The Aquatic Life Support Systems at Fish Mart “Clearly” Better"
We think we’ve done a decent job of verbally extolling the virtues of these new systems over the last several months - and now we want you to really see them. For those on the far reaches of our service area, photos may have to suffice, but for those nearby, we extend a cordial invitation to come see and appreciate this latest technological advancement in livestock maintenance. Most significant are the comments from walk-in customers who regularly or on an occasional basis buy from us this way. Without exception, I think the first word out of every mouth is “WOW”! Unanimously, everyone is impressed and says so. Just the way these systems LOOK is phenomenal – the room housing most of the new systems is now suddenly bright and open. The fish are right at eye level, looking very healthy, and with their colors just popping out at you. The tanks are easier to pick from. And watching the filtration system at work is mesmerizing. With the advanced aquatic life support systems our holding capacity and fish quality have become even better! Always care and quality conscious, we’re seeing some dramatic improvements. We’ve done fish loss comparative analyses on every one of the fish types, from pre and post installation. The result is a statistically significant increase in the number of fish we keep healthy and happy. You’re encouraged to come on in and check these new systems out! The technology truly is state-of the-art, with application not only in our business but all of aquaculture. The other nemesis that plagued us (here more than at retail pet stores, generally) – humidity – is resolved. After months of research and discussions, we’ve installed 7 dehumidifiers located strategically throughout the warehouse. This has not only reduced maintenance work in our facility, but has provided us- and our walk-in customers- a more normal atmosphere and air quality that is far more pleasant to work in.
FACILITY UPGRADES at FISH MART August 2017
The past year has seen numerous projects here at Fish Mart, affecting nearly all aspects of our operations. This has given us the opportunity to continue to grow and service more retailers, while at the same time increasing efficiencies.
In October, we replaced three aquatic systems, all custom-made, with updated design and filtration. One system houses our marine invertebrates, and includes an algae scrubber to reduce algae in the individual aquariums. The other two systems house goldfish – one for domestically-produced fish, with the other for the imported goldfish (primarily China and Thailand). The goldfish systems, like most of our other systems, have fluidized filter beds in acrylic columns (for biological filtration), mechanical filtration foam fractionators (protein skimmers), degassers and UV sterilizers. We also replaced the filtration on one of the freshwater systems.
We also have built out and expanded the number of small mammals and birds rooms in our Annex building, and have included new staging and loading areas. All of our small mammal and bird rooms’ walls and ceilings are constructed with FRP boards (fiber-reinforced plastic), which are totally impervious to moisture and easy to clean and sanitize, and tiled floors. Each room has its own HVAC unit for heating and cooling, and negative air - which not only helps to remove any odor, but would also serve to isolate the room air in case of any type of outbreak. All rooms have their own large sink and storage cabinet as well. Another addition includes a large, fully-tiled power wash room, where all bird cages and other habitats can be deep-cleaned and sanitized.
In our main building (housing the aquatics), the warehouse office has been completely remodeled. There is also a room directly behind this office that houses the various supplies required for day-to-day operations.
Finally, a larger staff lounge has been created, with a full kitchen and other amenities. An area with updated bathrooms and lockers is off the new “break room.” So while most of our efforts were for taking care of the fish and animals – some improvements were made for the well- deserved benefit of all the Fish Mart care-takers, too!
It’s been a busy summer here at Fish Mart as we did routine maintenance and got some projects done. The biggest project was upgrading the filtration units on two of our largest aquatic life support systems.
The redesign called for 4 energy-efficient pumps to replace what used to be two non-energy efficient pumps. These new pumps also have controls so that we can adjust the speed of the water flow, and have LED displays. Two pumps circulate the water, and the other two pumps are for the filtration modules. Each module is comprised of the following –
- 2 huge acrylic columns that are fluidized filter beds for biological filtration (each with about 1 million square miles of surface area for the good nitrifying bacteria to live on, ensuring water free of any ammonia or nitrites, and only a minimum of acceptable nitrates);
- a 12-tube ultraviolet unit (the UV kills free-swimming microorganisms such as bacteria, parasites, algae and even some viruses in the water that passes over it);
- a protein skimmer (which is a device used to remove organic compounds such as food and waste particles from water, while also adding oxygen);
- a de-gasser (which removes potentially unwanted gasses while also adding oxygen;
- ozone (to oxidize organic materials);
- and of course mechanical filtration to remove suspended particulates.
All this is to guarantee the best water quality possible, making for the healthiest and most stress-free fish possible!
Our imported goldfish system got a filtration upgrade as well, as we doubled the UV capacity to ensure maximum reduction of any free-swimming microorganisms.
LED lighting throughout the entire warehouse facility and even offices is underway. Not only is this project energy-efficient and therefore cost-effective, the lighting enhancement is nothing short of phenomenal. We are doing this in stages, but the main fish warehouse rooms are about complete.
Staying in the fish warehouse, new packing tables have also been designed and are under production.
In the animal department, refreshing the many Freedom Breeder units, which house most all the pets -from mice and rats to gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters and more – is continually being done. Time-consuming, each unit has to be stripped of any rust, sanded and repainted.
Routine repairs and maintenance in a number of areas has also been ongoing. Some patching and re-painting on the cement block building exterior was necessary. Some touch-up painting inside has also occurred. Even the entrance doors to Fish Mart needed replacement, this after over 20 years of much use.
It’s been a busy year, as we continuously strive to always provide our customers with the highest quality aquatics and pets, in an environment that is necessary to do so.
Fish Mart is proud of our latest project completion – the installation of custom-designed goldfish systems! Keeping the very specific and special needs of goldfish and cold-water feeder fish in mind, we have two aluminum vats which each hold 1100 gallons, and are each supported by a pump, a sand/pool filter, an Oxygen Saturator, and a Chiller!
The holding capacity for each vat is enormous – 150,000 comets; or 300,000 tuffies; or 75,000 medium comets; or 2,250 pool-sized comets! Each vat has three sections, so we can have different fish in each section as we need to meet you orders.
This system also includes an aluminum reservoir vat which holds 550
gallons and has its own chiller – this reservoir is used as packing
water for whenever you buy our feeders.
We maintain a water temperature of about 58 degrees. Tap water is running about that now, but as you know, when spring temperatures warm into summer, tap water gets into the 70s, too high to adequately support goldfish and their need.
Goldfish do better in cooler water for several reasons – their metabolism is reduced, they require less oxygen, and harmful bacteria are less likely to reproduce. As always, for delivery orders, we still use ice packs to help maintain a cool water temperature.
Equally if not more important - as temperature to the successful quality care of goldfish - is the amount of dissolved oxygen in their water. It is common knowledge that goldfish generally require more oxygen, and now we have Oxygen Saturators which directly inject oxygen into the water of the holding vats. The level of dissolved oxygen (DO) we are maintaining the fish at is more than DOUBLE what we could with our prior method of 100% water changes twice daily!
When the fish are first delivered in trucks from the south, that also have chillers and oxygen injection, we match the higher level of dissolved oxygen the fish have during transit, and actually acclimate them over a couple or several hours to our maintenance DO level (much as we do with our new shipments of saltwater fish with the CO2 to reduce the pH level of the water they are going into, so there’s no pH shock and the ammonia is neutralized). The fish settle in so beautifully it’s amazing! We were shocked to see that after only a couple of hours, our first shipment of goldfish were so happy that they were coming to the surface of the water looking for food! So we fed them!
We add fresh (filtered) water to the holding vats, and can adjust that to where we’re changing the water in the vat every three hours or every 24 hours and everything in between – all based on the amount of fish we are holding.
Finally, additional and new packing areas have been integrated into the systems, making the packing of hundreds of thousands of fish a little easier on our great crew. The bottom line is that your feeders from Fish Mart receive the most optimum car and are therefore of the best quality available!
Welcome to Our World of Small Animals
We have greatly expanded our small animal department, constructing several new animal rooms as well as investing in all new state-of the-art habitats and air temperature/quality control equipment.
We also revised and follow our Animal Care and Maintenance Manual, to continue to be current with industry “best practices” standards. It goes above and beyond the high expectations of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and APHIS (Animals and Plant Health Inspection Service) who licenses, regulates, and surprise-inspects us on a regular basis. Our care standards go above and beyond what we have ever seen written in any legislation or for any pet shop, wholesale, or breeding facility.
While we are proud of this, for us the bottom line has always been that the animals we are entrusted to care for get all their needs met and more.
• All species are housed below APHIS maximum habitat population limits to ensure they are not overcrowded.
• All species are given premium bedding that is spot cleaned daily as well as fully cleaned, with housing units sanitized, twice weekly.
• All habitats are thoroughly sanitized between uses.
• Animals are provided premium feeds and supplemental fresh foods specific to each species’ requirements.
• All our animals always have access to clean food and water.
Our staff is extensively trained and experienced in proper animal husbandry. Our veterinarian makes regular visits to our facility. Any animal that may be ill or injured is immediately isolated and treated by our dedicated staff in accordance with our established program of veterinary care, and our veterinarian’s (who is always available) instructions. We also employ several biosecurity measures to reduce the possibility of disease transmission in our facility.
What does all this mean to you?
We believe this guarantees the highest quality animals available! We deal only with breeders who are also APHIS licensed and who meet our rigorous requirements for health and quality. From the moment of their direct delivery to our facility (though some animals are still flown in to airports where we quickly retrieve them and bring them back to our facility), the animals immediately receive only the very best of everything, including 24hr monitoring the first 3 days and controlling their lighting periods to keep them as de-stressed as possible.
Of course, this high level of care does increase operational costs! At times, demand will outweigh supply and seasonal breeding makes some species limited (or not available) which both play a role in increased prices. The costs associated with producing animals has increased drastically over the last decade and there are not as many breeders “in the game” as there once were. However, we will continue to do what we can to make sure all our animals are "right priced".
Of course, nearly all the animals we carry are babies. Since they are babies, we do as much as is in our power to reduce shipping stress, although some stress is unavoidable. All animals are shipped with food, fresh vegetables or gel packs to make sure they stay hydrated and well-fed. Our drivers are scrupulous about placing the animals on our trucks so that they are not exposed to too much heat, too much air-conditioning, or too much draft. The drivers regularly check on the animals throughout their delivery day to make sure they are doing well.
Another way stress is reduced is when stores receive an animal shipment from us- or when pet parents take home their new furry pet- is making sure you let them settle into their new habitat for the first day or two without being handled too much. It is also important to keep the animals on the same, or closest type, of food that they are on when you receive them. (based on their species of course). Hamsters and gerbils should be given lab/rodent block daily with seeds being given as the occasional treat. Ferrets should be on a food specifically made for them and it should be made 3-parts water to 1-part food when they are babies/young. Guinea Pigs should be on guinea pig specific pellet food with hay always available. Quartered or halved oranges are a great treat for guinea pigs because they are loaded with Vitamin C, which is a crucial dietary must for guinea pigs.
We know and understand that right-pricing and animal health are very important! We hope we have given some insights into what we do to assure we can consistently supply both.