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Experience the Tropics 

Andreas Blomst has seen big changes in the tropical fish business over the last decade, from how fish and live rock are collected, to what enthusiasts are looking for. With his new aquarium shop, Tropics, Blomst hopes to help distinct populations interested in fresh and saltwater aquariums.

click to enlarge AQUAMAN :  Andreas Blomst opened Tropics, an aquarium specialty shop on Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo. Tropics specializes in beginner aquarium sets and high-end custom aquariums with full service. - PHOTO BY KYLIE MENDONCA
  • PHOTO BY KYLIE MENDONCA
  • AQUAMAN : Andreas Blomst opened Tropics, an aquarium specialty shop on Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo. Tropics specializes in beginner aquarium sets and high-end custom aquariums with full service.

# "I cater to two ends of the spectrum," Blomst said. "I carry the 10-gallon start-up sets that's usually the biggest size you can have in a dorm or an apartment. And then I do the custom installation, the aquarium servicing, and aquarium leasing."

For students, Blomst offers a back-to-school deal that includes a 10-gallon tank with lights, hood, and filter for $25. Tropics carries several types of freshwater and tropical fish that are easy to maintain.

For more experienced fish collectors, Blomst boasts an assortment of exotic fish and can order almost anything in a matter of days. Tropics provides full-service tank maintenance, including purified fresh or salt water for homes or business, with 24-hour emergency service. He'll also work with local contractors to design custom tanks and cabinetry.

The aquarium-leasing program is something that Blomst believes is unique in the area. It allows individuals to rent the tank, the fish, the decorations, and all the equipment for a flat rate that includes all of the maintenance, too.

 

"It's for people who want to enjoy a piece of living art but they don't necessarily want a new hobby," Blomst said. "And if something should perish, we'll replace it at no cost."

Blomst sees many changes in the pet fish industry as positive, from equipment advances all the way to the hobby's sustainability. Many of the fish at Tropics, for example, are farmed rather than being caught in the wild. Tropics also has several varieties of coral and live rock that are gathered in a more conscientious fashion, and the shop's manufactured live rock is believed to be more environmentally sustainable.

"The most important thing in this business is to know who you're buying from," Blomst said. "You get specials all the time and there's no way to know where these fish are coming from, or how they're caught."

Tropics is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. but don't forget about the 24-hour maintenance opportunity. Tropics is located at 799 Foothill Blvd., Suite D, in SLO. For more info, call 595-FISH.

Kylie Mendonca compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to rmiller@newtimesslo.com.

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