Ken Feldman

Bio Topic - Saturday September 4 @ 3 pm

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 in a plunge into the marine aquarium hobby, and today he is the 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) to elucidate the molecular mechanism by which these biological properties are manifest.

Waste Not, Want Not: The Story of Dissolved Organic Carbon in the Reef Aquarium

Organic Carbon (Total Organic Carbon, TOC and Dissolved Organic Carbon, DOC) has been called "the soil of the sea" for its foundational role in the marine food web. It likely serves a similar function in reef aquaria, but in excess can become problematic; speculation that high TOC levels can overdrive bacterial growth and lead to coral mortality has been offered (Rohwer, 2006). Consequently, a means for DOC export has become paramount for successful aquarium husbandry. Both protein skimming and Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) play a major role in this necessary maintenance function. A discussion of acceptable levels of DOC in marine aquaria will follow. The development of quantitative assays for measuring both protein skimmer performance and GAC performance in removing TOC, as illustrated in the graph below, will be described. Skimmate chemical composition analysis will offer some surprise answers to the question, "What is a skimmer actually removing from aquarium water?" Finally, data bearing on the relationship between marine water TOC levels and water column bacteria populations for a variety of aquarium and authentic reef water habitats will be presented.