New website launched for saltwater aquarium hobbyistsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Saltwater Smarts, a website created for marine aquarium hobbyists of all skill levels, was launched April 25 by two local entrepreneurs, Chris Aldrich and Jeff Kurtz.
With the mission of promoting education, accessibility and sustainability of the saltwater aquarium hobby, Aldrich and Kurtz are striving to provide an informative, interactive and inspirational environment that will help hobbyists make the most of their aquarium-keeping experience.
“We’re focused on educating aquarists to promote the long-term sustainability of the hobby,” Aldrich said.
Keeping saltwater aquariums is a robust hobby throughout the world, including the Toledo area, which supports three saltwater fish stores: The Coral Reef in Perrysburg, Tropical Reef in Holland and Trilby Tropical in Toledo.
Aldrich and Kurtz said they already have people worldwide visiting their blog. The Midwest is the epicenter for saltwater hobbyists in the U.S., as it seems the farther one lives from the ocean, the bigger the hobby gets.
“The Web is the perfect place for hobbyists to come together. We’re building a community to educate saltwater hobbyists and we’ll see where it takes us,” Aldrich said about their self-funded business venture.
“It’s the perfect starting point for communicating to hobbyists,” said Steve Kear, owner of My Daily Grind coffee shop in Perrysburg, who has been a saltwater hobbyist for more than 40 years.
Kear keeps a 220-gallon saltwater aquarium in the coffee shop. He said he has the aquarium at his place of business because he spends 10-12 hours a day there.
“A lot of the other sites have a condescending attitude that scares people away. We wanted to create a friendly environment for saltwater hobbyists. Novices can come to our site and put together a saltwater aquarium,” Kurtz said.
Many freshwater aquarium hobbyists are afraid to get involved with saltwater because they think it’s too complicated, according to the partners.
“If you can do freshwater then you can do saltwater,” Aldrich said.
“All the chemistry and principles are the same. It’s not cheap but it’s not insanely expensive to get involved in a saltwater hobby,” Kurtz said.
A 30-gallon tank is a good starter for people just getting involved in saltwater, according to Kurtz.
“However, bigger is better for saltwater tanks for the stability of the environment,” he said.
Aldrich and Kurtz have been involved in saltwater hobbies for more than 20 years. They met through the Toledo Reef Aquarium Club in 2012.
They soon started talking about creating a friendly website for saltwater hobbyists. The seasoned hobbyists are avid scuba divers who have experienced the saltwater environment firsthand.
“We truly care about the saltwater hobby but also about the natural environment,” said Aldrich, who is also involved in a live rock project in the Florida Keys.
Aldrich, a website developer, designed the website. Kurtz focuses on the content with his editorial background as senior consulting editor for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine and editor of Healthy Living News.
They began promoting the site in January, creating Facebook and Twitter pages to begin building their own saltwater community. They also held a pre-launch contest and awarded a gift card for aquarium supplies to the winner, Holly Thomas.
Susan Santillo, owner of Coral Reef, said she thinks the site will be good for aquarium hobbyists and their retail business. The saltwater store was established in Toledo in 1995 and has operated from its current location since 2009.
Aldrich and Kurtz said they have a lot of ideas for activities on the blog and for expansion of the website. They said they will welcome input from bloggers.
Anyone interested in saltwater aquariums is invited to visit www.saltwatersmarts.com.