Melt that stress away at Fish World USA

An orange Garibaldi, one of the many varieties of fish available at Fish Town USA. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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Few things have the ability to bring you back to your childhood — like a chorus of aquarium filters bubbling away — but whether you are looking for that $5 goldfish you had when you were young, or are in the market for an elaborate, underwater environment, Fish World USA in Auburndale offers a treasure trove of booty.

In business since 1969, the store stocks a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater ornamental fish — the kind you do not eat — and staffer George Jacome said the shop will order anything that is not on-hand.

“Certain fish are in season. A lot of the freshwater fish are farm-raised, so they’re pretty much always available,” he said. “Anything else we can pretty much get within a week.”

The more exotic saltwater species come from tropical regions all over the world, like the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and Indonesia. These fish, Jacome said, vary in availability from month to month.

Walking into Fish World USA, at 196-33 Northern Blvd., is a practice in sensory therapy. Dimly lit to show off the vibrant colors of creatures propelling themselves effortlessly while suspended inside rows of softly resounding tanks, the store’s atmosphere underscores the appeal to fish fans.

“I’d say the No. 1 thing is that it’s stress relief,” Jacome said.

Prices start out at just a few dollars and start to climb up to the $60 to $70 range for types with colorful names like Japanese Swallow Angels, Yellow Long Nose Butterflies and Albino Red Oscars.

For those looking to drop some loot, a Blue Face Angel will set you back $199, and Jacome said some of the rarer species can cost thousands of dollars. And, since you would not put a $2,000 fish in a $3 plastic fish bowl, the store carries aquariums up in the 90-gallon range and everything you would need to create your marine habitat.

Fancy the idea of your fish swimming around in the desert? Fish World USA has kitschy backgrounds for you.

Are you the traditionalist? The store has miniature sunken pirate ships, downed WW II airplanes and deep-sea explorers, as well as natural flourishes like sand, gravel, stone, lava rocks, crystal geodes and driftwood.

Some enthusiasts prefer their underwater wonderlands full of dancing marine reefs. Coral reef systems are some of the priciest items in the store, starting off just shy of $4,000.

One must be careful, though, when mixing varieties of sea life, and Jacome said the store’s staff is well-educated on which creatures mix well with others.

Jacome said technology has come a long way in the past few years, such as the pre-made saltwater the store carries, as opposed to the synthetic sea salt mixes customers used to have to deal with.

One of the most attractive reasons for choosing fish as pets, though, may never change.

“You don’t have to walk them,” said employee Michelle Lovascio.

Fish Town USA opens at 10 a.m. seven days a week and closes at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 718-593-5396 or visit

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 7:26 pm, May 9, 2012
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