The Dinkins Story

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Dinkins Aquatic Gardens

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As we approach our second birthday, I thought I'd tell the story of how Dinkins Aquatic Gardens got started. My wife Ashley and I have talked about this a few times in interviews, but many people don't realize that we started this business entirely by accident.

In the summer of 2021, we moved from Louisiana to the DFW area because of some specialized services that our youngest son needed. During the move, we decided to convert our freshwater aquarium into a reef tank. Fast forward to early 2022, and I was learning about the benefits of phytoplankton for feeding corals, microfauna, and generally improving biodiversity. I started thinking of culturing phyto, but our life tends to get pretty crazy (with three kids and four dogs!) so I kept putting it off. One day a local fish store stayed open late because I had seen some coral on their website that I liked, but wouldn't be able to get there until after they closed. Ashley and I went to the store but didn't find what we were looking for. I felt bad leaving without buying anything since they had stayed open for us, so I went to the fridge and got two bottles of phytoplankton. They rang me up - $100 for both bottles!

Right then, I saw an opportunity. Could I culture phytoplankton and make a little extra money on the side?

Nah, probably not. I figured nobody would really be interested, and I'd just be starting a big project and making a huge mess. I reasoned that there were already companies that produce phytoplankton, so nobody would have any interest in buying from a local guy. Besides, I wasn't a marine biologist or anything like that - I was a history teacher. Why would anybody want to buy from me?

I wrestled with doubt for awhile, then one day I talked to a different LFS who agreed to buy any extra phyto that I made. So I decided to give it a go. Ashley was incredibly supportive, and thought it was awesome that I was doing science right there on the kitchen table! I converted a small closet to a phyto-producing station, all festooned with lights and aluminum foil reflectors, and started producing a couple dozen gallons. I listed the excess on Facebook Marketplace and on the selling forum here, while also selling my LFS everything he could move. One day the LFS owner told us that we really needed labels for our phytoplankton bottles. So we came home and Ashley designed our logo and phytoplankton labels, and created our Facebook page. She personally did all our branding by herself, in the course of a single hour!

After a month, enough people were asking about phyto (and copepods, which I started culturing) that I made a "quick and dirty" website one afternoon to simplify the order taking process. During this time we met some absolutely amazing people here and on Facebook (see the "Birthday Bash Giveaway" thread, where we are partnering with one of our earliest and biggest Facebook supporters). We eventually hired the amazing Donna Martinek of Eight Arms Marketing to create a professional-looking website for us, and went to our first shows (a Coral Farmer's Market near Dallas, and later Aquashella Dallas and RAP Dallas).

By the fall of 2022, Ashley and I realized that we had created an actual business. It turns out that we did have something to offer that our customers liked - we call it the Dinkins Difference. In short, we are dedicated to producing a superior product that will greatly benefit your tank, while providing world-class, concierge-level customer service to everybody. If you have a question, we'll answer you within an hour or less (although we usually stop manning the comms around midnight, we're back at it around 7 AM!). If you have a problem, we'll make it right. No questions asked, no hoops to jump through, no forms to fill out. Plus, Ashley personally hand-writes a card to every single customer, every single order. We truly appreciate you all, and we want to let you know how much you mean to us!
 
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Snoopy 67

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I also ordered from Dinkins, but bad weather hit Texas & I was notified my shipment was on hold.
For me there were no worries & I communicated that. When the order arrived there was an extra bottle in the box because of the delay. How many other places would do that??? Appreciated for sure!
 
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Dinkins Aquatic Gardens

Dinkins Aquatic Gardens

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I ordered from you and the service was great . Good luck in the future. I have a question . How much phyto do you add to a 400 gallon tank with 100 gallon sump.

Thank you so much! We are so glad to have you Thinkin Dinkins! We usually recommend starting with 5 ml per 10 gallons, and after a couple weeks working that up to 10 ml per 10 gallons. In your case we'd say to start dosing 250 ml per day and gradually increase that to 500 ml per day after a couple weeks (if you're liking the results, which I think you will!).

The most economical option for this size tank is our gallon size, which has about 3800 ml in it. We offer biweekly, monthly, and bimonthly subscriptions at discounted prices as well.
 

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Dinkins always exceeds my expectations. Thanks again for the Christmas card!
Same about the card. Wasn’t expecting that. Nice personal touches. I had used Dinkins for my secret Santa present this past year during the Reef2Reef secret Santa exchange. About time for some for me again as I wasn’t to give my tank a boost before adding a Mandarin.
 

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I won a $75 gift card from Dinkins during one of the sales in December last year I think. Got some phyto and pods and could not be happier. The customer service is top notch. The phyto looks and smells so much better than what you get from the barn, plus there are 2 additional strains of algae in the Dinkins. First time I opened a bottle and smelled it the first thing that came to mind was Ocean Salad. No I did not taste it hahaa. My purple sea whip started growing another stem finally and the other corals look great. Start a monthly subscription in January. Get some and see the difference.
 

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Hi guys, I have been using the Snacklepacks for a while now and I am very happy! The pods are always very healthy and moving around when I receive them. The bottles are jammed packed. Phyto is very fresh as well and kind of smell like broccoli ;) Great stuff! As a disclaimer I won a year's worth of Snacklepacks.... I have been adding every month and have a pretty high concentration of pods reproducing in my main system. All the animals are full and Happy! When my free Snacklepacks stops I will continue ordering them as you can't beat Dinkins service and quality!
Cheers,
E.
 

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As our first birthday approaches, I thought I'd tell the story of how Dinkins Aquatic Gardens got started. My wife Ashley and I have talked about this a few times in interviews, but many people don't realize that we started this business entirely by accident.

In the summer of 2021, we moved from Louisiana to the DFW area because of some specialized services that our youngest son needed. During the move, we decided to convert our freshwater aquarium into a reef tank. Fast forward to early 2022, and I was learning about the benefits of phytoplankton for feeding corals, microfauna, and generally improving biodiversity. I started thinking of culturing phyto, but our life tends to get pretty crazy (with three kids and four dogs!) so I kept putting it off. One day a local fish store stayed open late because I had seen some coral on their website that I liked, but wouldn't be able to get there until after they closed. Ashley and I went to the store but didn't find what we were looking for. I felt bad leaving without buying anything since they had stayed open for us, so I went to the fridge and got two bottles of phytoplankton. They rang me up - $100 for both bottles!

Right then, I saw an opportunity. Could I culture phytoplankton and make a little extra money on the side?

Nah, probably not. I figured nobody would really be interested, and I'd just be starting a big project and making a huge mess. I reasoned that there were already companies that produce phytoplankton, so nobody would have any interest in buying from a local guy. Besides, I wasn't a marine biologist or anything like that - I was a history teacher. Why would anybody want to buy from me?

I wrestled with doubt for awhile, then one day I talked to a different LFS who agreed to buy any extra phyto that I made. So I decided to give it a go. Ashley was incredibly supportive, and thought it was awesome that I was doing science right there on the kitchen table! I converted a small closet to a phyto-producing station, all festooned with lights and aluminum foil reflectors, and started producing a couple dozen gallons. I listed the excess on Facebook Marketplace and on the selling forum here, while also selling my LFS everything he could move. One day the LFS owner told us that we really needed labels for our phytoplankton bottles. So we came home and Ashley designed our logo and phytoplankton labels, and created our Facebook page. She personally did all our branding by herself, in the course of a single hour!

After a month, enough people were asking about phyto (and copepods, which I started culturing) that I made a "quick and dirty" website one afternoon to simplify the order taking process. During this time we met some absolutely amazing people here and on Facebook (see the "Birthday Bash Giveaway" thread, where we are partnering with one of our earliest and biggest Facebook supporters). We eventually hired the amazing Donna Martinek of Eight Arms Marketing to create a professional-looking website for us, and went to our first shows (a Coral Farmer's Market near Dallas, and later Aquashella Dallas and RAP Dallas).

By the fall of 2022, Ashley and I realized that we had created an actual business. It turns out that we did have something to offer that our customers liked - we call it the Dinkins Difference. In short, we are dedicated to producing a superior product that will greatly benefit your tank, while providing world-class, concierge-level customer service to everybody. If you have a question, we'll answer you within an hour or less (although we usually stop manning the comms around midnight, we're back at it around 7 AM!). If you have a problem, we'll make it right. No questions asked, no hoops to jump through, no forms to fill out. Plus, Ashley personally hand-writes a card to every single customer, every single order. We truly appreciate you all, and we want to let you know how much you mean to us!
Question I get 1/2 gallon delivered every 2 weeks with 16 oz of photo tank is 180 gal including sump. How do I use photo? Don’t want my phos and nitrates to go up. Do I dose, use every day, spot feed? I have no clue. I know it’s good for corals but also know it increases phosphorus and nitrates.
 
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Dinkins Aquatic Gardens

Dinkins Aquatic Gardens

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Question I get 1/2 gallon delivered every 2 weeks with 16 oz of photo tank is 180 gal including sump. How do I use photo? Don’t want my phos and nitrates to go up. Do I dose, use every day, spot feed? I have no clue. I know it’s good for corals but also know it increases phosphorus and nitrates.

Great question! We've found that the effect of phyto on nitrates/phosphates varies per tank. Every tank is a unique, complex ecosystem and it's hard to predict what's going to happen without trying it on your particular tank. In fact, a customer emailed me just last week to say that he's trying to raise his phosphates, but since he started dosing Dinkins phyto, they've been dropping!

Our suggestion is this: broadcast feed daily with half the normal dose (we would start at 5 ml per 10 gallons of water). If your parameters stay on point and your corals are happy, consider gradually increasing your daily phyto dosing to 10 ml per 10 gallons.

Most people do use our phyto to broadcast feed, but it's also great at making "coral milkshakes." Take some of our phyto, mix it with your preferred coral foods, and spot feed the concoction. They love it!
 

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As our first birthday approaches, I thought I'd tell the story of how Dinkins Aquatic Gardens got started. My wife Ashley and I have talked about this a few times in interviews, but many people don't realize that we started this business entirely by accident.

In the summer of 2021, we moved from Louisiana to the DFW area because of some specialized services that our youngest son needed. During the move, we decided to convert our freshwater aquarium into a reef tank. Fast forward to early 2022, and I was learning about the benefits of phytoplankton for feeding corals, microfauna, and generally improving biodiversity. I started thinking of culturing phyto, but our life tends to get pretty crazy (with three kids and four dogs!) so I kept putting it off. One day a local fish store stayed open late because I had seen some coral on their website that I liked, but wouldn't be able to get there until after they closed. Ashley and I went to the store but didn't find what we were looking for. I felt bad leaving without buying anything since they had stayed open for us, so I went to the fridge and got two bottles of phytoplankton. They rang me up - $100 for both bottles!

Right then, I saw an opportunity. Could I culture phytoplankton and make a little extra money on the side?

Nah, probably not. I figured nobody would really be interested, and I'd just be starting a big project and making a huge mess. I reasoned that there were already companies that produce phytoplankton, so nobody would have any interest in buying from a local guy. Besides, I wasn't a marine biologist or anything like that - I was a history teacher. Why would anybody want to buy from me?

I wrestled with doubt for awhile, then one day I talked to a different LFS who agreed to buy any extra phyto that I made. So I decided to give it a go. Ashley was incredibly supportive, and thought it was awesome that I was doing science right there on the kitchen table! I converted a small closet to a phyto-producing station, all festooned with lights and aluminum foil reflectors, and started producing a couple dozen gallons. I listed the excess on Facebook Marketplace and on the selling forum here, while also selling my LFS everything he could move. One day the LFS owner told us that we really needed labels for our phytoplankton bottles. So we came home and Ashley designed our logo and phytoplankton labels, and created our Facebook page. She personally did all our branding by herself, in the course of a single hour!

After a month, enough people were asking about phyto (and copepods, which I started culturing) that I made a "quick and dirty" website one afternoon to simplify the order taking process. During this time we met some absolutely amazing people here and on Facebook (see the "Birthday Bash Giveaway" thread, where we are partnering with one of our earliest and biggest Facebook supporters). We eventually hired the amazing Donna Martinek of Eight Arms Marketing to create a professional-looking website for us, and went to our first shows (a Coral Farmer's Market near Dallas, and later Aquashella Dallas and RAP Dallas).

By the fall of 2022, Ashley and I realized that we had created an actual business. It turns out that we did have something to offer that our customers liked - we call it the Dinkins Difference. In short, we are dedicated to producing a superior product that will greatly benefit your tank, while providing world-class, concierge-level customer service to everybody. If you have a question, we'll answer you within an hour or less (although we usually stop manning the comms around midnight, we're back at it around 7 AM!). If you have a problem, we'll make it right. No questions asked, no hoops to jump through, no forms to fill out. Plus, Ashley personally hand-writes a card to every single customer, every single order. We truly appreciate you all, and we want to let you know how much you mean to us!
I met them earlier this year in OKC at the Thunder Alley Coral show. They were both very nice and willing to answer what questions I had.
 

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Recently got a half gallon of pods and phyto from Dinkins. Product was perfect. Was nicely surprised with the hand written thank you card that came with my order that had some cool stickers enclosed as well. Will definitely get my next round of pods from you as well. The Free shipping was amazingly fast as well. Thanks so much for the great service!
 

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Where at in Louisiana? We moved our family in 2018 from Baton Rouge to Austin. Best decision we ever made.
 

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