Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Kids know science is cool

Sometimes I try to think of something philosophical to say when I start out one of my posts.  I know this is a symptom of watching too much Anthony Bourdain from Parts Unknown.  He'll be at a street market in someplace like Thailand, and talking about the facts of life.  I'm sitting at my desk with an awesome case of writer's block, eating street food about two days old, and thinking about what is important in life.

Son and I enjoying boiling river at Yellowstone National Park

Then the answer hits me like a ton of bricks.  It's like I've been wanting to write about this from the very beginning.  It is very important to me that kids work hard to get a great education.  I want them to learn that science is fun and liberating.  Apogee loves to have kids come over and see how we operate.  It's not uncommon for Boy Scouts to take a tour and spend multiple hours playing with our instruments.  We are allowed to bring our own kids and let them learn.

My son is learning how to recalibrate an old sensor

I have an amazing boy that loves anything electronics.  You ask him what he wants to be, and he'll tell you that he wants to become an electrical engineer.  Engineers are his Tom Bradys.  Those are his heroes.  I brought my son to the office and showed him how to recalibrate some sensors, and how to fix others.  New worlds opened up for him.  After that,  I got to show him how these instruments can be incorporated into our world. 

My son plugging in sensors to be tested
Then I brought him over and let him use our infrared radiometer meter.  He loved how you could just point at anything and find out the temperature for any given surface in our office.  I explained to him about how the wires, sensor, and meter come together to allow him to take the temperature of different things.  I explained to him how we can see the temperature of snowy mountains to tell if there could be avalanche danger.  Science became that much cooler because he realized the practicality of our instruments.

My son seeing the temperature of a plant

He loved measuring the temperature of different plants

If you know anything about me, you know that I love the water and animals.  My boy has not shown a lot of interest in animals until recently.  They aren't as entertaining as electronics.  I want my kids to be future scuba buddies, though, so  I try to use my reef tank to get him interested in scuba diving and animals.  I let him use our quantum sensors to test around the tank to see what the light is at any given time.  He loved it.

I had him adjust the light levels for our aquarium to see how PAR changed

I told him how the corals and plants depend on the right kind of light getting to them.  I told him how our quantum sensors measure only within that light spectrum.  He started to become interested in the animals.

He's learning how science helps plants and corals grow

What really made his day is that he fixed up a sensor and got to see how his hard work paid off.  He could go around the tank and make measurements.  He knew the meter he fixed would help his dad keep his corals and plants healthy.   He knew the value of the measurements.  Animals were cool.  Apogee was cool.  Science was cool.

He's super stocked that a sensor he helped fix was used to measure Daddy's aquarium

My son learning to swim so that he can become a future scuba diver

Friday, October 20, 2017

 I'm enjoying the leaves blowing off the trees from my window.  Fall is a great time of year.  It's a time for hot soup, hikes,last minute camping, and mapping my aquarium for PAR.

Taking a picture on a Friday out your window may seem weird.  But when you dive with sharks and climb, people just go along with it

My family, we always love good scary movies in October.  Watching my kids at the scary store collect all of the scary babies because they want to make them feel better from their scars.  Wife and I enjoy more seeing the leaves change colors and fall from the trees.  It's beautiful to see nature change.
My kid had a stare off over who would become Alpha.  She will be a great leader. 

Nature outside isn't the only thing that has been changing.  The corals have been growing.  The sea anemone has gotten quite large.  Down below you can see a zoanthid that has grown from its pedestal.  They are slowly spreading across the aquarium.

Lone polyp.  Had to move the colony because the sea anemone was growing too fast and was stinging them.
How big the green anemone has grown compared to the red where its size used to be

I've had a lot of success with the corals because I knew where to put them that the light would benefit them the most.  
Using a MQ-510 to map my aquarium with some Montiporas

It didn't take too long to be able to map the aquarium.  I was able to put the corals where they would best survive.

Our Mapped Aquarium's numbers
From time to time I have to go to our local aquarium to get inspiration on the best ways to make our corals and plants look great.  I often bring my two best researchers.

My boy trying to make a wolf eel face next to a wolf eel.

Daughter trying to figure out how a sea turtle can sleep like that

I'm working more and more to get my corals to look a lot like this.  I just wanted to say again, that although I sell PAR meters that are used by aquarium experts, I am still relatively new to the hobby.  I appreciate any advice anyone reading this can give me.  

Me diving with a shark at St. Maarten and enjoying the reef

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

As part of my job interview when applying at Apogee, I mentioned I knew about their PAR meters from my experience running saltwater tanks on my own. After landing the job, imagine my excitement when I learned they had been thinking of starting a tank for some time to gain experience and do research on reef-keeping, and my experience running a tank had helped me get the job. Apogee has been a respected expert in precision agricultural and renewable energy for years, but has recently taken real notice of the coral aquarium industry, as more and more customers discover the value of measuring PAR in their tanks. They asked if I could start a tank at our headquarters where we could research different lighting, refine our best practices, and simply add something cool to look at. I jumped at the chance, and I started this blog to document the process. I am, by no means, an expert in coral aquariums, but I do have a solid basic knowledge. And since I have been running the tank at Apogee for the last couple months, I have already learned a lot more. If you are following my blog and have suggestions or can offer any tips, I would love it. My goal in running the aquarium at Apogee is to help us as a company give even better support of our incredible customers in the hobby. 

Our sea anemone growing up

First of all, I'd like to share a little background on what attracted me to reefkeeping.  As I take a look at my desk at Apogee, I have a wood carving of a Great White Shark, and in its jaws are a line that bait used to be on till a real Great White bit the line.  My picture frame shows pictures of me diving with Manta Rays.  I've always been interested in the ocean.  Listening to tales of my mom as a child about Jacques Cousteau.  It opened up endless possibilities of what you could do.

Clown fish couldn't decide over the hammer coral or the anemone

 I wanted to learn everything about the ocean.  One of my favorite movies was Jaws.  I even rooted for Bruce.  Living in Utah, there wasn't a coast for 12 hours.  Finally saw the Oregon Coast, and the ocean was everything that I dreamed of.  I was hooked from then on.

When the 55-gallon tank was starting up

I first decided to bring the ocean to Utah.  I tried freshwater tanks till I learned the basics of aquariums.  I had gotten a freshwater eel, that could also go into saltwater.  I found out it was better to try saltwater for him.  I tried my first fish only saltwater aquarium.  Started with the basics of clown fish, and damsels.  Then I had to put more  fish in.

The nano tank that started it all

I went so long, and had to try my first predator tank with trigger fish, and a lion fish.  They did not disappoint.  Eventually, I had to take the tank down cause one of my kids kept trying to climb in the tank.  I went four years without a saltwater aquarium.  It was a long, saltless four years.

Our firefish swimming by

Apogee is the perfect fit for me.    I found out about their quantum sensors that tell you if your plants, corals, and sea anemones are getting enough PAR.  When I tried corals for the first time, I used a sea anemone.  Where it would go told me the light, and current was good enough.  I would then put my soft corals there.  It was met with mixed success.  PAR sensor was a much better way.

That tang would eventually eat the caulerpa, good thing we grow it in the other tank

Apogee decided that we are going to start up our own saltwater aquarium.  To say I was excited, would be a major understatement.  It's like saying the Patriots aren't the best team in the NFL.  I was new to trying out corals.  We did a 28-gallon nano tank.  We put in some chromis, sea anemone, and zoanthids.  The sea anemone grew like a weed, and needed a new tank.  I just so happened to have a 55-gallon tank sitting at home.

We were over excited about our new Bluetooth quantum sensor

After four long years, the 55-gallon tank would be used again.  We added the live sand, and live rock.  We got clown fish, banggai cardinals, tang, and a lawn mower blenny as fish.  We still have our big bubble tip sea anemone.  Corals we now have the original zoanthids, candy cane coral(doesn't taste how it sounds), brain corals(named one Pinky), hammer coral, and a birds nest.  They have been a lot of fun.
Picture above I had hair, no longer the case.  After 4 months' time the guy above caused me to lose all the hair.

Knowing where to put the corals has been my biggest challenge.  Some need low light, and some need tons of light.  I use a MQ-510.  I know where my corals need to be placed for light.  They are now growing.  Some are popping out new heads.  My sea anemone can retire, and stay in its correct spot off the go.  Some corals I relocate them to where there is less light.  I can't tell very well with my eyes where the best light is.  PAR meter let me know where to put them.

Hammer coral, montiporas, brain, and other corals.  They grow up so fast.

Diving between two continents.  I have to have some scuba photos in a blog.

If you are curious, we use Kessil A360W-E Tuna Blue LED aquarium lights, Reef Octopus Classic 1000 Hang-on-Back Protein Skimmer, Koralia powerheads, and Aqueon hang on the back filters.  We also use about 60 pounds of live rock and caulerpa to help filter the water.  We are also thinking of using red mangrove trees.  In the future, we will add our sensors throughout the aquarium.

Me placing the corals in the right place with a MQ-510

We are not coral or fish experts, but we love the learning process.  I also wanted to say we are the light experts.  When it comes to taking care of fish or corals, it's best to talk to a local pet store, online forums, or going to sites like http://animal-world.com/Aquarium-Coral-Reefs/Open-Brain-Coral .Any suggestions that you have would be greatly appreciated.  Also, what corals and fish are your favorites?

Coraline algae is trying to take over

Diving a geothermal chimney where they say life originated in Iceland

Monday, September 18, 2017

Danny's Bio(actually autobiography)

I graduated from one of the best schools in the world, Utah State University. I graduated with a degree in International Business from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. I always loved business, and had the opportunity there to travel around Asia. I found out about Apogee, and I had to join them as their International Business and Technical Support Specialist. Apogee sells sensors that help the environment and sensors for measuring the light that keeps plants and corals alive.

Picture 1: Tanks being used to test our quantum sensors

I come from a second generation of diving. My mom being the first to start diving. There I learned a love for the ocean. Living in Utah, there aren’t a lot of options for diving, so I’ve done a lot of traveling. I’ve been able to dive with manta rays, icebergs, Great White Sharks,and see a geothermal chimney teaming with life. 

Picture 2: Wife mad at me for a fish giving me a smooch

I can’t wait to get my kids diving. As the saying goes, a family that dives together, thrives together.

Picture 3: Son wanting to play with daddy after a dive

Picture 4: Coolest diving in the world, plus iceberg ice is the only way to cool down your Mountain Dew

 After time, the call of the ocean becomes strong. That’s why I started my first aquarium in 2010. I used a sea anemone that told me where the good light and current was at and would put my other corals. Apogee takes the guess work out of where the best lighting for the corals is at. It made my life a lot better, and was able to maintain beautiful aquariums.

Picture 5:  Found the Titanic, or the Saganaga, in Newfoundland, Canada

Picture 6:  Diving with a Great White Shark.

When I’m not diving, working for the best company in the world, or tinkering with the aquariums, I love to bike, rock climb, and hike. I’m also a fan of fantasy novels, and have a husky and chameleon at home, and think the only way of roasting marshmallows is over lava.

Picture 7: It really is the best way to roast a marshmallow; how would a steak taste?

Picture 8: Apogee’s first saltwater tank