Interview of Ali Akil from Euro Corals
RN : Hello Ali, nice to meet you. So you’re the owner of Euro Corals. Could you please introduce yourself for our readers?
Ali : Hi, my name is Ali Akil, borned in Colombia Latino America and I’m 36 years old. My name comes from my Lebanese parents that moved to Colombia in the past.
RN : When did you get into the aquarium hobby and especially the coral culture?
Ali : When I was a little kid, I was always interested in animals and pets. I catched a small fish in a river and I wanted to keep him. Next day the fish was dead, but I wanted to know why. Then I started to ask and read, untill I managed to keep fish alive. All of this was done without any equipment, everything was homemade. As many of the aquarists I started my first professional freshwater tank when I was 15 years old. Then I visited a public aquarium and I saw my first reef aquarium. I did not pay attention to the corals, I thought they were rocks at first; I was more interested in the colourfull fishes but when I looked closely to the rock work, I saw the most wonderfull living creatures that changed my life for ever. I didn’t imagine in that time that anyone could have a salt water aquarium. I was wrong; there were books, clubs, and many aquarists. So I started as many of you with my first small saltwater aquarium with only fish.
Then snails started to be interesting, then anemones, then soft corals, then LPS, then I found myself planning my big reef aquarium tank because the small one will not have space for the SPS. When I knew all what was the belief of all aquarists and what was written in the books, something triggered my curiosity, I wanted to know why? And why not? So I made of my tank my laboratory and started to test everything, read in forums, see other issues and doing many many mistakes. Aquarists in that time called them “mistakes”, I called them “experience”. The more “mistakes” I made, the more experience I gained.
Just when I thought I knew it all came the pests. I started also to study each one of them. That was my obsession; I did not want any pest going in my tank. I even designed a dip for corals that we now use it in our coral farm with little modifications to it. We call it the long dip, it’s a 3 hours’ dip that comes before the normal 5 minutes Coral RX dip. Then my interest moved to coloring up corals and then decided to make from it my business. So, Akil Aqua Farms was born in Venezuela.
My dream was always to be something like WWC, RRC and Jason Fox with my own signature coral frags.
RN : How you’ve decided to start Euro Corals and when?
Ali : Well, we did not start with Euro Corals, as mentioned before, all started in Venezuela. We started making aquariums for customers, then we started importing products and corals. It was called Akil Aqua Farms. So, I had many tanks to study and learn. I gain more experience solving more and more issues for our customers.
Before Akil Aqua Farms, I was an apparel wholesale while I was studying web design, that was my job. To be honest never liked it and if you think about it, we spend the majority of our time working. I didn’t want to spend my life doing something I don’t like. So I started my reef aquarium business in Venezuela. After a few years I met my wife Rima. She is German and we were living normally in Venezuela untill I was kidnaped for one day! And it was my second time! After the one in Colombia for 4 month 18 days in the Colombian mountains. Having a daughter makes you think first about her, so we decided to move to a better and secure place. A place where maybe I can fulfill my dream of becoming a well-known aquarist, so we came to Germany.
The problem I faced here in Germany was the language and it was really hard for me, but I am learning. So, my best choice was what I know, coral farming and reef aquarium experience, web designer and photography knowledge. Combine them and you will have an online coral farm business. That was how Euro Corals was born!
My dream was always to be something like WWC, RRC and Jason Fox with my own signature coral frags and Germany is perfect place for that to start in Europe. Not too many to compete with really. Few do what we do.
RN : Few years ago you’ve passed through a disaster at your facility, what happened?
Ali : A big flood destroyed our city caused by prolonged heavy rain in southern Germany’s Bavaria state, at least five people were killed and many lost their jobs and homes. Our coral farm was destroyed as many other things in our city and we had to start again. When I saw the coral farm the first day, I thought that this is the end of my dream. Next day everyone came to help, we did not know anyone of them and all were helping. Young people cleaning and taking outs all the stuff that the water bought with it. Old people bringing food and water. I was really surprised to see people how I never saw before helping each other. In fact, I did not start cleaning my shop, I started cleaning the other shops and until the turn of my store came. We had an insurance and the German government helped a lot. So we had a second chance and we rebuilt again our store.
I would like to thank everyone that came to help in us in though hard days, the German government and the Red Cross. We would not be here if it weren’t for all of you. Thank you all!
RN : Had you got some backup frags of some of your signature corals?
Ali : No, all was dead and destroyed. We had to start again.
RN : Have you decided to rebuild it as you first build your installation or you’ve decided to rethink the installation?
Ali : We used the same method so almost everything was the same. What changed is the positions of the tanks and size. Light, filtration, skimmers, pumps etc. were all the same but new.
RN : How many times did it last to rebuild everything and to sell the first frag?
Ali : From June 1st 2016 we started to rebuild and we sold our first corals on November 24, 2017.
RN : I’ve seen few days ago you’ve released your first signature coral, could you tell us more about it?
Ali : As I mentioned before, we want to be something like WWC, RRC and Jason Fox in Europe. We believe that Acroporas can change to reversible or irreversible color and form, depending on the conditions of the aquarium where they are grown in. Our work in Euro Corals is to shift chromoprotein coloration to irreversible state, at least we try too. For example, we received the EC Bonfire Acro Red/pink. After a month it turned to an ugly green color. Then we started stimulating the shift and it turned from green to green base and orange body with red/pink tips. Some corals change and stay green, other show a very unique coloration. We produce them to look different and then we get to name them. Usually we first search to see if there is already a name. If not, we name them as we want.
Some people don’t like it and they say to name them using scientific names, but imagine naming a “Walt Disney Acro” with “Tenuis” with a 199€ price for a frag. I can assure you that we will receive thousands of emails asking if it’s a Walt Disney or not. Also naming them like that helps as identify more a coral. If someone call asking for a tenuis that he saw in the online shop, only god will know which tenuis. Using the nicknames that we add, not only will let us know which coral he is asking for, but also the place where we have our Walt Disney for fast packing in our tanks.
Our corals will keep their colors 90% of the time in a natural spectrum light and 99% of the times in bluer spectrum.
Some people say we use names to boost sale, that is not true at all. People start to judge when the never had a coral shop before. When you produce Signature corals, they will take a lot of space. A space that will be occupied with many frags and mother colonies that need, light, water movement, elements to grow, food etc. and unlike other coral distributes, were the new corals need that space for a maximum of one or 2 weeks, our signature corals need months occupying the same place. A colony occupies less space than when you frag it. We work mostly with frags, this means a lot of space for same species will be occupied. This means no other coral will come and go from this specific space. Which means more light, flow, elements, food, etc. will be used for producing one single signature acro. Especially light, we use 10 x 80W T5 bulbs + LEDs as supplements, the electric bills are high. Also, finding rare corals is expensive. No supplier will give you rare corals that he hardly finds cheap. They give them to coral farms that can pay more for them.
Yes, I am an Acropora addict. They are the only corals that can really surprise you with their color shifting and grows
People need to understand that creating signature corals is not the same as being a coral distributer. Coral distributers don’t really care if your new coral will stay like the image showed to you. In fact, they offer it fast and sale it faster so that you can see it change colour god know to what. This is the difference, we give them time and we have a say here in Euro Corals “ask the coral if he wants to take a picture”. Our corals will keep their colors 90% of the time in a natural spectrum light and 99% of the times in bluer spectrum.
RN : Your goal with Euro Corals is to make high end corals right? Continue to develop signature corals too?
Ali : Yes, our goal is to have available rare signature corals like in USA to the European market. We are not there yet, still there is more work to do but we have done a good job till now, in this short time after the flood.
We use color calibration tools and specialized equipment to take and edit pictures as close as possible to the original coral color. We believe that we are the only coral farm using this type of new technology and we try our very best to show you the right colors in our online shop using it. Euro Corals V2 (after the flood incident) no longer rely on the human eye to edit images of corals in order to reduce human errors.
Special tools, hardware and software are used to edit our images to show the correct color of the coral under 12000K-14000K. For the best experience, you need to have your screen properly calibrated! Keep in mind that if you place a coral under or above 12000K-14000K, the color may look different. This Feature comes to you after a long research and hard work, a combination of specialized hardware, programming abilities and photography knowledge by the developers of Euro Corals. Don’t forget that you have 100% satisfaction guarantee with Euro Corals and it’s our priority.
RN : How do you define a coral as a signature one?
Ali : When we name or when we find the name of the coral. If it is a rare one, we make sure it has EC (Euro Corals) starting on the name. Most of our signature corals and corals that reached the pick in coloration and deserve to be announced. We have announced some of them that still needed time, but colorful enough to show them.
RN : After speaking a little with you we can deduce you’re an Acropora addict could you tell us what’s your favorite?
Ali : Yes, I am an Acropora addict. They are the only corals that can really surprise you with their color shifting and grows. Any acro that is not only green is my favorite coral.
RN : And what’s your favorite coral except acropora?
Ali : My favorite coral except Acros mmm… I would say Zoanthids. I like to see them glow under actinics.
RN : What’s your plan for the future?
Ali : We are developing a new way to propagate incrusting and other corals like Zoanthus. In theory is a way to produce this type of corals faster. Rare Zoas and incrusting corals will soon be produced faster in our facility. Also we will as well include dry goods, inverts and fish in the future to our online shop with loyal discount account for customers that reached specific condition. We are also preparing a system especially for Tridacnas. They will be aquacultured and we will raise them here to be more resistant and adaptive to closed averments. Also, we will grow our LPS stock with corals that will not be fragged like scolymia and so on.
RN : Got a few words for our readers?
Ali : We have tried methods and equipment out there, we strongly advice to keep it simple and only use products when you face an issue. Many new beginners want the best for their tanks, sometimes the best will make you feel good but will not really change anything. We use a skimmer, core 7 from Triton, ICP tests from Triton (we like the experience and they are the most experienced in this field.), add elements if needed using the results of the ICP test and bluer spectrum light. That is, it! All you need to do next is to make sure your parameters are stable, good water flow (more important than light) and good light.
I know that you all like to use always the new stuff in the market. An example is the LEDs. I will not say if they are good or bad, but I will say that in my years in this hobby, I never saw corals die from something more than using LEDs. Most of them are errors from setting or programing the lamp. We receive many LED lamps a month to try, till now we haven’t found one that works, or to say it better, we haven’t found one that can color up acros as easy as T5s or Metal Halide. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not impossible, but it’s surely not easy at all. Better stick to what is proven to work, T5 with Blue and royal blue LEDs as supplement are the best choice! You will not find a better light. But if you decide to go with only LEDs my advice is to use a well-known brand like Ecotech Radions or AI Hydra. Why? Because you will find a setting easily online from someone that is having success with them. I would only advice to add 2 T5s in each side and reduce the % a little. You will be impressed on how the T5s can help, especially if they are Blue + from ATI or KZ supper blue.
We are here to stay and we will always do our best to offer you the next level in coral farming. Thank you for reading and Happy Reefing!
Source : Euro Corals