My Other Life with Yolanda Johnson-Moton

PM360 recently spoke to Yolanda Johnson-Moton, MBA, Director – External Relations, U.S. Medical Division, Lilly USA, about bringing the ocean into her home.


PM360: How did you get started with recreating the ocean through saltwater aquariums?

I was always fascinated with water. As a teen and throughout my twenties, I loved going to lakes and oceans. Waterskiing was a great past-time and I started to study oceanology. I realized that there was a captivating life beneath the sea. I became intrigued by the dynamic colors, living organisms, and landscapes. In 2002, I was ready to take the plunge to recreate the ocean through saltwater aquariums. After multiple attempts, and crashing three tanks, I finally realized the importance of slowing down and taking my time to introduce these inhabitants that typically live into the ocean to tank life.

How many aquariums do you have?

Currently, I only have one active tank that it is primarily dedicated to coral reef life: Great rock formations, with colorful corals ranging from soft coral trees and mushrooms, to button polyps, xenia, and leathers. The sea life has a language all its own. Coral tanks are not conducive to a lot of fish species as they will eat and destroy the corals. You must be extremely careful and research the compatibility of the fish you place in the tank as this can be a deadly and expensive hobby. Saltwater tanks are ecosystems that must maintain a steady state. One imbalance can destroy the tank—they require frequent water changes and are somewhat high maintenance.

What kinds of aquatic life do you have?

I stock the aquarium with corals that are easily maintainable, and I love clown fish, angels, and tangs. Be careful of blennies—these cute fish start off nice and small, but before you know it they take on the shape and behaviors of an eel and wreak havoc in your tank as they like to burrow under the sand. I had three and after a few years, I had to give them back to the pet store.

I also currently have a platinum clown that is a rarer find. Sea urchins are really cool. They are these little spiny creatures that move around the tank—and of course you cannot forget the shrimp, snails, and crabs. They are essential to keeping the tank clean by eating algae and other waste. I have a disc anemone. They are fun because they will move all around the tank, but beware: They pack a nice sting if you touch them. My favorite, however, is the Pufferfish. This species is full of personality and spunk and uses inflation tactics to thwart predators.

Do you have any future plans in terms of your current or future aquariums?

Since I have maintained multiple aquariums in the past, I am currently looking into a custom-built acrylic 90 gallon circular tank. A Christmas present to myself. Stay tuned.


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