It goes without saying that the longer you participate in a hobby, the more you’ll learn about it, including the names of fellow hobbyists. Over time, you’ll come across the same name more and more frequently. This is what led me to today’s interviewee.
Let me introduce Jason Wilson, or Jay, as his friends call him. I had come across his name several times either via YouTube or in conversation with another hobbyist. As it turns out, Jay is a renaissance man of sorts. He’s into a little bit of everything associated with the hobby. Intrigued, I decided he needed to be interviewed for the blog. I reached out to him back before the holidays to see if he would be interested. His response when I asked, “I’d love to.”
Leaving the Navy after a 13-year career, Jay needed a new purpose in life. Though having been a fish keeper since he was small, it was only seven years ago that he found that new purpose….in cichlids. In fact, his interest in cichlids helped save his life. If you’ve ever met him or visited his YouTube channel, Jay Wilson – Glass Box Therapy, then you know he’s high energy. In a very short time, he has channeled much of that energy into cichlids. Let’s get started!
Who is Jay Wilson? As I mentioned in the short bio above, cichlid keeping helped save your life. Do you care to elaborate on that and tell the readers a little more about yourself?
I was in a dark place with life right after the military, and cichlid keeping really brought a newfound meaning. It helped to keep my mind from slipping into a gutter and it forced me to stay on top of something instead of just ignoring it or feeling depressed and disregarding it. It then morphed into what it is today, a career, inspiration, and education. Ultimately that gave me the new found life.
You’re the owner of NorthFinUSA. Tell the readers about this and how you’re related to the NorthFin company in Canada founded by Darius Chodocinskas.
Other than being great friends, the only thing NorthFinUSA and NorthFin have in common is the name. I just needed to make some extra money so that going through IVF was not as drastic, and ultimately because of that, coupled with my passion for a challenge, I started NorthFinUSA.
There are lots of commercial fish foods on the market. What separates NorthFin’s cichlid offerings from the others?
Oh man, it is easily the ingredients. There is no other tropical fish food on the market, pellet or flake, that provides optimal health, growth, and color without all of the cheap fillers. Most companies use those to cut cost.
You’re a high energy guy and have a lot going on besides NorthFin. You have a YouTube channel, a Facebook page or two, some websites, your work at Fritz Aquatics, etc. What’s next for you?
I do not know honestly. I think that is what keeps me engaged, the constant movement. An object in motion stays in motion! LOL. Plus, if I did have a next move, no one would know about it until it happened HA!
You’re relatively new to cichlid keeping. Talk a little about your initial entry into the cichlid world as a hobbyist.
It started with that need for a hobby. I walked into a local fish store and the sheer colors caught my eye and, honestly, the rest is history. But I will say that the first store did not prepare me for cichlid keeping, and I am thankful for that which is a main reason I started my YouTube Channel.
African or Central/South American, and why (don’t be afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings)?
Feelings? African Cichlids all day. Lake Tanganyika alone is better. I just love the variability and versatility of African cichlids. If I wanted to keep only a single fish, maybe…actually, no I would just keep a Betta.
You have the space and time, and you were just gifted a 250g tank. What’s going in it and why?
Hmmm. If it was 8ft, I would probably do Petrochromis because that would be my next big fish. They need space and they are big buttholes but so beautiful and comical. I never kept them before and, honestly, that is a “dream”.
Many cichlid keepers, like other hobbyists, are passionate about what they do. Some will happily share their secrets for keeping and breeding various species. Some are little more closed off unless they know someone well. Talk about some of the cichlid keepers who’ve helped and inspired you along the way.
Oh man… Pam Chin, Brian Dahlberg, Mr Honey2 u, CyberAquarist and the wild LOL. They all have either helped me grow or provided me motivation into furthering my passion. I am probably leaving some folks out and I apologize.
Talk about some things you’ve experienced in the hobby that bother you.
I do not like the gossip. I do not like the “competition” and lack of preparation. It is like tank, fish, water. Figure out everything else…..now the tank is too small, the water is not right, and the fish suffer. It literally takes 30 minutes or a couple of YouTube videos to get a clear understanding. PREP work people, PREP work!
Where do you see the hobby in the next decade?
10 years…. I don’t know. That is hard to really think about. It always comes in cycles of popularity, honestly. I hope to see more conservation and prosperity with certain species becoming less and less in the wild. But overall, I see the hobby just as strong and further along in innovation and technology.
Thanks for taking the time. Anything you want to talk about or mention to the readers that we didn’t cover?
Just keep doing what you enjoy doing and lock out the noise. This world is riddled with people and their unprovoked opinion, and you do not need it. So no matter what it is, if you have prepared and have the best interests at heart, you are comfortable and filled with joy. Do not let anyone derail that my friends. Oh yeah and thank a veteran! And thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I had fun.