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Sit Down With Ted Judy

By Pecktec on

Pecktec: Okay folks, today, we're doing something completely different because I actually have a visitor in my home. It's Ted Judy, the legend.

Ted Judy: Legend?

Pecktec: [laughs] Private joke. That's all coming up right after this.

Robert: Hey, this is Rob with Racing's Natural Aquariums and you're about to watch the man, Pecktec on YouTube. Stay tuned.

Pecktec: Hey YouTube, this is Pecktec. I'm here with Ted Judy.

Ted Judy, of course, works for Custom Aquariums and came by to do a little testimonial which you can see--

Ted: Pretty soon.

Pecktec: Pretty soon.

Ted: Probably by the time this comes out, I imagine. I usually get them done pretty quick.

Pecktec: Yes. This will be done in December or sometime like that. He came by to do a testimonial kind of talk about the Seamless Sump, of course, I put in under my monster tank, the 210. Monster to some, average to others.

Ted: Big tank.

Pecktec: It's still a big tank. What's funny is these tanks, to me, they don't look as big when you watch it on your phone or you watch a YouTube video. They never seem as big as they do in person. Have you found that to be true?

Ted: I think scale in video and film is that way with just about everything. Especially when you take a field of view with a camera and you only see the wall or just the tank, you don't see it in the context of everything that's around it. I think that's just kind of a factor of photography and videos in general.

Pecktec: You shoot a lot of testimonials. You're actually traveling around quite a bit, right?

Ted: Yes. It's one of the best things I get to do for the company. If you have a custom aquarium or a custom cages product and you'd like me to come visit you. Just give me a call, I'll be happy to be there with my camera, make you famous.

Pecktec: Now, you've been keeping fish, I think you said since you were eight?

Ted: Yes. I started keeping aquariums when I was about eight years old. It was something that I started doing just on my own. I didn't have any family members that got into aquariums. Just something I was interested in and started actually reading about fish and enjoying keeping fish and reproducing them when I was about 12. Except for a few very short stints in the military, I have always had an aquarium somewhere in the house. I always had one running. I've actually set aquariums up in hotel rooms.

Pecktec: Really?

Ted: Yes. Because I had to keep the fish alive before I bring them home.

Pecktec: Okay. Yes. Well, that makes sense. You're also a bit of a world traveler too, right?

Ted: I like to travel. Traveling is a lot of fun. I just got back from Peru. I probably will not make a big huge video series about that one either, sorry. I make these videos so much for the company now, but it's become pretty difficult for me to keep up with the Ted's Fishroom videos. I appreciate everybody watching those videos. I'd like to say, "Hey, someday I'm going to really get back into it, make a whole lot more videos." I'm very tired. I make videos all week long for Custom Aquariums and the videos, testimonials and stuff, doing this stuff is kind of the fun stuff. I also make all the videos for their instruction manuals and how to set things up and how to solve problems and how to feature, new features, and new product. All I'm doing is shooting in every video.

Pecktec: Now, what I've noticed with the aquarium products, they tend to come out and then they last for a long, long time. There doesn't seem to be this need to have something absolutely-- like a car every single year is another model car. Is that the way it is? Ted: Oh, one of my favorite jokes, you'll like this, "Then she said, 'now that you have a new aquarium, you will get rid of the old one, right'?" Right. Yes, so it's not a matter of replacing an aquarium with a new aquarium, for us anyway, it's more like, "Well, we have two, now let's get three."

Pecktec: Right. Now it's like I need a quarantine tank but I better just keep that around.

Ted: Right. Why get rid of a perfectly good functional aquarium? If you have to get rid of that perfectly good functional aquarium, custom aquariums can help you with the aquarium of your dreams.

Pecktec: You guys make aquariums, it's mostly large aquariums. What's probably the smallest order that anyone ever asked for?

Ted: Asks for?

Pecktec: Well, I'm sure they ask for much less.

Ted: I get messages on Facebook. I am actually, technically, the social media and PR manager for custom aquariums. If you send a message on Facebook to custom aquariums or custom cages, I'm answering it. Even says my name sometimes. I've had people ask me for aquariums that are only seven inches by seven inches by seven inches. My response to that is, "You're not gonna like the price," because when you hand-build a custom aquarium. The amount of work that just goes into setting and putting the aquarium together and putting in place and sealing it and curing it, yes it's much much easier on a really small tank like that, but we still have a lot of labor in it. The bare minimum price, the bare lowest price on a tank is going to be far more than what you're gonna get a small tank for like at a dollar per gallon seal. We don't mass produce aquariums, we don't produce 10-gallon tank. 25, 20 highs, 15s. We'll make those sizes if you want but they tend to be pretty far over the cost. Then again, it's BMW versus KIA. I like KIA. I have a KIA. KIA is good but it's a different quality of aquarium that we're producing than what you're going to get mass produced. Trust me, I've had thousands of mass-produced, less expensive aquariums. They're fine but we just produce a better product.

Pecktec: Well, really I think your audience for a custom aquariums' going to be the big dream tank that's configured exactly to proportions. Maybe you've got an odd sized room but you still want a large tank. Maybe you've got a real particular way that you'd like your filtration system to be. That's the way it was for me. When I want to think about filtration system for this, I immediately went to the seamless sump. I did an interview years ago with custom aquariums and I was immediately fascinated by the seamless sump. I even watched my old video again and like, "Yes, that's what I get. I got to get one of those."

Ted: The seamless sump with some minor changes, has changed. We have made some improvements to it. We actually have some really interesting innovations on the seamless sump coming out. The sock tubs are going to be a little more streamlined. We have a different overflow system that's coming through, so we're not going to have this big, clunky elbow pipe coming out of some of them. We're actually building a seamless sump that is more applicable to small aquariums and nano aquariums. Our seamless pumps right now, you have to have an 18-inch deep or a 20-inch deep front to back stand to fit it underneath the stand but we're soon going to have a product that you can fit under a 13-inch stand, like under a 55-gallon tank or under 30-gallon. The volume capacity of the aquarium, of the sump, excuse me, is going to be smaller as well. It's more focused toward smaller aquariums too. It's not that we don't want to build a small aquarium. It's not that we're not going to someday build small aquariums, right now, we were really focusing on the very large aquariums.

Pecktec: It doesn't seem like really practical either for the consumer or for you guys as a vendor to focus on these smaller tanks.

Ted: Right. It's a time, value, money. Unfortunately, whenever we build an aquarium we have a lot of value in the time and resources. There's always going to be a cost that's effective to that.

Pecktec: How difficult is it to mail. I assume you're mailing most of these aquariums out of--?

Ted: Freight. Freight carriers. They come on semi trucks or smaller delivery trucks. They come crated. You can see photos and pictures and videos on our website about our packing methods. We've had people get their aquarium in their crate and then they say there's so much lumber, they can build something with it. I saw a guy build a storage cabinet in his garage out of the lumber that we provided with the crate. One guy had a filter room behind his big, huge aquarium. It was like a 350-gallon aquarium. The filter room behind it, he decked the ceiling with the plywood that we created around it. He had enough plywood to actually create the ceiling in his filter room.

Pecktec: That's incredible. There's a lot of material that go into just keeping that thing safe for the long journey.

Ted: Right. As far as shipping & handling, Custom Aquariums has-- if it's $3,000 order going into the contiguous United States and include the tank, the shipping handling is included.

Pecktec: What?

Ted: Yes. At under 2,000, it's actual cost. At $2,000 to $2,500, it's a flat rate $250. At $2,500 to $3,000, it's a flat rate $125 dollars. Those numbers are really helping us offset the cost of building the crate.

Pecktec: Wow.

Ted: Yes. I'm fascinated, I watch these guys build the structure in which the crates are shipped in, but I've also seen the results of how strong that is and the damage that is avoided because these truckers that are hauling these things around and forklifts and moving them back and forth. It's amazing the damage they do these things. I've seen other companies, other people, ship aquariums on a pallet and then shrink-wrap just-- they cable it down and then put plastic shrink wrap around it and put that on a common carrier and ship it. I just cringe. We've had aquariums returned to us completely busted the heck because someone drove a forklift through our crate and into the glass. Sometimes we think that it would be better if they could actually see what was in the crate. If anything see what was in the crate, they wouldn't drive a forklift through it. Sometimes they do that.

Pecktec: Writing glass and four-foot-tall, do not drop on the side of it isn't enough.

Ted: Do not drop. Fragile. Fragile. Made in Italy.

Pecktec: Well what's funny too is the-- Some of the-- Well, it's not funny but what's interesting too is the damage that can come from just slight strapping it down to a pallet, it could be damaged that you don't see. Even after it's filled up for a little while. It could be the way it shifts or it could get a ding or something like that. It maybe wouldn't be necessarily apparent.

Ted: Well, you have to package these things for the shocks that are going to happen on the road and in the truck. You have styrofoam underneath the tank, you have foam between all the things. We don't have straps that are actually touching the tank, we actually have foam and cardboard corner braces that actually plug the straps are against it. Everything is very well protected.

Pecktec: You go on a number of trips. You said you go to Colombia and you've been to Peru.

Ted: Let's talk about fun stuff.

Pecktec: Tell me about what it's like to travel. Do you collect fish when you go on these trips or is it just for video?

Ted: Yes. I do do some collecting. I don't collect fish as much as I used to. I have one aquarium. We were just recently in Peru, Peurto Marinaro which is in South Eastern Peru, in the rainforest region and the Madre De Dios, the state of Madre De Dios, along the Madre de Dios drainage, river drainage.

Ted: I was down there with three friends. Four friends actually including Jeff Cardwell who a lot of people know. Jeff is one of my travel guys. We go to lots of places together and we're pretty efficient fish collectors. We collect a lot of fish and we do bring them back. Now, the only fish I have coming back from this Peru trip are just a few fish to go into my one aquarium. Actually, I have two aquariums. Quarantine, quarantine, quarantine.

Pecktec: That's right. Especially coming out of the water.

Ted: Yes. Especially coming out of the water. I have a quarantine tank and the fish I've got will go into the quarantine tank. It's going to be the most incredibly packed single quarantine tank in the world. It's only has about a dozen fish in it.

Pecktec: Wow.

Ted: It's okay. They're used to it. Right now they're tanks this big. When they get shipped up, hopefully, this week, then they'll go into quarantine. I'll keep them in quarantine for about two months and then I'll put them into the larger tank.

Pecktec: What species did you get? What are you into?

Ted: This is for a 150-gallon display called a South American, semi-aggressive community aquarium. It's mostly cichlids but it'll have some catfish as well. Right now, the tank has got two fish species and there are either three blood tear Pikes. Very rare pike out of Columbia. Not Peruvian fish but I'm not perfect. Then I also have in that tank five adult Mesonauta insignus from Guyana, which are from Guyana. I have those in there.

Ted: The fish that I'm bringing hopefully getting back from Peru, and hopefully getting back alive in good shape from Peru. The one I'm really excited about it is a very rare fish they have they call Crenicara latruncularum. You think Checkerboard Cichlid and you think the dwarf checkerboards. Not to Crenicara, the little ones. True checkerboards, they can get a little bit bigger and the one that we see from Northern Peru, punctularum, it's bigger. The males get about this big and they're green. They're like emerald green and ruby red highlights in them.

Pecktec: Wow.

Ted: I'll try to remember to send you the photo I have of the one male I caught. I go for target species when I go to places. I like to research the kind of fish I'm going to find and I knew that the Latruncularum was down there. I want to find this fish. We looked in places all week for this fish. With all the places we went had potential for holding this fish and Murphy's fish laws. On the last collecting location, of the last day, we caught one male and I spent two more hours in that general vicinity where we caught that male and could not find a female. I have a single male coming back but he's big enough to go in this aquarium, he's going to be beautiful in there and it's just going to sit there in that tank, and he's going to remind me that I have to go back to Peru.

Pecktec: Look for a girlfriend.

Ted: Look to find more of them.

Pecktec: How do you catch them? Is it just all nets and you put waders on and just--

Ted: Well, I don't wear waders. South America is nice in that, I won't say there's no parasites and no diseases in South America, but they're not as-- there's not as many and they're not as dangerous as some of the stuff we find it in the West and Central Africa, where I've been as well. In West and Central Africa, I've always worn waders but I'll probably be a little brave next time. We have medicines that cure just about anything.

Pecktec: [laughs] You don't come out like with leeches all over your leg?

Ted: No. Not in these kind of streams. I've been in places where you find things like that but I didn't run into anything like that.

Pecktec: That's my nightmare. Once I come out, I have to pluck little parasites off my leg.

Ted: No, you just kind of live with it. We had our club meeting in Madison, Wisconsin yesterday speaker Joe Cutler. If you want to hear stories about parasites, let him come and talk. Lovely. He has photos.

Pecktec: [laughs] Well, Ted, I really enjoyed your visit. Thank you for coming to see me.

Ted: You're welcome.

Pecktec: Folks, you can find out more about Ted Duke-- You've got your own Instagram too?

Ted: Yes. Ted's Fishroom. You may recognize what I've done in social media. Obvious Ted's Fishroom or I apologize for the condition of that website. I haven't done much with it in a very long time and it's not going to be there much longer because I've pretty much switched everything over to social media.

Pecktec: It's just easier.

Ted: My favorite media for posting things is Instagram. Instantgratificationagram. You post a photo, make a little comment, get a little bit of feedback, post a little video right from your phone. I just like Instagram a lot and I have it feed directly to my Ted's Fishroom page on Facebook because they're connected. The YouTube channel, Ted's Fishroom. Ted Judy or TedsFishroom on YouTube. There's over 300 videos there. I've done been doing that for six or seven years I think or longer.

Pecktec: Or you can go to that. You can go to your YouTube page and just spend hours going through some very-- still a lot some of them are a few years old but it's all really good, relevant information.

Ted: Well, thank you.

Pecktec: That's just as relevant as it was the day you filmed.

Ted: Thank you.

Pecktec: Feel free. I'm going to put links for all his information down below. Be sure to check them out. Okay folks. That's all we got for you this week. Until next time, call your bliss, keep a clean tank and I'll see you soon. Bye-bye.

Pecktec: That's all we got through this week. Until next time, follow your bliss--

Ted: Part two. Part three?

Pecktec: Keep a clean tank. [laughs]

Ted: We need content? Call content.

Pecktec: Or we could sit there all night. If you weren't on a loop hardly to see you, we could be all over.

Ted: We have big Tennessee fans.

Pecktec: Jack Daniels. Bring forth the Jack.

About Pecktec

Sean Peck (PeckTec on YouTube) uses a Seamless Sump filter system to clean his 220-gallon freshwater planted display aquarium.

Sean's tank is a freshwater planted tank with a seamless sump system. Sean really wanted to solve the issue of filtering a really large aquarium. Sean actually interviewed members of Custom Aquariums staff and that is where Sean learned about Custom Aquariums seamless sump system and is quite impressed.

Pecktec posts videos every Sunday about his aquarium projects, so stay tuned!

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