Joe Olenik: “Selling Oddball Fish”

“Oddball” fish, invertebrates, and plants are the specialty of experienced aquatic retailer Joe Olenik, who will be speaking at this year’s Aquatic Experience. During his session, entitled “Selling Oddball Fish,” Olenik hopes to inspire retailers and experienced hobbyists alike to make some unusual additions to their aquatic collections. He plans to discuss “how stores can spice up their aquatic livestock selection with interesting, hard-to-find, unusual fish” and to provide information to “hobbyists who want cool…fish for their aquariums.” The qualities, care, maintenance, and sale of “oddball” fish are all topics of Olenik’s expertise, and he is excited to share his knowledge with the participants of this year’s event.


Aquatic Experience ChicagoOlenik has spent 38 years in the business of fish retail. For 25 of those years, he managed the fish room of one of the largest independent pet specialty retail establishments in the nation. He presently owns and operates Aquarium Architects—a custom aquarium design, installation, and management company in southeastern Wisconsin. Supplemented by his degree in zoology, Olenik’s experience has made him an expert in freshwater, marine, and pond husbandry, as well as custom aquarium display design and commercial filtration systems. Furthermore—and to the great interest of his customers—Olenik’s work in the aquarium industry has been characterized by novelty.


Olenik found success in “oddball” fish: “I took great joy—and pride—in offering our customers the craziest, most exciting, unusual selection of fish, invertebrates, and live plants possible. I scoured availability lists looking for things I had never carried before. When I’d see a scientific name that I didn’t recognize, my first reaction was always, ‘I gotta order those!’ When something new became available, I wanted to be the first (and, sometimes, only) store to have them! Hobbyists came to my fish room from a five-state area to see what was new,” said Olenik. “I love seeing the wonder and joy in people when they see some cool critter they’ve never laid eyes on [before].”


Olenik hopes that “seeing and learning about new and interesting aquarium fish will inspire store operators to carry a wider selection and hobbyists to consider buying them.” Catch Olenik’s enthusiasm for “oddball” fish and learn how to acquire and maintain them for commercial or private use by catching his session at Aquatic Experience.