LiveAquaria.com Director Kevin Kohen hosted a live Q&A on the Facebook for LiveAquaria.com. We decided it might be nice to have them all together, so sit back and enjoy some pearls of wisdom from Kevin Kohen.
What made you want to start this business?
- I have been in the ornamental fish business my entire life, and have always wanted to try to add value to the animals by handling and conditioning them properly prior to offering them for sale. With the help of some great caring individuals I have the pleasure to work alongside of, I think we really go above and beyond what most others do for offering the best quality fish in the business.
Do you have your own saltwater tank or fresh & what size? What’s the coolest thing you have in it?
- I currently have in my office a 120-gallon SPS dominated reef with numerous Fairy Wrasse- Cirrhilabrus spp., as well as a 180-gallon divided aquarium with NPS, LPS and Zoanthus, and finally a 25-gallon Nano cube. My favorite fish that are housed in these aquariums is the pair of Rainfordia opercularis, male Anampses femininus, and a pair of Flabelligobius sp. shrimp gobies I have had for many years. Compatibility for Invertebrates (especially Crustaceans) can be challenging with the diversity of species and diversity in each species behavior. Adding the smaller more passive species first is ideal, so Sexy Shrimp prior to any cleaner shrimp is what I would strongly recommend assuming there is enough space for each species to get away from one another.
How much of your day do you get to be on the floor getting your hands wet?
- I spend about 1/3 of my day in our facility helping the staff, helping to take care of the animals, and ensuring our customers receive the best possible livestock.
Besides calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium, do you recommend other additives/supplements for sps tanks? What about amino acids?
- In my SPS aquarium in my office, I utilize bio-fuel so I think it’s important to add Amino Acids to maintain good coloration with Acropora, Montipora, Seriatopora, etc. Other than that, weekly water changes help ensure that the corals are receiving the balanced combination of major and minor elements needed for good health. I also run a calcium reactor to maintain a consistent Alkalinity which IMO is key to a healthy SPS dominated aquarium.
When you ship live orders from the Diver’s Den, can you include a list of what you feed the animals?
- We do include a link to our Feeding Chart, which lists what all the fish in our facility are eating.
Whenever fish arrive at the Diver’s Den facilities in Wisconsin straight from the ocean, in what condition are they in? Like, are they in major need for need for all of the procedures that you do?
- Depending on the origin of the shipment as well as the transit time, along with the initial condition of the animals dictates how we handle each shipment. We handle every fish in the same manner in regards to conditioning and quarantining regardless of their original origin.
I’m recently dealing with possible paravortex issues on a sailfin tang, and powder brown. They came from a tank where the yellow tangs had it, but these fish are dark so I’m not 100 percent positive. My question is what would you, I do have a qt tank setup. Can they naturally fight paravortex off?
- Black Ich or Turbellarian infection is actually small oval worms with a thick ciliated coating. They normally attack small-scaled fishes such as Tangs and Surgeonfishes. It is easily visible on Yellow Tangs due to the contrast in coloration between the protozoan and the yellow colors of the fish. I would start by freshwater dipping your fish once per day for five consecutive days, as this normally will take care of the issue.
I currently have a female Porcupine Puffer for over 10 years now and I am looking for a male that is close in size as she is approximately 12 inches. I am thinking LiveAquaria.com Diver’s Den would be the place to find one.
- It may be challenging to try to add another pufferfish in the same aquarium as your 10-year-old porcupine due to aggression from your existing fish. We rarely offer such a large sized porcupine in the Diver’s Den, as they are normally not harvested at that size.
Do uv sterilizers really help in fighting ich and do you use a uv in your own tank?
- Ultraviolet Sterilizers definitely help to control a host of pathogens from free-floating bacteria to free-floating parasites and protozoan. All of our Fish Systems in our facility utilize UV’s and I would definitely recommend their use in the home aquarium. The most important thing to remember is that the flow rate across the UV bulbs and its contact time will determine how efficient the unit is. Make sure you look into a properly sized UV sized to the flow rate of the return pump on your system.
I wanted to get clear water so I am thinking of getting an UV Sterilizer, how much watts would you recommend for a 46 gallon tank?
- UV sterilizers are rated based on the amount of water that flows across them. In order to determine the proper size of the unit, the flow rate of the pump at the head height it pumps to would need to be determined.
How many minutes should each freshwater dip be, and will this destroy the lifecycle in my display?
- Prepare a freshwater bath by mixing 50/50 RO water and tap water. De-chlorinate the tap water, and then aerate using an air pump and airstone. We normally float the container of freshwater in the aquarium for an hour or so to match the temperatures exactly in an effort not to shock the fish that is going to be dipped. A 10-15 minute bath in the freshwater is ideal, but make sure you keep the fish swimming so it doesn’t lie down and go into shock. If the fish starts to lie down, gently coax it into swimming again and keep him moving.
As a college student who is majoring in Marine Biology and has a particular interest in corals and reef keeping as well as aquatic system design, would you know of any internships or even jobs that could offer valuable experience as it pertains to these fields.
- That’s fantastic you’re pursuing a field you love! There are numerous private and public aquaria that offer part-time positions or internships, as well as aquaculture facilities and even importers and wholesalers across the country. One place to start would be with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), as they frequently list positions such as the one you’re inquiring about. Best of luck to you!
What is your approach of mandarins and dragonets?
- Dragonets such as Mandarins are beautiful animals that should be maintained in mature aquariums with plenty of copepods so they can forage all day. The Spotted Mandarin (Synchiropus picturatus) is the species I would suggest as they fare well and more easily adapt over to prepared foods.
What’s the best way to keep phosphate under control besides GFO? And also what’s an acceptable reading? Can’t seem to get mine below 10ppm.
- Maintaining low PO4 levels is needed for the health of your corals. Ideal phosphate levels in a reef aquarium should be less than 0.2 ppm. I like to target 0.03-0.07 for SPS corals. There are numerous ways to control and manage phosphate. I like to use bio-fuel to combat naturally the problem along with frequent water changes. Products such as Red Sea NO3:PO4-X or even liquid PO4 additives work extremely well. The last form is the use of Bio-Pellets in a reactor.
I have a 29-gallon Oceanic Biocube and have had trouble over the years maintaining corals in it long-term probably due to the insufficient lighting. My question is, what types of corals can I reasonably expect to be able to successfully keep? I have tried some LPS like Hammers, Frogspawns, and Bubbles and they do okay at first but start to die off over time. How about softies like a cauliflower colt coral?
- Maintaining a stable temperature in smaller aquariums is the most challenging, so ensuring it’s placed away from a window and in a cooler part of the house is ideal. The most adaptable corals for these aquariums are Zoanthus, Mushrooms and soft corals. I would start with some Actinodiscus mushrooms and Zoanthus and then finish the aquarium off with a few soft corals. Colt Corals can get large so finding a smaller piece and pruning it down the road would be needed, so it doesn’t take over the tank eventually.
I have a 90gal with a 18 watt turbo twist with a flow rate of around 110 gpr does that sound ok should I lower the flow?
- As long as the bulb is changed out every 6-8 months and the unit has clean water passing over the bulb that is the ideal flow rate to control parasites.
How can I treat ich in my reef aquarium, I put my fishes in quarantine but at the moment I put the fishes in the reef thank ich come again.
- Controlling parasitic infections in reef aquariums is challenging. The first thing I would suggest is to utilize a food additive such as garlic and Selcon (vitamin supplement) to try and help the fish fight it off naturally. If this doesn’t work, unfortunately the only way to rid the aquarium of these pathogens is to remove the fish and mediate them in a quarantine aquarium, letting the display reside without fish for at least 8 weeks.
How long do you need to wait before safely ensuring your saltwater tank is disease free again and ready to add new fish? I have another setup, and have tried adding new fish two different times with no success, after having some sort of parasitic organisms wipe out two waves of fish! The only fish who has survived both is a large Cintron clown goby. I have a new batch of fish I ordered from you guys in a 10g quarantine, and planned on keeping them there for up to 6 weeks. Could it have simply been too stressful adding newly delivered fish directly to the display tank?
- I would presume the Clown Goby is strong enough to fight off whatever pathogen is in the aquarium, but when you add new, fish they are quickly attacked. Removing ALL fish from the display and letting it run fallow without any fish for a minimum of 6 weeks is ideal. I always recommend quarantining any animal prior to introduction into the display aquarium. Hang in there and keep water in the QT tank clean by performing frequent water changes.
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