Clayton Aquariums America's Largest Commercial Aquarium Service Company Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:57:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Seattle Children’s Aquarium Photo Wed, 17 Jun 2015 21:36:59 +0000 Childrens Photo

Fish, Puppies and Health Benefits Mon, 08 Sep 2014 19:01:01 +0000 Puppies, Pets, Fish, Medical Benefits

Aquarium Therapy Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:49:15 +0000  

Aquarium therapy

Aquarium therapy is the use of an aquarium to provide potential health benefits.[1]

Health Benefits

Contemplation of fish in an aquarium seem to have a significant effect in reducing levels of stress and

anxiety. The effects of the presence of an aquarium on patients awaiting electroconvulsive therapy were

examined in 2004 study by Purdue. While statistically significant differences in blood pressure and heart

rate between the test and control were not found, the patients demonstrated a 12% reduction in self

reported pre-treatment anxiety.[2] In a 1985 study of dental patients, both contemplation of an aquarium

and hypnosis, used together or alone, produced a significant increase in relaxation in comparison to a

control group and a group of patients who contemplated a poster. This study also found that hypnosis did

not augment the effects of exposure to an aquarium. Degrees of relaxation were determined by both

subjective and objective criteria, and included blood pressure and heart rate.[3] Additional studies confirm

that watching fish in an aquarium can be effective in reducing anxiety in patients awaiting dental surgery.

[4] Observation of aquaria has also been shown to reduce muscle tension and pulse rate in elderly subjects

in comparison to control groups who watched a placebo video tape or a video tape of an aquarium.[5]

Although aquarium owners often report problems with maintaining tank cleanliness and controlling

temperature and water balance, they also claim that watching fish has a calming effect and creates a

feeling of serenity.[6]

Other Health Benefits

A Purdue study in 2009 examined the effect of aquariums on the nutritional intake of patients diagnosed

with Alzheimer’s disease. The study followed 60 patients in three health care facilities. In two facilities

patients were exposed to aquaria, and the patients in the third facility were used as a control group and

exposed to paintings of seascapes. Patients exposed to the aquaria averaged an increase of 17.2 percent in

the amount of food they consumed. Weight also increased significantly, and the patients required fewer

nutritional supplements. In addition to the nutritional benefits, there was also a noticeable decrease in

physically aggressive behaviors among the patients.[7]

The Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut has a program designed to help children with learning and

developmental challenges enhance their social skills. The program uses “touch and learn” sessions with

aquatic invertebrates to facilitate relaxation and development of social skills.[8][9]

Feng Shui

In feng shui, moving water is considered beneficial in balancing chi, and a well maintained aquarium in

the right location increases wealth and luck.[unreliable source?] [10][11]


1. ^ Blizin, Jerry (1964-05-24). “Floridian Planning National Aquarium”. St. Petersburg Times.

Retrieved 2010-03-17.[dead link]

2. ^ Barker, Sandra B., Rasmussen, Keith G., and Best, Al. M. (2004-07-05). “Effect of aquariums on

electroconvulsive therapy patients”. Anthrozoös (USA: Purdue Univ Press.) 16 (3): 229–240.

doi:10.2752/089279303786992071. ISSN 0892-7936.

3. ^ Katcher, Aaron, Segal, Herman and Beck, Alan (1985-09-01). “Comparison of contemplation and

hypnosis for the reduction of anxiety and discomfort during dental surgery”. American Journal of

Clinical Hypnosis (USA: American Society of Clinical Hypnosis) 27 (1): 14–21.

doi:10.1080/00029157.1984.10402583. ISSN 0002-9157. PMID 6391137.

4. ^ J Pretty, PF Barlett. “Nature and Health in the Urban Environment”. Urban Place

5. ^ DeSchriver, Mary M., and Riddick, Carol C. (1992-10-01). “Effects of watching aquariums on

elders’ stress”. Anthrozoös (USA: Purdue Univ Press) 4 (1): 44–48.

doi:10.2752/089279391787057396. ISSN 0892-7936.

6. ^ Kidd, Aline H.and Kidd, Robert M. (1999-09-01). “Benefits, problems, and characteristics of home

aquarium owners”. Psychological Reports (USA: Psychological Reports) 84 (3): 998–1004.

doi:10.2466/PR0.84.3.998-1004. ISSN 0033-2941.

7. ^ Gaidos, Susan (August 2009). “Study: Aquariums may pacify Alzheimer’s patients”. Perdue News

Service. Retrieved 2010-03-17.

8. ^ Robitaille, Suzanne (March 5, 2010). “Fish Therapy for Autistic Youth at Mystic Aquarium”.

Connecticut News. Retrieved 2010-03-18.

9. ^ “Mystic Aquarium Hosts Synergy Center Programs for Students with Disabilities and Social

Challenges”. Retrieved 2010-03-18.

10. ^ “Feng Shui Tip 83”. Retrieved 2010-03-18.

11. ^ “Free Feng Shui Tips”. Archived from the original on 16 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-18.



Aquarium therapy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aquarium technology can be fascinating Mon, 07 Jan 2013 17:39:48 +0000 By Doug Margeson, King County Journal Reporter

Originally published March 15, 2004 King County Journal

Aquarium Technology

Journal photo – Aquarium service technician, Bill Zech, works on removing a piece of coral for cleaning at one of the aquariums at Overlake Hospital.


There are big ones and little ones and tall ones and short ones and round ones and square ones. There even are oval and pentagonal ones and pie-shaped ones.

All contain fish. And that’s what really counts.

“We tell people that an aquarium is a responsibility. It is a living thing in your midst. It requires commitment and knowledge on your part.  But the fish are all worth it,” said Steve Clayton.

Clayton is the owner of Clayton Aquariums Inc., the largest aquarium design and maintenance company in these parts. He and his staff of designers, cabinet-makers and biologists will build and maintain almost any kind of aquarium you can imagine. Their products and service aren’t exactly cheap, but that’s the way it should be.

“If you do it carelessly and on the cheap, you will end up with a big mess, ” said Russ Kelly, Clayton’s service manager. “You need a good design and quality products. Patience helps, too.”

Patience helps because, as a living environment, an aquarium has a schedule of its own. Even aquariums maintained by professionals like the folks at Clayton need to be monitored by their owners.

Sound intimidating? It shouldn’t, Clayton said. Not only are aquariums beautiful, they are a great deal of fun.

Aquarium technology has been undergoing steady improvement over the last 30 years or so, with the result being pumps, heaters, filtering systems, feeding systems and the like that are amazingly efficient and dependable. So, with proper care, most aquarium fish actually live longer, and better, than their counterparts in the wild, Clayton said. Aquarists can reproduce most any marine environment you like: Fresh water, salt water, coral reef, tropical, even the water of Puget Sound. Salt water is more complicated than fresh water because its chemistry is more complex. Cold water is more complicated than tropical because it’s easier to heat water than cool it.

In the aquarium

The creatures in an aquarium vary considerably in size, shape, color and personality according to their environment. Generally speaking, salt water fish are more colorful than fresh water and cold water fish.  As a result, most of Clayton’s clients want salt water tropical aquariums.

Clayton’s biologists can stock those tropical tanks with most any fish you want. Usually, however, they recommend two dozen or so standard species that can thrive in aquariums.

“Ultimately, our goal is to keep the fish alive, “Kelly said. “So , I suggest simplicity. Don’t worry, the fish will still be beautiful.”

The bigger the aquarium, the easier it is to maintain. Clayton recommends salt water aquariums be at least 100 gallons. Size is just the fist consideration.

Where will the aquarium be in your house? To avoid excessive algae growth, it should be out of direct sunlight. Will it be in a room with a lot of traffic and activity? Then it will need fish with placid dispositions. Wil;l it be free-standing, built into a wall or protruding from a wall as a design element? Will you be out of the house for long periods of time? Then you will need someone to maintain it.

Any shape you want

Fortunately, all of it is doable. Plexiglas aquariums can be made almost any size or shape. So can the cabinets necessary to store their equipment. That equipment is silent and dependable.

These day, aquariums can even have automatic feeding systems that will dispense just the right amount of food at just the right time every day.

“We often talk to potential clients about their level of interest,” Clayton said. “Interesting thing is, once we get their aquarium up and running, their level of interest grows. They can’t wait to get home and check on their fish. Aquariums do that.”

Article PDF – article-aquarium-technology

A Conversation with Steve Clayton Sun, 06 Jan 2013 18:08:39 +0000 A Conversation with Steve Clayton, owner of Clayton Aquarium Corporation

By Jeanne Lamont, Bailey Boushay House Homefront publication for Virginia Mason

Originally published April 2004

Steve Clayton

Steve Clayton, owner of Clayton Aquariums, in front of one of the two Saltwater displays he donated to BBH.


In 1954, a young boy named Steve started a business with his Dad and brother. Steve had a passion for taking care of fish and their tanks. 50 years later Steve shares his passion for aquatic nature with Bailey-Boushay House.

Clayton Aquariums donated two Custom tanks, with ongoing maintenance shortly after our facility opened in 1992. When asked why he chose to give to Bailey-Boushay House this gift Steve said, “you have to remember that 10 years ago the AIDS epidemic was very different. It was such a difficult time for AIDS organizations in the early days. They were trying to do good work and not getting much community support. I felt that our corporation could make a statement by contributing beautiful saltwater fish displays, and letting Bailey-Boushay know that we honor and support the wonderful work they are doing in our community.”

Clayton Aquariums is the nation’s largest aquarium servicing company. They currently have over 900 installations, mostly in commercial locations. A great many of their Northwest customer are hospitals and other health care organizations. Along with donating aquarium service to BBH, Clayton Aquariums also provides Saltwater displays for the Ronald McDonald Houses in Seattle.

Clayton’s business philosophy is to place aquariums where the maximum amount of people benefit from them. Putting them in place where people don’t have access with outside nature connects patients with the process of life. Being sick is stressful and bringing nature into the living spaces creates a calming and soothing environment that patients, families and staff very much appreciate.

Clayton Aquariums’ business philosophy is not unlike Bailey-Boushay’s philosophy of care. “We create caring environments though the healing arts. Patients are connected to the process of life through art, gardens, music and companion animals.” The fish tanks on each of our residential floors are an integral part of that caring environment.

Thank you Clayton Aquariums for over 11 years of supporting our work in caring for patients with HIV/AIDS and other with life-threatening illnesses. Today, we honor you Steve! Thank you.

Article PDF


The age of aquariums Sat, 05 Jan 2013 18:31:23 +0000 By David A. Grant, Journal Business Reporter

Originally published Dec 18, 1998


Bellevue company finds niche tending other people’s fish

People used to ask Steve Clayton when he was going to get a real job.

They didn’t think that cleaning aquariums and feeding fish was much of a career, but the skeptics might want to take another look.

Clayton owns Bellevue-based Clayton Aquarium Corp., which he bills as the nation’s largest aquarium service. The company designs, installs and maintains custom-made aquariums servicing more than 900 tanks. He has 17 employees, a fleet of 16 service vehicles and expects to top $1.5 million in sales this year.

Some of his most visible projects include, multiple aquariums at Bellevue’s Overlake Hospital and the unique circular tanks at Nordstrom’s flagship store, which opened last August in Downtown Seattle.

But those splashy aquariums are just two of many in the Puget sound region, where thousands of visitors each day enjoy Clayton’s colorful installation at banks, medical clinics, retirement homes and restaurants though few would recognize his name.

The company’s growth in recent years has been made possible by a combination of technological change and the increasing perception that viewing fish may be good for one’s health.

“What hasn’t changed is that people enjoy fish as much as in the “50s, but they need then even more,” he said, referring to workplaces that are becoming ever more stressful. “I think people have a need to have living things around. It’s only human.”

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In the Swim Fri, 04 Jan 2013 19:03:19 +0000 By Doug Margeson, Journal American

Originally published Nov 25, 1992

Steve Clayton

Journal America Photo – Steve Clayton is seen through one of the aquariums in his home. His company, Clayton Aquariums, installs tanks in businesses.

Eastsider Steve Clayton helps businesses go fish

Steve Clayton wants to put some life into your workplace.

That life is an aquarium, a big glass box full of a lot of little fishes, fishes with color, shape and personality.

“Humans aren’t meant to live in sterile environments. It’s contrary to our nature. “Clayton said. “So, putting an aquarium in your workplace makes it a livelier, more natural place to work.”

Clayton has been putting that philosophy into effect for more than 35 years with Clayton Aquariums Inc.  The Bellevue-based company is, as far as Clayton knows, the largest aquarium service company in the country, with more than 700 clients in a thousand-square mile area bordered by Olympia, Mount Vernon, Bremerton and Issaquah. The company also has customers in Oregon, California, Alaska, Utah and Arizona.

And all came to Clayton. The company does not make cold sales.

Why such success?

Because, as Clayton already said, our species is not meant to work in windowless, lifeless boxes. Not that many companies haven’t tried to that over the years. You know: Quit staring out the window and get back to work. Ultimately, that approach will come up short, because it is the nature of humans to occasionally look out the window, Clayton said. And if humans don’t have a window, we’ll do something else, although we probably won’t be happy with it.

Notice how the conversation has taken on the tones of a wildlife biologist describing some critter’s behavior? Not surprising. Clayton and his staff spend the day surrounded by critters; tank after tank of saltwater and freshwater fish.  All of those fish have things on their minds that have very little to do with profit margins and flow charts. And they show it.

“Yeah, I feel a lot of affection for them,” said Peter Korch, operations manger for the company. “Some will say fish aren’t capable of intelligence, but I’m not so sure. They certainly have personalities of their own.”

Korch pointed to a 100-gallon tropical tank that held fish waiting to be transferred to one of Clayton’s commercial aquariums. Most of the fish were swimming around in various ways. One was hiding in a shell. Every now and then, he’d stick his nose out and look around, but he apparently didn’t like what he saw and would scoot back in.

“Just arrived from overseas, still getting his bearings,” Korch said. “In a few days, he’ll be used to things and swimming around like everyone else.”

Everyone else is the 30 or so species of saltwater fish the company has swimming around its office at any one time. Another dozen or so freshwater varieties also grace its tanks. Saltwaters are more popular, however, because they are bigger and offer the most striking colors.

Tropical fish are the most common because it is easier to heat an aquarium than to cool it, which you have to do if you want a North Pacific aquarium, Korch said.

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Aquariums – Something fishy going on in offices Thu, 03 Jan 2013 19:32:41 +0000 By by Carlene Canton, Journal American

Originally published Nov 12, 1990

Steve Clayton

Journal America Photo – Steve Clayton, owner of Clayton Aquariums

It’s probably just about impossible to love or work in the Eastside and not run into at least one or two of Steve Clayton’s aquariums. You’ll see them in banks, doctor’s offices, hospitals, dental offices and attorney’s waiting rooms. Gone are the rectangular tanks of yesteryear with tubes, pumps and filters hanging over the top. Thank to new technology, today’s tanks can be made in almost any size and shape.

Clayton has been running Clayton Aquariums, which started as a family business in 1954, pretty much on his own for the past 20 years.


Designing, building, installing and maintaining aquariums for corporate and institutional use.

The challenge:

Clayton Aquariums has designed, built and installed more than 600 aquariums. But that’s just the beginning. “The really challenging part is maintaining and servicing the tanks after they’re installed and keeping both fish and client happy.”


“Most of our tanks have to be serviced every 14 to 16 days. This includes cleaning, adding new water, checking and cleaning the equipment, checking food supplies and feeding patterns. It’s a critical part of what we do. We want these fish to thrive.”

Selling the idea:

“Twenty years ago an aquarium in a corporate setting was a pretty new idea and people were skeptical. Now, it’s easier to sell the idea, but we want to make sure people are motivated and interested in the fish because it does take a commitment for them. Even though we maintain the tanks, the client has to take care of daily feeding, so tanks really will only work for client who are going to be in the office face for even fie and a half days a week. You can’t just shut the place down for a few days.”

Protecting the fish:

“I’ve been diving with the people who collect our fish for us out in the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii or around the Marshall Islands. I know how serious they are and how carefully they treat these fish. …


“The fish are simply beautiful to watch. People are realizing they can spend money on artwork or plants byt with fish what they get, in essence, is a living sculpture. Fish have a calming effect. It’s a proven fact that they lower blood pressure, and anyone who’s gotten caught up in watching them knows they can help you forget the tension of the moment.”

The service component:

“They key to what we;’re doing is being able to service our accounts in a professional, reliable and regular way so we can maintain control over the tanks and thus the fish.”

The Solution:

“Every day I have vans working in several different regions of Puget Sound. I have nine aquarium technicians working for me, and its their job to service their regular accounts and to deal with any emergencies that come up in that geographic territory.”


“My management philosophy is to find good people, make sure they’re trained well and then pay them well enough so it’s worth their while to stay. My employees are professional who love fish and enjoy what they’re doing.”

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Portrait of a corporate ef(fish)iency expert Wed, 02 Jan 2013 19:33:42 +0000 By Larry Liebman, Puget Sound Business Journal
Steve Clayton

Photo by Tom Cammarata for Puget Sound Business Journal – Steve Clayton – his client list reads like a local “Who’s Who”

To children visiting the dentist, an aquarium is a great waiting-room pacifier. Watching fish is as relaxing as hypnosis, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania Schools of Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine.

Steve Clayton makes a business of these mobile pacifiers. His Bellevue firm, Clayton Aquariums, has installed and maintains some 500 aquariums from Marysville to Olympia.

Clayton’s business is one fo the biggest of its type in the West. Some 90 percent of his customers are corporations of institutions, including many doctors and dentists. The remaining 10 percent, his private clients are like a local “Who’s Who.”

Clayton’s firm tends to Seattle Seahawk start Curt Warner’s aquarium at his Kirkland condo, and to developer Dave Sabey’s in his Hunts Point mansion. Developer Martin Selig has an outdoor koi pond at his Madronna Park estate served by Clayton’s company.

The aquarium business has evolved greatly since the mid-1950s, when Clayton was peddling tropical fish to school chums in his Ballard neighborhood.

Plexiglass tanks, sophisticated filtration systems, automatic lighting and commercial-grade motors are the norm now for most large aquarium installations. Tanks come in every shape and often serve as room dividers.

Clayton uses a computer to schedule his technicians’ service trips…

…Clayton custom designs most of his aquariums, like the units in the admissions department at Bellevue’s Overlake Hospital, which has one of the West’s biggest institutional fish collections.  Still to come at Overlake is a 16-foot tank in the surgery waiting room.

“From day one we’ve had positive feedback on our aquariums,” said hospital president Sandy Jeghers. “People enter a hospital expecting a sterile, cold atmosphere. With the aquariums, the environment is instantly relaxing and cordial.”

Clayton’s aquarium career began as a family hobby-quasi-business created by his older brother Dick, now the vice president of Thinking Machines Inc., a Cambridge, Mass company that designs super computers.

Steve Clayton, 43, went full time in the aquarium business in 1972 and incorporated in 1981.

“The first three or four years were a bear,” he said. “We had to create a corporate and institutional interest that wasn’t there.”

Clayton has accumulated an impressive portfolio of installation, including executive offices at the Boeing Co, and McDonald’s Corp.’s Northwest regional office in Kirkland, waiting rooms at Providence, Swedish, Evergreen, University and Overlake hospitals, numerous dental and medical clinics, more thank 50 nursing and retirement homes and many restaurants, including the new McDonald’s below the Colman ferry terminal on Seattle’s harbor front.

But Clayton isn’t taking things for granted. Last December he hired long-time friend and fellow Ballard High grad Craig Christophersen as his marketing manager. Christophersen brings experience as a building contractor and sales manager, and long experience working with interior designers and architects.

Bellevue interior designer Michael Tye, a long-timer client of Clayton’s, thinks Christophersen’s presence will help Clayton Aquarium’s bottom line.

“This takes the marketing and salesmanship pressure off Steve and allows him to be more of an administrator, ” said Tye, noting that aquariums are “great visual elements…They are very soothing and calming and serve as pacifiers for kids, and they aren’t a high cost item relative to other things.”

The elderly , too, are captivated by aquarium fish. Bellevue;s Careage, which operates nursing homes in California, Arizona and Washington, has through-wall aquariums in seven locations, visible for both lobbies and dining rooms.

“They’re a conversation piece and people are overwhelmed by the beauty,” said Vera Taylor, Careage’s director of marketing…

…The tropical fish most frequently requested are bright yellow tang, the clown fish with yellow and orange vertical stripes, and the foot-long lion fish with flowing fins. Some restaurants make a ritual of inviting customers to watch as the lion fish are fed their regular meals of live goldfish, evoking reactions of awe and revulsion.

Aquarium companies that peruse the corporate and institutional market are still a rarity. One of Clayton’s few direct competitors id David Reinhardt, whose Everett-based Aquarium Service Northwest, services 150 tanks throughout the Puget Sound area.  A major problem is getting healthy fish, Reinhardt said.

“The demand for saltwater fish is growing enormously and as it occurs quality control sometimes breaks down between fisher and the distributor,” he said. “We could reach the point where demand far outstrips supply.”

Clayton’s business can’t be compared with a retail aquarium or pet store. Off-the-street customers normally don’t wander in to his office in Bellevue to browse. The showroom has some empty tanks, lots of literature and one through-the-wall tank full of iridescent salt water fish.

Some retail pet shops, especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco, have attempted to diversify by selling as well as servicing aquariums for institutions and corporations, noted Clayton.

“But the pet shops soon find out that servicing aquariums is too much of an expense and many quickly go back to retaining tanks and fish,” he said.

Clayton, who scuba dives as a hobby, was a lieutenant in the Navy during the Vietnam war. In that assignment, his only involvement with aquariums was to maintain the captain’s fish tank. “I never kept the tank more than half-full,” he recalled. “The boat rocked a lot.”

Clayton doesn’t usually keep an aquarium at his Green Lake home, but installs one every time he throws a party. “What would people think if they couldn’t find an aquarium in my home?” he asked.

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