Q As one of the original Fish Mart employees, how would you describe the company’s history since 1974?
A I’ve seen many changes in the last 44 years. Fish Mart was a start-up when I was hired as a college student needing a job—and actually the first wholesale tropical fish distributor located in the Northeast. Although the tanks were individually filtered, by and large it wasn’t really adequate for wholesale volume by today’s knowledge and standards, and testing for pH, ammonia, etc., was not the norm.
We are light years away from that now, and for some time, with recirculating aquatic life support systems complete with mechanical filtration; fluidized beds for biological filtration; ultraviolet lights to kill free-swimming pathogens, ozone for water clarity and to destroy toxins; and de-gassers for increasing dissolved oxygen levels. Unlike decades ago, today’s exporters use state-of-the art packing techniques to ensure live and healthy arrival of fish. The entire supply chain is extremely dedicated to the proper care of fish and all pets.
Q What have been the recent trends among the various types of animals Fish Mart offers the pet industry?
A We have seen increased demand for just about all the small mammals—hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets, chinchillas, mice and rats. The demand at times is more than the current supply chain can provide. Weather is a factor, as both heat and cold affect breeding—mice are already starting to be in short supply, as the heat of this summer has slowed production. The demand for all these companion pets will increase steadily now through the holidays and through the winter. Breeders do their best and gear up months in advance to increase production in order to have enough supply. Small bird sales, especially parakeets, have also increased significantly. Aquatic sales are stable, and we are already starting to see the usual seasonal uptick as school is back in session. This increase in aquatic demand, like with the companion animals and birds, will continue throughout the winter months as people stay indoors more and have more time to enjoy their aquariums.
Q How does your role as board chair of PIJAC impact Fish Mart?
A I am so fortunate to have a great team at Fish Mart, who handle the daily operations so very well. This allows me time to dedicate to PIJAC, which I am just as passionate about as I am Fish Mart! My managers are also a great resource on some of the issues we deal with at PIJAC, from being subject matter experts on some of the legislative and regulatory issues we face, as well as on best practices in animal care. I do my best to keep as many on our team informed on PIJAC matters as possible. Additionally, the sales team regularly updates their customers on issues and seeks their involvement in PIJAC, and many of our staff also respond to the PIJAC Alerts for action, calling or writing to legislators and regulators.
Q How would you describe Fish Mart’s relationship with retailers?
A We are grateful to have very good relationships with the retailers we service. Our customers know they can count on us for quality aquatics and companion pets, friendly and knowledgeable sales reps and drivers, and a management team that’s always available for any questions or issues. They also rely on us to be a conduit for information on legislative and regulatory issues, whether in their own state or more globally.
Q What makes having a pond with koi so enjoyable to you?
A My goldfish pond is my go-to piece of heaven. Adjacent to my deck, it has a lovely waterfall, with a Buddha perched on the top rock formations, so it’s very Zen—peaceful and relaxing. I just love to watch the goldfish and koi swim around between all the plants; it’s almost meditative. Because the back of my yard is wetlands, my pond attracts bullfrogs, some of whom live there year-round. Some years I even have baby tadpoles and baby goldfish.