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A fishy (but entrepreneurial!) situation

February 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm

 

What’s better than having friendly fish roommates? How about friendly fish roommates whose tank is magically cleaned, and whose stay in your dorm helps support student entrepreneurs? 

Enter Forever Fish, the new fish rental venture from Neal Conway’12 and Kei Ishii’12. For a monthly fee, the entrepreneurial duo will provide fish, food, accessories, and tank maintenance. Staring lovingly into your fish’s googly eyes is both free and priceless.

The affable Art House roommates share a lifelong love for animals, and when Conway brought a large tank to school, they developed a reputation as fish aficionados.

“We especially liked watching the way [the fish] interacted with each other in the tank,” Conway says. “It’s surprising to see how much drama there is.”

When Conway found tanks from a former breeder for sale, he couldn’t help snatching them up, but wasn’t sure where to keep them.   

“Then it struck me. Why don’t we rent them out to students on campus?” he says. “They’re the only animals students are allowed to keep, and when it comes to the end of the semester [they] won’t have to worry about what they’re going to do with the tank.”

The roommates wrote a business plan – with Ishii in charge of cleaning and record-keeping, and Conway the primary fish caretaker – and submitted it to Jerry Gustafson, who granted them storage space in the CELEB building. The business name quickly followed.

“We were deciding between ‘Forever Fish’ and ‘Fish Forever,’ but ended up going with ‘Forever Fish’ because we thought ‘Fish Forever’ implied that you would keep your fish forever,” Conway explains. He thought of a slogan while designing the informational poster that now hangs around campus: “There is no fin.”

To make their fish venture even more profitable, Conway and Iishi have begun breeding their own fish, including cichlids, fancy guppies, mollies, platies, and swordtails. Forever Fish currently has 173 baby frylings, with more on the way.

And many of the fish have names. “Our main community tank is named the USS Enterprise, so the original fish in there were all named after characters from the original Star Trek,” says Conway. A school of white tetras (the Klingons) swam with Kirk, Sulu, and Uhura. The Star Trek universe was soon invaded by Mary-Kate and Ashley (bumble bee gobies), Simba and Nala (golden sailfin gobies), and many others.

Forever Fish’s first customer is reportedly very happy with his rental, and Conway says he and Ishii have been approached by other potential renters. “It’s encouraging to see that at least people are taking an interest in it,” he says.

Forever Fish currently offers three tank sizes: 20-gallon ($30/month), 30-gallon ($40/month) and 55-gallon ($50/month). All tanks come with plants, ornaments, several options for tank design, food, and fish. Conway and Ishii provide complementary cleaning and maintenance. Fish insurance is available for an additional $20. For more information or to rent a tank of your own, e-mail conwayn@beloit.edu or ishiik@beloit.edu.