A big fish in the world of aquarium hobbyists, saltwater aquarium supplier Marine Depot was acquired by Bulk Reef Supply in July of 2021.

Founded in 1997, Marine Depot built an engaged following during its more than 20 years in operation. The company offered a popular educational blog for reef-building hobbyists and published a bi-annual catalog that was a mainstay of aquarium-enthusiasts across the U.S.

Marine Depot also launched online sales before e-commerce was a common avenue for retailers, presenting founder Wayland Wong a series of challenges to overcome. Not only did Wong need to build a digital platform before services like Shopify existed but he also had to figure out warehousing, logistics, and server housing, he said in a Q&A on the company website.

Wong reflected that Marine Depot’s educational blog content — now widely known as content marketing — was an important avenue to attract customers.

“When I felt ‘I got something here’ was when customers would convey to me my information was helping them succeed or when they would tell me the product I helped them buy was the right choice for them,” Wong said.

When it came time to sell Marine Depot

Wong used a broker to sell Marine Depot, according to a video featuring its buyer, Bulk Reef Supply co-founder Ryan Batcheller. The two companies declined to share terms of the deal.

Founded in 2007, Bulk Reef Supply is based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, and provides a wide variety of supplies for hobby aquarists. Bulk Reef Supply — which also has grown a following by providing educational content for “reefers” or saltwater reef hobbyists — took on a “big massive influx of cash” from Bertram Capital, part of which enabled its acquisition of Marine Depot.

The deal officially closed on July 30, 2021 when Marine Depot ceased operations. The combined entity operates as Bulk Reef Supply, which also operates the educational platform Reef Builders.