For over four decades, Ely’s Tropical Fish has been the go-to source for aquarium hobbyists in search of healthy, vibrant tropical fish. With an incredibly vast selection of freshwater and marine fish, both common and rare, Ely’s Tropical Fish has earned a reputation as one of the best tropical fish stores in the country.
Located in Florham Park, New Jersey, Ely’s Tropical Fish is a family-owned business that was first established in 1976. The shop was originally started by Ely Horowitz, an avid fish keeper who wanted to share his love of tropical fish with others. Ely focused on stocking the highest quality fish from ethical breeders and growers. He also emphasized educating customers on proper fish care.
Today, Ely’s Tropical Fish is run by Ely’s son, David Horowitz. David has continued his father’s legacy of providing exceptional customer service and a top-notch selection of healthy aquarium fish. Under David’s leadership, Ely’s Tropical Fish has expanded into online sales, shipping tropical fish nationwide. However, the brick-and-mortar tropical fish store on Columbia Turnpike in Florham Park remains the heart of Ely’s Tropical Fish.
An Mind-Boggling Assortment of Tropical Fish
The selection at Ely’s Tropical Fish is simply unrivaled. At any given time, the store has over 300 aquariums filled with around 4,000 types of freshwater, brackish, and marine fish. This includes common beginner species like guppies and tetras as well as rare and exotic fish that are hard to find anywhere else.
Ely’s Tropical Fish is especially known for their selection of oddball and monster fish. These include knifefish, bichirs, arowanas, monster catfish, freshwater eels, and more. Fish lovers come from all over to hand-pick monster fish ranging from 4 inches to over 4 feet long.
Beyond fish, Ely’s stocks a vast array of live aquarium plants, corals, and invertebrates. This includes unusual creatures like vampire crabs, bamboo shrimp, sea apples, urchins, and more. Their corals are sustainably captive-raised, not wild-harvested.
For native fish enthusiasts, Ely’s has an entire section dedicated to hard-to-find North American native fish. These wild-caught beauties include colorful darters, shiners, sunfish, minnows, and suckers. Ely’s also breeds many native species, including rare natives like blackbanded sunfish and spring pygmy sunfish.
In short, if you’re looking for almost any type of aquatic life for your freshwater or saltwater aquarium, Ely’s Tropical Fish is sure to have it in stock. It’s no wonder they have been voted the #1 best online tropical fish store for 5 straight years.
The Convenience of Online Tropical Fish Delivery
One of the biggest advantages of ordering from Ely’s Tropical Fish online is that you can have tropical fish conveniently delivered right to your door. Ely’s utilizes state-of-the-art packaging methods to ensure your fish arrive healthy and adjustment-free.
The standard overnight FedEx delivery is just $39.99 for orders under $199. Considering the high cost of fuel today, this affordable shipping rate makes buying fish online cheaper than driving to visit multiple fish stores.
When comparing Ely’s Tropical Fish to competitors, Ely’s stands out for their outstanding DOA policy. In the rare event a fish passes in transit, Ely’s will replace it for free or refund your money. With most retailers, you’re out of luck if a fish dies in shipping.
Buying online also gives you access to Ely’s entire inventory, including fish that aren’t on display in the retail store. Browsing their massive online selection is an experience in itself. You’ll discover fish you never knew existed, like dazzling purple spot gobies and glowlight danios with bioluminescent spots.
Of course, buying fish online does mean you don’t get to personally hand-select each fish. That’s why in-store shopping at Ely’s Tropical Fish is such an amazing experience.
An Aquatic Wonderland: Shopping at the Ely’s Store
Stepping into the Ely’s Tropical Fish retail store is like entering an underwater world. Everywhere you look, your gaze is met by dazzling colors, shapes, and motions. The sounds of bubbling waterfalls and filters fill the air.
At over 5,000 square feet, it’s larger than most public aquariums! The store’s interior resembles a lush jungle environment, with tanks positioned among jungle vines, stone formations, and mural-covered walls. In the cichlid room, a giant jungle tree looms over rows of display tanks.
The saltwater fish area is designed to mimic a coral reef, with tanks filled with undulating sea anemones and live corals. Wandering the aisles, you’ll spot some tanks packed with schooling tetras or barbs while others house solitary pearlescent freshwater angelfish or invertebrates like African dwarf frogs.
Of course, the true magic of shopping at Ely’s Tropical Fish is getting to hand-select your fish from the countless options. The friendly staff members are always eager to catch your chosen fish using hand nets. You can watch mesmerized as employees expertly bag fish to transport home.
Beyond fish, the store has gorgeously aquascaped display tanks to showcase their extensive live plant selection. There are terrariums filled with unusual reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids. You’ll even find premium aquarium equipment, accessories, and decor for sale.
Rave Reviews from Fish Keeping Enthusiasts
Over the years, Ely’s Tropical Fish has earned quite the following among aquarists. Just take a look at the hundreds of 5-star reviews from satisfied customers. Many reviewers call Ely’s the best fish store they’ve ever visited.
The most commonly praised aspects include:
- Jaw-dropping selection – Nearly every review mentions being blown away by the diversity and sheer number of fish species. Many say it’s like visiting a public aquarium.
- Healthy fish – Reviewers note their fish from Ely’s arrive energetic and free of disease. Many say their fish thrived for years after purchase.
- Outstanding service – Customers rave about the staff being passionate, knowledgeable, and eager to help select compatible fish. Several said staff saved them from almost buying incompatible fish.
- Fair prices – While not the cheapest around, most agree Ely’s prices are very fair for the unbeatable fish quality and service.
The most common negatives mentioned include:
- Crowding – Given the store’s popularity, weekends can become a bit crowded making moving around tricky. Some suggest visiting mid-week if possible.
- Limiting fish purchases – A few reviewers were disappointed when staff prevented them from buying too many fish to avoid overstocking their tank. However, most saw this as thoughtful guidance.
- Shipping delays – While rare, some mentioned shipments being delayed during adverse weather conditions. Ely’s does warn shipments may be delayed in extreme temperatures.
An Introduction to Keeping Tropical Fish
If you’re tempted to set up a tropical aquarium after discovering Ely’s world of tropical fish, it’s important to understand what’s required to help your fish thrive. Tropical fish come from warm environments and need:
- Heated tank water between 72-82°F. Tropical fish become stressed and prone to disease in cold water.
- Strong filtration to maintain clean water. Fish waste produces ammonia, which is toxic. A filter with activated carbon helps remove toxins.
- Oxygenation via air pumps, bubble stones, or waterfall filters. Surface movement helps gas exchange.
- Hiding spots like caves, plants, wood, and rocks. This reduces stress and aggression.
- A cycled tank that has built up beneficial bacteria to convert ammonia into less toxic compounds. Cycling a tank takes 4-8 weeks.
- Proper nutrition like commercial flake or pellet foods. Varied diet improves health.
- Compatibility stocking fish that get along in terms of habitat needs and aggression levels. Cichlids tend to be aggressive.
- Ideal population to avoid overcrowding which stresses fish and dirties water.
Following these guidelines and performing partial water changes creates an ideal home for tropical fish to thrive. Ely’s staff can recommend properly stocking and caring for the tropical fish you select.
Coldwater Fish vs. Tropical: Ease of Care
When deciding what kind of freshwater aquarium to create, one choice is whether to keep coldwater or tropical fish. Coldwater fish hail from temperate regions and do not require water heating. This makes them easier to care for in some ways.
Some benefits of coldwater fish like goldfish and koi include:
- No heater required – Coldwater species tolerate a wide temperature range from 40-75°F. Not having to purchase and adjust a heater simplifies care.
- Lower oxygen needs – Coldwater fish evolved in cooler waters with less dissolved oxygen so air pumps are often optional.
- Hardier species – Common coldwater fish tolerate poorer water quality and fluctuations better than tropical fish.
- Beginner friendly – For first-time fish keepers, coldwater aquariums represent a simpler introduction to the hobby.
- Cheaper setup – Without the need for a heater and high-powered filtration, a coldwater tank costs less upfront.
However, tropical fish have benefits too for those willing to provide the right environment:
- Stunning colors and patterns – Tropical fish display a breathtaking array of vivid colors from neon tetras to angelfish.
- Greater variety – Hundreds of small tropical species are available rather than just a handful of coldwater fish.
- Interactive behaviors – Many tropical fish have interesting behaviors like cleaning fish that remove parasites from tankmates.
- Planted aquarium options – The warm water enables growing lush aquatic plants to create a naturalistic habitat.
While coldwater aquariums are simpler, tropical fish allow you to replicate visually stunning underwater environments. At Ely’s Tropical Fish, they can help equip you with everything needed to create a thriving tropical habitat if you’re up for the challenge.
Aggression and Compatibility: Mixing Tropical Fish
With hundreds of tropical fish species available, a common challenge is figuring out which fish can coexist peacefully. Unfortunately, no universal rules exist beyond understanding a fish’s temperament and housing requirements.
Cichlids tend to be one of the most aggressive tropical fish families. Convict cichlids, Jack Dempseys, Oscars, and many others are best kept alone as they will attack more peaceful tankmates. However, some cichlids like rams can mix with small non-cichlids.
Another consideration is bottom vs. top dwelling fish. Bottom fish like plecos and corydoras may be fin nipped by mid and top swimmers. Fast finicky fish also sometimes nip at slower moving species with long fins.
Territorial fish like bettas need plenty of space, hiding spots, and just a few tankmates. Don’t mix aggressive territorial fish, either with its species or other pushy species. However, peaceful community fish can often mix if given enough space.
The safest communities combine fish with different swimming levels that prefer similar water parameters. Research species before mixing fish to avoid injury, stress, or death. Ely’s staff are experts at recommending compatible tankmates.
Odd Behaviors: Why Catfish Swim Into Fish
The underwater world contains many behaviors that seem bizarre from a human perspective. At Ely’s Tropical Fish, employees sometimes have to explain the unusual antics of certain fish species to puzzled customers.
One of the most common questions they get is “Why did my catfish swim into my angelfish?” There are a couple explanations for this odd behavior.
Certain catfish like Corydoras, brochis, and plecos have poor eyesight and locate food using chemical receptors in their skin and whiskers. When they brush against fish, they are investigating if the object is edible. Nipping at slime coats helps the catfish assess if something is food.
Another theory is that some catfish may seek out parasites on other fish. By wedging into the gills, they can pick off external protozoans and flakes of dead tissue. Some fish even allow catfish and shrimp to clean them.
However, if catfish attack healthy fish, it’s likely due to stress or lack of space. Make sure tankmates match the temperament and space needs of catfish. Providing hiding spots and reducing aggression can curb unwanted swimming inside fish.
Choosing Ely’s Tropical Fish for Your Aquatic Needs
After 40 years of educating hobbyists and stocking top quality tropical fish, Ely’s has more than earned its reputation as the country’s premiere tropical fish destination. Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first guppies or an advanced hobbyist seeking rare monster fish, you’re guaranteed an amazing selection and expert service.
Ely’s Tropical Fish has everything needed to create a thriving freshwater or saltwater habitat, both at their New Jersey retail store and through convenient online delivery. Let their knowledgeable staff help you pick compatible species, suggest proper setups, and provide the best fishkeeping advice.
Visit Ely’s Tropical Fish online or in person and you’re sure to become another lifelong satisfied customer. The hardest part is deciding which of the thousands of fish to take home with you!