– What’s up fish tank people, I’m here with Steve from Aquarium
Zen, what’s going on man? – Hey man, how’s it
going, good to meet you. – Good to meet ya,
what’s hilarious is that Steve actually gave me some Staurogyne like about five or six years
ago at a AGA convention and I am here at your shop, aquarium shop. – Here we are, here we are. – I’m keeping my mouth quiet. I’m very calm and chill,
it’s your store man. – Kind of anti-Dustin, here in some ways. – I like to be quiet,
believe it or not, I come in and it’s just so quiet, so
I did the thing outside, but I want to kind of just go around man and just talk about your store, when did you open this store? Let’s go back to the
beginning if you don’t mind. – I signed the lease in 2012 it was kind of a spur of the moment thing, I found the space and realized it was kind of perfect for what I wanted to do with a little nature aquarium
shop, little aquascaping shop and that’s what started the ball rolling. We ended up opening in 2014
though so it took me about a year and a half just
to build the place out and design it. – [Dustin] You say spur of
the moment, what do you mean like spur of the moment, like
I wanna open a pet store. – [Steve] I mean it was
a dream in the making, but the actual putting down the money and making the commitment happen really quickly it was really
just finding the space that inspired me, but yeah
it was obviously something in the works for a while. – [Dustin] So you had thought about it, what inspired you about this
space, ’cause I’ve talked about this space and
how I love that it’s got the wood floor, that was
the first thing I said out of my mouth, what inspired you here? – For me, I’m really into
the nature aquarium style that was developed by Takashi Amano and there’s an important
aesthetic principle in Japanese art and
gardening the wabi-sabi, and this space kind of has
that feeling of wabi-sabi where it’s, the beauty of imperfection, the beauty of the passage of time, the sort of patina of old wood and rust and that kind of thing, that’s what I found in the space, this space is almost a hundred years old, we’ve got these old
Douglas Fir locally sourced wood floors, wood beams,
and it just kind of has the essence of Seattle
nature, Seattle history in it. Also when I was growing
up I went to a lot of weird, funky, little hole
in the wall style aquarium stores, and those are really disappearing, you don’t really get that
experience much anymore, and this kind of reminded me of that too, it’s really kind of humble on the outside, almost looks like this little alleyway, you don’t even know what’s
going on behind the door, and then you walk in
here and there’s just all this life, and light, and movement, and the magic of the
aquarium and that was kind of the goal behind designing this space. – [Dustin] What is the term again? – [Steve] Wabi-sabi. – [Steve] And then the
aging and passing of time is a part of that, you’ve been to Japan. – [Steve] Yeah, it’s the aesthetics, the beauty of the ephemeral, the beauty of the imperfect, it’s a pretty fun concept
to play around with and definitely something
unique to Japanese culture. And I think a lot of people
associate nature aquariums with this real slick, modern polish look, and for me I kind of see
it almost the opposite, I like this real organic,
natural feel to it, like things are just kind of
erupting out of the environment so that’s just my personal style. – [Dustin] Cool, so I wanna
make a comment of what I saw, and what I said to him off camera was you’ll notice the
spacing between that one, and that one, and the
wall was very symmetrical, you look over here,
super duper symmetrical and I love the design with, I mean props to you man,
rimless tanks all around! So you’re made of money huh, I’m kidding. – [Steve] Yeah we don’t have
that many but it was just another idea I wanted to promote is the beauty of the rimless aquarium where you just have all of
the life support systems kind of removed from the aquarium and you’re just focused on the aquascape everything’s stripped down, so you just feel like you
have this levitating box of water in the room, and that’s something that
when I set up my store was pretty novel, now
a lot of stores carry rimless aquariums, but
even just a few years ago no one was doing that locally. – [Dustin] You said levitating
in the water, that’s part of the design that I didn’t
have clarified for me but it makes sense the way that, you know Johnny typically built a post and it’s right here, on the corner this is recessed, so
these tanks have this very come look at me feel to them. – [Steve] Yeah it was,
we put a lot of thought into the design of the
stands it took us a few years to perfect that design and
it’s something I’m proud of. – [Dustin] Yeah you really should be man because I think a lot of
people will come in here and say that looks cool but
I don’t think they realize. – [Steve] And it’s a pretty unique design you usually see four posts or something and here we have just a single post and these shelves resting on each, yeah I think it just
sets off the rim squares in particular really nicely. – [Dustin] Yeah it’s the
combination of those with the rimless and the, ’cause if you had a rim tank in there you’d still have that
disruption of the eye. – [Steve] Exactly. – [Dustin] But here you don’t
’cause it’s got the side. – [Steve] Lines to break it
all up, so it’s specifically designed for this style of aquarium. – [Dustin] Dude what’s your
favorite part of your shop man? What do you like? – Just customer interactions,
just turning people onto this hobby man, it’s
amazing just providing a place in our community
where people can go and just really get blown away
by the beauty of the aquarium that was our goal and
that’s what it’s all about. – [Dustin] You like
watching them get poisoned? You know what I’m talking about? – [Steve] Some people have
been known to overdose, yes. – [Dustin] Oh it’s hilarious
man, I love it when people get poisoned, you’re just like, dude you had a 10 gallon five minutes ago, and now you’re coming in
here and getting a whatever. – [Steve] Yeah it’s just
fun to, this is my form of creative expression
it’s just fun to share it with people make new
friends and connections and that’s what it’s all about man. – [Dustin] Dude, your creative
flow in here is really solid, I love the use of natural daylight, that was probably a
big seller for you too, having that right when you came in. – [Steve] The dream is to
like, what you’re doing do something in a greenhouse,
but here we can combine with the skylights a little
greenhouse style action in a closed space and that’s kind of cool. – [Dustin] Natural daylight,
love the rimless here. – [Steve] The fun thing
about having a shop is it’s very dynamic, we’re constantly getting new plants in, new fish in, it’s always changing. Some displays are crashing,
others are coming into their beauty, it’s always changing so every time someone comes into the store they’re gonna have a different experience and that’s one thing that
I don’t think you get from pictures as much
as just feeling the flow of the changes in the aquariums
and the natural elements. – [Dustin] If I can walk over
here I’ve gotta show this wall I need you to talk about this wall. – Sure yeah I’ll talk about
the wall a little bit. – [Dustin] I was sitting here
chilling for a good 15 minutes and that’s a great spot. Can you, I hate to not do
justice to this little tank right here but I definitely
want to talk about this wall because this is so cool man. – Thank you, well I was inspired
by the living wall movement that’s going along in
architecture right now it’s popularized by a
guy named Patrick Blanc he is a French artist and he
creates these massive scale vertical gardens and he
actually got his start as an aquarium hobbyist. – [Dustin] Patrick Blanc? – [Steve] Patrick Blanc,
look him up he’s very famous. – [Dustin] Going to. – [Steve] Vertical
gardener, he’s kind of like the Takashi Amano of vertical gardening. And he actually got his
start as an aquarium hobbyist and eventually became a trained
botanist and everything. But I thought it was, one of
the aspects of the living wall is that you have a reservoir
of water and nutrients that feeds your vertical garden it’s pumped up through a pump
and just kind of trickles down this fabric mesh and I always thought it would be fun to attach an aquarium to one and use that as your reservoir. This was set up about
three and a half years ago. – [Dustin] Wow. – [Steve] And it actually has
gone through a lot of changes we can see we have this big open space now where I removed a bunch of plants I think I’m gonna fill that in with little air plants, little Tillandsias, I think that would be a nice contrast, and then this crazy ficus
is just taking over. – [Dustin] I love that, what
kind of ficus is that any clue? – [Steve] This is called ficus pumila, and it’s just a common plant
people use in terrariums and vibrariums and it
provides a great background kind of a fine leaf background for, they’ve been using it in
landscaping in southern California, Florida, and that sort of thing. – [Dustin] I’ll tell you
what, I love the wildness you’ve got, ’cause you’ve got
three really cool textures that I’m seeing, and maybe I’m missing one this is Subwassertang, trident. – [Steve] Needle leaf, yeah. – [Dustin] And then the big bolbitis! – [Steve] The bolbitis,
yeah, well I mean for me some people like the real
tight, highly organized detailed aquascapes, I’m
more into the jungle style, like once a year I go
down to the rainforest and get inspiration,
and I really just like the kind of wild exuberant look, you know? – [Dustin] Dude, that’s my style. – [Steve] That’s my
personal, kind of vibe. – [Dustin] Yeah. – [Steve] But yeah the combining elements where you take things that are coming out of
the aquarium is a big part of my style too, something
I really enjoy doing. – [Dustin] Out of the
aquarium is something I just started doing and I really love it. – [Steve] Yeah, it’s fun and
there’s unlimited potential with that something that
of course Takashi Amano kind of pioneered but
something I’ll probably play with forever. Just having wood and plants, and whatever, just emerging from the aquarium it just breaks that barrier
between the observer and the aquarium and kinda starts opening the gateway for a real
interesting interaction. – [Dustin] It definitely
brings you to a different spot, ’cause you can start
and you’re deep in it, and then you come out and you’re like, oh. I really love this wet wall
I’ll talk more with you off camera about that, that’s really cool. – [Steve] Yeah it’s a lot of
fun, right now it’s actually, I don’t have the water
running, the irrigation system kind of got clogged up so I’m gonna just attach
tillandsias now there. – [Dustin] Stick ’em in and spray ’em. – [Steve] Yeah and they’ll
just live off the humidity and it’ll be fine. But yeah it was a fun experiment for sure, this was in its day it was
just loaded with plants it looks like plants
exploding out of the wall, that’s the idea, you want
to break the lines around the edges so you don’t
really see the frame. I think a really well
done living wall is on par with the really finely done aquascape, they’re just amazing and
it’s own art form into itself becoming more popular in architecture. – Very cool.
– Yeah. – [Dustin] Anything other stuff you wanna show around your shop man? We got a pretty good tour
but is there anything that you’re, you know. – [Steve] It’s just the flow
of the place in general. – [Dustin] I do like the flow of it. – Yeah, it’s a great little oasis. – [Dustin] I like the little
breaking up of a big room right here that you’ve
done, I think that’s cool. And you can see through
everything so it’s all around. – Keep it nice and open, it’s small, it’s not meant to be, we’re not trying to take
over the world here, just trying to provide a little oasis for our community to enjoy aquariums. – [Dustin] And with that said
where are you located man? Where can people find out about you man? – We’re at 920 North East 64th Street, Seattle Washington, Earth. – [Dustin] There you go, dude thank you so much for having us in. – [Steve] It’s great to meet you man. – Oh dude, pleasure’s all
mine man, I just plopped down over there a minute ago
to just like suckin’ in, I’m about to get some of
the hygrophila from you so. Tank honor everybody.

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