The Straubs: Pioneers of Florida’s Tropical Fish Industry
The United States’ ornamental fish aquaculture industry began to develop in the 1930s and 40s in west central Florida, through the efforts of a number of aquarium pioneers. Since then, the U.S. tropical fish industry, still centered in Florida, has grown from one to over two hundred farms, unified through the Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association.
One of these pioneering families, the Straubs, moved from Long Island, NY to begin fish farming in 1940 on the east coast of Florida, and Walter Straub Tropical Fish Farm still produces and sells fish today. As a youngster, Walter H. Straub battled Florida mosquitoes, water quality problems, and other challenges as he helped his father Walter Sr. produce and sell fish for an-ever changing market. After learning the ropes, Walter and his wife Norma took over the business in 1974, and-- 3 wonderful children and 10 grandchildren later-- he find himself “still working on the farm.” Join us for a journey back to the early aquarium fish farming days, and lessons learned for today, as we travel together in Walter’s time machine.
Walter Straub was born on Long Island, N.Y. in 1938, and moved with his family to Florida in 1940, when his father, Walter Sr., purchased a 6-acre piece of land and begin aquarium fish farming. The Straubs were pioneers, among the earliest aquarium fish producers in Florida. From its inception, Walter Straub Tropical Fish Farm, in Micco, Florida, raised livebearers (including platies, swordtails, guppies, mollies), tetras, barbs, cichlids, gouramies, and numerous other species of fish. They also sold aquatic plants.
While growing up, Walter helped his father with the business. After graduating from high school in Melbourne, Florida, Walter attended the University of Florida for 2.5 years, until 1959, when he began working for RCA Missile Test Project. Two years later, in 1961, he met and married his wife Norma and began working full time for his father. When his father died in 1968, Walter and his mother continued to run the farm. In 1970, Norma and Walter purchased 11 acres adjoining the original farm, and expanded their operation. After his mother's retirement in 1974, Walter took over operations.
Walter has watched the industry in Florida develop over the past 60 years, and has helped to shape it. After having 3 wonderful children and 10 grandchildren, Walter tells us he finds himself-"Still working on the farm"!