Jeff Turner interview

Jeff Turner, President of Boyd Enterprises – maker of Chemi-pure filtration media. 
All cichlid keepers have favorite products or brands that they use. I am no different. Today’s interviewee owns the company that produces products used regularly by aquarists all around the world, me included. In fact, I’ve been using one of his products for almost as long as I’ve been keeping fish. You may not know the interviewee by name, but I can almost guarantee you’ve heard of his products. If you haven’t until now, today’s your lucky day.

Jeff Turner is President of Boyd Enterprises. As such he owns the Chemi-pure line of products. “Chemi-pure is the unrivaled filtration media for maintaining an aesthetically pleasing and healthy aquarium.” Jeff is also President of Reef Aquaria Design and Jellyfish Art, custom tank building companies.

An aquarist and businessman, Jeff has been in the hobby for over five decades. While his career was built around marine aquariums and systems, Jeff is a freshwater enthusiast and also a cichlidophile. In fact, the tank in his work office is a cichlid tank.

I had not met Jeff prior to this interview but I reached out to Chemi-pure in hopes of getting an interview with him. His folks got him in touch with me and, as they say, the rest is history.

Lots to cover so let’s get going!

How about you start us off by telling the readers about your path to purchasing the Chemi-pure company?

I’ve been using Chemi-pure since I was a kid, now over 50 years ago. My Dad and Dick Boyd were friends in the aquarium industry for many years starting with the formation of the Florida Marine Aquarium Society in the late 1950’s.  About 31+ years ago I was looking to move my custom aquarium and marine life business to North Miami Beach area and found a nice warehouse. Next door was “Boyd Enterprises.”  I knocked on the door and Dick answered and said he’d be happy if I was his next-door neighbor!  We moved into the new space, and I spent three or so years working with Dick on various aquarium related projects, including replacing the glass window on his 3,000-gallon reef in his garage!  Dick was a super nice guy, always helpful and full of information about all kinds of aquariums.  He had a “Dutch Mini Reef” in his front office entrance, and it was the first one I had ever seen.  Dick had me build two custom 60-gallon reef tanks on custom cabinets with wheels underneath, which he gave to his two older sons, Eben and Matthew, for them to display at the local Youth Fair. The Boyd sons were pretty young teenagers then, and I helped them with their live rock, corals, and other marine life for their aquariums.

Sadly, Dick passed away from cancer in 1992, but I continued to help his wife Linda Boyd with trade show displays and other items she needed from time to time. Eventually, Linda Boyd passed away in 1998 and I found that the Boyd sons’ uncle was then running the business with a guy from the auto industry.  So I inquired if the business was for sale. I was directed to get in touch with the Boyd sons, and it was agreed upon by two sons that my wife and I could purchase the company. That was over ten years ago now, and we have significantly improved all aspects of the company, developed some new Chemi-pure products, and I’m confident that Dick Boyd himself would be very happy with how his original company still prospers today.

Chemi-pure filter media has been a mainstay in the aquarium industry for years. What separates it from other competing products on the market?

The first ads ever published for Chemi-pure were from the very early 1960’s, and I in fact have this ad from The Aquarium in Beverly Hills, California dated March 1961. There’s a photo in the ad from Dick Boyd of his clownfish and anemone claiming Chemi-pure is the “Greatest Scientific Advancement Ever for Marine Aquariums.” Chemi-pure was the very first mixed media aquarium filtration material on the market, and Dick did a great job at reinforcing his product’s position in the marketplace for decades, now selling in North America for over 60 years! Chemi-pure is an “all in one” filtration media and has always been the number one selling aquarium filtration media. Experience with using Chemi-pure myself now for 50+ years and improving on the formulas over the past ten years, I can confidently say that it is truly a great product that has only gotten better.

Original 1961 Chemi-pure ad from The Aquarium magazine. Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner.

Those familiar with the product know it comes prepackaged in very fine mesh bags. Any plans to start packaging and distributing the media loosely so fish keepers can measure out their own? If not, why?

We have a lot of experience with fluidized media reactors on marine aquariums, and my experience with any “soft” media in a reactor is that it will slowly “grind down” to fines that then can flow into your sump or main aquarium. We typically will use a micron sock to catch the fines if we slowly fluidize carbon or GFO (granular ferric oxide), however we really will push the water through the reactor very slowly! Absorption of organic materials through high quality carbon is a slow process, speeding it up really is not necessary in my experience as an aquarist.

The issue with distributing the media loosely is that it’s very hard to mix the media content so that it has consistency throughout, thus it would be safe to say that the exact mixture of Chemi-pure would not be consistent if you just scooped it out of a larger jar. We have expanded the Chemi-pure line to include dosages for aquariums as small as five-gallon nano tanks and all the way up to 300-gallon aquariums. Simply add more individual units to equal up to the size of your aquarium.

Quick Facts sheet for Chemi-pure. Image courtesy of Chemi-pure.

Thousands of cichlid keepers use Chemi-pure in their filters, me included. What’s the advantage of the Blue version for cichlidophiles like me?

Chemi-pure Blue was originally developed for use in marine aquariums with very high quality 08 mm extruded German carbon, a mix of very effective organic scavenging resins, plus a high-grade phosphate absorbing resin. I thought it was certainly better in our test aquariums than the original formula of Chemi-pure. People like us just started using it in their cichlid aquariums, and it made their water gin clear! The rest is history, and cichlidophiles swear by the Blue formula.

Photo of Chemi-pure Blue jar and mesh bag contents. Photo courtesy of Chemi-pure.
Chemi-pure Blue in bulk packaging. Photo courtesy of Chemi-pure.

 

Most people know Chemi-pure from the original product of the same name, but the company sells other products. I’ve never used Chemiclean, but I’ve heard positive things about it. Talk a little about that and the other products.

We now have the original Chemi-pure, Chemi-pure Elite, Chemi-pure Blue, Chemi-pure Green, and Vitachem and Chemiclean. Vitachem is a great aquarium vitamin supplement that people use to enrich the food that they are feeding their fish, both salt and fresh water, and it’s one of the only aquarium focused vitamin products on the market. Fish breeders, both salt and fresh water, love Vitachem as it really helps bring out the natural colors of fish. Chemiclean as a product has been sold and used for close to 40 years and is one of the very best at cleaning the red stains from cyanobacteria in aquariums. Chemiclean can also be used in freshwater aquariums on the green types of cyano.

Chemi-pure line of products. Photo courtesy of Chemi-pure.

As a fellow cichlid keeper yourself and someone who’s been in the aquarium industry longer than most, where do you see the hobby in the next five years?

Aquariums have always been a wonderful hobby and certainly beneficial for people to learn more about the Water Planet we live on – fresh, brackish, and saltwater included. An aquarium is a profound educational tool teaching people about biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, plumbing, electrical, and lots of patience to name a few things you can learn having your own aquarium. Right now, with this pandemic on the loose, aquarium keeping is even more interesting as people are staying indoors, and an aquarium is WAY more interesting than watching dreadful news stories on TV!  There has been so much expansion of marine and fresh water aqua-cultured life that you literally can start up your new aquarium with very limited impact on the natural coral reefs or lakes of the world. I see aquariums being utilized as great teaching tools for the younger generations, who may have a different future in traditional schools, and one that they can learn “hands on.” Furthermore, it can teach about aquatic life and how best to care for your aquarium. An aquarium is a responsibility, and the owner of a great aquarium is proof of the individual’s forthright nature in caring for a living creature/ecosystem.

Aside from Chemi-pure, you also build custom glass aquariums (Reef Aquaria Design and Jellyfish Art), something you’ve been doing for 50 years. Can you tell the readers about that passion and how you can build them the tank they’ve always wanted?

Custom aquarium design and construction is a passion of mine, and our teams, for as long as I’ve been an aquarist. Each and every aquarium that we build is a one of a kind, and we have been fortunate to have clients that retain us to create beautiful, functional, living works of aquarium art.  I was just recently at one that we built 14 years ago, which we renovated last year with the newest LED lights and filtration components, and it was fabulous to see this beautiful 1,600 gallon reef aquarium thriving. More importantly was speaking with the clients about how wonderful it is for them to view their aquarium every day. Great aquariums bring great joy to folks, and that couple today, who are many years older than myself, have a beautiful home on the bay in Key Largo with this tremendous aquarium centerpiece in their living room.

There’s so much satisfaction bringing a beautiful, quality, healthy, living aquarium into someone’s home/ office/ public space, and there’s always challenges along the way. Getting it right, right off the bat, is important to us as a company, and we too thrive in this interesting equation of creating beautiful aquariums for people. Aquarium services is the backbone of our operations and a very important part of the professional aquarium industry. We build only a few dozen high quality marine and freshwater aquariums annually, mostly due to capacity of our operations and the fact that building the best and highest quality aquarium installation takes lots of time to do it right. Creating a wonderful custom aquarium in totality is a somewhat expensive proposition and takes significant investment from the individual if you are paying others like us to do it right for you.  Our Reef Aquaria Design portfolio can be viewed at our website, and we can be contacted there. (I could write a VERY Long book about custom aquarium building, and it never stops getting better!)

 

Custom reef tank by Reef Aquaria Design.

 

Custom freshwater cichlid tank by Reef Aquaria Design. 

Last year, you brought Chemi-pure, Reef Aquaria Design, and another company, Jellyfish Art, under one roof. Can you tell the readers what is next for the company?

Getting all of our companies that we own under one roof has been a great transition for all of our entities. We have expanded jellyfish aquaculture, built a 2,000-gallon major reef aquarium in our showroom, and placed a wonderful 500-gallon jellyfish sea thru room divider in the main entrance to the building. I’ve got a really nice cichlid aquarium in my office, with peacocks that I obtained from Pablo Tepoot in Homestead, and its soooo simple with a couple of Eheim filters and Chemi-pure Blue!

We are working on additional jellyfish aquarium designs and that’s lots of fun. We’ve continued moving forward with growing corals in our showroom reef and eventually will expand production of aqua-cultured corals and also more warm water jellyfish species. We are now also distributing Deltec aquarium filtration components from Germany, some of the very best aquarium filtration products in the world, and we also are now distributing DSR (Dutch Synthetic Reefing), which is an additive line for reef aquariums from the Netherlands. We are solidly grounded in the aquarium industry and will continue to innovate with great products and services in a wonderful fishy world. So many aquariums, so little time…..

140 gallon cichlid aquarium in Jeff Turner’s office. Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner.

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. Besides what you discussed above, is there anything that we didn’t cover that you would like to share or comment on?

Keeping your own aquarium at home is a wonderful way to connect with nature and to learn and care for our fishy friends. Turn the TV off, aquariums are Way More Fun!

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