England Aquarium Services , Inc in 1985, which specializes in the design, installation and maintenance of aquariums. He founded the Maine State Aquarist Society in 1991 and opened a premier aquarium store that same year, with the intention of teaching hobbyist responsible aquarium husbandry. He later began work as the chief aquarist at the Science & Nature center in Seabrook, New Hampshire, a position he still holds today. Rick was a founder of the American Marinelife Dealers Association (AMDA), serving as president from 1997 to 2001. He taught aquarium husbandry at the University of New England where he became an adjunct scientist in 2008 and is currently an advisor to the ornamental marine fish and breeding project in the Marine Science department. He is an experienced diver and has worked recently surveying and studying lionfish behavior in the Caribbean.

Deborah Cheney began fishkeeping thirty years ago. In 1986, her passion for tropical fish led to an aquarist position with New England Aquarium Services. In 1989 Deborah became Vice President, a position she holds today. Deborah has attended Southern Maine Vocational Tech, majoring in fishery science and general biology. In addition to servicing aquariums, she was a major player in the operation of Aquatic Concepts, a premier aquarium store, owned by New England Aquarium Services. Deborah specializes in African Cichlids and general aquarium fish health. Deborah served as Secretary of the Maine State Aquarist Society from 1992-1999. Deborah manages the fresh water breeding program for North East Aquatic Technologies, working with students from the University of New England. Other than tropical fish keeping Debbie’s favorite past time is boating and snorkeling in both lakes, the Gulf of Maine, Florida Keys and Mexico.

Steve Ziadeh is a former intern of ours that decided to join us after he graduated from the University of New England in 2014.  He holds his bachelors degree in biological sciences with an emphasis in aquaculture and aquarium sciences.  Steve has been with NEAS since 2014. He is our Lead Aquarium Tech, our coral facility manager and a top-tier technician that charms all of his growing number of clientele.

Mandie Valentine started as a freshwater technician and has become the Service Manager. She has been keeping fish since childhood when she helped her dad with his aquariums at home and at work. She received her associates degree in applied science with a Marine biology focus, from Southern Maine Comminity College in 2015. She has worked with NEAS since 2016. Married to husband, Brooks, since 2021. She services both fresh and saltwater aquariums. As well as facilitating and designing new tank installs, as well as older tank redesigns. Certified scuba diver and mermaid since 2014. She is a part of a local scuba dive club and spends lots of time underwater.  Her biggest interest is invertebrates, both fresh and saltwater.

Sarah Emerson has her associates degree in liberal studies from York County Community College. She Lives in Sanford with husband Jared and beauitful daughter Annalee. She used to volunteer at the center for wildlife in Gray. She has 8 years experience specializing in freshwater aquatics and reptiles at PetSmart, prior to that she grew up around many aquariums with species such as South American cichlid, gourami, Betta, tetra and goldfish as well many other species of birds, mammals and reptiles.