Carlin Aquarium Systems Staff

Meet the staff at Carlin Aquarium Systems.

The staff at Carlin Aquarium Systems has more than 50 years of aquarium experience.  Our team eats, sleeps, lives aquariums.

Ben Carlin

Ben Carlin
Ben Carlin dives in the reef at Center in the Square

Ben Carlin is an aquarium professional with years of hobby, retail and maintenance experience. Ben started his first aquarium when he was 12 years old.  Three years later he was working in the aquarium section of a local pet store, helping customers through questions about fish care and health.  While still a senior in high school, Ben began working at Ultimate Aquariums, a Roanoke-based reef aquarium shop.  He gradually assumed more responsibility in the family-owned business as he worked his way through Radford University where he majored in Management and Marketing. During that time he managed store operations and maintained aquariums for homes and businesses in the Roanoke and New River Valleys as well as Smith Mountain Lake. Ben interned with Reef Aquaria Design of Florida, which builds and maintains aquariums of 400-2000 gallons for a lengthy client list. He also assisted in the construction and plumbing of the world’s largest privately owned jellyfish aquarium at the Coba Cocina Restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky.  Ben played an instrumental role in the building of the aquariums at Center in the Square in Roanoke.   Ben is the curator of the aquariums at Center, and the creator of Mountaincorals.org — a unique program that uses the pristine water in the massive reef aquarium to raise corals for sale to the public.  One hundred percent of the profits are returned to Center in the Square.

 John Carlin

John’s lifelong fascination with the aquarium hobby has grown into a business.  John is best known for his career in broadcasting.  He returned to WSLS -10 in July of 2013 after a five year career in Public relations.  Prior to his departure in 2008, he served as lead anchor and Managing Editor for WSLS for 21 years. John is a five time Emmy winner, and played a key role in the station’s Peabody Award winning coverage of the shootings at Virginia Tech. During his time in public relations, John proudly represented a number of clients in the aquarium sector including Reef Aquaria Design and Boyd Enterprises, GloFish, Piscene Energetics (PE Mysis)Xtreme Aquatic Foods and the Coral Restoration Foundation.  He is also the author of the Through the Glass blog  and the creator of Fincasters, the video arm of Carlin Aquarium Systems. which appears on this website. A fish geek at heart, John maintains four large aquariums at home, including planted and reef tanks.  John is Chairman of the Corporate board of YMCA of Roanoke Valley and past president of Saint Francis Service Dogs. He is also a board member and co-founder of the Blue Ridge Marathon – America’s Toughest Road Marathon. In his spare time John enjoys cycling (Click here for his Cycling blog), fishing, writing and photography.

Stephen Sinnes

Lead aquarist Stephen Sinnes
Stephen Sinnes is lead aquarist at Carlin Aquarium Systems
Stephen Sinnes' reef aquarium
Stephen maintains a beautiful aquarium
at home.

Stephen Sinnes is the lead aquarist at Carlin Aquarium Systems.  An avid reef keeper, Stephen is a graduate of Radford University with a degree in Geology.  Stephen can be found daily either maintaining the pristine conditions for Center in the Square’s 8,000 Gallon living reef,  sea horse display, jellyfish aquariums or the Predators of the Amazon exhibits.  Stephen also maintains smaller aquariums in our clients’ homes and businesses.

In his spare time Stephen enjoys, hiking, camping, running and anything else outdoors.

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A jellyfish floats in one of the aquariums maintained by Carlin Aquarium Systems at Center in the Square.