The first time Cory McElroy bred fish was an accident. He unknowingly placed a male and female fish in the same tank. But from the moment the baby fish appeared, he was hooked. Now, McElroy wants to make keeping fish a fun and accessible hobby for others as well.
By opening the Aquarium Co-Op in Firdale Village, he hopes to bring something new to the fish keeping and breeding experience.
An Everett native, McElroy is new to the Edmonds area. He decided that Firdale Village — with six businesses dedicated to cats and dogs — was a great spot for his fish business.
“I love the sense of community here in Edmonds and everyone has been very welcoming,” he said.
McElroy had a small interest in fish keeping as a child, but his real passion for the hobby didn’t surface until he was in his 20s. “A friend of mine had a fish tank that I always enjoyed viewing,” McElroy said. “After learning how easy it was to take care of, the rest was history.”
McElroy had been working as a medical oxygen delivery driver, which involves a lot of erratic hours and overtime, he said. Keeping fish was a hobby that fit his time constraints.
It was while he was working at a fish store later on, that customers suggested that McElroy open his own establishment.
“As time went on, what seemed like a wild idea came to be a reality. With the help of a few friends and a supporting fiancé, the Aquarium Co-Op was born,” said McElroy.
He prides himself on ensuring that the Aquarium Co-Op is sustainable and local. “The goal is to have as many types of fish as possible supplied from local hobbyists,” said McElroy. “My favorite part of my store is all the reused materials and technology that has been incorporated. Most of the aquariums in the store were picked up second hand,” he said.
The customer base at the Aquarium Co-Op is mainly local people who have been keeping fish or are interested in getting back into the hobby.
McElroy is a member of the Greater Seattle Aquarium Society, and he recommends that anyone interested in keeping fish as a hobby join the organization, as it serves as a helpful resource. He also suggests that those thinking of purchasing a fish conduct thorough research to help avoid regrettable decisions. McElroy offers his own advice on a blog located on the Aquarium Co-Op website.
McElroy believes in giving back to the community, and has donated to Pets in the Classroom, a program where teachers apply for grants to acquire aquariums to be used as teaching tools. He also gave away aquariums to kids to get them started in aquariums and fish keeping.
“During the last Pet Fair Extravaganza in Firdale Village we were able to give away 27 small aquariums to kids for a summer project,” said McElroy. “Parents were to help their children tend to the fish over the summer. If they stayed interested in the aquarium, they would receive a larger one when school started back up.”
Aquarium Co-Op is located at 9661 Firdale Ave. You can visiting the website here.
— Story and photos by Lily Jaquith