About us

 From Passion to Entrepreneurship

My name is Alex Werries, and I’m the owner of Derby City Aquatics in Louisville, KY. My passion for the aquarium hobby goes back to when I was a child. When I was 10, my mother had a fish only saltwater aquarium and a cichlid aquarium. My grandfather also had a freshwater aquarium (which I eventually inherited when I was 14). These were some of my first memories into the aquatic world, and I immediately fell in love.


Back in 2010 my children wanted an animal, and my wife and I definitely did not want to spend our days picking up poo. We had to do that enough with our three kids! So, we decided it would be best to get a basic community aquarium. From the start, we went to pet stores weekly and always found something to add, which everyone enjoyed as a family. After a few months we were ready for an upgrade, so we “dove” into the world of cichlids, which of course meant a bigger aquarium. After a while, we decided to expand and look into saltwater, which I knew absolutely nothing about. I watched hours and hours of videos on YouTube and immediately became obsessed! Around this time, we went on vacation, and I had the opportunity to explore the ocean. We also went to some of the local aquariums and everyone in my family was excited to add to our growing hobby.


     After a few months of learning and lots of trial and error, our home saltwater aquarium started finally becoming stable and mature. The most exciting part? It was growing!!!!! I so vividly remember when I first fell in love with saltwater ecosystems. I was sitting in front of our aquarium one night, and I truly gave myself time to notice all the microorganisms, copepods, bristle worms, micro brittle stars, Astrea stars, and everything in between. At that moment, I realized I wasn’t just caring for fish and corals. I was actually caring for my little piece of the ocean and the micro biome they lived within.


     Shortly after that, I went to a local frag swap in Louisville Ky sponsored by LMAS. While walking around and discovering new things within each vendor’s set up, I realized if these hobbyists and enthusiasts can grow and sell corals, then so could I. After all, why should they have all the fun? I needed funds to supply my reef addiction! Starting in 2011, I fragged corals like crazy and sold/traded with my local fish stores for credit. A few years later, my wife and I bought our first home. She allowed me to have full control over the basement, and that’s when the reefing addiction really took off. First, I had a 125g reef and a 75g predator aquarium. That quickly changed to a sump room with frag tanks, and before we knew it I was traveling to frag swaps and aquarium festivals every weekend. I quickly got very involved in the reefing community. 


     The basement operation quickly grew out of hand. Total combined water volume of all systems was over 3000 gallons! We even had a small selection of dry goods and supplies; I was already becoming an in-home store that could fuel my dream and growing passion. At the time I was buying wholesale from all over the world, but some of the best corals came from Whitlyn Aquatics in Evansville. My customers noticed the difference in quality I was bringing in. In June of 2019, I saw a Facebook post from a local aquarium store called Aquatica. The business was shutting down, so I went to the store one afternoon and spoke with the owner and offered him a buyout. After speaking to the owner of Whitlyn Aquatics, we decided to team up and expand his brand. After 3 and a half months of remodeling, rebranding, and restocking the newly acquired store, we opened our location in Louisville. I was out of the basement and really “getting my feet wet” in the business world!


     After a few years, the Evansville location and I decided to go our separate ways, and Whitlyn Aquatics of Louisville became Derby City Aquatics. Just like that, my pipe dream was finally a reality; I finally had the opportunity to own my store. Through drive, passion, and some serious dedication, one of my most sought-after dreams had come true. Throughout this entire venture, I’ve moved from amateur to owner, and from just an employee to a boss. I’ve learned to fix plumbing, deal with electrical problems, service aquariums, and problem solve. All through my personal anecdotal experiences, I am so blessed to be able to say that my childhood dream is alive, well, and continuing to grow.


Our current vision and dream for the future

  Our vision is to provide quality fish and corals to aquarium enthusiast. Also to encourage others with a pipe dream like ours. With 15 years of experience we can provide all the advice for husbandry and the practices needed to keep these animals healthy and thriving, not just surviving. We believe that chemistry is the fundamental key behind a thriving and successful ecosystem, which is where our slogan comes from: If it’s not in the chemistry, it just doesn’t make sense


     Our dream is to travel across the world to obtain the highest quality possible, move to protect aquaculture in the oceans and seas alike, and finally, to encourage others to be involved in a healthy activity. Whether your dream is from land, sea, or anywhere else, if you find your passion, it can provide a life full of purpose, drive, and allow the mind to wander to beautiful places indeed.