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Q & A with Magnificent Aquariums’ Bryan Ehlers

Bryan Ehlers is the founder and president of Magnificent Aquariums, the company responsible for maintaining The Seagate Hotel & Spa’s fascinating fish tanks. A professional marine aquarist, Bryan’s extensive import and export knowledge of tropical marine fish and their simulated habitats qualifies him as the project manager for all five of The Seagate’s award-winning aquariums. After observing Bryan and his team hard at work on a regular basis, we had some questions to ask him about his crucial role on property.

 

How often do you tend to The Seagate’s fish tanks for feeding and cleaning?

On average, we tend to the tanks three times a week.

Is there a set schedule for each tank or do you just stop by regularly to check on them?

We clean and service the tanks every Monday and Thursday, with other random visits for feeding the sharks. We clean the shark tank on the first Monday of every month, which entails emptying 80% of the water to properly clean the fan coral.

Which aquariums require the most maintenance?

The Atlantic Grille’s 2,500-gallon shark tank is the most time-consuming because of the number of sharks to feed and the food required, followed by the large reef tank in the main lobby.

What are the different types of food requirements for each tank?

The blacktip shark eats whole frozen fish and krill, which are small crustaceans. The other sharks eat mostly krill and squid, while the eels get whole fish and the lionfish eat krill. The marine life in the main lobby’s reef tank get mysis shrimp and the jellyfish eat live brine shrimp.

Of the marine life in the aquariums, are there any “originals”? If so, which ones have been around since day one?

The lobby reef aquarium has mostly originals. Many of the green chromis fish, clownfish, and cardinal fish have been in the tank since day one. The red carpet anemone, perhaps the most rare of the anemones, is also an original. Two of the huge clams have been there since the original installation, as have most of the corals, which are now huge. Many of the corals are still breeding and new ones are sprouting up in several places.

How do you determine the right fish to inhabit the different underwater ecosystems?

We determine which species will work—and which ones will not survive—through years of education and experience. I have been to over 36 countries collecting many kinds of fish and know the requirements for keeping them healthy.

Do you typically source wildlife that is native to Florida?

Most of the tanks have no native Florida species, as corals from Florida are not legal. Many of the corals have been tank raised and are farmed. All others are from Fiji, Australia, Indonesia, and Tonga.

Where do you source the sharks and the larger, more exotic marine life? 

The sharks are from Sri Lanka (blacktip), California (Japanese leopard and horn shark), and Indonesia (marbled cat shark). The rays came from Indonesia.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while maintaining the tanks?

So far, the greatest challenge was getting the shark tank moved to its current location without breaking it. Also, removing the eels in front of guests without getting bitten was a little nerve-racking.

As Delray Beach’s only luxury boutique hotel, The Seagate’s proximity to the ocean and its tropical allure extend throughout the property, with five aquariums featuring over 80 species of marine life. The Seagate Hotel’s stunning aquariums were recently selected by ShermansTravel and featured in The Huffington Post as some of world’s finest on-property hotel aquariums. The new, 2,500-gallon shark tank adds to the hotel’s existing collection of popular aquariums, including a 1,750-gallon lobby aquarium with vibrant reef fish, a 750-gallon aquarium with wild lionfish and porcupine puffer fish, a 550-gallon grand-hall aquarium with moray eels, and a 450-gallon aquarium of tranquil moon jellyfish. For more information or reservations, call 877-577-3243 or visit www.theseagatehotel.com.

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