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Tampa Exotic Tropicals Management
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Tampa Exotic Tropicals
MANAGEMENT
Lew Rothlisberger, owner

Paul Lewis "LEW" Rothlisberger Jr.

Lew has been keeping tropical fish since his earliest memory. His father, Paul Sr., kept a number of aquariums at home and even was co owner of a small aquarium shop in the 50's when Lew was just a toddler. So to say Lew grew up with fish is not an exageration. While growing up in Havre de Grace, Maryland, fish keeping was never far from the top of his list of priorities and activities. After graduating from Harford Junior College in 1970 with an AA degree in Arts and Sciences, Lew went on to the University of Maryland. He supported himself and worked his way through college as a musician, playing drums in several bands. He considered a carreer as a drummer but never strayed far from his love of fishes. Lew graduated from University of Maryland in 1972, earning a Bachlor of Science degree from the zoology department. His majors were Life Sciences and Mathmatics. He continued his studies with graduate level courses in Vertebrate physiology, Ecology, Evolution, and a class titled "The life of Fishes" professored by well known Dr. Eugiene Clark. (Dr Clark is a famous shark expert who appeared numerous times on Jacques Cousteau and other documentaries ) Lew also completed a 100 page thesis on the schooling behavior of fishes, portions of which were published in a work by Dr Clark. The Smithsonian Institution's Natural History building, the National Aquarium, and the U of Md's Marine department on the Chesapeake Bay were Lew's favorite hang outs during these years. After college, Lew joined a large aquarium shop in Maryland. It was there that Lew discovered the "business" part of the aquarium business. Working closely with the owner, Lew became general manager and the company grew in the 70's to 5 retail stores and a warehouse. One of Lew's jobs during this time was purchasing fish. He not only bought from the local fish wholesalers, but also ordered from transhippers in Los Angeles and Miami. And he would travel to New York to see and buy from the big importers. And several times he traveled to Florida to visit and purchase directly from the fish farms. This is when he fell in Love with Florida but it would take 20 years to come back to stay. Along the way he managed a fish shop in Houston, Texas for a short time, and one in Orange County, California. He worked as an salesman for A-1 Aquatics, a major importer/wholesaler in Los Angeles in the late 70's. Then for a California fish farm called Experimental Fisheries. Then, due mostly to the recesion of the late 1970's Lew left the fish industry to persue another career: The tile and natural stone industry. Lew met and married Reina in 1980. Son Paul was born in 1982 and daughter Jennifer in 1985. His time in the tile and stone business included 5 years as a manager of a Color Tile Store, owner of his own tile shop for 2 years, travelling the western United States for 3 years as sales manager for Iberia Marble in Los Angeles, and then as Vice President of Sales & Marketing of America's Best, Inc., a large supplier/contractor in the tile, marble, and floorng industry. All during this time, Lew never got away from the "hobby" of tropical fish keeping, maintaining as many as 30 tanks at home, breeding numerous species, and selling to local fish stores. In the early 90's, Lew began looking for a way to get back to the industry he loved: tropical fish. He used every oportunity to research and bring himself up to date. In 1991 the entire family went on a 3 week trip to Central America, Reina's homeland. Lew spent virtually the entire time researching the possibilities for the fish business and even did some observing and collecting. He saw wild cichlids, livebearers, etc., but his most vivid memory was of a canoe trip down a small stream to a brackish bay in which he observed a large group of wild Anableps anableps skimming the surface. Then the decision was made, and lew left the successful career in the tile industry to re-enter the fish business by taking a sales position with Poseidon Aquatics of Gardena, Ca. Two years later he was offered the opportunity to manage the new company: Poseidon Aquatics of Florida to be located in the Tampa area. Realizing a dream, the entire family relocated to Central Florida and finally Lew was back in the place he had loved so many years before. Things did not go well for Poseidon Aquatics of Florida, however as the major chain store which they were supplying fish to was bought out by another larger chain. So Poseidon Aquatics of Florida reorganized. The name was changed to Tampa Bay Aquatics, and they began supplying fish to independent pet shops. Lew continued to manage TBA until early 1998, when he left the company, but remained in Florida. After a very short stint working with Seaview Wholesale Marine Life, Inc., he finally put together the final stages of his lifelong dream and opened his very own Florida tropical fish wholesale company: TAMPA EXOTIC TROPICALS. In addition to tropical fish keeping and selling, Lew's other interests are sport fishing, bowling, and he loves to spend time just hanging around the numerous parks and beaches in Florida, obserivng the abundant wildlife. He is active with the local litle league and he enjoys spectator sports and is an avid Tampa Bay BUCS fan. He takes an active interest in his son Paul and his daughter Jennifer's school activities, especially their respective bands as they are both becomming accomplished trupmet players (Both are "first chair" in the Hillsborough County All-County bands in their age groups)And Paul has been voted Captain of the 400 piece marching band. Although its been many years since Lew played music profesionally, he still dabbles at it occasionally and is still considered a pretty good drummer.