By EthaN D. MIzEr
technological developments often drive changes in the aquarium industry, and recent introductions have meant
that consumers are seeking new
products in the filters, pumps
and temperature controller segments. Demand for more energy-efficient equipment and streamlined setups is fueling these
changes to the industry.
LED products are leading
the way in energy-efficient offerings, but pumps and filters
are attracting interest, too.
“[Customers] are starting
to get more concerned with
energy efficiency,” said Bruce
Kelley, manager for Aquatek
Tropical Fish in Austin, Texas.
“A lot of people really just want
to know on lighting how energy efficient it is. When it comes
to energy consumption, the
DC pumps are becoming more
popular as well.”
New Tech Helps Drive Sales
Changes to pumps, filters and temperature controllers mean retailers
NEW TO THE CATEGORY
can push efficiency and use apps to grab customers’ attention.
Several retailers mentioned the DC pump offerings hitting the market,
and some of the products have controllers built in.
“The new Wavepoint DC pumps have a new adjustable controller,”
said Jared Connell, associate salesperson with Greendale Tropical &
Saltwater Fish in Kannapolis, N.C. “It’s a small-amp direct current [pump],
instead of [using] a 120-volt alternating current.
“We actually haven’t got the DC pump in yet,” he added. “We have
the Koralia line and the Marineland line. Kobalt came out with an all-digital
heater, as well.”
New pumps are increasingly efficient, retailers reported, and some new
offerings also have features that allow for greater control.
“I think the big thing … is the change in DC pumps, as far as control-
lable pumps go,” said Patrick Egan, manager of Absolutely Fish in Clifton,
N.J. “Instead of having to put a valve manually on these pumps … you can
program them [directly]. Ecotech Marine has the Vectra, and those are ex-
ternally controllable. You can actually control it through their app; you can
slow [pump] speed and you can do feed mode. Reef Octopus has the DC
pumps in some of their protein skimmers, so those also are controllable.”
With the rise of LED lighting in the aquarium hobby, temperature
control options have changed, and chillers have become less common in
“Even in the South, [chillers] have started to become like metal halide
lights,” said Bruce Kelley, manager for Aquatek Tropical Fish in Austin, Texas.
“With the efficient pumps and LED lighting, you don’t have the horrible
temperature control issues that we used to have.
“I think that’s why some temperature controllers that had been
popular aren’t really there anymore,” he said. “They just are not as needed
anymore, where if someone does want a temperature controller, they want
a temperature controller that does other things.”
However, some in the industry still see the need for chillers and,
subsequently, temperature controllers, especially for reef setups.
“We do see people that are in the need for chillers,” Egan said. “There
isn’t really much changing with chillers, [but] most reef setups require
chillers. LEDs have helped quite a bit with temperate control, but you still
find the need to put chillers in specialty setups.
“With certain pumps, the temperature runs a little higher, [and] the
more pumps you have, the warmer the water is going to be,” he added.
“It’s better to have the chiller on some of the systems. So as far as tem-
perature controllers, with that aspect I think it is really important.”
Ultimately, temperature controllers and the products needed
to change tank temperature, such as heaters and chillers, serve as
insurance policies for aquariums and livestock. Even in a setup with LEDs
and external pumps, Egan said he had a situation with a chiller that was
keeping a display tank running at a healthful temperature.
“I had the display tank in the store, and I accidently unplugged the
chiller and found that by the next day the temperature jumped up to
94 degrees from 75 degrees,” Egan said.
New technology can help prevent situations such as this for customers. Temperature controllers have become more integrated, and many
feature phone connectivity and greater control for end users.
“There’s the Neptune system controller, where you can see everything on
your phone or on your TV,” said Adam Marquez, owner of Seven Seas Tropical
Fish in San Pedro, Calif. “You can see your temperature, make sure that your
pumps still are running, stuff like that.”
However, most retailers reported that the market for control equipment
“This is such a small market,” Marquez said. “I end up bringing a
couple of those lines in, just to have them in here, but I don’t anticipate it
selling too often.”
Filters are seeing some new products rolling out in 2016, but most
manufacturers are holding off until Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., in
March to reveal details.
“On the filtration side, we have something new coming out in 2016,
but it’s top secret,” said Chris LeRose, aquatic division manager at Rolf C.
Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield, Mass. “It is in the canister realm of things.”
Products in these categories tend to appeal to advanced hobbyists, so it behooves
retailers to keep a working knowledge of developments and changes in the industry.
“You need to know the product,” said Patrick Egan, manager of Absolutely Fish
in Clifton, N. J. “We need to know how to sell it, but we also need to know so we can
educate and pass that on to our customers. The most important thing is to have
these items on display; that helps tremendously.”
Using social media to reach out to customers works as an educational tool as
well, offering retailers the chance to market other products and livestock.
“Facebook probably has been one of the greatest, but Instagram has done pretty
well too,” said Adam Marquez, owner of Seven Seas Tropical Fish in San Pedro,
Calif. “When we receive livestock or new product, we take a picture right away, and
[customers] can see what’s new.”
Customer education especially is important for aquarium retailers, as the hobby
is knowledge based, and without understanding product offerings, customers are
unlikely to purchase new equipment.
“I encourage staff to be the ones who clean [in-store equipment], just for the
fact that it’s easier for sales reps to sell products they believe in,” said Chris LeRose,
aquatic division manager at Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield, Mass.
With more high-tech products hitting the market, it’s important to maintain
strong educational efforts to ensure customers remain happy with their purchases.
“Education is very important to business,” said Jared Connell, associate salesperson with Greendale Tropical & Saltwater Fish in Kannapolis, N.C. “If a customer buys
fish, loads their tank up and the fish all die, they think it’s the fault of the person who
sold it to them. We’ve got to educate them to properly use the equipment they buy.”
KlouBEc KoI FarM offers affordable
stainless steel shower towers for koi
ponds. Multitiered trickle towers have
been used by serious koi hobbyists for
years as the ideal filter for growing cham-
pion koi. One filter contains four tiers;
each level is filled with the company’s
Bacteria House filter media. Pond water
is sprayed evenly over the top tier. The
water is clarified and degassed as it cas-
cades through each level before returning
to the koi pond. Large nitrifying bacteria colonize within the media and feed
on pollutants in the pond water, providing excellent bio-filtration.
With six unique LEDs, the German-engineered Fluval Marine
& reef 2.0 professional series from rolF c. hagEN pro-
vides corals full spectrum exposure for vibrant growth, color
and health. Featuring Waterproof IPX7 engineering, the light
easily endures regular splashing and can even sustain com-
plete submersion in the event the unit is dropped in the water
accidentally. IPX7 also allows the light, with its ultra-slim 1-in.
profile, to be positioned directly above the water surface for
better light penetration and efficiency. Several light sizes and
mounting options are available, while extendable arms adapt
to fit a variety of aquarium widths. An illuminated, dimmable
touch switch offers added versatility.
zoo MED laBorato-
rIEs’ turtle Pond Dock is
designed so herpkeepers
can provide simple, suitable
basking sites for their turtles
in ponds or large tanks. The
extra-large dock comes with
a nylon bag to hold gravel
and a nylon suspension cable to keep the dock anchored and floating in
the middle of the aquarium or pond. Measuring 12 in. by 24 in., it is ideal
for up to two large turtles in a tank over 60 gal. Its self-leveling feature
automatically adjusts to all water levels to ensure that the dock always is
floating and that turtles have access to a dry basking site.