Greg Graham (Reef_Tank_Greg)
In early 2011, I founded Bayou Reefkeeping along with the help of a few others. We are every proud of each and every one of you who makes this club as great as it is.Through this club we have been able to assist and educate many newcomers to the hobby and experienced hobbyists as well. Through our monthly events, we have been able to bring hundreds of people together. Like all newcomers, I also had a start at some point too.
Throughout my childhood I would regularly go with my mom to the local pet shop to look at fish for her aquariums. She always had one or two tanks setup with common freshwater fish such as guppies, mollies, and swordtails. She would often agonize over the cost of each fish because we didn't have a whole lot of money back then. So most of those trips amounted to window shopping and watching Mom talk it up with the pet shop employees. Occasionally though she would be able to get a couple of fish and bring them back home. I always enjoyed sitting and watching the fish in her tanks.
Fast forward to my college years when I eventually moved away from home while attending LSU. For the first couple of years in my apartment, something was missing. There was no fish tank! I started going to the local fish shop in Baton Rouge and saltwater fish really caught my eye. One day there were some 30 gallon tall tank kits available complete with compact fluorescent lighting, hood, and filtration. At this point I would officially be hooked on the hobby I would come to love.
I setup my first saltwater aquarium in the late nineties at my college home. It was in my bedroom and before long many of my friends were hanging out there watching my tank rather than sitting around the TV in the living room. The tank was a calming source during an otherwise hectic time of my life spent juggling time between work and school. I often turned the tank lights on well after midnight and studied in my chair next to the tank.
In 2004, I met a wonderful woman, Nicki, who would later become my wife. Soon after meeting her I setup my first reef tank, a 90 gallon tank. Not long after setting the tank up, I noticed something. Nicki, a college student at the time, would lay out her coursework on the table near the tank. She would often take breaks and stare at the tank. This reminded me so much of the calming effects my college tank had upon me.
Since then, I have really been bit hard by the reefkeeping bug! In addition to that 90 gallon tank which I still have, I also have a 250 gallon reef tank. I actually agonize over every livestock purchase much like Mom always did. For me though, it is because I am very much aware that these purchases are actually living creatures which I am accepting responsibility in caring for. My oldest fish are around seven and a half years old and most of my fish are over four years old. I take a great amount of pride in caring for my aquatic livestock.
Since 2004 I have been an active member of local reef clubs and countless reefkeeping websites and forums. My wife and I have annually opened up our home to members of the local reefkeeping community since 2007. Nicki and I have met many great people from all walks of life via this hobby. We truly look forward to our time spent with everyone and the friendships nurtured over time. As much as I love the hobby itself, it is the people within the reefkeeping community that truly make it rewarding.
Gasper Migliore III (Jaytizzle)
Hello, my name is JT and I’m an addict… wait, that’s not how this goes. My name is JT Migliore and I’ve been in the hobby since 2008. I remember my father maintaining a large predator tank when I was younger and, once I had the time and money, I took my first foray in the wonderful world of saltwater aquaria. It all started with a humble 12 gallon planted tank to sit on my desk at work, at least that was my intention. Upon browsing the LFS, that dream quickly morphed into a 24 gallon reef aquarium and thus the adventure began!
From this tank, I added a 120 gallon setup at home. This tank has seen some ups and downs (if you haven’t, you haven’t been in the hobby for long enough!). I took my first foray into LED lighting in 2009 and haven’t looked back. I am a hardcore DIY’er. I try to push the limits of my hobby and my skills. I enjoy the hands-on experience, expanded skill set, and pride in craftsmanship that making something yourself can provide.
I am married to a beautiful woman named Sarah. We are expecting our first child in January 2013. She swears she isn’t a fan of my hobbies but she does take notice of goings-on in my aquaria. On top of that, she let me cut a hole in the wall to plumb a 30-gallon into the 120 system so that’s got to count for something! This has been an awesome adventure thus far. I’ve cultured a passion for marine life and conservation, assisted with making this community as best as we can be, and best of all I’ve made some great friends through this hobby and I look forward to plenty more.
Kirk Melton (kirk_m)
I have kept aquariums for about as long as I can remember, but, I didn't make the switch to marine tanks until 2002. After visiting some friends who happened to have a coral reef tank, I was intrigued by the interesting life forms they kept and was awed by the colors some of these salt water creatures had. A month later, I was able to persuade my wife to let me convert one of my planted freshwater tanks into a reef tank. I had my 72 gallon bowfront drilled and made reef-ready at a local salt water shop, and the addiction began.
From its very humble beginnings, the 72 gallon eventually became a mixed reef tank I was very proud to show to others, and it was filled with all manner of leather corals, star polyps, mushrooms, zoanthids, palythoa, a clam, large polyp stony corals, and the lone SPS coral - a green montipora capricornis. When hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I lost this tank due to extended power outages, and, was considering getting out of the hobby (and SAVING some money!) when to my surprise, my wife asked me "why don't you just get a bigger tank now?" Mind you, these are words she has never made the mistake of uttering again! So, in late 2005 I upgraded to a 120 gallon aquarium, which I slowly populated with SPS corals until it was full to the brim. I took an immense amount of pride in that aquarium as I had grown virtually everything in it into basketball sized colonies from lowly 1" coral fragments.
As the addiction grew, I set up a 400 gallon system in my garage which was used to propagate frags. At least at that point I was able to sell SOME coral frags to offset what the hobby was costing me, though I never made any profit from it. After a few years of it running, we welcomed our second child to the family, and as these things go, I had no extra time for this system, so, it had to go. A few years later, and I added a 90 gallon tank to my garage, dedicated strictly to "eye candy" LPS and soft corals, as well as wrasses, which had a habit of jumping out of my open topped 120.
I still question to this day why I stay in this frustrating, expensive hobby, and the only answer I ever have for myself is that it is simply in my blood. I enjoy helping new hobbyists get their systems running and stable, as well as helping experienced hobbyists troubleshoot problems with their established systems. I have been active on the local saltwater forums since 2003.
Jordan Stari (tobias funke)
Inadvertently found my way into the hobby in 2002 shortly after graduating from Ole Miss. Upon graduation, I moved back to Louisiana and spent every available hour fishing for specks. Like the truly great fishermen of my family I was more skilled in telling tales than actually catching fish. One hot fish-less afternoon in the marsh a light bulb went off. I would set up a saltwater tank to see how bait fish/shrimp behave when not attached to a hook. This would provide the edge I needed and transform me into the trout master. There was also the thought- "How hard could it be?"
With visions of the Great Barrier Reef in my mind and limited resources I set up a 20 gallon tank of death. Perplexed with why I could not keep anything alive I found a local fish store. The LFSprovided some basic information and soon enough I could keep minnows alive. I was on my way to becoming the master fishermen of legends but somewhere along the way my minnow research tank was transformed into a tiny little reef.
The bait shrimp experiment evolved thru the years and tanks came and went. Numerous species tanks ranging from stomatopods to seahorses, sixteen gallon reefs to 150 predator tanks but the list has been reduced to three tanks- two 65s and a 90. Current tanks are built around my main interest in the hobby- eels and inverts.
Adam Clayton (TheGrimmReefer)
Born and raised in Prairieville, I have always been interested in animals and nature, alike. I grew up catching crawfish and turtles in the ditches of my neighborhood, fishing in my family's ponds, and have always had a fascination with aquatic life. I kept a freshwater tank as a kid, but, always seemed to find a way to neglect (and ultimately, kill) anything I put into it. I moved on to keeping box turtles in a small 10g tank and left the fish alone for awhile.
A longtime friend of mine eventually found his way into keeping saltwater aquariums, and this sparked a renewed interest for me. I never knew keeping a saltwater tank was possible, not to mention, never seeing one in person. So, as you can imagine, I was quite intrigued.
Life took me on a very curvy road, which led me to North Carolina, where I lived and worked for a little over two years. After growing tired of the fresh mountain air (wait, what?) I found my way back to muggy ol' Louisiana, only to find an even bigger tank in my friends home. A beautiful 5 foot, 120g display, filled with beautiful corals and fish. This set off a spark! I wanted a saltwater tank and was ready to set one up!
A few short months later, I set up my first reef tank, a 14g Biocube, in March of 2012. The tank filled up quickly, and I eventually was looking to upgrade to something bigger. About this same time, I was moving out of the temporary home with my dad and back out on my own, which gave me a chance to upgrade! I purchased a used 120g from another reefer in Prairieville, moved it to my new place in Maurepas, and got it going. That tank ran for over a year, until I moved back to Prairieville and purchased a new 120g tank from Planet Aquariums.
Over the few years I have been in the hobby, I have continued to grow and learn as a reefkeeper. One of the best things about the hobby, in my opinion, is the fact that you can never know everything there is to know. Simply because, the hobby grows along with us and our tanks. Keeping a reef tank is something that has been embedded into my being. I honestly believe there will ALWAYS be a glass box of saltwater, somewhere in my house!
Jeff Walker (jawalker85)
I was born and raised on the Bestbank of New Orleans. Covered in mosquito and ant bites, in the summer I would spend hours upon hours bass fishing in the neighborhood canals. In the winter months, I could be found freezing my butt off 20 feet up in a tree, deer hunting with my grandpa. I seemed to always have a connection with nature and the outdoors.
My first aquarium memory is my dad's 55 gallon cichlid tank. I spent night after night sitting up on a bar stool staring at it, watching the fish swim around and interact. Flash forward a few years, and I had multiple tanks of my own, cichlid tanks, native Louisiana tanks, turtles, and anything else I could catch with a scoop net from the ditch behind my house.
I was first introduced to saltwater by my cousin. He called me up one day and told me he wanted to set up a saltwater tank. Of course the first thing out of my mouth was, "Dude, it's so expensive and hard to keep up with". But the very next day we were both in Petco, checking out with two 55 gallon tanks and not a clue what we were doing. I started out with crap equipment and rock work that looked something like Stonehenge. I quickly got tired of that tank and bought a 40 Breeder tank from a guy on one of the local forums. Being the impulse buyer I am, I shortly after bought a 110 tall. Within a few short months I realized my T-Rex arms weren't conducive to running a tall tank. I then set up what I thought was my dream tank, a 40 breeder with all the bells and whistles.
In October of 2014, we put our house up for sale and moved to the Ponchatoula. I wasn't able to move the tank with me, so I had to leave it setup in my house until it was sold. One day, a mean cold front came through and dropped the temperature to 44 degrees in the house. Needless to say the tank was an ice cube when i got to it. Everything was DOA.
That tank crash got me pretty bummed out and i wasn't interested in it anymore. But I continued to volunteer for Fragniappe and other meets around the area. Sitting at dinner the night of Fragniappe I decided to go home and give it a go again. I'm currently running a small 8 gallon nano. My wife and I are building a house that should be finished in a few months. I then plan to build a larger "dream tank"
I look forward to watching the hobby grow and the friendships that come with it.
Eric Owens (ericd000)
My name’s Eric and while I’m not a Louisiana native, I’ve lived here for over 11 years now so I claim the Baton Rouge as home now.
I have only been involved with marine/reef aquariums since mid-2009 and in that time, I’ve had two tanks, with a third now in the works. Growing up, I had freshwater tanks for most of my adolescent life, keeping basic fish, but always loved the look of saltwater aquariums.
I inherited a 12 gallon JBJ nanocube from a friend that was moving to Texas and didn’t want to take her tank. I got the nano, one clownfish, a torch coral with two heads, and some rock in the summer of ’09, and loved getting home from work and looking into the tank to see how my little piece of the ocean was doing. I can now blame her for my addiction…
Fast forward a couple of months, and while researching the issues I ran into maintaining the nano led me to upgrade to a 120 gallon setup I purchased used from a LFS. I was so anxious to get that new, (to me) bigger tank up and running that I rushed some things in the setup and ended up losing my early fish to having used GE II in building my first sump. After about a month and a half, I replaced the sump with one that used the correct silicone and from there the 120 took off and mostly thrived until I moved to a new house in 2012. It did have its up and downs but as I got more experience and leaned on the experiences of others in the local and national saltwater communities, I got better with maintaining and keeping my little piece of the reef going.
As mentioned, in August 2012, I purchased a new home in south Baton Rouge specifically with the intention of converting one of the bedrooms into a fish room with a viewing pane into the living room. With Greg’s help we packed up the 120 and moved it to the new place. Greg stayed late into the evening and helped me get everything in the tank and count the casualties. That was a little disheartening, but I resolved to solider on with the hobby. After the move the 120 just never was the same. I had my first really painful coral die off in the first couple of months following the move and lost all my clams. I still kept it going though, as I’m not one to give up quickly or easily.
In mid-2013 I got a deal on a Marineland 300 deep dimension tank and this began the upgrade build. As of the date of writing this (5/27/2015) that build is still in progress. However I am getting pretty close to getting water in it. Hoping to see water in it by 7/31/15!
I love this hobby and with my busy work schedule, the time I spend working on the tank is therapeutic for me. Being able to watch fish and coral grow is pretty much the most awesome part of the hobby for me. Here’s to many more years of happy reefing!
Dustin Breaux (RoughLSUfan)