Welcome to Stith Aquatics, your online authority for livestock, supplies, help and advice!
This is not your ordinary family business, it is a family passion!
Welcome to Stith Aquatics! I would like to tell about my family's passion which includes just about everything that lives in the water. If it is possible to be genetically predisposed to loving aquatic life and aquariums then it is definitely in the Stith genome. My name is Bob and I am the father of four devoted aquarists. I have always had a love for animals, especially those that live in the water, and my Mother did indulge me by letting me have a couple of red eared turtles. Then she gave in and let me have a 10 gallon aquarium where I raised guppies and sword tails. My cousin was also into aquariums and he gave me a 20 gallon tank. At ten years old, I felt like someone had just given me a Corvette. After moving to a new house in my teens I got away from fish keeping until that fateful day at a county fair where I won a single gold fish and a small fish bowl. Since that time my family grew to 3 sons and 1 daughter and that single fish bowl grew to over 55 aquariums of all shapes and sizes. That single goldfish morphed into 6 different species of crawfish, several different species of anabantoids (Bettas and Gouramies), 4 different species of catfish, 4 different species of goodeids, guppies, endlers, platties, assorted snails, fresh water shrimp, turtles, frogs, and even a Dog-faced puffer named Rover.
Now, that is a lot of water critters but that is not just me, you need to meet my kids:
Robert: has always been into Cichlids and has always had multiple aquariums going at any one time, even when he was in college and now that he is settled down and married, my daughter-in-law, Jen, has been sucked into the family passion. She had a turtle, who my daughter, Jessica, still has, named Rocky and has recently help start a juvenile African Cichlid tank with my son. One of his favorite fish is the Frontosa.
Jessica: has 3 fairly large red eared turtles, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Rocky, and several feeder fish that the turtle gang has evidently grown fond of and has refused to eat. Jessica has had these guys for a lot of years and has moved them and their 46 gallon bow front tank several times when she was changing schools.
Michael: has his pet Oscar and yes, his name is Oscar. Oscar lives in a 70 gallon tank all alone because he views the rest of the world as his dinner, even his owner.
Christopher: has a passion for crayfish and for live bearers of any species. Chris, from age 3 when his favorite birthday present was the 4 plastic fish that were on his birthday cake, would probably be classified as the biggest fish fan of all. I am waiting for him to grow gills. Chris wasn't just satisfied with fresh water, he expanded into brackish, then salt water and right now, his favorite fish is Rover (a Dog-faced puffer). Watching him and Rover interact is amazing; I believe that fish would wag his tail if he could when Chris gets near him.
Now, last but certainly not least, is my sweet wife Bonnie who has put up with multiple aquariums in the house, the sound of bubbles in our bedroom for years and has never complained and has probably wondered many times what she has gotten herself into.
When you get right down to it, the Stith family is made up of a bunch of "fish nuts" and it becomes very apparent when you walk through our houses. Our fish have become part of our family and most have been named and the older fish (our fish usually live a long time) have survived moves from Texas, to Georgia, to Virginia. I will do an article on the do's and don'ts of how to move tropical fish at a later time. I will say that this is the time you can really test the strength of your marriage, if it can survive a multiple state move involving 50+ fish, including two 12-inch Pacus (Pac and Coo) and a 12-inch Channel Catfish (Channel), plus 2 small kids and two dogs.
Well that is who we are, now let me tell you why we are in business.
The origins of the concept for Stith Aquatics really grew out of what we saw as a negative consequence on the health and well being of tropical fish as a result of the rise of the big box pet stores. I need to give you just a little family history to give some perspective on what I have seen. I am retired military and my family and I have moved around quite a bit and one of the first things we do when moving to a new town is to find the local tropical fish store, usually before we would find a place to live. In the past, it wasn't too hard to find these stores. The next step was to narrow down the list using the following criteria:
- Did the store owner really care for the individual fish? (Remember, clean fish are happy fish)
- Staff's knowledge of fish keeping
- Selection and variety of fish
You notice cost was not factored in there and that was not because I was loaded with cash, which I wasn't, remember I was in the military with 4 kids who moved around a lot. I was more interested in finding a place where I could buy healthy fish. A store that really cares about their fish will have nice clean tanks, no overcrowding, no floaters in the tank, no obviously sick fish in a tank, may have a hospital tank set up, and will not sell a pair of Pacus (my favorite fish by the way) to the parents for a 10 year old to put in the brand spanking new 10 gallon aquarium setup that is in their shopping cart.
Every place i have been we were able to find a couple of aquarium stores that were outstanding but as the years went by, the rise of the major pet chains placed more and more pressure on these mom and pop fish stores to the point where they are almost gone. The last straw for me and my family was when we moved to Leesburg, Virginia. Just like any other move, we found 2 really good fish stores, both privately owned. The larger of the 2 stores disappeared first. This was a great store with a great selection of tropical fish, all were healthy, the staff and owner were extremely knowledgeable on the whole spectrum of care, feeding, habitat, water quality, fish nutrition, and fish diseases. A big chain pet store made an offer to the store owner that the owner could not refuse. Within a couple of months, this wonderful store was gone. Just about two years ago, the last privately owned tropical fish store closed, the owner was unable to compete with the big chain stores and the last nail in the coffin was the owner of the shopping center raising his rent--poof he was gone. Though the staff at these big box stores are usually very nice, it is very unusual to really find one of them that really know anything about rearing fish. It is not uncommon to see floaters, to see unsuspecting new aquarist in the process of buying incompatible fish, or buying way too many fish for a new aquarium. One story that stands out was the starving Dog-faced puffer Chris and I saw at one of the stores. We asked the staff, there were two in the vicinity, what they were feeding it, the response was shrimp pellets. We let them know that they should be feeding him myacin shrimp.
So with all that, my sons and I decided that we would open an on-line business to offer healthy fish, live food, and from time to time other products that we use ourselves and that we believe in, not a load of merchandise that we got a good deal on. Of course we will always be available to pass on any knowledge that we have and any best practice that we come across in the fish keeping hobby.
Currently we are in the process of building up the website and all of the mechanics involved in that. We are also working on our inventory of crayfish. Please hang in there and keep an eye on our site, we hope to be up and running in a month or so. If you have any questions you can click on our contact tab and send us a note and we will send you back an answer or advice.
Happy Fish Keeping,