Meet the Staff

Reef eScape is about more than just aquariums - it's also about passion and love for the hobby, that wondrous moment of seeing a successful aquarium in action, that first moment that you witness a new behavior in your tank, and most of all, the people behind all of this who share your feelings!  At Reef eScape, people come first so we'd love to introduce ourselves to you!

Phil Owner and President

Phil's previous career was as a business consultant and an IT security professional in addition to roles in sales and marketing. Seeking something more personal and personally fulfilling, Phil’s hobby of aquarium keeping eventually led him to enter the industry itself as a service aquarist and provider. He has planned, installed, maintained, and managed hundreds of aquariums and tens of thousands of gallons of saltwater and freshwater in the greater D.C. Metropolitan area.

In 2006, Phil founded Reef eScape and has never looked back.  He planned, built, and moved into its current home in Fairfax City in 2009-2010 where the property has a 2,000 square-foot showroom and aquarium design center as well as a retail store that started at the suggestion of a staff member in 2014.  Since it's inception, Reef eScape has become the leading aquarium service provider in the area with sites stretching from the Central, Capital, and Southern Regions of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Northern Virginia where it makes its home on top of building a retail shop that draws customers from not only the entire region but also from abroad as well.

A constant diet of ponds, lobster tanks, freshwater tanks, multi-tank systems, live coral reef tanks, QT systems, large tank design and installation, and running a small business more keep him pretty busy but with the help and support of his wife Lucia and their two kids, Phil is proud to have built Reef eScape into the company know to be the D.C. area's premier aquatic services provider with the most professional, knowledgeable and dedicated staff around and is looking forward to the next stage in the growth of Reef eScape with a planned expansion for late 2020.

Favorite Fish
Black Tang, Zebrasoma rostratum

Dave 2

Favorite Invertebrate
Mimic Octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus

Dave Retail Manager

Dave comes to Reef eScape as a former Director at the Children's Science Center and at the National Aquarium Washington, DC as well as a former Fairfax County Public Schools Elementary Teacher and former State Prosecutor.  He currently balances his time between Reef eScape and as the Chairman of the Board and President of the Northern Virginia Aquarium, a project to build a public aquarium in Northern Virginia.  Dave is also a former board member of the Washington, DC Area Marine Aquarist Society where he helped to bring MACNA 2015 to the DC area as well as established many of the programs that are currently still being used in the club today.  His passion for the aquarium hobby started when he was a young child with his first aquariums being full of not just store bought animals but also those that he collected in and around his childhood stomping grounds.  His hobby has grown into a way of life for him as his systems range from simple low-tech planted systems with fairly typical stocking lists to fresh and marine species tanks ranging from South American Lungfish and and Pipa pipa toads to Sharks and Octopuses as well as a myriad of other animals that can be responsibly kept in captivity.  Dave's background brings a new educational focus to Reef eScape's growing business as well as some new outlooks on business and growth.  When not at work, Dave still enjoys being underwater as an avid scuba diver as well as being on top of frozen water as a hockey addict, playing on anywhere from 3-4 teams at any given moment of the year.  Dave also coaches soccer in the area for his son's team after spending the past 14 years coaching multiple soccer teams for his other children ranging from house league to travel.  When not busy with sports or hobbies, Dave enjoys relaxing and spending time with his family, often times dragging them into one of his many hobbies.

Chad Livestock and Dry Goods Manager

Chad spent the first part of his career as an environmental scientist studying freshwater ecosystems all over Florida and the Southeastern United States. After moving to Northern Virginia he decided to apply his knowledge of water chemistry and enthusiasm for ecological systems to the saltwater aquarium hobby. He is in charge of ordering and stocking the dry goods and equipment for Reef eScape, as well as helping maintain service customers tanks. He loves to share his experience with people new to the hobby and to help find the perfect fish, coral, or piece of gear for your system and has rapidly become a customer favorite to work with!


Favorite Fish
Yellow Coris Wrasse, Halichoeres chrysus


Favorite Fish
Great Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna mokarran

Lizzie Service Aquarist

Started working at reef escape in 2017. Lizzie graduated from Old Dominion University with a bachelors degree in marine biology. Lizzie helps prepare and maintain everything needed for service techs to go out and service aquariums daily. Lizzie also is a full time service tech and helps maintain aquariums in the Virginia, Maryland, and DC metro area.  Among Lizzie's favorite animals are the Great Hammerhead Shark, the Yellow Boxfish, the Purple Gorgonian, and the Harlequin Shrimp.

Justin Service Aquarist

Justin joined Reefescape in 2017 as part of the Service Department. Justin has kept freshwater aquatic creatures, reptiles, amphibians and one dog. After graduating from DuVal High school Justin committed to looking after animals, training in Veterinary assistance and volunteering with the local Humane Society.

He enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy novels, music, hiking, swimming and drawing on various media.

Currently Justin is keeping a water dragon and an outside water feature with goldfish, koi and native wildlife.


Favorite Fish
Dojo/Weather Loach, Misgurnus anguillicaudatus


Favorite Fish
Coral Croucher Goby, Caracanthus maculatus

Anna Retail Staff

Anna is currently a student at University of Miami studying Marine Science and Biology and an aspiring ichthyologist. She has been working at Reef eScape since her junior year of high school and loves it. Her favorite fish is a Coral Croucher and her favorite coral is a Purple Torch! Anna looks forward to the opportunity to help you with anything from setting up a new tank to what you’re going to stock it with! 

Chris Book Keeper

Chris has been with Reef eScape since 2015.  She has been a bookkeeper for over thirty years, both in the corporate world and for small business, but has found that she prefers to work for small businesses that have more of a sense of family.  Chris has always been a furry animal lover and has learned to appreciate the beauty that can be found in an aquarium during her time here.  Although she moved out of state last year, she feels very fortunate to be able to continue to work for Reef eScape remotely.

Reef eScape Big Oval Logo

Favorite Fish
Lionfish, Pterois miles