- Brett Ekebom has fostered a fascination with coral reefs and
saltwater tanks since he was 14 years old, cleaning filters and
feeding fish at a store in Illinois. Years later, he bought a
75-gallon saltwater aquarium for a tanning salon he owned and
started breeding clown fish and growing coral in his free time.
Specialty — Ekebom’s newest business venture — opened a
storefront in downtown Waukesha two weeks ago. It sells strictly
saltwater goods like fish and coral.
said most of his customers so far have been hobbyists, many of whom
were bored with freshwater tanks and decided to convert them to
that’s really all I am, it just kinda grew,” Ekebom said.
“I’ve always had a fish tank. I wanted a reef and that’s how
it all started.”
hobby grew quickly from one saltwater tank to breeding clown fish
and ending up with thousands of offspring that he sold to stores.
I got really into the coral,” Ekebom said.
dealers are able to grow coral through a process called “fragging,”
which takes a small piece of coral that falls or breaks off
a larger piece, places it in a stable place and patiently lets it
grow, Ekebom said.Some
mistake coral as plants,
but they are actually animals that require a strong light source and
water flow that mimics the ocean currents.
type of coral requires different conditions to thrive and all that
information is available on the internet, Ekebom said.
started with saltwater
Specialty houses more than a dozen tanks, some with two or three
tropical fish and others teeming with neon, feathery or bulbous
coral cuttings. All of them are for sale.
even a pool of tiny coral pieces sold at $10 each.
store also sells a starter tank with lights, a filter and a stand,
all for about $400. Ekebom said it’s easy to add and care for a
few saltwater fish for relatively little money.
when you want to do coral and some of the invertebrates that you
need really bright lights and wave makers,” he said, adding that
the newest technology makes it inexpensive to heat and light
people looking to expand their tank and start growing coral, the
cost escalates quickly but creativity and patience allows tanks to
be “as cool as you want,” Ekebom said.
Specialty is open Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 7 p.m. and
Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. The shop is closed Monday.