Monday, 10 July 2017 11:34

Earth, Wind & Water: Reptiles, birds and fish from around the world

Written by  Elma Talundzic
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It doesn’t take fur to make a loyal companion. Grand Rapids offers all kinds of feathered and scaly pets who would love to join your family, or at least swim happily around in your aquarium. 

Casa La Parrot 

124 28th St., Grand Rapids,, (616) 247-3663

If you’re looking for a feathered friend with a lot of personality, Casa La Parrot is the place to be.

Roy VanderEnde opened up the shop more than 25 years ago. At age 10, VanderEnde was instructed in the craft of caring and proper grooming of birds by his mother. After being discharged from the U.S. Marines in 1968, he decided to go into the care and handling of tropical birds. 

Over the years, Casa La Parrot has become specialized in raising African Greys, Macaws, Cockatoos, Conures, Cockatiels and a variety of small birds. The store has successfully bred, hand-fed and raised all of these types of exotic birds. 

In May of 2012, VanderEnde decided it was time to retire and spend time with his family. Doreen Plotkowski, a longtime friend and customer, purchased Casa La Parrot and currently is working on expanding the services and products the store provides.  

“Casa La Parrot is the perfect place to come and explore wonderful companion parrots,” Plotkowski said. “Let us introduce you to their brilliant colors, undeniable personalities and awe-inspiring intelligence.”

Plotkowski gets the majority of her birds from two breeders who live in Michigan. She also works with one breeder in Florida.

“I am very picky about my babies, and I know these breeders are the best at what they do,” Plotkowski said. “This is proven by the many happy parronts (yes, parronts) who have received birds from us.”


Blue Fish Aquarium

2939 Wilson Ave. SW, Grand Rapids,, (616) 667-2583

Blue Fish Aquarium, founded in Jenison in 2001, was intended to be a gallery to show new aquarium maintenance clients what highly decorated aquariums could look like with the proper care. Now, after a few moves, Blue Fish Aquarium settled into its current location in 2011. The nearly 7,500-square-foot space is one of the largest aquatic stores in Michigan.

“Blue Fish Aquarium is a spectacle for any of our visitors. It’s a relaxed, friendly, customer service-driven atmosphere, with a public-meets-home aquarium kind of vibe,” said owner Jeff Vander Berg. ”There are numerous fish and reptile species to encounter, and several display aquariums and terrariums to enjoy.”

The experienced staff, many keeping fish for 25-45 years, can help you with any of your aquatic needs and questions.

“We try to really push science, and more importantly biology, ecology and conservation at Blue Fish Aquarium,” Vander Berg said. “We try to employ people with like minds from local high schools or biology students from Grand Valley State University and Michigan State University.”

Many of the former employees have gone on to work at large-scale public aquariums. 

“We breed many of our own reptiles in two specific breeding rooms that cater to the climates of these animals,” Vander Berg said. “Additionally, we breed a good number of our own freshwater fish and propagate live plants and saltwater corals as well.”

Vander Berg believes there are a number of reasons to consider a reptile or an aquarium as a pet.

“Unlike our furry friends that can cause allergies to flare, there are relatively few people who have allergy issues with aquariums or reptiles,” he said.

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