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 start Aquatic Arts. After spending more time than I should have in college (I started at 13 and changed majors 3 times), I had several other jobs and a few 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 barely 20, 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 with few options to do something I really cared about. After being forced to quit my job at UPS due to the spinal disease, I tried working a couple desk jobs to pay the bills. I was an insurance agent for a while, and broke several sales records with Shelter Insurance. That didn't work for me because I was getting paid hourly despite drastically outselling the agent I worked for. Then I sold T-Mobile business lines, but quit because I found out the office I was working for (not an official T-Mobile dealer) was basically lying to customers about their "unlimited" data plans. I started feeling like all of the potential I knew I had was slowly wasting away without something I truly cared about to pour my heart and soul into, something I know many people who will read this can identify with. 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, and too many past-due bills. I didn't really 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. After all, I had been an e-commerce merchant since I was 13 to help pay my own tuition. As it turns out, "dropping out" of 7th grade and going to college instead makes it really hard to get scholarships since scholarships were all based on high school performance at the time, but that's another story. Surprisingly, my e-commerce experience and passion for aquariums drove my shrimp to sell 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. Those aquariums were the beginning of Aquatic Arts. After having a surprising amount of success selling those Red Cherry Shrimp, 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 is now 2021, and as I write this now, Aquatic Arts is one of the largest retail aquatics companies in the world. We employ dozens of people, sell a huge range of aquatic fauna and flora that has grown far beyond our original 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 vast majority of them being repeat customers. We have shipped millions and millions of aquatic creatures of all shapes and sizes to customers all over the United States. 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. By the end of this year (2021), we will have relocated to our new 4-acre warehouse complex, which will give us a permanent home in nearly 10x the space we currently occupy, with room to build more space as needed. This will allow us to run THOUSANDS of holding tanks and expand into every corner of the hobby, including a full range of saltwater items. It will also allow us to open a truly massive retail aquarium store in our hometown of Indianapolis, IN. Because our internet selection will surpass all of our competitors (by far) by the time our local store opens, the Aquatic Arts brick-and-mortar retail store will draw on this vast inventory to offer a selection much larger than any other aquarium store worldwide, and a truly innovative customer experience like no other. We can't wait to unveil this new aquarium complex to the world later this year! We are also working on a a huge hobbyist-centric project that we can't talk about publicly just yet, but I can say at this point that it will be a game-changer for the aquarium industry within the United States and elsewhere. We plan for Aquatic Arts to be the undisputed leader of the aquarium industry by the end of this year, all while remaining individually owned and operated and having no ties or obligations to major corporations.
At this point, I have to say I didn't do it all myself. Not even close. 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 and extremely chaotic company running out of my small basement in the poorest and most violent zip code in Indiana. With their help and the priceless contributions of many others, we've made ourselves jobs doing what we love, and we get to work every day with our best friends. I am continually surprised that what I do is even a real possibility for me and everyone else involved, 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 our sincere thanks for giving us our dream jobs, and supporting the jobs (which start at $15/hour, no minimum wage here!) of many other people as well. Aquatic Arts™ wouldn't exist without you, our customer. That is something that we will never forget. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making this dream of ours a reality, and being the reason why Aquatic Arts is possible!
--- 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.
- David B.
Owner and Director of Business Development