Some retailers like to place food offerings in the back of their stores, while others
prefer to keep these products near the register.
“[Our foods are] on the back of the dry goods section,” said Anthony Heras,
owner of Fish Pro’s Aquarium Center in Amarillo, Texas. “You have to go three or four
rows in before you get to the foods. That way, [customers] have to walk through the
displays. We’ve got a lot of show tanks.”
By putting customers in front of display tanks, retailers increase their chance of
creating the association between livestock purchases and fish food.
“We’ll leave a can of what we’re feeding on top of tanks,” Heras said. “Customers
see that, and they see the fish.”
Some retailers prefer to merchandise foods by brand, while others reported
organizing shelf space by food type.
“We merchandise our food by brand,” said Gary Knabe, president of Elmer’s
Aquarium & Pet Center in Monroeville, Pa. “We have our fish room, and then on the
way up to our cash register is our fish food aisle. We like to have conversations with
customers as they come to the register.”
In some cases, it might be better to call out pelleted fish foods in their own
“[Placing pelleted food] right next to flake food, especially if it’s the same flavor,
isn’t doing it as much benefit,” said Christopher LeRose, aquatic division manager
at Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield, Mass. “You should have pelleted foods on
their own shelf.”
The trick is to engage with customers as much as possible.
“One of the best ways to market and sell a fish food product is to use it in-store
to feed the aquatic animals,” said Jason Oneppo, research and development manager
for San Francisco Bay Brand and Ocean Nutrition Americas, headquartered in New-
ark, Calif. “Try to use it during times where you have higher traffic through the store.”
Though some retailers sell both flake and pelleted foods to the same customers,
in some cases, it might be better to try to transition customers.
“Over 65 percent of consumers still use flakes,” said Chris Clevers, president of
Hikari Sales USA in Hayward, Calif. “Consumers can buy flakes at almost any type of
retail location out there. Why not try to convert your customers to a pellet, which is
not so readily available in all those types of outlets, and offer yourself a much higher
chance at keeping all that customer’s business going forward?”
By JohN Dawes
We all are used to reading and witnessing attacks on the
ornamental aquatic industry, which is accused of ransacking,
plundering and even “raping” the world’s reefs and freshwater
habitats to satisfy an insatiable consumer hunger for aquarium
fish. Often, the accusations include false statistics, such as
stating that more than 90 percent of marine fish are collected
with sodium cyanide. Evidence and data used in these attacks
often are out-dated or simply incorrect.
It’s time the industry stood up for itself, not just by
refuting accusations with good science, but by proactively
showing the world the true face of the industry. In fact, the
U.K.’s Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) did this in
a well-researched report “Wild caught ornamental fish—the
trade, the benefits, the facts,” which knocks the whole issue
Highlights of the OATA document’s important findings:
• Collecting fish for home aquaria provides vital livelihoods
for tens of thousands of collectors and communities in remote
areas where other sources of income are limited or nonexistent.
• It inspires local communities to maintain/conserve their
• The source country also benefits
through the revenue generated, along with
the technological and information-based
benefits the activity generates.
• Hobbyists know about habitats and
the need to protect them, thus empathizing with activities that achieve this.
• The wild-caught sector is a targeted
one that results in virtually no bycatch.
• Fish are collected with the sole aim
of keeping them alive, often for longer
periods than they live in the wild.
• The wild-caught sector is low volume and high value, and it places limited
demand on resources.
To read John Dawes’ full article, visit
A REVIEW OF THE WILD-CAUGHT
AQUARIUM FISH SECTOR
Collection of marine fish for home aquaria represents, at most, a mere 0.0001 percent
of the total global marine harvest.
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