“Fish, and a Whole Lot More.”
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Customers of Clearwater Aquarium and Pet Supply selected the slogan for this boutique pet store located on Washington Street in Fluvanna: “Where Pets Go to Do Their Business.” But the people at Clearwater Aquarium know the business of pets, too.
“People think we’re just about fish because of the name,” said Missy Hartley, who, with her husband Mike Hartley, has owned the shop for the last four years. “But we’re a full-service pet shop, with the largest variety of exotic animals around.” The owners are both Jamestown natives with a long history with animals and with the store, too. Missy manages the store, but both her brother and her husband, Mike, worked together in the store when they were teenagers. Now Mike runs Hartley Buick, located across the street.
It is difficult to take in the whole shop during a single visit. Upon entering, a customer can’t help but notice the birds. Two large scarlet macaws groom themselves in large cages in front of a big plate-glass window while Ashley, an African Gray Parrot and the store’s long-time mascot, squawks and talks in her own cage. Aquariums in the main part of the shop hold parakeets, lovebirds, canaries and cockatiels. They chirrup and flit and ruffle their feathers as visitors walk by. Most of the employees have worked in the store for a long time. They are animal experts and will help customers find the best pet to fit their needs.
“If a child wants to have a bird he can take out if its cage, I might recommend a cockatiel,” Missy said. “Parakeets are beautiful, but they’re shy, and don’t like to be handled very much. And the big birds, like the macaws, live to be about 80 years old. It’s a major consideration. African Gray parrots are the best talkers.”
Cages along one wall are filled with snakes, lizards, turtles, mice, hamsters, a beautiful long-haired rabbit, chinchillas with babies and even a hedgehog.
Shelves contain high quality food and organic grooming products for dogs and cats. Toys, treats, and accessories, including beds, leashes, dishes and other products are on display. Food, shelter and products for birds, including wild birds, are available in other aisles. A certified groomer is available for cats and dogs, and for the exotic animals and birds that the shop sells.
Clearwater Aquarium does not provide dog- or cat-sitting services, although they occasionally foster an animal to place with a permanent home. But they will “pet sit” for smaller animals, including fish, while their owners are away.
A separate room to the left is where most of the aquariums are located. A large selection of fresh and saltwater fish is available, along with all sorts of products for tropical fish. The aquariums glow in the darkened room, and the bubbles provide a calming sound while brightly colored fish dart through greenery and coral.
This is quite a contrast to the loud and raucous cacophony of birds in the breeding room. Clearwater Aquarium hand-raises its own birds, and breeds other animals, too. Birds and other animals that are purchased at the shop receive free grooming for their lifetimes, and staff is always available to answer questions about the care, health and happiness of the pet. The company also services local fish tanks for restaurants, doctors’ offices and other businesses.
Customer pets, as long as they’re under control, are welcome in the store, and employees sometimes bring their own pets to work with them.
“I have the most fun with kids,” said Missy. “They come in for field trips, and we educate them about the animals and how to care for them. We’re a show-and-tell sort of place.”
The shop is easily seen from the road, and has a large parking lot out back. And if it’s okay with mom, there is a granddaughter out there who might need a baby chinchilla for her next birthday. More information about Clearwater Aquariums is on their Facebook page.