Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
In one of the tanks in his new store, fish follow business owner Jason Blair’s finger.

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record In one of the tanks in his new store, fish follow business owner Jason Blair’s finger.

Finny business: ‘Fish nerd’ opening store in Greenbank

Jason Blair’s store will have a variety of aquarium fish and aquascapes.

A self-described “fish nerd” is sharing his lifelong hobby with the community by opening a new store dedicated to aquarium fish and aquascapes.

Freeland resident Jason Blair is one of the newest tenants at the Greenbank Farm. His business, Red Fish Blue Fish, will be open this spring.

Fans of the finned creatures can find tanks teeming with nano species of freshwater fish. Blair said he chose to focus on the small fry because they can be kept in smaller tanks compared to bigger species, which are starting to fall out of style.

“It’s very difficult to carve out room for a 125-gallon aquarium, or even worse, a 250-gallon aquarium,” Blair said. “With living space constraints, a lot of people find it more appropriate for a 10-gallon or a 20-gallon tank.”

His store is home to some uncommon fish, most of which are imported from Europe.

Fish imported from other places, such as Asia, may not be as healthy, a lesson Blair learned when he worked at a pet store earlier in his life.

“I learned back then if you’re looking for quality in the tropical fish that you’re getting, don’t look at Asia because they specialize in producing a whole lot for a very good price,” Blair said. “But in order to sell fish at that very low price, they can’t spend money on quality control.”

Another unique feature of Blair’s store will be a wall featuring aquascapes, underwater creations made of plants that can mimic real landscapes.

“It’s basically just a high-tech, heavily planted aquarium where more attention is paid to the overall chi, the overall aesthetic,” Blair said. “It’s really a way of putting together a piece of living art.”

Dog walkers from the nearby off-leash park will be able to take a seat on a row of low sofas and observe guppies, minnows, killifish and other small species swimming around in the soothing, natural environments of the aquascapes.

Blair is hopeful he will be able to interest fellow fish keepers in the aquascapes. The mini-ecosystems are a sustainable alternative to tossing some gravel into an aquarium.

“A truly balanced, planted aquarium, the fish waste is going to be cycled up into plant nutrition,” he explained. “The plant nutrition is taken in and converted into energy by the food and also light is taken in by the plant, and there’s your oxygen.”

Red Fish Blue Fish is a first-time business venture for Blair, who had been waiting for the right time over the past decade to open a fish store.

Setting up shop during a pandemic may not have been that ideal time, but it was a challenge he was willing to overcome.

Many of the shelves in his store he had to build himself.

“I knew that it was going to be pretty insane when I looked at availability of things,” Blair said. “I started trying to order things and I realized really quickly, ‘Wow, I am going to have to build everything by hand.’ And that’s exactly what I did.”

Constraints on the supply chain affected simple items such as filters for the tanks. Plastic manufacturers, he said, have been focusing their efforts on making personal protective equipment. As a result, some parts he has ordered have taken longer than normal to arrive.

Although his store is not currently open to the public just yet, fish are available for purchase on his website, redfishbluefish.shop.

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Longfin panda cory catfish swims around a tank in the store.

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record Longfin panda cory catfish swims around a tank in the store.

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