Jules Jacobs is moral, sells coral


The average fourth grade male is most interested in video games and sports, according to a survey by Forbes.com. But by the time senior Jules Jacobs had reached fourth grade, it was obvious that he was far from average. Though he did participate in both lacrosse and gaming, Jacobs found a hobby most fourth graders don’t even know exist: coral growing.
In his home, Jacobs has a 120-gallon freshwater tank that holds 21 species of coral representing eight genus. The tank is also home to several species of rare deepwater fish, including a pair of Japanese watanabe angels, a borbonius anthias, a lineatus wrasse, mystery wrasse and a lawnmower blenny. There are also seven mangrove trees in the tank along with various snails, crabs, shrimp and zoa/ phytoplankton.
Jacobs was not always into coral. Since his toddler years, he has been interested in fish tanks and had one of his own. In second grade, Jacobs decided to take it to a new level and buy and breed a tank of seahorses. The environment these seahorses’ need to survive involves a specific type of soft coral and low lighting, so he looked into it and bought some coral for the tank. He then realized his interest in coral, but could not get into other types because of the seahorses’ specific needs. When he went on vacation in seventh grade, his heater broke on the tank so all of the seahorses died, allowing him to open up to all different kinds of coral. “I had always wanted to get into coral but couldn’t due to the differences in the needs of the coral and the seahorses,” Jacobs said. “So when they died it was the perfect opportunity to really get into the harder coral.”
Owning and maintaining a reef of that capacity is no small job, as there are many factors that go into the maintenance of coral. Coral grows by keeping it in a happy, stable environment. It feeds on the nutrients in the water, which is provided by several different factors like the fish in the tank and the lighting and temperature of the water. To keep the coral growing, Jacobs puts lots of time and effort into it.  “I’ll do a weekly water change that’ll take around four hours, which includes changing the water, cleaning the sand bed, cleaning off the algae, optimizing the filtration system, fragging corals, testing chemical levels,” Jacobs said. “Then once a month I do a huge overhaul of the filtration system where I’ll clean out the protein skimmers and check all of the tubing, then I’ll medicate the fish with garlic. Saltwater parasites hate garlic in fish blood and will leave fish alone if they have it in their system. All of that is probably a six hour day.”
Along with cleaning, the way in which a grower sets up a tank is a job in itself, and is called aquascaping. Aquascaping includes several different styles such as a lagoon style or island style, involves different amounts of materials in the tank to be considered in each category. “It’s actually an art within itself,” Jacobs said.  “People draw different ideas for aquascapes from different reefs all around the world.”
Reef keeping is a lucrative business as well. A coral fragment, known as a frag in the coral growing world, is a small piece of coral cut off from a colony. The frags range in price, coming in anywhere between $10 and $3500 for a one-inch piece, depending on the quality. “The reefing community takes care of its own, and there’s a lot of trading that goes on,” Jacobs said. “Sometimes I’ll have a colony that’s doing really well and needs a trim so I’ll trade a friend who wants a piece of colony and they’ll give me a piece of something I don’t have in my tank yet.”
Jacobs has spent the majority of his life in the coral business, and is pleased with how it has treated him. “It gets really stressful but looking at the tank and the ecosystem you create is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done,” Jacobs said. “I mean you’re literally growing a coral reef. It’s pretty sick.”
Another organization that Jacobs takes part in is the ItsOnUs initiative. The organization, created by Vice President Joe Biden, focuses on comating sexual assaul;t on college and high school campuses. As a part of the organization, Jacobs is aiming to bring the initiative to the school, and also does work within the organization. He was able to get in a video by collosal video making company Funny or Die.
As for bringing the initiative to the school, he is hosting a Signing Day. At the event, he will invite all students, and particularly student athletes, to sign a pledge to take action against sexual assault. The event will be on Nov. 3 at 6:30 pm at the school stadium.


Charlie Eichberg