Lisa LaVerdiere is the founder of the Home for Life Animal Sanctuary, where she oversees the care of animals unable to find a home through a traditional animal shelter. Many of the animals LaVerdiere cares for at the sanctuary she founded in 1997 have special needs and requirements, all of which are met through Home for Life Animal Sanctuary. Formerly a practicing lawyer, LaVerdiere specialized in toxic tort law along with product liability before permanently shifting her focus to creating a sanctuary capable of providing a necessary alternative to the limited options available through traditional animal shelters.

What is your hobby?

I’m still relatively new to it, but I spend my free time caring for and maintaining a saltwater reef tank as well as a freshwater tank. The saltwater tank is 500 gallons, so it requires quite a bit of care to make sure all of marine life consistently thrives in its enclosed environment.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

A friend of mine was in the process of moving and didn’t have room for the tank, so he asked if I would take it and also care for his fish. Even though I didn’t know much about saltwater tanks, I just couldn’t refuse. I studied and studied in the days and weeks before I took over caring for the tank, and I immediately enjoyed everything about it.

Tell us what you love about it.

The tanks are just so teeming with life. The corals seem to light up — especially at night — and it’s a great way to experience a miniature ecosystem that I wouldn’t get to see otherwise.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

I’m not a part of any official groups but you’d be surprised how easy it is to start up a conversation with people in the same line of work with similar interests. You can hardly stop a group of animal lovers from talking about them.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

I had no idea how much equipment was involved in aquarium care, and I was fortunate that much of the equipment was gifted to me at first. I have actually used a few online retailers to buy a lot of the equipment, and I even found one that had this great selection of corals for the saltwater tank.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

There is a local fish store where I get some of the more day-to-day supplies, and I typically order through Aquarium Depot when I need special food for the saltwater tank.

Are there any good books for beginners?

My friend gave me a copy of the Complete Encyclopedia of the Saltwater Aquarium when he helped me set up the tank, and I have returned to that book over and over again since then. It’s a great book for beginners and it is one that will be useful for years to come.

How has this changed your life?

I’ve become so much more interested in marine life in general, and it’s been such a rewarding experience for myself and so many others.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

Find a mentor you can lean on for help at any moment’s notice. It’s just so much easier to have someone explain or demonstrate a concept as opposed to having to figure it out for yourself.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

I like to do a lot of DIY projects, but mostly I just enjoy getting to spend time at the sanctuary with all of the wonderful animals in our care.