Slither on over, and if you’re lucky, you may hear Kevin Kohen talk about the Snake Blenny, a very uncommon fish often mistaken for an eel or a sea snake, with fangs on its inner cheeks! During his appearance at the Aquatic Experience, Kevin who is a leading authority on the tropical fish industry will be speaking on Unusual Fishes for Reef Aquaria.
Kevin’s experience runs deep, beginning with his first freshwater aquarium at the tender age of six. During his talk, his expertise can inform you about unusual fishes such as the Captive Bred Maze Angelfish, the ORA Picasso Percula Clownfish, or the Canary Damselfish, a bright yellow, delicate looking saltwater or reef aquarium fish with big eyes.
Kevin, the Director of Doctors Foster and Smith Live Aquaria.com, is regarded as a leading industry authority on marine fish husbandry, as well as the identification, handling, acclimation, and shipping of aquarium animals. His goal always is to improve the health and well being of corals and marine animals, while being environmentally responsible.
“There is a huge increase in pressure on the trade and extraction of marine animals,” he said. He advocates and teaches sustainability and fish husbandry, and advises you to “go slow, and temper your enthusiasm with education.”
A major proponent of education, Kevin’s best advice is for you to learn all about plants, corals and animals. “I recommend purchasing corals and fish from responsible suppliersand by asking how and where they come from and when they were imported or procured from regional aquaculture sources.”
Along with full accountability and traceability, Kevin advises you to “ask about responsible harvesting and find out if there is community support, because we humans need to strike a balance when it comes to captive bred and harvested sourced animals and plants.”
Along with learning about the plants, corals and animals, Kevin also strongly recommends that you also understand the food, water, and aquarium temperature and stability, as well as the growth of plants and animals and fish compatibility. “It’s up to you to be personally responsible, so don’t make impulse purchases. It’s important to do research on marine husbandry,” he explained.
To his delight, Kevin notes that more people are getting into reef keeping. “It’s a hobby that is relatively inexpensive to get into and it’s getting much easier with all-in-one technology. The lighting, filtration and availability of responsibly harvested and captive bred marine life is affordable,” he said.
Speaking about the benefits of owning a tank, Kevin believes it can lower your blood pressure while producing a calming effect, although he also acknowledges that keeping an aquarium is not easy.
“It’s challenging to replicate a mini ecosystem, but it’s a rewarding hobby. It gives you an opportunity to keep learning every day because there are always new techniques, new technologies. Also, observing and understanding the behavior of the fish and aquatic life is both fascinating and rewarding.”
Kevin knows all about the challenges and the rewards of reef-keeping and the breeding of fish, as he has bred and reared nearly 100 species of fresh and saltwater fish. A pioneer, in the early 1980’s, he was one of only a few individuals in the United Sates to sustain live corals in captivity.
He will also tell you his favorites are the Small Polyp Stony Corals (SPS) as well as the Non-Photosynthetic (NPS) corals, and filter feeding invertebrates. A visit to Kevin’s office at Doctors Foster and Smith in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, reveals a flourishing SPS reef aquarium dominated by a thriving Acropora corals, as well as an exotic and color-infused NPS aquarium.
Ask him to tell you about his most recent accomplishment where he paired and spawned several batches of eggs from the singular McCulloch’s clownfish (Amphiprion mccullochi) at the LiveAquaria.com facility. Kevin can boast that he is the first person in the United States to have performed this unique endeavor.