It's no fish story: Seascape set to close

No buyer foundto take over downtown's specialty pet store

A niche shop known for its exotic fish, reptiles and brightly-colored coral will be shutting its doors later this month, ending its decades-long run in the heart of downtown Mountain View.

Seascape, a pet store located on the corner of Castro and Dana streets, has been a hub for reptile and fish enthusiasts, but attracts just about everyone during its evening hours, according to store owner Chloe Mezilis.

"We get everybody here," Mezilis said. "People coming out to dinner, customers from San Jose and San Francisco."

People who step inside Seascape are greeted by Trinity, a tremendous 15-year-old giant gourami that has become the main attraction at the store. The goggle-eyed fish is native to Southeast Asia and has a peculiar diet, eating vegetables and even bananas.

Sylvia Targ, 16, works at Seascape and said the fish is nearly as old as she is. Trinity's story, she said, is that the store wanted to buy 15 1-inch fish, and instead was sent a single 15-inch fish.

In the past, the store has displayed a rotation of rare and exotic fish, and is not shy about tracking down any requested species, Mezilis said. In the past, the store has showcased nautilus, electric eels, octopuses and electric catfish.

While fish are certainly the most prominent pets in the store, Seascape also carries a range of reptiles, including geckos, bearded dragons and snakes, many of them bred in the store.

But now Trinity and the rest of the fish, reptiles and rodents will have to find a new home as the store prepares for its last day on July 24. Mezilis, who has been the owner for 11 years, said she's ready to move on and has been intending to sell the store for quite some time.

She said her goal was to make sure Seascape remains a tropical fish store, and while she found some good potential buyers, they could only afford the business if the rent stayed about the same. After negotiating with her landlord, Mezilis said it was clear the rent would increase by about 40 percent if a new store owner took over the shop.

When Seascape closes, there won't be many local options for reptile and fish enthusiasts. Specialty, independent fish and pet stores like Seascape are hard to come by in the Bay Area, Mezilis said.

"Most small independent fish stores have closed down," she said.

Now, Seascape has a little more than a week remaining to clear out the entire inventory, including all the fish, reptiles, hamsters, rats and dozens of tanks. Any animals that don't find new homes during the closing sale will need to be relocated. Mezilis said she knows people who can take some of the leftover fish and she has the option to donate them, but said she isn't too worried about any fish going homeless.

Part of what gave Seascape its quaint, independent feel is the level of advice and education employees gave customers interested in owning fish and reptiles, she said. Setting up a reptile terrarium or fish tank can be a complex task for exotic pets, Mezilis said, and it was important to make sure customers could set up a good environment. Even after it closes, the Seascape Facebook page encourages customers to continue to send emails with any questions about their aquariums.

"We pride ourselves on taking good care of the animals and our customers being successful in providing the proper care for their animals," she said.

As of this week, most of the reptiles have been cleared out, and many of the tanks have been sold. Mezilis said Trinity and her tank mates, an albino oscar and a catfish, will be heading to their new home in a exotic wildlife sanctuary called Wild Things in the Placer County community of Weimar.

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16 people like this
Posted by Abigail
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 16, 2015 at 12:48 pm

What a shame! My husband loves stopping into Seascapes to buy supplies for our fish tank and to chat with their knowledgable staff about fish and frog care. You will be missed, Seascapes!

14 people like this
Posted by Christine Case-Lo
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 16, 2015 at 1:22 pm

We will miss you! I had always intended on getting my daughter's first fish when she turned 4, but when I found out seascapes was closing we jumped in and had Svia help us pick out some new friends and a tank. All the folks there are friendly and knowledgable and it is so sad to are you guys go!

22 people like this
Posted by Thida Cornes
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 16, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Seascape was a must stop shop during my children's early childhood and when we owned a fish tank. My kids also did school field trips to Seascapes in Kindergarten. We will miss Seascapes a lot and are very sad to see it go. I understand needing to sell and I'm sorry to read about the 40% jump in rent if there was a new owner

15 people like this
Posted by Old Mountain Viewan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Greedy landlords as usual!

17 people like this
Posted by kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 16, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Sad news, not a fish person, but sorry to hear this, it was a cool little busines that added to the buzz on Castro...I hope Books Inc is safe. I heard a few people own most of that true, if yes who are they?

"After negotiating with her landlord, Mezilis said it was clear the rent would increase by about 40 percent if a new store owner took over the shop."

PRICE GOUGING.....A pejorative term referring to a situation in which a seller prices goods or commodities at a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair.

Mountain View is losing its character. But we will no doubt have yet another restaurant from which to choose....can't wait.

19 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2015 at 7:10 pm

@Old Mountain View: it's called supply and demand. If you don't like it move to a country with centralized planning... Or San Francisco.

Face it, real estate in Mountain View is in high demand, and people who can't afford it will be displaced. It happens pretty much globally from London to Beijing.

Just because you've lived/rented in the city for a number of years doesn't give you the right to continue to do so at below market rates. It's laughable that people think there is some kind of seniority rule and that somehow their housing should be subsidised on the backs of property owners.

I can't afford to live in Atherton or Hillsborough, that just tough luck for me. I have to find a place I can afford. By the same token if someone can't afford property - rental or otherwise - in Moubtain View they simply have to move.

There are thousands of people who commute from as far as Tracy to the Peninsula for work; yet somehow the same cadre of whiners on this forum complain about how they are hard done by. Get a job or career that allows you to afford to live here instead of wasting your time complaining.

4 people like this
Posted by Animal lovers
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 16, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Every time we walked by that store, it broke our hearts to see that huge fish in that tiny tank. Fish and reptiles should live in their natural habitats and are not appropriate pets. Even veterinarians do not know how to take care of them. We hope all the captive fish and reptiles find decent homes, but we won't miss that awful store.

20 people like this
Posted by Embarrassed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Old Mountain View is full of caring and appreciative people and that comment from Steve is truly embarrassing. On behalf of the neighborhood, we apologize for his insensitivity.

9 people like this
Posted by Rent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2015 at 7:37 am

I, too, am so sorry to see Seascapes close. What a great place. I agree that the customer service made it a fantastic place to shop!

Of course, this posting has degraded into insults.

Although 40% sounds like a lot for an increase. It also means that the landlord has left the rent reasonable while Seascapes was there. It probably could have gone up quite a bit more over the years.

12 people like this
Posted by LifeTimeResident
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 17, 2015 at 8:38 am

I am one of three generations living in Mountain View and I have to agree with Steve. What has made Mountain View an amazing place is the demand to live/work here. I can tell you this, in the 1970's it was a horrible place and you could not give away an apartment. We had alot of crime, prostitution and drugs. Now that Rents have gone up, the rift-raf can no longer afford to setup shop here. The increaseed tax revenues provide all the amazing services we all enjoy as residents or visitors.

I have enjoyed SeaScapes as much as anyone. But, let's be clear the owner is not leaving because of rents. She is leaving because she wants to. It sounded like the Landlord was very accomidating to her as a longterm tenant. A new owner should pay market rates for prime downtown real estate. why should someone get a discount?

10 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 9:46 am

@Embarrassing please don't apologize for Mtn. View as a whole. Steve has NOTHING to apologize for. He is just being honest.

There is no tragic story here. The owners were ALWAYS planning to sell. The landlord had no part of that. Once a new tenant takes over OF COURSE the landlord has a right to charge what is a fair price for the location, which is apparently much higher than the current tenant pays. They were still charging the old rate to the existing owners. So this is NOT greed. It is just the normal part of renting to a business, and if YOU owned the property you would charge what the space goes for too. Just curious, do you as for less wages to help your employer out? Not that different.

Seascapes has had a good run, and leaving on their own terms. Thank you for their business as my kids stopped in there all the time.

Oh, and I apologize on your behalf to Steve and others like him for your overreaction in your reply. ;-)

12 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2015 at 10:22 am


Steve isn't criticizing the residents of the Old Mountain View neighborhood as a group. His comments are addressed to the Embarcadero Media commenter who chose to use the anonymous handle "Old Mountain Viewan." We don't even know if his location is legit.

Steve's observations are correct. Real estate prices fluctuate in a free market economy. Where there is low supply and high demand (like the SF Bay Area), real estate rates are high. Where there is high supply and low demand (like Detroit), real estate rates are low.

It doesn't make sense for a landlord in a free market economy to lease at below the fair market rate.

Anyhow, I hope that the residents of all parts of Mountain View demonstrate a decent understanding of the basic mechanisms of a free market economy because you're living in one. If you don't like it, consider moving to North Korea because Redwood City, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Palo Alto Sunnyvale are all free market economies too.

3 people like this
Posted by Lili
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm

40% rent increasing !!!
What a usurer!!

14 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Agree with others here: Steve only pointed out elementary market economics, which everyone would already know anyway if this country had real educational standards. "Embarassed" should have first been EMBARASSED by (then apologized for) "Old Mountain Viewan" for a common, shallow, cheap-judgmental shot about "greedy" landlords responding to demand for their properties. (It having been already established in the Voice story that the landlord avoided the rent increase while the current tenant remained.)

But further: NO ONE has any business speaking "On behalf of the neighborhood," a particularly sensitive point in this neighborhood, ever since the notorious 2009 episode where one resident hubristically presumed to speak for all residents in a public policy matter (without any charter, let alone asking permission, to do so) -- prompting a backlash from indignant residents. Wonder if that's the same person posting here as "Embarassed."

8 people like this
Posted by Webster
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm

@Lili -- Usury is the practice of *lending* money at unreasonably high rates of interest. It has nothing to do with establishing market rents for commercial property.

I think it's not at all inconsistent for people to be saddened by the loss of long standing local small businesses while still acknowledging the rights of landlords to charge market rents. The fact that Seascapes rents were that far below current market was what allowed it to survive as long as it has. I'm sorry to see them go, but hopefully Seascapes will be replaced by something interesting and useful for downtown.

6 people like this
Posted by dc
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 8:45 pm

I am sure there are lots of other rules and regulations no one here realizes when a renter moves out. After 10 years the laws require sprinklers, smoke detectors easy access etc ... to meet 2015 building codes. The cost will be be pass on the the new renter. Did anyone notice something kept the store next door closed for 5 years.

10 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2015 at 10:20 pm

I see we're from the same neighborhood. I hope you never need a helping had from our neighborhood. That your home never need a hose or help because someone may have witness you need help. With your attitude I wouldn't be surprise we old Mountain Vire would turn our back yo you. Check yourself buddy. karma is a bear!!

11 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2015 at 9:49 am

In the comment above, "dc" mentions the business next door being closed for "5 years." Actually it was much longer than five years, EVERYONE noticed it, and it happened because of a 2005 sewer-pipe problem, THOROUGHLY reported here in the MV Voice, which closed the former restaurant at that location, and briefly affected Seascapes too.

8 people like this
Posted by west up
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Embarrassed Steve is spot on, I moved to mountain view 14 years ago and raised my daughter and moved my future wife north from San Jose and we all fell in love with MV. Times changed so did the city and our two incomes could not afford the annual 15-22 % increase in living. Now I live in San Diego it's much more affordable and we still visit family and friends (twice this year). I appreciate steves comment he is right, he can not afford Atherton so cry him a river, I cannot afford MV. Truth be told.

Animals who no longer have sufficent food in the wild are not stupid and guess what? Deer move on, because it's natural. < somewhere I read something like that and it was worded much better. Hopefully u understand ...I did

4 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

Looks like there is something going on in the old chinese restaurant...but maybe it is just getting cleaned up for potential buyers

5 people like this
Posted by @dc
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 18, 2015 at 11:22 pm

There was a sewer connection issue with that building and it caused a shut down of that restaurant next door. That's why it was not occupied for years.

5 people like this
Posted by Trinity Fan
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 19, 2015 at 3:14 pm

I will miss Trinity and its new friends . Believe or not that fish is very social and attracts many people to the store. I did wish the tank could be larger and hope in its new home will provide that space which is well needed . I also hope that they place her where it can interact with people.

Good luck fishies! And let the good and responsible humans take care of you.
You will be missed :'€

5 people like this
Posted by Amelia
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 20, 2015 at 3:01 pm

I loved that store but felt bad for the big fish. Glad to know the fish is getting a home in a nice sanctuary now. It will be interesting to see who moves in to that location. It's a great spot.

3 people like this
Posted by Diana
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2015 at 9:16 am

What a shame!!! It is heart broken. My family and I love this store. I bought most of my fish there. All the staff in the shop are very friendly and well educated. They know a lot about their pets, and they are willing to help and educate the customers about how to set up a good home for these pets. I really wish the shop will be relocated instead of closing for good.

8 people like this
Posted by Keep our diversity
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 25, 2015 at 12:12 pm

What's lost in all the bleating about free markets is the loss of character and diversity of businesses in the downtown. We all know landlords are free to charge whatever they want. Nonetheless, some of us would like Castro St not to turn into University Ave, with nothing but trendy restaurants and boutiques. Change is constant and inevitable, but this is a real loss to the community.

3 people like this
Posted by Screwed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Thanks for no warning on closing- I'm screwed with a hundred dollar credit

11 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 3, 2015 at 8:49 am

"Screwed" is mistaken: (1) the store indicated for weeks that it planned to close -- it was obvious when I walked by, well before this publicity; (2) this Voice article furnished another week-plus of very public notice, to anyone paying attention; (3) with something like a store credit, you own some responsibility to use it in a timely-enough manner -- don't ignore the business for weeks, then complain that it closed w/o notice!

3 people like this
Posted by screwed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

What- like three weeks- that's not a long time. partly my fault, but a lot of stores give you a few months warning and I don't read every copy of the voice (like most residents) which isn't even delivered to me!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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