Aquariums – Something fishy going on in offices

Post 8 of 9

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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