• Justin is the American
  • designer whose
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  • elevates custom
  • aquarium installations
  • to a new aesthetic.

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Are Lookdowns From Hell?

  • March 27, 2008
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  • Posted By Justin @ 6:45 PM

Lookdowns (Selene vomer), are members of the Carangidae family. The word Selene, being derived from a lunar deity in Greek mythology, gives these fish their common name "Moonfish". Like most members of this family, they are found in large schools. This particular fish is found throughout the tropical Atlantic.

This animal is not my first fish of choice for my clients. These Silver Surfers come with a multitude of issues and I do not recommend keeping this fish if you are not an advanced aquarist. I have about 20 years experience with this species, and as a general rule I stay away from purchasing these animals. I have tried them in some large tanks with better success. We did a large school of Lookdowns at the Ship Wreck Tavern here in New York, and they needed constant attention.

Most hobbyists or people do not understand how to collect or handle scaleless fish. You must not touch a net to these animals. Net collection or mishandling of these fishes often leads to death. I have many dealers and collectors for this Jack, most of them are out of the Florida Keys. These Jacks are line caught most often and given special care when transported.
Lookdowns do not ship well and a long acclimation period is suggested. When we receive these fish they have to go into quarantine. Scaleless fish are sensitive to most medications. Quinine, one of the best medications used to treat copper resistant saltwater ick, will kill these animals. Like most scaleless fish, Lookdowns tend to be ick magnets so keep a close eye out for this parasite. Another disease this fish seems to attract is Brookynella. The skin turns white and comes right off their bodies. A nasty looking disease, but treatable.

These fish are also very nervous creatures. Sudden movements, sounds or vibrations can send them racing into the sides of the tank. I do recommend cylinders for these fish or if you place them in rectangular tanks, bull nosed ends is the best option. If they are going into a small home aquarium I would suggest placing only a few small individuals in the tank.
You will not have any problems feeding these animals, they love to eat. We feed them mainly silversides. They often need to be fed live feeders to trigger their feeding responses initially.

There are several members of the Carangidae family better suited for the aquarium. Trevallys Blue Runners, and other Jacks we have had better success with. Lookdowns still are the best looking and most silvery in my opinion, but you are better off schooling a fish like the Blue Runner.



Al Vinjamur Photography

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  • Posted By Justin @ 11:30 AM

Al has been a long term client here in New York City. Once a very successful Hedgefunder, Al has now embraced his real passion.... Wildlife Photography. Ever since I have known him he has always had the fancy cameras and now he has put them into use. Vinjamur has been fascinated with sharks, so much so that he wanted to move to the burbs so he could build a million dollar shark tank. We came pretty close to that at one point. He has been diving and photographing these amazing creatures for the past 10 years now. 

His work with the Katmai Bears, the Lemon Sharks, and the Polar Bears shows the versatility of his work. I am always drawn to his aquatic photographs, but I am down with the land and air animals. I was happy to see the American Bald Eagles back in such large numbers. Al is leaving for Botswana and South Africa in Aril 2008 to photograph Leopards and other wildlife. 



Multiple Custom Aquarium Installations; Zurich North America

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  • Posted By Justin @ 10:33 AM

Zurich North America engaged City Aquarium to design and fabricate multiple installations for their East 17th Street location. The first tank to be completed was the 3rd floor or executive floor aquarium. The aquarium is museum acrylic construction, marine grade life support, and the sculptural motif is live rock. I usually never design FOWLR (fish only with live rock) systems for service clients. The reason being is inevitably one or some of the fish will get sick. Power outages, chiller failures, mechanical failures, and other problems arise that can destabilize the system. Disease is very difficult to treat in reef tanks and FOWLR systems. I have added fish very slowly to this now stable tank. The life support is basically a reef system design which helps us maintain the tanks stability. We are also using almost 200 watts of ultraviolet sterilization and some serious ozone. The tank is now home to a very active French Angel, a Maculosus Angel, a fat Mappa Puffer, and a Japanese Kidako Moray.

The fish are also treated in Nitrofurizone Green for almost 30 days before they are delivered. Furizone Green destroys most external pathogens, bacterial, and fungal infections. It is my medication of choice during the quarantine process.



White Reef Insert

  • March 26, 2008
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  • Posted By Justin @ 4:48 PM

The white reef insert is one of my signature designs. White inserts are both minimal and modern and are often requested by my clients in New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles . Often we do cream, tan, or dark brown tones on the tips and fringes of the corals. The base reef has been done in off white washes.  When my clients aesthetic is modern, and their color pallet is earthy tones of browns and whites, I often create these inserts. I have done variations of this insert in dark brown, and black satin. The insert pictured here is nearly completed and is going to a residence on Central Park West, New York City. We developed this insert as a habitat for seahorses. We booted several SPS and LPS corals into the base reef which will be used as hitching posts for the Pot Bellied Seahorse (native to Australia, a cold water species).

Many hobbyists ask if I am crazy placing these white inserts in my tanks, but they can be done successfully. The insert itself is clear coated several times, this prevents the algae from rooting and makes cleaning easy. Most of these inserts are made to be removed for annual cleaning. Also, Mexican Turbo Snails are our friends. We do use theses amazing little cleaners to clean our inserts, and this is why I do not want to close our borders with Mexico!