Hi, this is David from Aquatic Arts™!
When I was a kid, I could almost always be found knee deep in a river, creek, or pond (at least between the months of March and October, anyway). I always had an aquarium even when times were tough, and it always contained an array of animals native to the Midwest. I never grew out of my fascination with aquatic life, and that eventually led me to do what I do now. After spending more time than I should have in college (I started at 13 and changed majors 3 times), I had a several other jobs and a few very small business ventures. My heart was never really in any of them. Everyone tells you to do what you love, but what if what you love is catching fish, "crawdads", and turtles so you can build and observe an aquatic world for them? Unfortunately, "aquarium enthusiast" isn't really something you can list on your resume (unless you're applying to work at Aquatic Arts!). So, I finally settled with a job at UPS as a bulk package handler. My plan was to become a UPS feeder (semi truck) driver and work 55-60 hours per week until retirement because the pay was good. However, life had other plans for me.
In the winter of 2012-2013, I found out that I had a degenerative spinal condition. At that point, I was 22, and the prospect of being in a wheelchair by the time I was 40 was terrifying. It was becoming harder and harder to deal with the pain that my work at UPS caused me, and my doctors told me I was dramatically accelerating my condition by lifting heavy objects for a living. I had no real choice but to quit, and was left unemployed. After being forced to quit my job at UPS due to the illness, I tried working a couple desk jobs to pay the bills. I didn't see going on disability or other entitlement programs as an option because I knew I had something to offer to the world. Finally, somewhat by accident, I started a side "business" by selling Red Cherry Shrimp on eBay. I had a 55 gallon tank full of Red Cherry Shrimp that I had bred as a hobbyist, a pile of bills, no money, and no other ideas. I didn't want to sell my Cherry Shrimp (even though I had about 1,000 of them), but it was my only idea to make ends meet. I figured that if the person who sold me my first 20 Cherry Shrimp was selling them on eBay, I could do the same. I already had quite a bit of experience with eCommerce from other ventures. Surprisingly, my shrimp sold extremely well and my customers kept coming back for more. I got my bills caught up, and then, for the first time in years, I even had some extra money. At that point I lived in a tiny apartment of about 300 square feet with my 80lb dog and three cats, but I still somehow managed to keep a 55 and 30 gallon aquarium within it. After having a surprising amount of success selling the Red Cherry Shrimp I raised, I started breeding Neon Yellow Shrimp in the 30 gallon tank.
2 years later (2015), Aquatic Arts™ had grown from me and those two aquariums into a company employing 7 people and housing thousands of animals and aquarium plants across over 100 holding tanks. That's when I wrote the original version of this page, and at the time, it was unbelievable to me it had gone that far. It's been 4 years since then, and as I write this now, Aquatic Arts is one of the largest retail aquatics companies in the world. We employ 28 people, sell a huge range of aquatic fauna and flora that has grown far beyond our nano-fauna focus, and are actively developing our own brand for high-quality aquarium equipment, foods, and additives. We serve thousands of customers per week, the majority of them being repeat customers. We have shipped millions of aquatic creatures of all shapes and sizes. Our weekly newsletter is read by tens of thousands of customers every week, and myself and our staff have written or contributed to numerous industry articles and given talks on a variety of subjects.
At this point, I have to say I didn't do it all myself. Crystal (my wonderful partner in life) left her career to work for the company for over a year without pay, and none of this would have happened without her. Matt, Josh, and Preston have been with the company since almost the beginning, and I still don't know why they agreed to work in a brand new, extremely chaotic company running out of my small basement. With all of their help, I've had and still have a job doing what I love, and I get to work every day with my best friends. I am continually surprised that what I do is even a real possibility for me, and we all work hard to make sure people come back again and again. After all, you can't have much of a business without loyal customers, right? If you are a past, present, or future customer, you have my sincere thanks for giving me my dream job, and supporting the jobs of (at the time of this writing) 27 other people as well. Aquatic Arts™ wouldn't exist without people like you, and that is something that we never forget.
For more information about the benefits of buying your aquarium stock from Aquatic Arts™, please see our Why Buy From Us page.
For more information about our 100% Live Arrival Guarantee, please see our Live Arrival Guarantee page.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I appreciate you giving us a chance for the first time or coming back to us again for your aquarium needs. Aquariums are our life, and you will not find anyone else as dedicated as we are.
Owner/Director, Aquatic Arts™