The air smells like a trip to the beach and the entry way hints at the promise of the new experiences to be had by all upon walking into Glass House Aquatics in Casper. Visitors will see two guys scurrying around, working on this or that daily task in the marine aquatics store. You might even hear a faint alligator bark from Rizzo, the shop’s rescued mascot. If you’re lucky, Tristan Riley, Glass House Aquatics owner, will break out the shrimp, Rizzo’s favorite food, and you can get a good look at the youngster.
The new aquatics shop at 4155 Legion Ln #4, boasts approximately 2000 gallons of water housing everything from coral and fish to sharks. There’s so much water that maintaining takes two full days, said the shop’s General Manager Marc Moore. “We start with this section one day,” he said indicating the wall of tanks along one side of the shop. “And the other side the next day.”
Riley has big plans for his live inventory that include carrying animals shoppers wouldn’t typically see in Wyoming.
“We’ll be getting Octopus, different species of Stingrays, and we’ll also breed Stingrays,” he said. “We’ll get a couple of different species of sharks. We’ll have jellyfish, a mixture of different Seahorses, Pipefish, predators, schooling fish, all sorts of miscellaneous things.”
Riley bases his orders for inventory on trends in his customers’ interests. He’s committed to making the shop a place his customers can go to find what they’ve always wanted in their saltwater tanks.
“I watch very closely to see what they go for. Maybe they like striped fish better than spotted fish . . . I was quite surprised by how many people went with more predator fish than the docile fish,” said Riley. “That really stunned me with this first order. So my next order, I’m going to venture into more of what I wanted to get into, which is some of the more ornate stuff that you just don’t see here. I like to find stuff that you have never seen in any other pet store and that’s the fish that I want.”
Those who are saltwater hobbyists know that it’s not all about the animals all the time. Testing, filtering, feeding, and perfecting the tank’s ecosystem is important to the survival and flourishing of the fish and other marine life that live in it. To provide the tools necessary to do this, Riley chose to carry the Acrylic Tank Manufacturing brand of supporting products for saltwater tanks. ATM is the home of Animal Planet’s ‘Tanked’ television show.
“I brought them on probably about six months ago and they’ve been just phenomenal with helping,” said Riley. “I was on the fence as far as what products I wanted to carry. They sent me some products and I tried it and I literally just threw away everything else and that’s all I use. I’m pretty passionate about standing behind what I sell and having the knowledge to support any questions you might have, and they’ve just been outstanding. I’m really thrilled with them and they’ve got great products.”
In addition to providing a high level of customer service to his clientele, it’s also important to Riley that his shop gives back to the Casper community, doing what he loves and providing for people who love marine life as well.
In the short time the shop has been underway Riley has already struck up partnerships with some of the local Assisted Living facilities in town. He plans to set up tanks for the enjoyment of the residents and doesn’t plan to charge for the initial setup, only taking donations for continued maintenance, he said. Making people happy is high on Riley’s list of reasons for opening the store smack in the middle of America; about as far as one can get from an ocean in any direction.
There’s this one lady from Boston in one of the Assisted Living centers here that used to go scuba diving, said Riley. When I told her that I was going to put a fish tank in, she literally almost broke down. That’s why I do this.
He also plans to expand his store as a long term goal, to be able to incorporate a space for education. Riley intends on bringing a Marine Biologist to teach classes in his space.
What it comes down to is that there’s more than one way to skin a cat in this hobby, said Riley. Everyone thinks they have the right way to go about it, so bringing in a Marine Biologist would just be whole different layer of knowledge that people, myself included, don’t even have. To give them that background, not necessarily for an aquarium, but for the betterment of the ocean and the coral reefs and things like that. I’d love to have that type of knowledge implemented past what I’m able to put out.