Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining me today as I take you on a journey through the remarkable history of our beloved shop. Sit back, relax, and allow me to share with you the story of how it all began.
The number one question that people ask when they walk through our doors is, “Gabe, how did you do it? How did you hook up with the legendary Jack Wattley?” Today, I will answer that question and unfold the tale of how simplicity, amazement, and the unbelievable came together to shape our destiny.
The First Time I met Jack
It all started back in 1991 when I relocated from New Jersey to Miami Beach. As an avid tropical fish enthusiast, I had a lifelong dream of setting up a grand 125-gallon tank. In pursuit of my passion, I stumbled upon an advertisement in a tropical fish hobbyist magazine—a small ad that would forever change my life. That ad belonged to none other than Jack Wattley.
Filled with excitement and curiosity, I made my way to meet Jack. Little did I know that this encounter would mark the beginning of an extraordinary partnership. Jack sold me six of the original red pandas, and within a year, those six fish started pairing off, yielding three breeding pairs. This was a pivotal moment—a turning point in my life. Until then, I had never experienced the joy of breeding fish successfully. It was as if fate had called upon me to answer this newfound calling.
In those days, the internet was limited, and long-distance phone calls were the primary means of gathering information. Determined to learn the intricacies of breeding, I spared no effort in seeking advice. I contacted breeders from Canada to California, spending around $500 a month to acquire knowledge. The challenges and struggles I faced during that time motivated me to make information readily available to all aspiring breeders. I firmly believe that if more information had been shared back then, this hobby would have thrived much earlier.
But it wasn’t just about the love for discus. It was about passion, dedication, and a series of life-changing events that led to a remarkable union. A substantial amount of money and countless hours went into setting up tanks in a condominium on 29th and Collins. And so, in 1994, as fate would have it, I received an unexpected phone call from Jack Wattley himself.
A New Partner
Jack inquired about the original fish I had purchased from him, as he had encountered a misfortune involving a raccoon in his garage. This raccoon had scared away his last breeding pair of red pandas, leaving him without the lineage. Consulting his records, Jack discovered that I was the sole local buyer of that particular strain. Thus, he reached out to me, hoping to reacquire those precious fish.
I remember the conversation vividly. Rather than parting with the very fish that I had grown to love, I proposed that Jack consider buying their offspring instead. There was a moment of silence on the other end of the line, followed by Jack’s skeptical response. He jokingly remarked that I shouldn’t be pulling his leg, for he thought I was fabricating a story to impress him. But I was not one to make idle claims.
To prove the truth, I invited Jack to my home on a Saturday, offering him a chance to see the fry and witness the reality of my success. Much to his surprise, I showed him a photograph taken on May 4th, 1995—a picture capturing the meeting of Jack Wattley and me sitting on my living room couch, surrounded by the discus hatchery. It was undeniable proof of what I had accomplished. From that day forward, Jack and I became partners in planning and shaping the future.
Passing the Torch
In 1996, Jack made a momentous decision. He called me and proposed that I take over his business. It was a difficult choice to leave behind my secure job and venture into the unknown, but my dissatisfaction with my current employment and my deep passion for breeding fish made the decision clearer. In February 1997, I made the bold move to assume control of the business.
As I delved into the operations, Jack shared his books with me and offered me half of what he had built. It was a gesture of trust and a recognition of my dedication. With unwavering resolve, I contacted my former workplace and informed them that I would not be returning on Monday. And so, in March of that year, we embarked on a new chapter, opening the doors to our new establishment.
This location holds a profound significance in our history. It carries the memory of my father, who assisted me in constructing it. Our customers hold it dear, considering it a sacred ground—a place where dreams come to life. Even as we expand to meet the growing demand, this place will remain the heart of our enterprise. It is a testament to the hard work and passion of not only Jack Wattley but also my father and everyone who has poured their heart and soul into this endeavor.
I share this story with you today to convey how it all began—a fairy tale that unfolded before our eyes. Just as I took over from Jack, I am aware that in the future, someone else will carry the torch and continue this legacy. It is not confined to the Posada family name. I will wholeheartedly support and embrace that successor because, in the end, it is about the love we all share for discus fish.
I want you to understand that by carrying the name of Jack Wattley, it is not a mere act of self-glorification. It is a profound tribute to the man who dedicated his life to this hobby. In an era devoid of modern conveniences like reverse osmosis, reliable heaters, and pH meters, Jack and his contemporaries were pioneers. They laid the foundation for the passion we enjoy today. As long as I am alive and this business thrives, I will ensure that Jack’s name is never forgotten.
Into the Future
To each and every one of you who has supported us for the past 26 years, I express my deepest gratitude. The second Hatchery, when we commence our video series, will be dedicated to all of you. Your patronage has been a constant source of inspiration and motivation. I assure you that even at 62 years of age, I am committed to being here for another 20 years, sharing my knowledge and passion with you. Prepare yourselves because I will continue to captivate you with stories, insights, and discoveries.
Let us never forget that this story, this journey, is a collective effort. It is a celebration of the love for discus that unites us. And as I contemplate the future, I recognize that my children may choose a different path, and I respect their choices. Their happiness is my happiness. Someday, I will pass the baton to another individual, ensuring the continuation of this fairy tale. It may not bear the name Posada, but I will support them wholeheartedly.
In closing, let me reiterate the essence of our story: it is about the love for discus and the passion for breeding these remarkable fish. Two individuals, who were once strangers, united through a shared devotion. I hope that today’s narrative has shed light on how everything came together, how the fairy tale unfolded, and how the legacy of Jack Wattley lives on within our hearts and our shop.
Thank you for joining me on this journey through time. May the love for discus endure, and may our shared passion continue to inspire and connect us all.