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Jeff Rapps is Retiring :-(


Staff member
See the announcement, below:

April 10, 2019
Please note: My site has not been hacked and this is not a eulogy
The twenty five years strong, uniquely branded business model that I entitled Tangled Up In Cichlids is closed for business. I am retiring from my position as founder-president/owner-operator of what has truly been a dream come true for me on many levels.
I am sorry that there was no pre notification or going out of business sale. I find that to be sad and devaluing for product to which I have worked so hard to assign value.
I have never been busier than of recent. Approximately one third of my daily order fulfilment consists of new customers. The interest and growth is unprecedented and I am forever grateful to each of you for these blessings and opportunities.
I want to extend a deeply felt, genuine thanks from the bottom of my heart to every single individual whom, over the last two and half decades, have enabled and fueled my ability to grow and succeed with this international E-commerce based small business model.
Tangled Up In Cichlids presence on the internet began in 1995, around the same time that Yahoo! was launched and years before Google was a thing.
As a trained aquatic biologist and small business owner, it has been my utmost pleasure to provide hobbyists and similar businesses the accessibility and hopefully educational components as well to generate past and continued interests in this niche market.
It is no secret that I have built a business marketing those species of fish which I have enjoyed collecting, breeding, and maintaining as a lifelong hobbyist. This premise for a business is not original. The fact that this is a profoundly vulnerable, high maintenance, labor-of-love-contrived profession is understood and I never took one single day of my customer-supported entrepreneurship for granted.
On that note, some of you may want to know if there will be a new owner or successor who may, using the existing or a similar business model, continue to provide my extensive customer base access to the many rare and often exclusively imported species that I have made available to you.
I am currently communicating with a fellow entrepreneur who is highly capable, extensively experienced, motivated, and knowledgeable. If and when this may result in a formal business transaction, I will be sure to send all contacts in my email this information.
If, upon reading this announcement, an individual or similar business with serious interest and resources has the desire to further inquire of this business opportunity, I will still be monitoring my email for some time and can properly address inquiries.
Once again, please accept my utmost gratitude for playing the ever active role of enabling my dreams to become a reality.
Jeff Rapps
Soon to be not so terribly Tangled Up In Cichlids
The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.


monster tank newbie
I JUST saw this myself and rushed over to post. Truly a sad day in the hobby. His stock was such high quality. The somewhat silver lining is that he is looking to pass the business on to someone else, who can hopefully continue the great stream of quality specimens on the east coast.

What other east-coast based sources are there besides TUIC? Jeff has really been my prime source of hard-to-find species and I find myself a bit panicked that I'll have to default back to liveaquaria.com. o_O I know Imperial Tropicals sometimes has interesting stock, but they get bought out quickly and are generally small specimens that take a while to grow out (which is fine if that's your thing, I enjoy doing that too just not all the time).


Staff member
Jeff was seriously THE guy to go to, particularly for some of the more obscure and/or larger-growing cichlids (and catfish).

Jeff Michels isn't on the East Coast, but does have some overlap in selection and definite quality, but not nearly the range of Central and S. American species that Rapps had, nor nearly the selection of catfish.


Board of Directors
Staff member
I don't know what to say. I hope retirement is a good thing and that maybe this means we'll get to see him more often at events as a fellow-fishkeeper rather than as a vendor.


CCA Members
Back in the mid to late 90s, I was a teen just really starting to get into fish. My local aquarium store, Union Aquarium in Schenectady, was served by Lombardo's Metro Pet, and their sales rep was no other than Jeff Rapps. I started an e-mail correspondence with him, and through Union Aquarium was able to get some really cool fish. I'll never forget how utterly excited I was when a bag full of rope fish arrived with my name on it!

Soon, Jeff moved on to start his own company -- he may have been doing both for a while, I can't remember. He became the source for really cool fish. This was back in the late 90s, and we still used Boolean search engines, most fish were "Cichlasoma" or "Aequidens," and web data was rare. We even used telnet and BBS to talk fish -- indeed, one of the best sources was the CIchlid Room, which no longer exists (though the "Cichlid Room Companion" is well known!). Jeff had fish I couldn't even find in Axelrod's Atlas, and I ordered them from time to time. Ha, I remember how excited I was to get "Archocentrus (Cichlasoma) myrnae," a fish you jerks use as feeders in this club. :) I remember how excited I was when they spawned for me, one of my earlier AFM articles. They hadn't even been described yet!

There were definitely some very cool fish that entered my tanks from Jeff, though as my interests and his stocks diverged, I think I ordered less and less frequently.

Jeff's site has been a fixture in the cichlid hobby, and Tangled Up will definitely be missed. I'm very sorry to hear that he's closing down, and wish him the best on his future endeavors, even if they're just drinking colourful beverages with umbrellas on a beach somewhere.


CCA Members
Staff member


CCA Members
I've used Tampa Bay Cichlids with good success. They are also the behind the scene provider for other online sites like Blue Grass Aquatics.


Global Moderators
Staff member
I'm left very conflicted. I'm sad to read this news, as Jeff helped my love for the hobby grow through the fish he introduced. At the same time, I am happy for him (and Kate), and hope the future treats him well.


Past CCA President
Staff member
I was pretty bummed when I saw this post. Jeff has been an awesome source for fish, a great supporter of the hobby, and over the years, has become a friend of mine. I hope his retirement was something he wanted to do versus something he had to do.

I looked around my fish room last night. Almost all of the New World fish in my fish room came from Jeff.


Staff member
Jeff is definitely remarkable in his ability to remember a face and a name (of fish and people). I missed him and Kate sorely at BFD this year. They are good folks and good company, and they seemed to always greet people like old friends.


Past CCA President
Staff member
I exchanged a couple of emails with Jeff and this is a positive move for him and Kate. If anyone, or a group of people, are interested in bulk purchases of his tanks (he has 75s, 40Bs, 30Ls, and various others), please shoot me a PM.

Jim Anderson

Bummer, very sorry and sad to hear this. Great supplier with high quality fish. A very large vendor that my company purchases from just had there system hacked and they lost very many computers, networks, servers, etc.-Beware


Staff member
I received this from Jeff, today, and thought I'd share. The good news is, it looks like someone will be taking up his mantle (although no one can ever take his place).

"Thanks for your email Rebecca.
Your kind words mean a lot to me.

As you may imagine, my inbox became very full of well wishing from dear customers and friends upon my sudden announcement of retirement.
Many individuals were also compelled to call me on the phone.
I foresaw this reaction and that is why I chose to not make any preliminary announcements.
In lieu of the high volume of order processing and necessary customer communications leading up to my announcement, I chose to run full steam ahead until closing.

The most rare of my breeding stock were offered to individuals whom I trusted to continue working with them.
The bulk of my remaining inventory (quite a huge lot of fish at the time) were offered to a couple of wholesale customers of mine.

A thoughtful customer with whom I was speaking in the days following my announcement told me (in reply to my sharing of feeling badly for not having the opportunity to reply to kind emails like yours) that there is no time stamp or immediate obligation to do so.
We were packing and had many, many other obligations to fulfill.
Hence my less than timely reply to your email.

I was never more busy than in 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.
My health is fine too.
My wife and I moved to North Carolina.
We have other business opportunities here and I was not keen to rebuild another fish facility to continue my business as I'd been operating for the previous decades.

I am in the process of selling the business and will gladly send emails to all customers and provide same info on my site upon finalization of transaction.
The fellow who is going to purchase my business is getting close to finalizing the acquisition.
I will be very pleased to share this information with you and the rest of my customer base upon completion.

I will gladly provide him with liaison services for introductions and consultation in all manners of the business.
This means that it will first be me that reaches out to each customer and may remain in communication with each of you for as long as necessary to ensure as smooth a segue as possible.

Best regards, Jeff"


monster tank newbie
That is really great news. I hope the new buyer can take up the torch, and if he is half the businessman that Jeff was, we should once again have a great source for great fish.


The ONE who is The ONE
Staff member
If anyone is ordering shoot me a message. He still has a fish I want. Becca I still have your newt.