By: Thomas R. Reich PhD, Ichthyologist
Thomas R. Reich PhD Ichthyologist says “No journey into the world of Florida Ponds and their uses could possibly be complete until we discover where all those fish we see in our local pet store come from”
“We were given a rare opportunity to video the tropical fish production facilities at Ekkwell Water Life Resources in Plant City just outside Tampa, Florida.” Said Dr. Reich Ekkwell is the oldest active tropical fish farm in Florida and the center of American tropical fish production.
Since its founding in 1962, Ekkwell has expanded to be the world’s largest grower and shipper of freshwater tropical fish, globally distributing over 100 tons of livestock cargo monthly, making live tropical fish the #1 item shipping air freight at Tampa’s International Airport.
“This is a very private family business, employing over 60 of the top professionals in agriculture production and pet industry distribution specialists.” Dr. Reich remarked “many things we were exposed to are trade secrets, and have never been seen outside the gates of this vast complex, we thank the Hennessey Family for their generosity in sharing these intriguing sights!
Owner of Ekkwell, Jack Hennessey is very proud that Ekkwell Water life Resources has been awarded over 275 professional and Pet Industry awards, including, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year, US Chamber of Commerce Blue Chip Enterprise Award, US Chamber of Commerce Florida Small Business of the Year, and the US Commissioner of Agriculture Environmental Leadership Award, to name a few.
There are many types of breeding methods used in commercial fish farms and very specialized methods and equipment used to produce the millions of fry needed to supply the never ending demand for high quality, healthy tropical fish for the home aquarium.
“The job of the farm is far from over when the eggs hatch, months of work and years of experience and expertise combine to develop the tropical aquarium fish that will eventually be shipped and sold in retailers around the world to eager hobbyists” Explained Dr. Reich.
Many of the babies are moved into the biologically rich outdoor ponds, which can be used to rear the young fish just about year round here in South Florida. After 8 weeks to almost 6 months, depending on the fish species, they are “harvested” through a process known as raking, which is done by hand with 2 men and a special “raking Net”.
Up to hundreds of thousands of fish are harvested out of each of the 450 ponds in staggered intervals. “The fish are then collected and put in special vats on a custom truck and transported back to the indoor facility’s acclamation vats, the first step on their long journey to your local pet store!” Dr. Reich shared
Dr. Thomas R. Reich PhD is one of the few scholars of Ichthyology that specializes in Freshwater Aquarium Fish, their care, breeding and upkeep. If you have any questions about freshwater aquariums, do not hesitate to ask Dr. Reich through this website.