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Reefkeeping's Authors

Jon Garner

Jon Garner is an amateur aquarist with about 25 years experience in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Jon's father used to take him to the county dump where he would scavenge through the goodies and take stuff home to take apart, see how it was made and then make it work again or make something else out of it, so he has been sort of DIY'ing for a long time. He has even built a 400-gallon saltwater tank, which is in his basement. It has approximately 30 damsels of various kinds and three Convict blennys (Pholidichthys leucotaenia). Raising Caulerpa has been simplified with this tank too.

Jon has built his own dual-chamber calcium reactors, top-off devices, waste collectors and lots more for both his tank and his wife's 200-gallon saltwater tank. Solving problems and making things bigger and better and making them himself is what he loves doing.

Jon is married and has four sons and two grandkids. He lives on the side of a mountain in the country so when he is making noise with his saws and drills at 2 AM nobody is around to care.

Jon is available for questions at the DIY forum at Reef Central. Be sure you check out Jon’s web site and DIY section for lots of great ideas and information.

Ken Feldman

Ken Feldman was born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, where a proximity to, and an affinity for, the Atlantic Ocean dominated his early years. Days (mis?)spent fishing and snorkeling fostered a keen interest in all things marine, a fascination that continues today. In 2004, that interest finally culminated with a plunge into the marine aquarium hobby, and today he is the proud caretaker of a 175-gallon reef tank housing a host of fish and corals whose behaviors continue to educate him on a daily basis. He is joined in his aquarium avocation by his daughter Leah, who has been instrumental in aquascaping the tank as well as in choosing both fish and corals.

Ken has a day job as well - Professor of Chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University. He spends his aquarium down-time focusing on teaching and research in the area of Organic Chemistry. He has published numerous articles on the organic chemistry of molecules found in the reef environment, particularly from sponges. Currently, his research interests include (a) devising the means to synthesize sponge- and coral-derived metabolites that elicit promising chemotherapeutic responses against some cancers and against some immune system malfunctions, and (b) elucidating the molecular mechanism by which these biological properties are manifest.

Lauren Vernese

Lauren Vernese is just beginning her dive into the world of aquaria. Although she has grown up in a house that has always had a tank, either reef or fresh, she is just beginning to discover for herself the intrigue that aquariums have to offer. Before even taking her first class at Penn State University, she decided to become a volunteer at the well-known HUB fish tank - a 500-gallon, captivating reef tank. Through this position, she heard of a professor, Ken Feldman, who was looking for assistance in research dealing with aquaria. She now spends her summer away from her home in Bucks County, PA, living in State College and working daily in the department of Chemistry at Penn State on this research.

Working in the chemistry lab and doing this research is not so far off from what Lauren wants her future to hold. She is perusing a career in science - interested in becoming a physician or an equine vet. When she is not busy studying for classes during the school year or working during her summers, Lauren's favorite way to relax is by riding and taking care of her 15 year old quarter horse, whom she has had for over eight years. In the near future, she and her father will undertake installing a 215-gallon reef tank - an activity she is very excited to be able to take part in, thanks to the knowledge that she has gained over the past year.

Mark van der Wal

Mark has been keeping aquariums since he was a little child. Growing up in a family that moved all over the world, he developed a strong passion and curiosity for nature. His particular interest was any type of underwater environment, as he spent countless days of his childhood underwater with a mask and fins. This passion drove him to pursue a degree in Biology, with a heavy emphasis on Marine Ecology. His studies allowed him further excuses to be underwater and participate in various research opportunities. After graduating, Mark decided to pursue a career in computers, so that he could continue to afford a reef tank and frequent dive trips. He also caters to his passion for marine organisms by participating as a moderator for the Advanced Forum at Reef Central, sharing knowledge and frags with local reef geeks, and contributing articles to Reefkeeping Magazine. His other interests include traveling, hiking, gardening, and his two dogs.

Mike Kirda

Mike has been in the hobby since 1991. His first tank, an All-Glass 75-gallon, was going continuously for ten years. With his recent move, he graduated to an Oceanic 120-gallon reef ready system complete with a basement sump. He has been following several topics of interest in the scientific journals over the past few years, including coral reproduction, sandbeds and nutrient cycles, as well as marine resource planning. He was able to go to Bali in 2000 to attend the 9th Coral Reef Symposium, as well as dive on a few remote atolls. An avid early reader of rec.aquaria (predecessor to RAMR), Mike has been a frequent contributor to Reef-l and Reefkeepers mailing lists. His latest trip, to the Philippines this time, gave him the opportunity to see net-caught fishermen in action in two separate locations. His other hobby is underwater photography.

You can communicate with Mike at his author forum at Reef Central.

Nate Enders

Nate began keeping aquariums at a young age when his father brought home a slate-bottomed, steel-framed 10-gallon aquarium from a garage sale. Other than that first childhood tank and a few recent forays into the world of planted freshwater tanks, Nate's interest has mostly been marine aquaria, and began at a time when undergravel filters, wet/dry sumps and T12 VHO lighting were as good as it got.

Despite doing the respectable thing and pursuing an education in the field of engineering, Nate's career has mostly been in the realm of information technology. This educational and professional background, focused on the physical and technical aspects of the world around us, shows Nate's love for applied science. As such, he is an aspiring do-it-yourself geek, and can often be found lurking in the DIY forum on Reef Central, in an effort to learn from the true masters. That is, when he isn't hanging out in the New to the Hobby forum, doing his best to preach the good word to new recruits. Having learned much of what he knows about reefkeeping through trial and error, before internet forums became popular, Nate welcomes the opportunity to participate in Reefkeeping Magazine and the Reef Central forums in a way that helps today's new reefkeepers avoid the mistakes he made.

Nathaniel A. Walton, M.Sc., M.H.Sc.

When I started this hobby I had little knowledge of the care and maintenance required to keep these equisite fish. Reading books and taking advice from well respected people within the hobby has lead to many tank successes. Currently, without a tank to tend to, I find myself writing mostly about this amazing hobby!

Randy Holmes-Farley

Randy Holmes-Farley has a BA in chemistry and biology from Cornell University (1982) and a PhD in chemistry from Harvard University (1986). He has 57 patents, numerous publications and several awards in a variety of chemical fields. In 1992 he helped start a pharmaceutical company (GelTex Pharmaceuticals). It was eventually bought by Genzyme where he now has the title of Vice President, Chemical Research. Randy is also the co-inventor of two commercial pharmaceuticals (Renagel and WelChol).

Randy has been keeping reef aquaria for just over 10 years. He has been active on a variety of reef internet forums for that same period, and has been especially involved in chemistry-related discussions. For the past four years he has moderated The Reef Chemistry Forum at Reef Central. He has authored many reefkeeping articles with a chemistry emphasis for Fishnet, Aquarium Frontiers, Advanced Aquarists Online Magazine, and this one (Reefkeeping).

Randy lives in Arlington, Massachusetts (outside of Boston) with his wife Becky and two daughters (ShuLan, 6, and Savannah, 8).

Rex Niedermeyer

I got started with my first freshwater aquarium in elementary school and my first marine tank by Jr. High. By High School I had decided to become a marine biologist and entered college with that thought in mind. After majoring in zoology for a couple of years, I made the mistake of looking into job opportunities for the field of marine biology. Deciding that I liked eating meals on a regular basis, I promptly switched my major to electrical engineering. Given that I am 6'4" and 260 lbs, I do not think I have missed too many meals so my career decision was probably a good one, but my passion for marine critters continues to this day. I've now been keeping marine tanks for almost 35 years and reef tanks for nearly 15. It was only natural that I try merging my engineering background with my interest in marine tanks, and the result is a nuts and bolts functional approach to designing and operating these marine systems. I currently reside in the San Francisco Bay area and help organize and edit the newsletter for the local group SEABay (Saltwater Enthusiast Association of the Bay area).

Rogger Castells

Rogger was born on 1967 in Guayaquil, Ecuador and got his start in marine aquariums early in life.  At the age of seven his aunt gave him his first 10-gallon tank, originally set up as a freshwater tank, which quickly became a saltwater tank.  From there, it has evolved into many successful marine aquariums.

His lifelong passion as an aquarist was not enough to satisfy his love for the ocean, so he obtained his scuba certification in the early 80’s and he spent several summers and countless hours observing fish behavior in the Galapagos Islands.  It was there that he realized his love and respect for all sea inhabitants was huge.

Rogger now resides in Weston, Florida, where he continues his passion for saltwater fishes and corals.
Rogger’s other passion and career was in the kitchen.  He obtained a culinary degree and applied his nutritional knowledge to create his own fish food mixes.  His fish food became very popular among his local fish club's members (The Florida Marine Aquarium Society), where he currently serves as President. Rogger has recently started to produce his food in greater quantities and plans to make it available all over the US.

Rogger can be reached through Reef Central (screen name: Rogger Castells) or via email.

Ronald L. Shimek, Ph.D.

Ron got his start down the path to becoming a marine invertebrate zoologist and ecologist with his first salt water aquarium in 1962, in Great Falls, Montana, which housed his first marine invertebrate, a small specimen of the infamous Aiptasia, along with a couple of insignificant fishes. His interest piqued, Ron went on to study zoology first at Montana State University and later at the University of Washington, where he received his M. S. and Ph. D., for work done investigating marine soft sediment ecosystems. His first marine ecology course was taken at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and Ron has subsequently investigated marine ecosystems from the Pacific Abyssal Plain to the Bering Sea to Indo-Pacific and Caribbean coral reefs. He has maintained marine aquaria more or less continuously starting in 1972.

He has written numerous articles for Aquarium Fish Magazine, Aquarium Frontiers, Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Aquarium USA, Marine Fish and Reef Annual, and other aquarium magazines. He has also written for Natural History and Shells and Sea Life as well as over 20 peer-reviewed scientific publications dealing with marine ecology and molluscan biology. Additionally, he has been on the editorial review boards of several scientific journals.

Active in education for over 25 years, Ron has taught at several universities in the United States and Canada, including numerous times at the Bamfield Marine Station on Vancouver Island, where he served as Assistant Director. He is an Affiliate Associate Professor of Ecology at Montana State University and works as an author, environmental consultant and taxonomist from his home in Wilsall, Montana. He is a world recognized authority in scaphopod mollusks and turrid gastropods, and has been an invited speaker at over 10 scientific meetings.

Understanding that knowledge of the animals and their biology is the best remedy for much of the false mythology in the aquarium literature, he has been actively speaking to many aquarium societies and conventions. Ron believes that only by increasing the knowledge base available to the average aquarist, can we hope to have a successful and humane hobby.

Sanjay Joshi, Ph.D.

Growing up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, Sanjay started keeping tropical fish as a teenager (seems like eons ago!) and has maintained that interest ever since. Keeping marine fish was always his dream growing up, which he finally realized in 1992 when he first saw a coral reef aquarium and was fascinated by its corals. He has been a reef aquarium addict since then, and currently keeps three reefs at home: a 55-gallon, a 60-gallon and a 180-gallon small-polyped schleractinian-dominated reef. He also co-manages the 500-gallon aquarium at Penn State, which has provided the beauty of reefs to thousands of college students and school children.

Sanjay is an avid DIYer and enjoys tinkering with and designing equipment for his reef aquariums. His quest for knowledge and striving for data led him to test metal halide lamps, and over the years this has continued and has resulted in the collection of a large amount of data on metal halide lighting and reflector systems. These data are now available online at: http://www.reeflightinginfo.arvixe.com.

He has published several articles in magazines such as Marine Fish and Reef Annual, Aquarium Frontiers, Aquarium Fish and Advanced Aquarist. In addition, he has been an invited speaker at several national marine aquarium society meetings and local clubs.

Sanjay in "real" life is a professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State University, where he has taught since 1987.

Sarah Lardizabal

Sarah currently calls Delaware home but has roots in Florida. She holds a degree in wildlife conservation and is weighing her graduate school options for marine and molecular biology. Her scientific interests lean toward the application of the advances of molecular biology and biotechnology to the fields of marine science. She has worked in marine biotechnology application projects, zebrafish, diatom and plant genomics research and wetlands research.

Sarah has kept aquariums in some form since very early childhood, starting with Spanky the goldfish, and thanks her parents for their indulgence and support. With a marine engineer and a former marine biologist for parents, her obsession with the ocean was likely inevitable. Her freshwater aquaria interests were mostly in Apistogramma and West African dwarf cichlids and extensive freshwater planted systems. Her marine days started in early college and eventually moved from reef setups to marine planted and seagrass dominated aquaria. She is an avid SCUBA diver who dreams of running her own live aboard operation in Belize and hopes to one day become a professional instructor.

She has interned and volunteered as an aquarist and husbandry aide for several zoos and aquariums in the U.S. including the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Sarah hopes to join the research team of an aquarium or zoo, and work as a curator, after completing her education. When she isn't out parading as gator or shark bait, wading through seagrass beds in the Indian River Lagoon and the Chesapeake, she is often luring reefkeepers to 'the dark side' in the Marine Plant & Macroalgae forum here on Reef Central.

Simon Huntington

Simon Huntington has been involved with the saltwater hobby for a short period of four years. Previously, he had kept a small garden pond since the age of 12, but the cold weather made it a chore rather than a pleasure. His journey to marine aquariums all started on a visit to the local fish store to look at setting up a tropical freshwater aquarium. Seeing the colourful marine fish was too much to resist, and a path, which eventually lead from marine fish to reefs, was begun. Armed with only a few books and access to the internet forum Aqualink, his first fish-only system was born.

Within about 2 months he had become interested in invertebrates, but realizing his current fish-only tank was unsuitable, he set up a 20-gallon reef tank. After a year, with more knowledge and experience under his belt, corals were filling the tank. Soon thereafter, an upgrade followed to a 65-gallon tank, which was featured in ReefCentral’s Tank of the Month series back in September 2001. Now, with every inch of his tank packed with small-polyped stoney corals, an upgrade is in progress to a 240-gallon reef tank.

Primarily with an interest in SPS corals, clams, and also chemistry & technology, Simon helps moderate on our Species Forums at ReefCentral. He is a member and regular participant in WYMAG, the UK’s largest Marine & Reef Club.

Living in England, he is in a great position to take advantage of the knowledge from the USA while also utilizing German equipment. He lives alone and is Director of a computer software company.

Steven Pro

Steven has been keeping freshwater aquariums for as long as he can remember, but did not start with saltwater fish until 1993 during his junior year of college. Upon returning from school, he was fortunate enough to reside only a short five-minute drive from Poseidon's Living Treasures, Anthony Calfo's greenhouse propagation facility. It was here that he gained a tremendous resource of information and inspiration.

Steven Pro is currently the proprietor of Pro Aquatic Services Company, an aquarium sales and maintenance business in Pennsylvania. He has long been active in the retail and hobby sides of the ornamental aquatics industry. He has taken an active and impassioned role in the industry as a member of the Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium Society, Inc. for the past seven years, having also been elected to the Board of Directors for the last five years. Steven is also a member of the greater Pittsburgh Aquarium Society, Inc. (the local freshwater club), as well as previously serving a one-year stint on the Board of Directors of the American Marinelife Dealers Association.

You may have seen his name before if you ever visit the aquatic information website WetWebMedia, as he previously answered some of the emailed daily questions along with friends Anthony Calfo and site host Robert Fenner. Eventually, the demands of family and business became too great, and he had to "retire" from the WetWebMedia crew, but he is still active on its message board.

Steven currently maintains a 120-gallon reef tank, a 1500-gallon freshwater pond, a 75-gallon winter home for turtles (when they aren't out in the pond), as well as numerous smaller tanks scattered throughout his house (much to the chagrin of his wife) which are used for quarantining livestock for customers. His previous 55-gallon reef tank (which was taken down around the first of 2003 to make room for the 120) is profiled on the Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium Society, Inc.'s website. There is a good deal of husbandry information located there and should provide insight into his aquarium keeping philosophy.

Terry D. Bartelme

As a child, Terry grew up on the waterfront where he spent countless hours in and around the water. It was there that his love of aquatic life and respect for nature blossomed. His mother introduced him to aquarium keeping at the age of eight with a 10-gallon tropical fish tank. He set up his first saltwater tank back in the "stone age" of marine aquarium keeping in 1973.

Terry soon learned that the hobby was sorely wanting for lack of accurate information concerning the care and maintenance of these animals. This was particularly true in the aspects of disease treatment and general fish health management. As an avid reader, his insatiable desire for knowledge and love for his hobby inspires him to learn everything that he can regarding the care of his aquatic friends. Terry's motto for aquarium keeping is to always put "knowledge first." He resides in Gig Harbor, Washington, and is the father of three boys. His interests include a passion for learning, sports, music, reading, movies and spending quality time with his sons.

Terry is a moderator in the Saltwaterfish.com disease treatment forum and a regular participant on several other Internet message boards including Reef Central. He has written more than one-hundred articles on marine aquarium keeping that have been published in a number of aquarium related magazines, both in print and online. Terry has been a guest speaker for aquarium clubs, and he has appeared on the Animal Talk Network radio program. His special interests are in fish health management issues including stress control, nutrition, disease treatments and prevention.

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy, aka WaterKeeper, was born in Manhattan just after Peter Minuit, a real estate agent working for Donald Trump, purchased the island. Shorty thereafter, he went to Salem, Massachusetts to study alchemy under the auspices of several fine ladies.

During the French and Indian War he was the first to figure out that smoke signals were actually a binomial code that might have other uses. At the Boston Tea Party he asked if the rebels had filed an environmental impact statement.

In the First World War he realized that Clorox could be used as a weapon of mass destruction and, in the second World War, he told Franklin that the atom could be split with a good set of Chicago cutlery, which changed the course of the war. Moving on to VietNam he noticed a lot of weeds in the local’s gardens and developed a great new weed killer known as "Agent Orange." He also was instrumental in coating technology for America's Vanguard project in the late 50's. This had him deported to Connecticut where he became interested in saltwater watching Lloyd Bridges in Seahunt. Later, he was really hooked when the Aquanauts premiered.

With the downturn in aerospace, and the lack of an economic recovery package, he moved on to environmental concerns, notibly working for the water and wastewater industries for many years. With an unlimited supply of RO/DI he decided to venture into reefkeeping with much success. He therefore joined Reef Central, where he is a much hated moderator.

He is now confined in a mental institution in Ohio where he is serving out a 35-year to life sentence for newbie harassment.

William Capman, Ph.D.

Bill Capman's father began keeping fish before Bill was born, and by the time Bill was about eight years old he and his father had dozens of tanks and plastic shoeboxes housing a great variety of fish, turtles, frogs, and other aquatic animals and plants. As a child and teenager, Bill was also obsessed with gardening, insects, birds, and all other aspects of natural history. Consequently, he studied biology in college at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and then went on to get a PhD in ecology at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. His dissertation research involved field studies and computer modeling of host plant finding behavior in herbivorous insects. In his postdoctoral research positions he then used DNA and RNA-based techniques to study plant hybridization and microbial communities.

When he began teaching biology at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Bill was encouraged to apply his experience with aquaria to the task of setting up a reef system for teaching purposes. He set up his first small reef tank in 1995, and a larger multi-tank reef and seagrass system was set up in 1997. The reef tanks are expanding, and currently Bill and his student helper are maintaining two multi-tank systems totaling nearly 600 gallons of saltwater for teaching and research purposes.

Teaching at Augsburg has also given Bill the opportunity to teach marine biology in the Florida Keys, and the photo above shows Bill on the boat returning after a day with students at Looe Key, a reef near Big Pine Key, Fl.

Along with his daughters, Bill still keeps far too many freshwater fish at home. These include a line of guppies that he has had for roughly 40 years, and a great number of freshwater angelfish (which Bill formerly bred on a large scale).

Though he loves anything having to do with biology, his other great passion is music, and when he has the time he is a compulsive 5-string banjo and guitar player. If there were multiple lives to be lived, he would surely spend one of them as a professional banjo player!

Bill's reef systems at Augsburg College can be seen at www.augsburg.edu/biology.

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