By Jessica Watson

With jazz music quietly playing in the background and the gentle gurgle of a large living room aquarium, Joe Gargas, of Apollo Beach, sits at a computer checking the status of bids on his products. This site is, an ebay-like site for aquarium hobbyists.

Gargas currently has more than seven items available for bid, including filtration systems he’s designed and a selection of colorful, healthy Discus fish.

“I’ve come to love the Discus because it’s the ‘king of the aquarium fish,’” Gargas explained, “It’s the most challenging to breed and also one of the most interesting.”

Gargas explained that Discus need to be kept in an optimum water temperature, fed a specialized diet and separated from the large group for mating and breeding purposes. At all other times, the Discus is a schooling fish and needs to be kept in groups of at least six.

In his garage, Gargas has combined the best of all these features with healthy water to develop what he knows to be a “state-of-the-art life support system” for his fish, spread throughout 60-70 aquariums.

Gargas shares his strategy for safe and healthy aquarium water in his newly released book, “Water and the Aquarium,” available only through Gargas’s website,

Water quality is also an essential part of the health of fish, said Gargas. “90 percent of problems with fish are due to the condition of the water in which they live.”

He’s been investigating the water quality in aquariums since the 1970’s, and he’s held jobs in water analysis and treatment plants that have taken him around the world and given him the opportunity to work with the best aquarist minds.

Gargas lives with his wife, Donna, and serves as a drummer at the Crossing Church, South Shore campus. He’s also actively involved with Tampa Bay Aquarium Society (, which meets the second Monday of every month at the Florida Aquarium.



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Jessica is a freelance writer for the Osprey Observer and Christian Voice newspapers. She has a BA in Journalism from the University of West Florida and 7 years of experience writing for various publications. She’s the owner of Accuracy Editing, a 2-year-old company committed to helping small businesses and individuals improve their written communication.