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Thomas Lönnig from ZOOBOX is one of the most successful influencers in the aquarium industry with 85,000 subscribers on YouTube and 15,000 followers on Instagram. He not only runs his very active social media channels, but is also Store Manager of the Remscheid Zoo & Co. Here he manages to skilfully combine all of his interests and activities. The result is a personality who, with a great deal of passion, heart and soul and a certain "positive extravagance" (quote: Thomas Lönnig), excites both, YouTube viewers and customers in his pet store for aquaristics, and is fun and happy to be involved.
Aram Schneider (AS) had the opportunity for Aquasabi to ask Thomas Lönnig (TL) a few questions to get interesting answers. You can read the complete interview in our Aquascaping Wiki.
AS: "How did it all start with your ZOOBOX YouTube channel?"
TL: "The ZOOBOX channel was created from nothing, so to speak. I realized and accompanied various aquaristic projects with the YouTuber izzi for over a year - so I've already been visible in some of his videos. After a while I heard more and more positive feedback from the community, like: "Thomas, why don't you make a YouTube channel too", or "Thomas, why don't you make a video too?“ These comments and the positive reactions to these invitations became louder and louder over time. Thereupon I started to give serious thought to this. I already had a YouTube account. TinNendo, with whom I had also worked for some aquaristic projects was an important factor in this game, too. I got exactly the same input rom his fans, namely that I should start my own channel on YouTube. Both, izzi and TinNendo encouraged me to do so. So it all became a little more concrete. I slowly started to collect suitable equipment, I bought a camera, a notebook with a video editing program, etc. izzi showed me everything: How to adjust the camera settings, how to edit videos and so on. That was a lot of input for me, like telling someone who has never had an aquarium all about aquascaping (laughs)!
Then the following happened, I still remember it exactly: I was on a short vacation with my wife and daughter for a few days. One morning I got up, looked at my smartphone and had over 1,000 new emails (these were automatic notifications from YouTube about new subscribers). Then I went to my channel and checked: I had over 35,000 new followers overnight. Then I thought: Holy shit! I had no idea about anything. What I didn't know, izzi told his community in a video beforehand that I had my own channel and asked people to subscribe to me.
In about 48 hours, this number increased to almost 50,000 subscribers. I then called him and talked to him about it. He simply wanted to motivate and support me. But we hadn't expected such a high number. izzi thought that this was a sign that people wanted to see me. This put extreme pressure on me, now I had to deliver! I said to myself: "Now you have to produce a very good video here."
This is where TinNendo came into play: We had just shot the last video for his aquarium series. And he said: "We are shooting a video for you NOW. I'll film and edit it, then you'll have your first video"! No sooner said than done - during the video shoot I was nervous and stuttered, but still this video was very well received by the audience.
In the course of the Aquascaping Championship I got to know Tobi (AquaOwner). He gave me the tip to shoot a Vlog every week. Since January 2019 there‘s been a Vlog video every week. Now, after the first year, the channel has 85,000 subscribers - and I'm very grateful for all the constructive as well as positive feedback from my viewers! Many thanks to my community, love to you all!"
AS: "A question that many viewers will certainly ask themselves: What exactly is the difference between ZOOBOX and Zoo & Co Remscheid?"
TL: "ZOOBOX is clearly the YouTube channel and Zoo & Co. Remscheid is the retail store. Both together is ME, Thomas."
AS: "For how long have you been into aquaristics?"
TL: "I have been doing aquaristics for as long as I can remember. My grandfather and my father already owned aquariums, and so I had always been in contact with the topic somehow. Though I haven‘t had an aquarium at home for a long time, I am in the topic more than ever and much more intense in my Remscheid store."
AS: "What are your influences, where do you get your inspiration and ideas from? Which artists have influenced you? "
TL: "I'm sure everything was inspired by something, but not in a way that you could say that I'm only looking at pictures of Takashi Amano or searching for specific online videos. Together with Roland Numrich, we have decided that we would rather not look at other aquariums before we start something new. Currently we have discovered the artificial rocks by Back to Nature for us. Here we didn't want to see pictures or videos of aquariums that others have already designed with them, but wanted to get involved ourselves, experience the material first hand, find out things and create our own design. Subconsciously, of course, you always have seen a picture somewhere or found an inspiration in nature, but I have never approached aquarium design with the intention of having fixed specifications. Currently, we do this very much from the gut. Layouts then develop from the moment."
AS: "What is your fertilization concept?"
TL: "My fertilization is simply based on experience and a lot of gut feeling. The leader in our business is clearly the Aqua rebel fertilizer line, because we are really convinced of the products. In problem cases we go into detail, then we also analyze the water values and look for deeper causes. One simply has to deal with the topic and learn from it. It's like a wine tasting, you have to taste consciously and then just observe! You can learn something like that. Fertilization can be so simple, observe, control, then act and invest time - it‘ll work like magic. What is important: Be interested in what you are doing."
AS: "What is your favorite material, for example, what kind of stones and water plants? "
TL: "I don't have a favorite plant or a certain favorite material. Personally, I am currently interested in the many different Eriocaulon species out there. I think, the Rotala sp. "Gia Lai" / "H'Ra" is a nice plant since it‘s easy to keep. Furthermore, you‘ll get beautiful orange and red hues into your aquarium. I also like the Coral moss - once it grows, it is very easy to maintain. If I had to commit myself to three plants, that would be my order:
When it comes to decoration material, I am completely free, it depends on my day form and of course on what I want to realize."
AS: "If you had to pick between a beautiful stone or a beautiful aquatic plant, what would you take?"
TL: "Let me think about it... I'm more of a fish man! :-) I would probably choose the plants, but not because I'm more the plant type, but because aquariums with many aquatic plants simply run better. Therefore I would choose the plant, also because aquariums with beautiful aquatic plants are often very colorful. The aquariums with great plants are usually also less plagued by algae, but this is of course depending on the situation. Currently, a very stone-heavy aquarium layout for gobies is being created at the Remscheid Zoo & Co. where we want to have a lot of growth and algae. At this point it is purely about the animal, everything else is secondary. In the end it always depends on the aquarium project I want to realize."
AS: "Thank you very much for the interview!"
Copyright for all photos in the article: Thomas Lönnig - Zoobox