Read our blog for news and product announcements!
Connect With Us
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".
Matt Bricknell (Custom Design Division) - Matt has a full time career as a wireless technician but as a good friend of ours he is always around helping out. He is very skilled in steel/aluminum fabrication and his ability to take a concept from design to reality has enabled us to start a new division. Barrier Reef Elite Concepts, which Matt heads up, offers design, fabrication, and installation services for any custom job. He is also well versed with Neptune AquaControllers and Elos Products. To see an example of Matt's skills in custom tank design and fabrication check out his current tank build thread here. Its a custom 370 gallon, Elos "Crystal" glass, rimless/braceless, reef tank! His username on RF/RC is "bricky".
Jamie Schlump (Store Manager) - Ever since I can remember I always knew I wanted to work with animals. Growing up, I was the girl that was found playing with frogs in a muddy ditch or collecting insects and critters since I thought they were "cute". I started out with multiple goldfish and bettas but it wasn't until college when I realized you could have the ocean in a fish tank!
I enrolled in Michigan State University's Pre-Vet program, but after doing a project on coral bleaching my freshman year, inspired to hopefully save the reefs someday, I switched my major to Zoology with a concentration in Marine Biology. Not more than a few months after this switch, I was hired at Preuss Pets and was assigned to the saltwater department with hope that I would quickly catch on. While there, I learned how to educate the general public make smart decisions when setting up and maintaining their saltwater tanks using the knowledge combined from my schooling, at home research, and helpful, informative co-workers. I stayed at Preuss's two years and left with a passion and better understanding of the hobby than thought possible.
After receiving my Bachelors, I moved to Washington, worked with Chinook salmon for a summer, then decided to get back into the hobby by becoming an employee here at BRA. I have had a 40, 30 and 20 gallon reef tank. Activities I do when I'm not working include hiking/camping, Xbox/computer games, jewelry making, painting and a lot of reading.
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.
Mikayla Smith (Assistant 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 continue to feel that passion for animals big and small today.
In my spare time I enjoy my pets at home including aquariums, aquatic salamanders, a rat, snakes and two rescue dogs that I dedicate my time to. I also enjoy photography after studying both traditional black and white film processing and digital photography for 8 semesters.
Remy Goldstein (Sales Associate) - 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.
Erika Pinney (Sales Associate) - I grew up near the airport in SeaTac WA, where I kept a variety of tropical freshwater species. I had a passion for marine biology from a very young age so after high school I completed my undergraduate degree in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences from UW, I also volunteered at the Seattle Aquarium cleaning tanks, feeding fish and general maintenance for about 11 years.
I moved to Newport Oregon a couple years ago where I completed as post graduate degree in Aquarium Sciences and while down there I worked at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center.
After my post grad studies were over I continued to Los Angeles to work at an aquarium wholesale facility as a husbandry aquarist.I'm happy to be back in the Pacific Northwest, and I look forward to everyday that I get to work with fish and invertebrates.