If you love tropical fish, then finding quality livestock for your aquarium is important. Most pet stores buy their fish from wholesalers, who get their fish and other animals from fish farms around the world. The world of a wholesale fish dealer is fascinating, and in very large scale.
Years ago, I knew one such wholesale dealer. Tropical Fish Distributors, Inc. is located on Lloyd Road in Willowick, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland.) It was founded by Joseph Lora, and carries a wide variety of both fresh and marine fish, as well as reptiles, amphibians and corals. It is more fascinating than a zoo, and all the creatures are well cared for. They are fed, medicated if sick and looked over constantly, for signs of stress or illness by the owner, his resident marine biologist and staff. Walking down aisle after aisle of huge aquariums, it is fun to see the different breeds and sizes of their fish.
Many years ago, Joseph Lora, Sr. started his fish business in the basement of his house. There were aquariums everywhere, and after awhile, demand grew for his fish. He then moved into a bigger location, and it just kept growing. Due to Joe’s brilliant salesmanship, dedication to his customers and quality service, that little basement business rapidly grew into a large, multiple warehouse building where it is today.
What exactly does a wholesaler do? Retail stores buy livestock from the wholesaler, who then delivers the merchandise to them. Most stores have a regular delivery schedule, or will call for an extra delivery if something special is needed. Fish and other livestock are packaged safely in thick, styrofoam containers for the trip to the store. Once they are received by the store owner, the bags of fish are floated in the tanks that they will be released into, to get them acclimated to the water temperature. Then, they are released into the tank, and are there for you to purchase. Avid aquarium enthousiasts welcome “fish day” because they can go see what the latest arrivals look like.
When the large pet superstores came into existence, their presence somewhat hurt private wholesalers’ and pet stores’ businesses, but the hardiest establishments, like TFD, survived. Loyal customers of private pet shops keep the more personal fish businesses thriving. Fishkeeping is a labor of love, because there is emphasis on making sure the fish are healthy and well fed, as well as keeping the customers happy and well supplied. The people I met at Tropical Fish Distributors are extremely passionate about what they do, and take pride in providing quality fish, turtles, lizards and snakes to aquarium and pet stores all over the United States. The creatures are shipped out on a frequent basis, to get them in good homes as quickly as possible.
The world of the tropical fish distributor is a fascinating one, if you love marine biology. When you see different tropical fish in pet stores, realize that many of them came from very far away, with the help of a chain of people (truckers, stockers, clerks, biologists and others) who made sure the fish arrive to you in healthy condition. For example, Bettas (Fighting Fish) come from Asia and have to be transported in individual bags, to keep them from fighting with one another. They cannot be put together once at the warehouse, so they are kept each in their own individual cup, that must be cleaned frequently. There is a lot more work to raising and selling fish than meets the eye. Enjoy your goldfish, cichlids, angelfish and marine corals as you realize that it took a lot of miles traveled, and manpower to bring them to your home aquarium by people who truly do care.