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Chad Clayton "Reef Nutrition"

Chad Clayton grew up in Indiana and, as a child, was inspired by Jacques Cousteau and his passion for all things marine. In 1984, armed with this new found inspiration, he started his first marine aquarium at age 14 and kept everything from anemones to an octopus and jellies as well as a number of different species of fish. After that, he decided that he would pursue a career in marine biology. Since there is no ocean in Indiana and he wanted to study marine fishes and invertebrates, in 1992, Chad left Indiana to attend Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida and quickly found interest in the emerging field of Aquaculture. After graduating in 1997 with a B.S. in Marine Biology and a B.S. in Aquaculture, Chad began working with fish, invertebrates and live feeds in a variety of different areas. His ultimate goal was to eventually work in aquaculture breeding and rearing marine finfish.

After graduating, he worked in the fish department of a pet store in Brandon, Florida to gain experience in his field and remain true to his career goals. At Creature Castle, he helped customers trouble-shoot their freshwater tank problems as well as working with customers on the art of fish compatibility and placing the right fish with the right person. After a year in the store, Chad set his sights on big aquaculture.

In early 1999, he got a temporary job with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Division. He lived at a fish hatchery in Avoca, IN. The hatchery raised freshwater game fish such as large-mouth bass, catfish, trout and sunfish. The game fish were cultured for stock enhancement of lakes, stream, and rivers in southern Indiana. Chad was also involved in lake, stream and river surveys which included electrofishing and setting fish traps to keep close tabs on how the fish populations were doing. When the position came to an end after 8 months, he sent his resume to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. He applied for an opening in a zebrafish (Danio rerio) laboratory as a husbandry and molecular biology technician position.

Chad got the job and began working with zebrafish in a laboratory that studied the genetics of the animalís melanocytes and ability to regenerate fins. During this time he got his first taste of larviculture and fish husbandry. He quickly learned the art of in vitro fertilization and keeping genetic lines of zebrafish alive and healthy for research purposes.

After working in a laboratory setting for 2 years, in 2002, Chad sent his resume to Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums. He was asked to come down to Florida for a face-to-face interview and tour. A few months later, he was hired as a production assistant at ORA. His dreams had finally come true and he quickly learned the process of culturing and selling multiple species of marine finfish including clownfish, seahorses, gobies, dottybacks, cardinal fish, and others. While at ORA, Chad immersed himself in every aspect of the business including quarantining broodstock, broodstock selection, improving growout techniques, live feeds production, research, larval rearing, growout, sales, trade shows, system design, water quality testing, and disease identification and treatment.

After 4 years at ORA, the position of a lifetime opened up. In 2006, Chad applied for a broodstock technician position at Kona Blue Water Farms in Kona, HI on the big island. He got the position and sold everything he owned and moved to Hawaii to work in food fish aquaculture and live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Unlike the variety of species that he worked with at ORA, this farm had just one species (longfin yellowtail Seriola rivoliana). Chad became the Assistant Hatchery Manager overseeing copepod culture and larval rearing. When the economy tanked, the company decided to downsize which led to Chadís next adventure. Luckily, shortly after moving to Hawaii, Chad met the love of his life. He decided he would get off the island and move to California to settle down once and for all and hopefully find a job in his field.

In 2008, Chad moved to Santa Cruz, CA with his future wife. While job hunting, he remembered that Reed Mariculture was in the San Jose area because he had used their products at his previous jobs. He called up and sent in his resume. After an intensive interview process, he landed the job and remains there today. At Reed Mariculture, Chad is involved with product development, copepod culture, trade shows, biosecurity, speaking and overseeing macro algae culture.

During the past 13 years, Chad has successfully cultured 37 species of fish and invertebrates including marine invertebrates, freshwater fish and marine fish. He looks forward to adding to the list and will remain dedicated to sustainability in aquaculture.