Meet The Keepers - Lindon
07 May 2020 15:28:02
As you can't meet them in person at the moment we are introducing you to some of our stars who work hard behind the scenes!
Lindon - Water Quality Expert
Hey Lindon! We hear you are a bit of a water quality expert; can you tell us why it is important to have good water quality?
Water quality is incredibly important when keeping underwater animals because it’s their entire world!
The way the biology of many underwater species work is that they rely upon the water around them to regulate their internal chemistry, unlike us humans who can regulate our own internal chemistry. For example, if the level of ammonia (a chemical in fish wee) builds up in the water too much, then the ammonia begins to build up in the body of the animal and can begin to overtake the presence of necessary chemicals, even forcing those necessary chemicals out.
How do you keep the water so clear?
We filter our water a lot! In lots of different ways, after all, for the water to be safe for the fish it has to be clean enough to drink, so no chlorine especially.
Most of our filtration falls into one of 3 classes of filtration: Mechanical Filtration, Biological Filtration and Chemical Filtration.
Mechanical filtration is the process of removing the physical particles out of the water, and this is achieved by putting the water through various media that catch particles of different size, this is where we catch out all the fish poo and food particles.
Biological filtration is the process of cultivating colonies of beneficial bacteria that actually feed on chemicals that can be harmful to our fish, turning those chemicals into things that are less harmful or in some cases beneficial to the growth of other organisms in the tank, like producing Nitrate for our underwater plants. The bacteria plays a very important role in keeping certain elements under control to achieve crystal clear water.
Lastly, Chemical filtration is the use of chemicals to keep our water clean, using things like activated carbon granules, in our filters to remove harmful chemicals that can’t be removed via our other forms of filtration. This is probably our least used form of filtration
Are there any creatures you work with that would rather the water be dirty?
There’s very few animals that like dirty water, a key one I work with currently is the flood plains mussels. Being a filter feeder these guys rely upon algae and other particles being in the water to be able to feed. This presents a challenge with both feeding them and having them be a good display animal at the same time, but we have developed a process in making sure their tank filtration is shut down for a small period of time allowing them to soak in a high density feed environment multiple times a week.
Do you have your own fish tank at home?
Not currently, I kept fish for many years and any aquarium keeper, professional or hobby based, will attest to getting carried away with too many tanks and running out of space, so for the time being I am behaving myself :P
How long have you worked at the aquarium?
About to come up on 3 years.
Do you have any other animal or related experience you can tell us about?
I have been around the industry for nearly 11 years now. I began working in a small retail aquarium here in Melbourne and worked my way into management. Because I loved it so much, I went and got my Marine Environment degree in Tasmania and proceeded to work in some seafood and aquaculture facilities before ending up back in Melbourne at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium. I also gained a chunk of my plumbing knowledge from the early days of a landscaping apprenticeship that I decided wasn’t for me.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I enjoy the problem solving aspect of it, particularly when it comes to the environmental aspects. Unlike a lot of my work mates I’m largely a chemistry nerd and get excited discussing and solving chemistry problems, particularly working through the problems to solve key issues that may be faced for specific species. I also have to mention working with people who have such similar interests, we’re all here because we love animals and there’s not many places where you can work and talk about fish waste and excretion with such enthusiasm.
Who is your favourite creature at the aquarium?
It would have to be a tie, I’ve worked closely with Leo our Leopard Shark and he is a lovely animal to work with and has come along leaps and bounds since I first started, really coming out of his shell and becoming very social.
The other group of animals is our Water Dragon colony, they arrived here at the same time that I started and I have been able to watch them grow and thrive under our care and they are such a characterful bunch each having their own personality.
What’s your best memory or experience working at SEA LIFE?
In late 2017 I got to work with “Terry”, a Green Sea Turtle who was rescued from Rye on the Mornington Peninsula. I got to take a lead role in his care when he arrived, working closely with our vet, we managed to get Terry back to a fit and fighting form before he was deemed fit enough for release in March 2018. In that time watching the little guy grow from a skinny little fella to a behemoth of shell and attitude was something I’m very grateful to be a part of and will never forget.