SPRING HILL –
When 4-year-old Aubree Lopez entered Get Tanked Saltwater Aquariums and Supplies, a Spring Hill pet store, she was immediately drawn to the saltwater aquariums on display.
Aubree is typical of visitors who easily become mesmerized by more than 2,400 gallons of saltwater tanks lining the store’s western side, each holding a variety of saltwater fish, live coral and rock.
Fish aquariums are as common to pet stores as, well, pets. But Get Tanked Saltwater Aquariums specializes in saltwater aquariums which are less common than traditional freshwater versions.
And because investing in a saltwater aquarium requires a heavier commitment than just choosing the fish, Get Tanked boasts they’ve got your back from the beginning and straight through the many critical periods that could jeopardize the outcome.
According to owner Greg Bisard the most important ingredient to building a successful saltwater aquarium is patience.
It all begins with the right size tank, Bisard explained. A minimum of 55 gallons is recommended for saltwater. “The smaller the tank, the harder it is to take care of,” he said.
Adding the contents is a slow process and should begin with the fish, then gradually adding live corals, rocks, sponges and so on.
Saltwater tanks fail when the process is rushed. While a freshwater tank may be ready for fish in only a few days, saltwater takes much longer.
“You have to look at the tank with nothing in it sometimes for up to 8 weeks so the water can cycle,” Bisard cautioned. “It has to get through the cycle before it’s ready.”
And that’s where Get Tanked becomes more than a pet shop. Guiding customers through the cycle is part of its superior customer service. “They can bring their water to be tested once a week,” he added, “and we’ll tell them when it’s ready to add fish.”
Even then, Bisard cautioned, fish should be added gradually, one or two a week, since the water has to cycle through again with each new addition to the tank. The slow process continues with the coral, rock, etc. “It takes almost a year for a saltwater aquarium to be stable.”
Once stability is obtained, though, basic maintenance is similar to that of freshwater. “A 10% water change every week is the perfect regiment for saltwater.”
Get Tanked is a family business that Greg co-owns with his wife, Hope Bisard. Greg’s extensive knowledge of saltwater aquariums and Hope’s experience growing up in the pet shop business provided the foundation for a saltwater pet store. It was meant to supplement Greg’s income as a ceramic tile contractor while providing Hope with a business to mold.
The Bisards opened their store in 2005 at its original location on Commercial Way. It seemed to take off immediately and became the primary income source, a life support during the gradual fall in construction during a sinking economy.
After two years, they moved to its current location on Spring Hill Drive, east of Mariner. And Get Tanked continues to thrive even when other small businesses have faltered.
Get Tanked recently added a freshwater display to broaden their inventory. They also sell reptiles like snakes, lizards, bearded dragons, geckos and chameleons. Reptiles have always done well, with the bearded dragon the most popular. And they boast the best cricket prices for feeding those scaly pets.
Their niche, however, comes from catering to saltwater aquarium enthusiasts. While larger pet store chains do offer minimal saltwater items, the varieties are slim when compared to what is available at Get Tanked. The Bisards can order items they don’t have in stock.
The Bisards offer water testing, ample filtration systems and the correct chemicals for maintaining accurate levels which could be hard to come by at the pet store chains.
“And they don’t have the knowledge,” Greg added. “Knowing what to do properly is the key.”
Customer service then is as much a staple of Get Tanked as the saltwater aquariums they help customers build. While the knowledge is backed by experience, their efforts are grounded in an old-fashioned sense of community, typical of small privately-owned businesses.
It’s about helping people, Greg explained, and showing them the right way by teaching what you know. “Not that I know everything,” he added, humbly. “But it helps to help people get things right.”
Jeff Beliveaus purchased his two saltwater aquariums from Get Tanked at their original location. He agreed there was a certain learning curve in the beginning. “But they walk you through everything.”
Beliveaus and his fiancé, Shalena, are regular visitors to the shop. They even helped the Bisards when it was time to move the store.
It’s very common for customers to become friends, Hope said. “We’re like a family here.”
Biz at a Glance
Name: Get Tanked Saltwater Aquariums and Supply’s
Location: 13162 Spring Hill Dr., Spring Hill, FL 34609
Kim Dame is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.