Q&A from the Expert: Kevin Kohen on his Aquariums

by Melissa R. on June 13, 2011

LiveAquaria.com Director Kevin Kohen recently answered a batch of questions about his office aquariums and we thought we’d share! Check out the details of his two office aquariums (a 120 SPS Acropora/Montipora tank, and a custom built tri-sectioned 180) below and see how you match up.

180 Gallon Aquarium

180 Gallon Aquarium

What are the details on your 180-gallon tri-sectioned aquarium?
• The longer aquarium is actually a 180-gallon Perfecto tank with two permanent dividers with built in overflows in three sections so I can tear down a section when needed to remove the animals and restock with new for photographs here at LiveAquaria.

What type of lighting and photoperiod do you use?
120 Gallon: The back ½ of the aquarium is lit with 2- 400-watt mogul 20K Radium bulbs from magnetic ballasts with smaller Ice Cap Style reflectors. The front ½ of the aquarium is lit with (2)250 Watt Double Ended 20 K Aquamedic Light bulbs off of magnetic ballasts and smaller Aquamedic pendants with a hammered reflector.
180 Gallon is illuminated with a 4’ Teek style fixture that contains 8- T5 bulbs (a mix of (3)10K, (3)Actinic, and (2)Red Plant Grow bulbs). This covers the left most 4’ section with the photosynthetic corals. The right portion of the aquarium that contains NPS corals is lit with very low powered LED’s just so I can see the corals.

What type of Mechanical Filtration do you use?
120 SPS Gallon is filtered Berlin style with a sump, mechanical filtration consisting of a poly-filter pad, and then a large skimmer, calcium reactor, and media reactors containing GAC (granulated activated carbon) and GFO (granulated ferric oxide) to remove phosphate.
180 Gallon is filtered with the largest version of Marineland standard Bio-Wheel sump with filter pads containing carbon and non-carbon mechanical pads. Three media reactors are used on this aquarium- (1) GAC (1) GFO, and (1) Bio-Pellets for nitrate control.

What type of Chemical Filtration do you use?
• Phosphate remover added daily and consists of liquid buffered Phosphate Remover, which contains Lanthanum Chloride. I add 20 ML of Carib Sea Phosbuster Pro to a 500 ml beaker, and fill the rest of the beaker with RO water and drip it in the sump over the course of a day.
• Water changes are 30% per week.
• No Ozone on any of my office aquariums.
• Sumps design and type stated above.

What type of Foam Fractionator do you use?
120 Gallon – RK2 Systems X-Flow Venturi Skimmer
180 Gallon – Euro Reef Skimmer

What type of parasite control do you use?
• No medications, fish are quarantined prior to introduction in display aquarium.

120 Gallon Aquarium

120 Gallon Aquarium

Do you have any fish or invert load recommendations?
• Algae control consists of a Comb Tooth Blenny, along with several species of hermits and several species of snails.
• Other types of fishes are for photographic purposes and not necessarily ideal in the 180 gallon display as they are removed and replenished frequently.

What is your feeding schedule?
• Fish are fed numerous times per day: rinsed PE Mysis, enriched frozen brine shrimp, and enriched Hikari Mysis.
• NPS aquarium is fed 10 times per day: a mix of live rotifers, H2o Life Coral Food, Cyclops, and Nutrimar Ova, and Two Little Fishes dried Zoo Plan and Phyto Plan.

What type of water movement is in the aquariums?
120 Gallon return pumps consists of (2) Marineland Utility Pumps – Approx 2600 GPH total.
180 Gallon return pump consists of (1) external Turbo-Sea pump rated at 1744 GPH.
• Water flow internally – 120 gallon (4) EcoTech Marine Vortech pumps rated at 3000 GPH each.
• Water flow 180 gallon – (1) EcoTech Marine Vortech pump in each of the three sections. Additional water flow added to the NPS side with the use of an additional 3000 GPH Vortech.

What do you use for temperature control?
• Each tank is fitted with a 1/3 horsepower chiller and 500-watt heater, with a backup Ranco Dual Stage temperature controller.

Do you use any chemical additives?
• None added, just water changes

What type of water testing do you do, and using what?
• Alkalinity tested daily – Salifert
• Calcium once per week – Salifert
• Magnesium once per week – Salifert
• Phosphate bi-weekly – Hanna colorimeter
• Nitrate once per week – Salifert

Do you have a gravel bottom?
120 Gallon: Bare Bottom.
180 Gallon: Very thin layer of substrate, which is a mix of large sized calcium reactor media, and finer substrate. The larger media is utilized so the current doesn’t create a sand storm in each of the sections.

What are your favorite reference materials?
There are numerous books, periodicals, and sites out there, and I will occasionally contribute articles and photographs to some of them. My most recent article on LPS corals in the annual magazine “Coral & Reef USA”- The latest in Reef keeping should hit the newsstands this week so please check it out if you have an opportunity to do so. My favorites include:
• Coral Magazine
• Aquarium Fish Magazine
• ReefCentral.com
• Reefs Online Magazine
• Advanced Aquarist Online Magazine
• Scott W. Michael Reef Fishes series
• The Three Volume Set of Corals of the World by Charles Veron

Visit LiveAquaria.com here for corals & fish such as the ones you see here in Kevin’s aquariums!

About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 1 trackback }

An observation on live bacteria ~ Bacter7 - 3reef Forums
June 14, 2011 at 11:45 am

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

poutsi June 14, 2011 at 8:19 am

i want to see the fresh water fishes and their tank…..

Ralph Scheriff June 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Kevin, as usual, thanks for the info……georgious tanks!

I guess your Choati Wrasse Collection and Your Anampses femininus are all in your office tank at work?

How are they all doing? any losses? any more insights?

Felicia June 14, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I can’t wait to read your new article in “Coral & Reef USA”!

Kevin Kohen June 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm

@Ralph- The Choati wrasse were offered and sold in our Divers Den section of LiveAquaria.com late last year when I tore down my 120 gallon to make room for the new 180 gallon display. To the best of my knowledge these fishes are still thriving for the customer who purchased them. The Anampses femininus was also sold to one of our good customers earlier this year as well to make room.

@Felicia- The magazine should have hit the newsstands a few weeks ago!

Kumar February 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm

What salt is being used?

melissa February 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm
barbi cox April 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm

How could I keep my tanks from smelling? I have koi’s.
Thanks, Barbi

melissa April 19, 2012 at 8:36 am

Barbi – I’d suggest more frequent water changes. Check out this article: http://www.liveaquaria.com/PIC/article.cfm?aid=181

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