A monthly series about the staff and volunteers that care for all of the animals living at the Tennessee Aquarium. You can tweet your questions to us at @TNAquarium using the hashtag #QTheKeeper.
Name: Peter Larson
Title: Aquarist II
In charge of: Invertebrates in the Quarantine Room, Jellies Living Art (upside down jellies and moon jellies) and Boneless Beauties, breeding cuttlefish, training new octopi and culturing coral.
Peter Larson began working as a husbandry volunteer at the Tennessee Aquarium in 2005 just after the Ocean Journey building opened. By 2007, he was a full time aquarist.
An average work day for Peter begins a little after 7:00 am, harvesting the day's food for the Jellies Living Art exhibit. (This process involves collecting brine shrimp from a special system, refilling salt water in that tank and adding new brine shrimp eggs for the next day’s food supply.) Next he drops into Boneless Beauties. As soon as the exhibit lights come on, Peter checks the tank systems in his care, and performs any needed maintenance like scrubbing or vacuuming a tank.
|Peter Larson vacuuming the upside down jelly tank|
After that, Peter heads to the live coral exhibit – which has been in his care from the beginning. He logged several hours plumbing it together and constructing the rock work with the help of several fellow aquarists. Now maintaining the tank is part of his daily routine. Peter says that this particular tank can seem like a lot of work but, “spending a little time on it each day saves a lot of work later and the life forms within stay healthier.”
Check out Peter in our YouTube video about the live coral exhibit:
At about 10 am, Pete makes his way down to the Quarantine room. He manages several marine systems within the “Q room” - most of which house animals that will eventually end up in Boneless Beauties after a routine quarantine period. Other tanks contain some of Peter’s special projects such as basket stars, young cuttlefish, and food for both. You can visit the “Q room” and see some of the creatures Peter cares for behind the scenes on the Aquarium’s River Journey Backstage Pass tour.
The rest of Peter’s day is typically spent performing any needed maintenance on back up tanks, feeding animals in his care and helping other aquarists when time permits. He also enjoys doing maintenance dives in exhibits and giving the occasional dive show.
Got a question for Peter? Tweet it to us at @TNAquarium with hashtag #QTheKeeper.