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Meet The Staff
Cy Forell (Co-Owner) - I started out in the hobby with a Goldfish from the fair, and then a Betta bowl. I set up my first 10 gallon tropical freshwater tank when I was twelve. It quickly became a 20 gallon and then a 38 gallon.
I began my professional aquarium career at a local pet store when I was sixteen years old. After one year there, I moved on to another local family owned pet store chain. I was quickly made an assistant manager and served as an aquatics specialist. After a few years with this company I was moved out to co-manage their new aquarium only shop. At this point I was bitten with the saltwater "bug". I had bred countless freshwater species but saltwater aquariums provided a whole new realm to explore. In 1998, I began servicing aquariums to supplement my income. I started my own company on the side called Aqua Pro USA. This business grew quickly, so Tim and I formed a new partnership called Barrier Reef Aquariums in 2000.
Throughout my college education, I found myself drawn to science and environmental issues/policy classes. There was no degree program that perfectly matched my interests. In 2001, I finally finished up my last few classes at the University of Washington and earned a Bachelor Degree in Liberal Arts with a focus in International Interactions. During the summer of 2006, I realized that our Coral Aquaculture Farm and Aquarium Servicing Business had grown to the point where it was time for Tim and I to go our own direction. After 15 years I left the store I had helped to build, in order to pursue my goals with Tim. Shortly after we left we were approached about the possibility of opening our own aquarium shop. We both knew it was what we wanted to do! We opened the doors of our retail shop in December of 2006.
My other interests include spending time with my wife, visiting her family and friends in Canada, sports, movies, music, and travel. My username on RF/RC is "barrierreefcf".
Tim Cole(Co-Owner) - I have been fascinated with fish and the ocean all my life. When I was little, my dream was to study sharks "when I grew up." I read and collected anything and everything related to them. Since I grew up in the Arizona desert my exposure to the sea was limited to PBS.
My addiction to aquariums began with a 10 gallon tropical freshwater tank when I was eight years old. I then moved up to a 20 gallon tank that I kept for many years. When I was in Junior High I went to a local fish store and discovered saltwater. I was instantly hooked. I got myself into a 34 gallon acrylic hex tank as my first saltwater reef aquarium. I quickly moved up to 55 gallon which, I brought all over with me during my college years. Though still fascinated with sharks, I found a deeper passion learning more about living reef communities. I decided to go to the University of Washington to achieve a degree in Marine Zoology. My goal was to be in the field of aquaculture or conservation. I later switched to the School of Fisheries Sciences, which I found was a much better fit. Thanks to my education, I have been given valuable insight to all the different fisheries and forms of aquaculture. This has driven me in educating the public on proper husbandry and encouraging aquaculture in the aquarium hobby.
My career in the aquarium industry began during my senior year in high school. I got a job at a local fish store and quickly moved up to an assistant manager position. I worked at that store for two years then transferred to a sister store where I continued as an assistant manager. I continued to manage this store until mid-2006. During my first couple years in the industry I fell into aquarium servicing after landing a local rap star as a client. As I continued to acquire new clients, I began to realize I wanted to make my future in this business. My username on RF/RC is "barrierreeftc".
Mikayla Smith (Store Manager) - Starting from a young age I have always loved animals. I grew up with aquariums of all kinds in my home and could always be found catching fish and frogs out of the pond near my childhood home. I began with fresh water tanks when I was young, and moved into marine and Reef tanks later in life. I enjoy caring for fish and coral, and helping educate customers about this amazing hobby.
In my spare time I enjoy my pets at home including fresh and salt water aquariums, aquatic salamanders,rats, and two rescue dogs that I dedicate my time to. I'm an avid hiker and enjoy being outdoors whenever I can find time. I also enjoy photography after studying both traditional black and white film processing and digital photography for 8 semesters.
Jeff McCarty (Sales Associate/Maintenance Specialist) - My passion for aquariums started when I was young. I set up my first 10 gallon freshwater aquarium when I was 12 years old. This led to a 26 gallon bow front, which eventually became a saltwater tank. Then I set up 90 gallon and 125 gallon aquariums. I currently maintain two aquariums at home.
Since I had such a strong interest in the aquarium hobby, I got my first part time job at a pet store when I was 16. Within the year, I was promoted to manager of the saltwater department. A few years later I decided to become a firefighter. The aquarium industry must have set its hooks in me, because a few years later I came back. I helped a friend start up a new store and I was put in charge of the aquatics and reptile departments. I have also worked briefly in aquarium maintenance, the software industry, and a snowboarding shop. I joined the Barrier Reef team in September of 2011.
My other interests include snowboarding, long boarding, wakeboarding, motorcycles, snowmobiles, video games, movies, and working on cars.
Remy Goldstein (Sales Associate/Maintenance Specialist) - One of the first words I learned as a toddler was the word “fish.” One of the first injuries I incurred as a child happened when I was banging on 20 gallon glass fish tank that broke and cut me above my eye when I was 2 years old. Needless to say, I have been fascinated with aquatic creatures from a very young age.
I have always had some sort of fish tank up and running in my life. These would be ranging from a small freshwater system in my parent’s house, to having a peak of eight different tanks along every wall in a small room I lived in while in college. I didn’t always know that I would be as involved in the hobby as I am coming to realize. I had studied philosophy in college, and was beginning to go in a much different occupational direction until one day I finally realized what it was that truly made me happy. Currently I am waist deep in this wonderful and challenging hobby and I am not looking back. I have aspirations of going back to school to study marine biology, in hopes of making a bigger difference in the way we treat and learn from aquatic environments, but until I take that plunge, I am fully embracing the hobby as a way to learn and grow.
I have learned a lot over the years, and while I still have much more to understand, I feel that I am adept enough to offer a solid understanding in the basics of fish/coral husbandry, tank maintenance, and design. Not pounding on a glass fish tank is just one of the few that instantly comes to mind.
Natalia Washington (Assistant Manager/Coral Farming Specialist) - Reefing is my passion. Because of Barrier, I've gotten the chance of living my passion through work as well. I have been very successful with the tanks that I have at home and I am able to share my personal collection with the reefing community through Barrier.
I never thought that I would want to work with fish, but I was working at a daycare and as they were closing their doors, they didn't know what to do with the goldfish that we had as a pet. I couldn't stand back and watch him get flushed, so I took the little fish bowl, put it in my lap and drove home. That was the day that my addiction started. Now, not a day goes by that I don't frag a coral.
I started this hobby 10 years ago with a small 24 gallon BioCube and now my total system volume combined equals almost a thousand gallons of water, stay tuned for more to come!
Stephen Miller (Sales Associate) - My passion for aquariums started while I was in the military. I was lucky enough to get stationed in beautiful Hawaii where I spent five years living on Oahu. Although I grew up on the beaches of Florida, my first interaction with sea life without a fishing pole, was spear fishing on the North Shore of Oahu. Shortly after the first time, I was always in the water and quickly switched to snorkeling and enjoying the waters of Hanauma Bay twice weekly. My passion for home aquaria wasn't sparked until a few years later. Reading and studying about benefits of aquariums and mental disorders such as PTSD and BPD has driven me to dive into the hobby to learn as much as I can to bring my own aquatic paradise home. Learning from store employees and customers keeps the passion alive for me.
Ariel Hablewitz (Sales Associate) - Everything about my life has involved the ocean. I was 2 years old when I saw the Little Mermaid, having the same name as the mermaid I think it gave me a huge push in this direction. Learning anything and everything I can about the ocean, and the life in it, has been my deepest lifelong passion. I volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium in my free time, and I play the cello in my school orchestra, and in a recreational orchestra outside of school. For my senior year in high school I'm going to be taking AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and Marine Biology. I'm hoping to be accepted into UO, Hawaii Pacific University, UNCW, or Hawaii University to major in Marine Biology. I have my own, new 55 gallon reef tank and I've had various fresh water tanks and one other saltwater aquarium when I was younger. At home, I love spending time with my four chickens, my dog and working on my tank. I also like to draw, go hiking, camping and white-water rafting/kayaking in my free time.