Fish and Frags: Providing a saltwater aquatic experience in the Southern Utah desert

Devin Hender feeds fish in the store’s 2,500-gallon saltwater pond. Each day before closing, customers are invited to feed the store’s collection of fish including a resident stingray and sohal tang named Woofy, St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Walking into Fish and Frags provides a unique aqua cultural experience to store customers. Just inside the store entrance, guests are greeted by a large, colorful anemone-filled reef tank. In addition to the soothing sound of moving water, walls are painted ocean blue to resemble the inside of what an aquarium might look like to a fish.

And the décor is well suited.

Fish and Frags owner Phil Hender inspects locally grown coral frags (fragments), St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News
Fish and Frags owner Phil Hender inspects locally grown coral frags (fragments), St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News

What it’s like to be a fish is something Fish and Frags owner Phil Hender has spent a lot of time studying. Specializing in aquarium tank installation, maintenance and marine science, Hender said there is much to know and understand about marine biology. And here in the desert of Southern Utah, there are few specialists.

“Everyone loves the fish tank at their favorite restaurant or doctor’s or dentist‘s office,” Hender said. “But not all people realize the amount of work that goes into maintaining a healthy aquarium environment.”

Working with marine life requires knowledge and continuous education.

“When we set up an aquarium, we are essentially recreating an ocean ecosystem for the home,” Hender said. “It requires a delicate balance to keep a tank healthy.”

Like Hender, assistant manager Justin Hodge has been working with fish since childhood.

“Almost every kid starts out in life with a pet goldfish,” Hodge said. “At Fish and Frags, our goal is to teach everyone the proper way of caring for fish, from hobbyists to enthusiasts, and from home tank owner to commercial tank owner.”

A favorite feature inside the Fish and Frags store is the 2,500-gallon saltwater

 Justin Hodge conducts a tank water test. Maintaining a healthy environment is careful attention and delicate balance, St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News
Justin Hodge conducts a tank water test. Maintaining a healthy environment is careful attention and delicate balance, St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News

pond that allows customers to view large saltwater fish including a variety of fish made popular by the movie, “Finding Nemo.” The pond is also home to a resident stingray that loves to show off at feeding time, and Woofy, the sohal tang with a giant personality.

Each day, at one hour before closing, Fish and Frags offers fish feeding opportunities to families who want to educate and introduce children to marine biology.

“Our fish are really the best part of our store,” Hender said. “We love to invite kids and families to come in and see what marine life looks like up close.”

Hobbyists at heart, Hender said it is a highlight of the job for him and his employees to share their excitement with customers and children.

“There is nothing like watching a kid make a connection when they are able to hand-feed a live fish,” Hender said. Also, Hodge said, “There are not very many places in Southern Utah where kids can have a one-on-one interaction with ocean life.”

According to Hender, the question most often asked is, “What is a frag?”

“It’s in our name, so it naturally makes people want to know,” he said. Simply, a coral fragment that has been farmed and is sold to grow in an aquarium is a frag.

“One thing that we pride ourselves in is buying from local coral famers,” Hender said. “We have local coral farmers with propagation systems built at their homes who supply us with various varieties of coral frags.”

 Devin Hender feeds fish in the store’s 2,500-gallon saltwater pond. Each day before closing, customers are invited to feed the store’s collection of fish including a resident stingray and sohal tang named Woofy, St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News
Devin Hender feeds fish in the store’s 2,500-gallon saltwater pond. Each day before closing, customers are invited to feed the store’s collection of fish including a resident stingray and sohal tang named Woofy, St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News

Selling all the supplies and fish types from the most basic to the most sophisticated tank environments, Fish and Frags also offers a fresh supply of reverse osmosis filtered water and premixed salt water to customers who maintain both fresh water and salt water fish tanks. Fresh water tank fish include arowanas, discus and cichlids. Common salt water tank fish include clownfish, tangs, butterflies, angels and gobies

Customer Ross Barlow said he has been a marine tank hobbyist for more than 40 years. “I really enjoy this store,” he said. “The people here are extremely friendly and they’ll get anything for you.”

Most importantly, Barlow said “they teach you to take good care of your fish and to maintain a good and healthy aquatic environment.”

A D V E R T O R I A L

Resources

Where: Fish and Frags is located in St. George at 630 North, 3050 East, near Costco.

Hours: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; Fish and Frags will open Sunday and Monday by appointment.

Contact: Telephone 435-627-1777

Fish and Frags Facebook

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Devin Hender feeds fish in the store’s 2,500-gallon saltwater pond. Each day before closing, customers are invited to feed the store’s collection of fish including a resident stingray and sohal tang named Woofy, St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News
Devin Hender feeds fish in the store’s 2,500-gallon saltwater pond. Each day before closing, customers are invited to feed the store’s collection of fish including a resident stingray and sohal tang named Woofy, St. George, Utah, June 2013 | Photo by Melynda Thorpe Burt, St. George News

 

 

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