Growing Up Fish: Life at 5-D Tropical, Inc. with Jason Diaz

Dr. Roy Yanong on Pet Life Radio

The U.S. aquarium fish industry is centered in Florida, and has a rich tradition of fish farming families.  My guest today, Jason Diaz, has been working in his family’s business since age 12.  Jason is President of 5-D Tropical, Inc., an aquarium fish production and import facility, based in Plant City.  5-D produces 100s of thousands of aquarium fish weekly, comprised of over 60 species and varieties of fish, with the spectacularly colored GloFish among their most popular.  5-D also imports fish from all over the globe.  So what’s it like growing up in an aquaculture industry when your parents were also your bosses?  And where your brother and sister work, too? Join us, as Jason gives us his unique perspective on the aquarium industry.


Jason Diaz is President of 5-D Tropical, Inc., an aquarium fish production and import/export facility located in Plant City, Florida. Growing up in this family-owned business, Jason found life to be exciting and always an adventure, but a lot of work. For Jason and his siblings Damon and Stacey (who, along with their father, Joe and mother, Anita, comprise the "5-D's"), things couldn't help but be just a little different having parents who farm ornamental fish.

As a youngster, Jason observed his parents work all hours of the day at their first facility-- a small 5-acre farm located in the East Tampa area with 6 employees. By age 12, Jason was helping in the business by washing tanks, preparing boxes for packing the fish, and feeding the fish ponds, activities that made him feel a part of the team. By the time he was 18, an age when most young adults are still uncertain of their future, he was so inspired by his parents' strong work ethic and achievements and by his own love of tropical fish that he knew ornamental aquaculture was his calling. Continuously immersed in the business, and with his parents' guidance, he quickly began to understand the complexities of the industry-broodstock maturation and spawning, raising the fry and fingerlings, harvesting, housing the market-size fish, and finally, marketing the fish--all in a day's work!

Now, 32 years later, 5-D Tropical, Inc. has expanded to three separate facilities, two in central Florida and one facility outside the country, containing over 350 acres of land with 120 employees. 5-D produces over 62 varieties of tropical fish in 1500 production ponds-with a total volume of 25,200,000 gallons of water. Within four production areas, they produce on a weekly basis over 500,000 fry of multiple species. Species and varieties farmed include barbs, tetras, live-bearers, danios, GloFish, gouramis, freshwater sharks and cichlids. 5-D also imports from 16 to 18 countries per week and quarantines all fish 5 to 7 days before releasing them for sale. 5D sells and ships fish all over the world.

When he's not busy working the farm, Jason serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association and on many different committees. He also enjoys educating students at local schools and does all he can to help keep the aquarium hobby strong.