Ozark Fisheries History
Ozark Fisheries began as a trout hatchery in April 1926 by two men, F. Lawrence Bailliere and Dr. Charles A. Furrow. These two men started with 97 acres at what is known today as the No. 1 Spring. This spring is one of three large springs known as the "Camp Ground Springs". The second oldest Methodist Church west of the Mississippi River and Camden County’s first Post Office were both established at this location. Ozark Fisheries' first office was located in the old Post Office building until our new office and warehouse was built in 2016.
In the early 1920’s, the big boom in goldfish popularity started with the establishment of pet departments in the chain stores such as S.S. Kresge, Woolworth, Grant, McLellan’s, and other major chains. There were over 60 goldfish producers in the U.S. in the early 1920’s, located mostly in Frederick County, Maryland, around Cincinnati, in Morgan County Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Their combined production was only large enough to supply goldfish from September through January or February the following year. Most of the production were common goldfish with a limited supply of fancy goldfish varieties such as red fantails, black moors and calico fantails.
While on a lecture tour in the East in early 1927, Dr. Furrow became interested in displays of imported fancy goldfish from Japan that were shown in several department stores. He learned that demand exceeded supply, and that producing quality goldfish offered a greater profit potential than rainbow trout. At the same time, Mr. Bailliere, who had a friend in charge of buying livestock for the Woolworth chain stores, heard from his friend, who said his firm would sell all the goldfish Ozark Fisheries could raise. So it was decided that Ozark Fisheries would begin production and marketing of goldfish with an emphasis on the fancy goldfish varieties.
On January 1, 1928, Roy Nakashima, a graduate from the Imperial School of Fisheries, Tokyo, Japan, with over 10 years of field experience, was employed to build and operate the new enterprise. The trout raceways were converted to goldfish ponds, and fancy goldfish brood stock was imported from Japan; the common goldfish brood stock were obtained from Grassyfork Fisheries in Indiana. Less than two acres of water were stocked the first year. The first shipments of goldfish were made on December 11, 1928 - three shipments totaling 1,035 goldfish for total sales of $55.50, this represented the total goldfish sales for 1928.
Construction of ponds was performed with horse teams and slip scoops, along with wheelbarrows and shovels. From the early days on, Ozark’s goldfish production included feeder commons, pond comets, calico fantails, black moors, red fantails and shubunkins. By 1936, all the land suitable for pond construction included in the original land purchase had been fully utilized. Adjacent properties were purchased, for expansion but also for the protection of the watershed supplying water to the springs.
Shipping fancy and feeder goldfish to Ozark’s customers has evolved considerably over time. In the early days most shipments were made in large heavy metal cans and were delivered by Railway Express. Freight costs were low and service to major cities by railway was very dependable. Two sizes of cans were used depending on the size of the order. Small orders of approximately 100-250 small goldfish would be shipped at a gross weight of 50-55 lbs; large orders of up to 500 small goldfish would weigh as much as 100 lbs.
Through the mid 1940’s shipping losses averaged under 2% but by the late 1940’s, wage demands, shorter hours, and decline in passenger rail traffic, forced freight costs upward and service began to deteriorate. Shipping losses due to inattention to the perishable product started climbing and many firms quit handling goldfish. Several smaller hatcheries went out of business. To survive alternative shipping methods were required.
Ozark Fisheries developed and patented the Golfipak which is now in general use in both the goldfish and tropical fish industry. The Golfipak mixes goldfish and water in an oxygen-inflated plastic bag that is sealed and shipped inside a corrugated cardboard box. For two years the U.S. Postal Service cooperated with Ozark Fisheries in mailing test shipments to all parts of the U.S. to determine if it was safe enough to handle Golfipaks with other mail without causing damage from leakers. After exhaustive tests not one box was damaged so the packaging process was given approval for mailing. More than five years was required to develop and test before discarding the old, heavy metal cans, and start full time use of the new Golfipak in 1955.
Prior to the development of the Golfipak container it was impossible to ship koi and goldfish by airfreight in the old style shipping cans. With the development of the much lighter and less expensive shipping container, shipping by airfreight became possible. This opened up numerous markets that previously were not economically feasible to serve by Ozark Fisheries. This included both domestic and overseas markets.
Ozark Fisheries originally acquired land surrounding the six springs on our farm in order to protect the watershed supplying water to the springs. Years later water tests and improved science revealed that the watershed comes from over 30 miles away.
The land was originally mostly timber and of very little productive use. A slow deliberate process of converting excess land into pasture was pursued and Circle F Cattle Company was founded in 1970. The name was created by taking the O and F of Ozark Fisheries to make our Circle F brand.
Circle F Cattle Company strives to produce the finest Black Angus feeder cattle. We strive to breed Black Angus cattle that offer structural soundness and other necessary assets such as fertility, calving ease, longevity, growth, and a calm nature. Circle F Cattle Company have been able to breed some of the best cattle available in south-central Missouri.
Over the years feeder goldfish and ornamental goldfish have been the main product of Ozark Fisheries, however large quantities of golden shiners and fathead minnows have been produced to supply fishing areas with bait. Beginning in the early 1970’s, with the increasing demand for goldfish feeders, much of the water acreage originally used in production of bait was converted to goldfish.
In the 1970's Ozark Fisheries acquired Grassyfork Fisheries in Martinsville, Indiana. Grassyfork Fisheries was started in 1899 and is one of the oldest continuously operated fish farms in the United States. The Martinsville area has a rich history with fish farming.
Both locations produce goldfish and koi which are shipped to our customers throughout North America. We are continuing to find affordable shipping options for each of our customers and will exhaust all choices until the right match is found for you. All marketing and sales is handled out of our Missouri headquarters.
Following the death of Mr. Bailliere in 1973, and Mrs. Bailliere in 1975, ownership passed to their daughter, Anne Bailliere Cleveland and her four children. After over 97 years of continuous operation, the business is now being managed by the third and fourth generation.
If you are looking for a reliable, year round supply of feeder goldfish, fancy goldfish and koi - Ozark Fisheries is the right choice for you. Set up a Wholesale Account or Contact Us today to start buying the best quality goldfish and koi at the most affordable prices on the US market today.