• Background on Ben

Houston, TX
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Haha, gotcha.

I'm not that important, except to my wife and kids, but I have been reefing for a long time. In fact, it has been how I make my living since the late 1990s. Yes, I have been a paid aquarist since grunge music was still being created. None of that means you should listen to me though. I just did that so you would get to HERE. Now that you are here, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ben Johnson and I'm an aquaholic. My first fully pet related job was a place in Denton, Texas called Fish N Chirps Pet Center where I started off as a salesmen for everything BUT saltwater stuff, which I had zero clue about, because I couldn't afford it. I could not stay away from that part of the store and would read every book and magazine that had to do with saltwater aquariums I could get my hands on. Everything I read and heard stuck in my brain like it was supposed to be there; fish and coral Latin names, author's names, chemical names and equipment brands. I was just like a sponge and took it all in. The hobby was a little less complicated then but was going through a bit of a renaissance because of two books, at least from my perspective. Sprung and Delbeek's book, The Reef Aquarium and Fossa and Nielsen's book, The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium. Honestly, I had to read them both several times in a row before the info was allowed to permeate my thick skull, but I was bound and determined to learn. There really wasn't an internet per se for me at that point so I would have to read and talk to other humans in order to learn...shudder. It was slow going back then as compared to now but knowledge is attainable if you want it badly enough.

So after my stint at the local pet store, I moved on to work at bigger and better stores further away. Two years here, two years there, until I moved from the Dallas area to the Houston area in 2000. I continued working at and managing fish stores until I decided to become a zookeeper at the Houston zoo because they had sexy uniforms. I was hired to bring the 4,000 gallon reef zones exhibit back to life as it had been badly neglected by the previous keeper. I was young and had no children so getting paid **** to look like Steve Irwin was a great idea. While working at the zoo, I started cleaning aquariums on the side after work. Finally in 2004, I left the zoo and have been self-employed ever since with my company that I started in 2002 called Captive Aquatic Ecosystems.

It's been a long road but the hobby keeps growing. Not necessarily in size but how far we are pushing it; the methods, technology and understanding. Keeping something as delicate as a reef tank competently and creating something that thrives under your control is...good ****. Twenty five years in and I still get excited about creating new systems and taking care of old systems. I also love trouble shooting others' problems and diagnosing system issues. Hell, reef aquariums have largely become overly complicated sometimes, though they don't have to be. I'll go into that in my future writings here.

So what is this going to be about? Any and everything related to saltwater aquariums that comes out of my brain. Ideas, advice, musings, product opinions, maintenance practices, opinion...oh lots of opinions, recommendations.

Would you please follow along weekly to see what I am putting down? Also, don't forget to click on crap and buy things from the sponsors. Don't forget to tip the waitress!
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Union Square, NY
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I'm not sure how much Ben is going to be replying to posts here.

If I may answer your question from my own perspective:

pH controller is a MUST and you need to calibrate it regularly or you will end up melting all the Ca at one point or another
Carbon Doser (aquariumplants model)

If you have a pH probe in your tank and a pH probe in the reactor that is controlling the CO2 regulator, then you can set a drip rate and test Ca until you get a flow rate that gets you to your Ca target for the entire tank. With the electronic doser you will not be counting bubbles, you just dial in the CO2 so that it isn't doing a seesaw all the time (i.e. smooth titration pattern).
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Hey, buddy. Glad to see you doing this thing. I follow you not just because you are entertaining, but because you're one of the few people I actually learn new things from on a regular basis. I appreciate your curiosity and willingness to share your experiences and mistakes. It's also refreshing to talk to people who are still in this game because we are passionate about it. So many who do this for work burn out, and it is a rare few like me and you who still love it just as much as we did day 1 on the job at the LFS as teenagers.

I'll be following.
Houston, TX
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My apologies, I thought this was in the general forum.

My apologies Actinic Atoll. This is the format Josh and I agreed on but I told him I would only engage in conversation here and there. I'm raising three kids and running a business so I have to be careful how much time I am spending here besides writing. I'd love to help everyone and answer questions but it just isn't feasible often.

Check out Ecotech's new peristaltic pump, the Versa. It's bad ass and can continuous dose like the Kamoer but costs much less and runs in the new Mobius platform. The Carbondoser.com regulator is absolutley the way to go for metering out CO2.

Take care and please follow along if you like what I am putting out.

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