I'm Jacob Castro, lifelong freshwater aquarium hobbyist and owner of Jacob's Aquarium. I've been around aquariums my whole life, but my passion for aquatic plants began when I was 11. In elementary school, one of my teachers had an aquarium in the classroom and I always begged for a desk closest to it. Sometimes I was successful but most of the time my teacher wouldn't allow it because he noticed I spent more time staring at the aquarium rather then my school work. This aquarium really sparked my interest in the hobby. One day after school, I convinced my mom to buy me a fish tank kit from our local department store. While browsing the pet isle we found a package of these little brown coconut looking things labeled "Aquatic Plant Seeds." My mind went wild with visions of growing real plants in my new tank. So I convinced my mom to buy them for me too. We took everything home, assembled it all and planted the seeds. For about a week we didn't see anything and I had given up on them. But one day out of no where, we noticed a tiny bright green leaf sticking out of the gravel substrate. From that point on I was fascinated with growing plants in aquariums.
When I was 16 I got serious about it. It seemed like every birthday, Christmas check or penny I found on the ground was spent on my fish tanks. I just didn't know life without one. When I was 19 in the summer of 2010. I created the YouTube channel Jacob's Aquarium. I uploaded mostly short tour videos of my tanks but then moved on to tutorials as my audience began to grow and my comments mostly consisted of questions about how to be successful in all aspects of the hobby. Once I reached a thousand subscribers, I realized this channel could actually be something. So I invested everything I had into it. I did YouTube full time for four years in a row making a wide range of videos. But it was one video in particular that would change my life forever.
I contacted one of my local tropical fish stores and asked if I could film a tour for my YouTube channel. Once the owner signed off, my Dad and I began filming. We spent two days filming a thirty minute tour of the entire store. It was one of the most challenging videos I had ever made. It required equipment and editing skills I didn't have. But somehow I managed. After uploading the video it went viral, gaining over a hundred thousand views in only a couple months. The business owner took notice and decided to give me a job at the store. My official title was website manager. On the store's website we sold aquarium plants, fish and dry goods. I was in charge of packaging, customer service, everything internet related basically. Things were going well for the first couple of months but unfortunately the business owner wasn't impressed with the growth rate of the website so I was moved out into the retail part of store to clean fish tanks and help customers. I was also expected to continue my role as website manager. What started off as a fun job soon became stressful and way too much for one person to handle. My boss micro managed me and the other employees allot. We never did things right in his eyes even though we went to the ends of the earth to complete all of our tasks. We were constantly verbally abused but there was nothing we could do about it. We needed our jobs and couldn't bare the thought of getting fired. So I put up with it. But one day, I became increasingly frustrated after putting up with my boss yelling at me almost all day. An hour before my shift was over, I dropped everything and left.
After leaving my job in the Spring of 2014, I created JacobsAquarium.com. I spent the last three hundred dollars left in my account to buy the domain, business license and first round of inventory for the website. It was a risk because after all that I literally didn't have a penny to my name. The goal I had in mind was to strictly sell aquarium plants at the lowest price possible to remain competitive, however, at the time there wasn’t much competition. I priced all my plants at unheard of prices. After the website was completed I uploaded a new video on my channel about my new endeavor and the orders started rolling in. I was completely shocked. It had only been a week since launching the new website and I had over a hundred and fifty orders to fulfill. I went from hobbyist to business owner literally overnight. As I grew so did my operation. I did as much as I could to grow the business despite living in a small apartment. At one point I had three large aquariums in what was supposed to be my bedroom and a three hundred gallon pond on my balcony. Often times I slept on my parents couch sacrificing my room for my business. My bedroom was basically a studio for my YouTube channel and warehouse for all my plants. After a couple years I realized if I wanted to take this business to the next level I would have to move out of the apartment. With the price of commercial space or land in Southern California being so high I knew I couldn't do it without some help. So I reached out to a friend of my Dad that happened to own several large pieces of property in the area.
I met with my Dads friend and asked if he would lease a small part of his property to me. Without saying much about what I wanted to do, he said "We'll find you a spot." Hearing those words brought tears to my eyes. I knew this was big. This opportunity would launch Jacob's Aquarium to the next level. After I was given the keys to the new property I built a greenhouse. I then moved my whole operation out of the apartment and into the new greenhouse. As the years went by I expanded and now today I have become one of the most popular internet retailers for aquarium plants. With an ever increasing list of competition, Jacob’s Aquarium has survived many years and will continue into the future due to our incredibly faithful customers. Many choose Jacob’s Aquarium over everyone else because they know they’re getting one of one customer service direct from the owner, Jacob himself and a shopping experience on a level unheard of with other large companies. We’re not saying they’re bad, but typically they deal with so many orders and customers they can’t provide a shopping experience on a level a small business can. With them you’re just an order number, with Jacob’s Aquarium you’re a friend and treated as such. As they say, when it becomes a job, the passion is lost and so is the quality of the work. Good friends are always there for you when you need them and that’s my entire outlook on this business. I give all the credit to my subscribers, YouTube and my Dads friend Jerry. Without all of you, I would be nothing. Thank you all. Hope you enjoyed learning more about me. Thank you for visiting JacobsAquarium.com.