Truro man has swimming success with fishy hobby

‘When you build something, you get a sense of accomplishment’

Published on March 19, 2014

TRURO – A Truro man is making aquariums more affordable to more people.

And people seem to be wanting Joey Mullen’s knowledge – he has more than 72,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and has sold thousands of copies of a book, self-published only five months ago.

“I’ve always been an animal lover, but find water and fish to be very captivating,” the 31-year-old said from his home where he has an aquarium in his basement that houses two freshwater stingrays and an Asian arowana. “I started making aquariums as soon as I got into the hobby, which was about 12 years ago. When you build something, you get a sense of accomplishment.”

Mullen, a father of two children aged eight and five, said building aquariums allows him to create it to his own specifications.

“I love everything about it. What I don’t love is the high cost of it and the limits set upon us to use and have only what is available.”

He started building aquariums to save money, all while opening more doors for himself. He was able to turn an enjoyable hobby into one that was more affordable and made things more available.

Having been on forums online that surround the hobby, Mullen said he didn’t want to take the time to write out descriptions of his creations and post photos, so he started creating videos three years ago instead.

“It was just easier for me to grab my camera. My first video got about 500,000 views online so I thought, ‘maybe I should make more.’”

And that he did.

Mullen currently creates and posts videos twice a week to his subscribers. He said there were about 200 subscribers to his channel when he first started creating the videos.

“I remember the day I hit 1,000 subscribers. It was exciting, but it’s also extremely ridiculous to get that many for what I do. The next channel in aquariums has 32,000 subscribers, so to get to the heights of my channel with such a small niche … it’s very encouraging.”

Mullen said he has between 20 and 25,000 viewers each day and accumulated seven million views last year.

“When you’re making a video, you need to imagine that no one is going to watch it,” he said, adding it’s easier when it’s thought of through that respect. “But when I’m working on a series, I know thousands of people are going to want to see the next one, and I get nervous.”

Because he initially only offered detailed videos of his creations, Mullen eventually decided to self-publish a book with written instructions.

“And, there was a demand for it,” he said.

The book comes in at 370 pages and goes into elaborate detail of the projects – such as a television aquarium, coffee table aquarium and upside aquarium – that he’s created over the years.

“The book does explain things better than the videos,” he said.

Because of his success on YouTube, it has become Mullen’s full-time job.

“It’s been an amazing journey.”

Although he’s been asked by individuals and companies to make aquariums for them, Mullen said he’ll stick to showing how to do it instead.

“It sucks the fun out of it when you have to concentrate on making them happy instead of making yourself happy,” he said. “So I’m telling people how to do it instead.”

To subscribe to Mullen’s YouTube channel, visit More information on his book can be found at and at his Facebook fanpage,

Twitter: @TDNRaissa