Nothin’ fishy

Larry Newman

Talk about a little guppy in the big pond market of exotic fish dealing. In 1985, Larry Newman and his wife Paula opened Ofishal Aquarium, and today, it’s about the only locally owned fish shop left in Reno. After about 20 years in business, they have also started selling antique and vintage aquatic memorabilia. Larry, who’s had fish since he was 13, says customer support, which keeps the business afloat, is terrific. And to honor their customers and support the time that clients put into their own tanks, Ofishal is accepting submissions for the Home Aquarium Contest through Sept. 30. Ofishal Aquarium is at 3434 Lakeside Drive in the Moana West Shopping Center. Call 825-3434.

Why do people get into fish?

It’s dynamic. It’s a living picture. Every time you look at the aquarium, something new is happening. Your fish might be having babies or be rearranging the gravel, if they’re aggressive fish. That’s what’s so fun about it. Everyday, it’s a different picture.

What’s your favorite fish?

I like the cichlid family because they practice parental care of their young. It’s really fun to watch them going around the tank with their babies and guarding them. They’re very intelligent, very intelligent.

Are there fish veterinarians?

Well, we do that. We have sick bay in the back. We take your fish and cure them at no charge, and we’re the only store in town that does that. I had a crying kid who came in last week with a sick goldfish. She was like 6 years old, and as soon as we put it in sick bay, the fish just snapped out of whatever its problem was and got a lot better.

What is sick bay?

Medicated aquariums and nice solitude, a lot of good food, stuff like that.

Ever eaten an exotic fish?

People ask me that and I go, ‘I had trout for dinner last night on the way back from Sacramento.’

How’ve sales been since Finding Nemo?

We are selling a lot more saltwater fish with the movie, the little clown fish and the blue tangs, which was Dory, and then Gill, which was the Moorish idol.

Have you heard of people flushing their fish since the movie?

No, because we don’t live anywhere near the ocean. I think kids who saw the movie realized the dentist’s office was right across from the bay.

Where’s the furthest location you get fish?

Well, we get them from Australia. A lot from Hawaii. Most of our freshwater stuff comes from the Amazon River drainage area in South America.

What’s the rarest fish you have right now?

A leaf fish out of Peru. It looks like a dead leaf in the water.

Have you ever done fish collecting yourself?

Absolutely. I collected for the Oregon Coast Aquarium. When I was stationed in Vietnam, I went out and caught fish. Of course, I’ve collected in Hawaii, too, but that’s not exotic. No one’s shooting at you in Hawaii.

Why the antiques?

We started an antique and collectible section because, just like cat people have cat stuff and dog people have dog stuff, the fish people like to have stuff.

I assume you have your own aquarium at home?

Oh yes, I have a little reef tank, a 100 gallon reef tank at home, saltwater. It’s lightly populated with some of the smaller wrasses. And then a koi pond in the backyard.