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Small fish, small tanks

The name of the shop says it all, so it should come as no surprise that Little Wet Pets sells freshwater and marine aquariums, fish, invertebrates and more.

Owner Eric Rasmussen started raising fish as a hobby when he was only 8 years old, but said he always knew his ultimate goal was to have his own shop.

And now he has two stores: The World of Wet Pets in Beaverton, and Little Wet Pets, which opened in downtown Milwaukie in August.

While many business owners like to think big, Rasmussen instead chose to think small — choosing to specialize in what he calls “nano” or “desktop” aquariums, which are much smaller than regular tanks, some as tiny as one or two gallons.

“Technology has made it easier for things to be smaller, and we are now coming to an understanding of the biological requirements of these smaller animals and small live plants,” he said.

Small space, small aquariums

Rasmussen’s friend and frequent fish supplier, Kevin Plazak, opened his fish wholesale business, 20/20 Tropicals, in April on Southeast Scott Street in Milwaukie, and then approached Rasmussen, saying that there was a small retail space in front that he couldn’t use.

Rasmussen decided the time was right for him to pursue this opportunity, noting that the small space fit in nicely with the concept of small aquariums.

Also, he added, in the last few years tank manufacturers have come up with more miniaturized versions of tanks that are appealing and easy to afford.

Among the fish that thrive in small tanks are betas, danios, small tetras and rasboras, and Rasmussen even has a small stingray in stock.

The shop carries both freshwater and saltwater fish and plants and some invertebrates as well.

“Our freshwater invertebrates are snails and decorative shrimp, and the saltwater ones are corals, shrimp, snails and clams,” he said, adding that he has a wide variety of plants for fresh and saltwater tanks.

Care and feeding

“If you buy a good quality system with a good filter, all you have to do is spend 30 minutes every two weeks, doing a partial water change and filter maintenance and wiping down the inside for algae growth,” Rasmussen said.

As for feeding, that can be accomplished once or twice a day, and his shop stocks a variety of foods, depending on the types of fish in the tank. The lifespan of the smaller fish is two to three years, but some of the larger fish can live as long as 20 years, he said.

The ultimate starter fish, or “go-to, gateway” fish for beginners, is the paradise fish, which Rasmussen said has “all the attributes of a goldfish. You don’t need a heater, and they can breathe air off the surface; they are very low-fuss, no-muss fish, especially suitable for children.”

He discourages giving fish as gifts, but said a gift certificate is a good way to go to get someone started raising fish.

Because sustainability in the industry is important to him, Rasmussen said he has visited his fish suppliers, in places such as Singapore and Malaysia, in order to “see what can be done to promote sustainable wild fishing and to help protect the environment.”

Why fish?

Fish are fascinating creatures, Rasmussen said, noting that he particularly enjoys seeing the behaviors exhibited by these animals.

“When you breed them, there are a lot of different ways they take care of their babies,” he said, “and they also have different feeding styles and defense mechanisms. There is so much variety with fish.

“Ask anybody who has ever owned a puffer fish, and they’ll tell you it is just like owning a dog.”

As for his favorite fish tale, that would be about Baby, a three-foot-long Amazon red-tailed catfish that occupied a 240-square-foot tank at a fish store in Albany, where Rasmussen worked while he attended Oregon State University.

“Every night I would feed him and pet him; if I fed him live food, he would snap, but dried food I could hand-feed him. He was very popular in the store.”

Rasmussen said he came up with the names for his two shops after seeing a display at Newport’s Hatfield Marine Science Center called “The World of Wet Pets.”

“The exhibit is long gone, but Wet Pets felt right — it is a great name,” he said.

Little Wet Pets

1928 S.E. Scott St., Milwaukie, near Spring Creek Coffee House

Call 971-270-7229, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Visit the website littlewetpets.com.

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The shop specializes in freshwater and marine aquariums, fish, invertebrates, live plants and supplies.



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