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The Reef-Face Team

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About TMC

Tropical Marine Centre was founded in 1970 by Richard Sankey. His vision was to ensure that the livestock reaching the UK did so ethically, safely and with zero losses, both during collection and transit, with all fish being in the best of health when finally available for sale in a local fish shop. Since day one TMC has had this zero-loss philosophy and instils this in suppliers, shippers and TMC staff. Unfortunately, not all livestock importers are equally conscientious!

Importing livestock is an expensive and risky business. In the 1970s, TMC started researching transportation methods as well as collection and packing techniques, with the key objective of ensuring that the livestock is properly cared for and has the best chance of survival, rather than for any commercial gain. We firmly believe that the animals we are transporting deserve respect and should never have to suffer as result of our desire to keep them in our homes. It is for this reason that TMC livestock is collected by hand and net only and has beensince the company began operating.

We also researched the best methods for holding livestock during and after collection, finally perfecting acclimation procedures and then designing recirculation systems which would service the holding tanks. It maybe hard to believe, but these things never really existed in the 1970s! Feeding practices came after, as did advances in filtration. We started manufacturing our own UVs in 1983, purely for the purpose of improving water quality at our premises, backing up our zero loss philosophy. We were the first company in the world to make UVs designed for aquariums and this was the first product in a long line of dry goods which we have subsequently brought to the consumer market.

With regards to fish collecting, we only catch what we need and try to work with suppliers based as close to the reefs as possible to minimise the length of transport time. Our animals are often collected in the morning and, by the afternoon, they will be back in the catching station in properly filtered systems - we provide many of our suppliers with filtration systems and equipment so the animals they are holding are kept in the best conditions whilst in their care, something which is unique to TMC. This is in sharp contrast to many other companies who may work with suppliers that keep fish for days on a boat without any decent filtration or in a substation waiting to be moved to a larger station, then moved somewhere else, and so on, until sold. This reduced travel
time means less stress, faster recovery and therefore healthier, stronger fish able to withstand onwards shipping to the UK. Ultimately these healthier, well cared for fish help the hobbyist to maintain a successful home aquarium!

TMC receives shipments every day of the week on the most direct flights we can find. We organise the transportation of our own animals from collection to delivery (again completely unique to TMC) and this ensures that we receive our livestock as fast as possible, with the help of our own expert staff based at the airport, keeping shipping time to a minimum. 

It may surprise you to know that animals being supplied by other companies can be in the transport chain nearly 3 times as long as TMC fish, and this is because of the level of control we have over our supply chain - we really mean it when we say First Class from Reef to Retail!

Since the early days we have expanded, and now have two further fish houses in the UK and one in Portugal. This allows us to always supply our trade customers with a varied range of vibrant, healthy and livestock, from easy-to-access locations. With nearly 50 years of expertise in the industry, and a team of marine biologists and passionate hobbyists that work for TMC, our combined fish-keeping knowledge is phenomenal.

As a trade supplier, we do not allow consumers into our premises, but rely on our amazing network of retailers (many of whom attend TMC training sessions) to supply hobbyists with products and advice. Whilst a well-known name in the marine industry, TMC is actually quite a small company and the large majority of our staff are in direct animal husbandry roles, taking day to day care of the animals!

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