The Team

Meet the Team

Meet our Amazing Team

Richard Barnfield

Founder & Owner

Richard, the founder and owner of Aqua Empire started the adventure of fish keeping at the age of 12. The love for his hobby landed him his first job in the industry at age 15.  His love and passion for fish keeping continued to grow until he ultimately opened his own store in Clearwater Mall in 2007.  In 2013, Richard expanded and opened his second store in Cresta Shopping Centre. The publics’ interest in specialist aquarist products and fish at the two stores prompted him to open Aqua Empire, creating a niche in the field. Aqua Empire aspires to source exotic,  healthy and unique livestock at affordable prices. Richard and his team strive to provide   unbeatable knowledge in all areas of the field.

Artwell Chindele

Artwell is an old master and has recently placed 15th in the South African Aquascaping Contest. He is an expert when it comes to maintenance and even fish breeding nowadays. Artwell has been with Aqua Empire from day one.

He has a practical knowledge when it comes to all things aquarium and you will recognise him as the star of the Aqua Empire YouTube Channel.

Darren Parsons "Colour Master"

Darren has been competing in planted aquarium competitions for a number of years now and has earned his name as colour master. He manages to get the most vibrant reds out of his plants that it even looks photo shopped. Ask him to see a picture when you come in.

He also breeds a variety of shrimp from neos to caridina. He does this out of 45p aquariums and the volumes he produces is outstanding.


Willard is learing from Master Artwell, they are cousins and share the same work ethic. Willard is head of maintenance at Aqua Empire and also entered the South African Aquascaping Contest this year.


Ethyn is the youngest and newest member of the Aqua Empire team. He started fish keeping at the age of 8 and has been working in the aquarium industry since he was 18. Ethyn has a vast knowledge for his age, ranging from freshwater aquascapes to reef keeping and everything in between. He has a huge passion for aquarium equipment, particularly high end lighting. Ethyn is also one of the aquascapers at Aquaempire and has the goal of being the top ranked scaper in South Africa. This year he ranked 783rd in IAPLC.

Any questions regarding hardware technology or apps he is the man to talk to.