Tampa Bay Saltwater History:
It all began with Richard Londeree. He was raised in Florida with a fishing pole in hand and toes in the sand. On a family trip to Hawaii, Richard discovered the beauty of reef fish and corals.
Following college, living in Florida and needing a job, Richard soon was collecting tropical fish in paradise. One day, in view of the Skyway Bridge, he pulled up a beautiful clump of calurpa clinging to a small rock. He took the macroalgae covered rock with other finds to the Florida marine life wholesaler. To Richard’s surprise, the wholesaler wanted more of this underwater rock and so in 1984, Tampa Bay Saltwater began.
Yes, back in the day, Richard collected wild rock, when it was legal to do so. However, in 1989 Florida banned live rock harvesting.
If you know Richard, then you know he is resourceful. He had a crazy idea and pursued the state to lease him underwater land for the purpose of aquaculturing live rock for aquariums. This would protect Florida wild rock while providing aquariums with aquacultured rock. A 5-acre parcel was selected by Richard and approved in 1991. This was the beginning of sustainable living rock aquaculture.
"I want to see you guys be the world leader in the best live rock on the planet… and it will happen..."
-Richard Londeree 2/4/21
Photos from the Past to the Present
Florida Live Rock Farming
A Line in Time
Richard harvests first live rock because Caulerpa was attached.Tampa Bay Saltwater is founded.1st TBS vessel purchased, "The Critter Getter".Economical dive weights were rocks tied around the waist ..."may be meeting Jesus with this thing on!".
Florida bans live rock harvesting. Possession of wild live rock is now a federal crime. State lease or federal permit is required.Richard begins the process of locating and securing a suitable rock farm site off Tarpon Springs.
Tampa Bay Saltwater lease site approved.Second TBS vessel, "The Bathtub" goes to work.Bahamian coral rock is deposited on underwater farmland with barge and crane.
Fourth TBS vessel, a T-Craft, sunk on maiden voyage full of rock.Introducing "The Package", a combination of Gulf of Mexico products for new aquariums.Fifth TBS vessel, "Sea Lark" was an indestructible craft made in Islamorada.
TBS storefront opens at 3111 W. Hillsborough Ave.2003 TBS joins Reef Central.
TBS joins Reef2Reef.Richard plants Walt Smith International Reef Saver rock.2017 Irma tears through TBS holding facility.2019 Richard hangs up his flippers and hires divers for TBS harvesting.
Richard advertises Tampa Bay Saltwater is for sale in Reef Central and Reef2Reef.Tampa Bay Saltwater acquired by the Lyon siblings.State of Florida lifetime underwater lease site transferred to the Lyon Siblings.
TBS Lives On
Workhorse F250 truck named "Bruce" joins the team.Sixth TBS vessel, a retired marine research boat, "Orion" a 26' Parker arrives in Florida.New TBS warehouse is strategically located between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa International Airport.Lyon siblings continue TBS's relationship with Walt & Deb Smith by ordering more rock.Live Rock & Sand holding system build begins.
Big Ben, an 800-gallon vertical water storage tank and a 2,000-gallon sump boost the holding system capacity.Richard suggests a cold room within the warehouse.The Icehouse is created with recycled Fijian crates over a weekend. 2 containers arrive from Walt Smith and are planted piece by piece.
Wheels are turning again
Local and air cargo orders begin.More Walt Smith is ordered and planted.TBS joins Humble Fish. Jocelyn and the resident goliath grouper come to terms as to who is alpha on the lease site.