Segrest Farms’ Marine Guru Alan Luken discusses the Reef Aquarium Hobby and Conservation

Dr. Roy Yanong on Pet Life Radio

The marine aquarium and reef hobby continue to gain interest, as marine conservation concerns also increase. My guest today is Alan Luken, head of corals and marine organisms at Segrest Farms, who leads efforts on both fronts. Join us, as Alan describes his journey on the high C’s- from Cincinnati and the Caribbean to Coastal Carolina and Corals at Segrest. ​


Alan Luken’s desire to be in the aquarium industry started at a young age. His youth was spent learning about the natural habitats of the animals he would quickly learn to love. From snorkeling all throughout The Bahamas and the Caribbean Sea, to becoming a SCUBA certified on his 13th birthday, he spent any time he had not reading and researching, by immersing himself in the environment. Although not an easy task for a kid in Cincinnati, Ohio, he was able to quickly turn his passion into a future.

Alan’s first and only job in Cincinnati came at the esteemed Monfort Aquarium and Pet Shop. All throughout high school Alan was under able to learn under the guidance of the resident experts. For 4 years, Alan spent day after day soaking in the information and wisdom being passed down to him.
Alan decided to make the big jump and committed to Coastal Carolina University to study marine science. Throughout his tenure at Coastal he was privileged to work along side some of the nation’s top scientists and researchers. His focuses throughout college were on marine invertebrates, marine plankton, and marine invasive species. Alan was able to do two undergraduate research projects at Coastal. The first was studying the affects of plastic on phytoplankton growth. His research went on to be used in projects used to determine effects of plastic throughout the marine food chain. His second undergraduate project, and one he presented at a Coastal Carolina scientific poster presentation, was on the Effects of invasive species Palaemon elegans and Gracilaria vermiculophylla in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts.

Along with his collegiate research projects, Alan was able to intern for The Newport Aquarium in Newport, KY, for two years during college. While interning at Newport, Alan was privileged to work with exhibits from 10 gallons to 100,000 gallons. As an intern Alan was able to care for a myriad of exhibits from the World Rivers exhibit, to the African Black Footed Penguins, to the 1000 gallon Reef Tank.

Throughout college, Alan was able to stay connected with Monfort and give any time he had while in Cincinnati. After graduating with his Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Science from Coastal, Alan spent a few months at Monfort, before deciding to turn his career a new direction. All in all, Alan spent 8 years learning the tricks and tools of the trade at Monfort.

Upon leaving Monfort, Alan spent a year at the Nashville Zoo as an Aquarist and Life Support Engineer. During his time in Nashville Alan led projects on phytoplankton and rotifer cultures, and a Gramma loreto breeding project.
While he cherished his time at Nashville, he could not escape the urge to return to the hobby side of the industry. In May of 2016, decided to make the move to work for Segrest Farms. Alan was quickly put into the position of Coral Buyer, a department he now oversees. In May of 2017 Alan was moved into the roll of Marine Project and Quality Overseer and is now responsible for the quality of the marine animals at Segrest. In September of 2017 he was asked to lead a project he created called the Coral Conservation Initiative, a Segrest backed project to help restore coral reefs around the world. Alan’s focus is, and always will be, giving back to an industry that has given him so much.