Aquarium Design is an aquarium maintenance company
specializing in marine fish, living coral reef aquariums and jellyfish
" This is my livelihood. This is my passion ! "
Jim Stime's Aquarium Design was officially recognized by the State of
California in 1995 but its birth actually began back in 1982. "While I was working for a company ( Presto-Tek Corp. ) who manufactured
water quality test and dispensing equipment I could lean my chair back
in my cubicle and peer into my bosses office which contained a 26 gallon
freshwater aquarium. Within a short period of time my boss tired of this
aquarium and it quickly became my own. One day I ventured into an aquarium
store for some flake food and that was when I first experienced the magnetic
beauty of a saltwater aquarium". Jim decided he had to have a saltwater
aquarium and of course everyone said "don't do it, it's too difficult",
this only encouraged him to pursue it further." I decided the best way
to learn more was to get a part-time job working at that aquarium store
( Pasadena Tropical Fish ) and in 1983". After working part-time that summer
Jim had his first saltwater aquarium, a 100 gallon tank loaded with all
the fish he desired, mostly marine Angelfish.
In 1984 the first Reef Aquarium articles, written by George Schmidt,
appeared in FAMA magazine. These articles spoke of aquariums filled with
brilliantly colored, fleshy, living corals and a mixture of exotic fishes
and invertebrates. From that point on Jim followed every article and read
every book on reef aquaria that he could get his hands on." In addition
to the fishes and corals what seemed to captivate me was the mechanics
of the filtration systems, which at first glance appeared to be complicated
and yet in reality, being mechanically inclined, it all seemed to call
out to me with simplicity".
By 1985 Jim had progressed up to a 215 gallon saltwater fish aquarium."Being
that the reef hobby was still in its infancy I took a 26 and a 5 gallon
tank and constructed my own Wet-Dry filter and in 1986 set up my first
reef tank". This first attempt into the living coral reef aquarium proved
to be quite an education, mostly in the mechanics of filtration and plumbing.
In 1987 Jim became employed by Marineland Aquarium Products as their
customer service person. During his six year tenure he had the significant
opportunity to learn a tremendous amount about filtration, filtration equipment,
and the aquarium and aquarium service industries. "I also kept my part-time
jobs and worked at two more aquarium stores ( Pet Barn and Glenoaks Tropical
Fish ) during this period, which is where I started servicing a few customers
While working at Marineland, and in the pet shops, Jim set up a 100
gallon Reef Tank in 1989, and then in 1991 he set up a 250 gallon reef
tank. " This was the collective result of all the literature I had read
and my experience up to this point".
It was at this point that Jim decided he needed to go beyond the books
and get greater insight so in the fall of 1991 he attended his first aquarium
conference, the forth annual Marine Aquarium Conference of North America
( MACNA 4 ) in Miami, Florida. Little did he know that this would set the
stage for things to happen at a later time.
In the fall of 1993 Jim left Marineland and started working full-time
at Tidal Wave Tropical Fish. "At first I was working in the shop 5 days
a week and one day doing aquarium service for the store. Over the next
4 years I progressed to working in the shop one day a week and doing aquarium
service five days a week.
In 1995 Jim had joined, and in 1996 he became president of, the Marine
Aquarium Society of Los Angeles ( MASLA ), and a delegate to the Marine
Aquarium Societies of North America ( MASNA ). This became an interesting
opportunity as he was now teaching and providing information to other hobbyists.
It was also the start of his involvement on the internet with the MASLA
web site, which ultimately became the most popular aquarium society web
site on the entire world wide web with over 153,000 visitors.
Jim continued his 'aquatic education' by attending MACNA's 7, 8, and
9 ( 1995 Louisville KY., 1996 Kansas City MO., 1997 Chicago IL. ) and the
Western Marine Conferences ( 1994 Tucson AZ., 1995 Phoenix AZ., 1996 Santa
Ana CA., 1997 San Francisco CA., 1998 Seattle WA., 2000 Sacramento CA.
). " These were quite inspiring conferences and allowed me to meet and
make friends with a large number of the speakers, vendors, as well as,
many of the other attendees".
Its at this point that all these conferences and his involvement in
the aquarium society lead to " one of my two greatest achievements to date,
hosting and producing the tenth annual Marine Aquarium Conference of North
America, MACNA X, in September of 1998 ". This conference played host to
33 speakers, 54 exhibitors, cost approximately $120,000.00, involved the
Long Beach AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC, and drew over 600 attendees. "I spent
two years putting that conference together. From a business point-of-view
it was a tremendous education, and from a recognition point-of-view it
was significant exposure to my peers. The best part was it allowed me to
nurture much better relationships with a large number of individuals within
the entire aquarium industry".
In 1999, having worked for Tidal Wave Tropical Fish, and its aquarium
service customers, for seven years Jim was given the opportunity to purchase
those accounts. "I felt quite fortunate that all of my customers eagerly
switched over. It makes me believe that I must be doing something right
In 2002 Jim tried his hand at the E-Commerce
world of the Internet and developed MyFishTank.com. "I had been selling acrylic
tanks, stands and canopies to local customers, why could I not sell the same
items via the Internet?" Its a data-base driven web site that once the tank is
identified by the Shopping Cart it begins to promote to you all the related
items that would match that tank. Additionally, the web site can calculate
packaging, crating and shipping cost to the customers USA Zip Code.
Within a few more years while riding high on the
economy Jim designed and patented a tank specifically to hold and display
jellyfish. This became the Jelliquarium, a free standing cabinet or
In-Wall system for holding jellyfish. It did become quite obvious very
quickly there was no ready supply of jellyfish, which made selling a
jellyfish tank much more challenging. "I ended up learning how to produce
my own Moon jellyfish" and along with that I designed a handful of tanks
used for raising those jellies.
While setting up a Jelliquarium system for
MTV's The Hills Jim and Spencer Pratt began discussing filming an upcoming
installation of a large cylinder aquarium. As the video project and the
installation proceeded Spencer became more of a 'guiding light' and the filming
began to include other unique aquarium installations or services. For many years
I had been referred to as " the fish guy " and since I am in the Los Angeles
metropolis the name LA Fishguys seem to fall into place. One of Spencers
suggestions was to begin posting these videos on You Tube and along with another
customers assistance with music an aquarium-reality show began to grow. As of
July 2011 LA Fishguys now has 101 Episodes on-line, over 6700 You Tube
Subscribers and 2.3 million total You Tube videos viewed.
As a small business struggling in a tough
economy Aquarium Design is moving forward carefully.
Jim realizes that to grow much further he may need to hire on additional
employees but " it has to be the correct person, actually it has to be
someone just like me". It's Jim's feeling that Reliability, Quality, and
Knowledge is what makes Aquarium Design stand above other service companies.
" I am looking for more than part-time income. This is my livelihood. This
is my passion !".