“Dry food sales are increasing, but not at the same rate refrigerated and frozen
foods are. Refrigerated and frozen food sales are increasing at a much faster rate.
Frozen is the highest. I don’t know what happened this year, but out of nowhere I’ve
had a 25 to 30 percent increase in frozen food sales. I don’t know what it is. I did
bring in a couple new lines, but it’s really hard for me to say that these new lines
are why I’m getting 25 to 30 percent more sales.”—PatrIck DoNstoN, owner of
Absolutely Fish in Clifton, N.J.
“We’ve increased overall fish food sales. … As far as frozen foods, we do have
a saltwater department and some refrigerated foods that certainly have a very
strong market position because the overall cost competitiveness opportunity is
there. If anything, frozen food sales have been at least steadily increasing, but it’s
still a minor part because it’s not a staple. We sell a lot of frozen, but it still is not
the strong market force that dry flake or pellet foods are.”—rIck Preuss, owner
of Preuss Pets in Lansing, Mich.
“Overall, the hobby is in such a good spot right now that animals are becoming available that either haven’t been available before or weren’t realistically available or even viable for everybody. Because so many
animals are available now, frozen foods are really going to be an important part of that. However, nobody
wants to spend a bundle, and cheaper options are usually what people are going to gravitate towards. But if
they have an animal that needs something more specialty, they’re going to do what they have to do for their
animal.”—asher Getzoff, inventory product specialist for Wet Spot Tropical Fish in Portland, Ore.
What segment of the fish food market is growing the fastest?
Several new dry food have been introduced to the market recently. Hagen’s Fluval Bug Bites, which
debuted earlier this year, are selling well, according to retailers.
“The big thing that’s coming up in sales for us is the Hagen Fluval Bug Bites,” said Asher Getzoff,
inventory product specialist for Wet Spot Tropical Fish in Portland, Ore. “They make a solid product.
It’s really inexpensive, and it works well.”
The novel protein source is attracting attention, according to independent fish store owners.
“The Fluval Bug Bites … focus on using insect protein as opposed to a fish meal as the first and
primary ingredient,” said Rick Preuss, owner of Preuss Pets in Lansing, Mich. “Somehow, it seems to
raise fish cooperation to an even higher level. Not that other brands aren’t highly palatable foods, but
[fish] just seem to be that much more enticed by the insect protein base.”
The Fluval brand has been refining and expanding its Bug Bites line since it launched, said
Damian Hall, senior marketing manager for the Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass.
“We have introduced Color Enhancing and Turtle diets as well as expanded our size offering for
our Tropical formulas,” he said. “There is a lot of room to grow this segment and expand diet and
Other manufacturers, including Cobalt, Omega Sea and Tetra, among others, have introduced new
products or have updated product lines.
Omega Sea has been busy working on its packaging relaunch for the past several months, said
Kelly J. Randall, marketing director for the Painesville, Ohio-based manufacturer.
“All of our flakes have received a major facelift for our 20th anniversary,” she said. “Our flakes are
made directly from fresh Alaskan seafood, which make them insoluble to water.”
Tetra has also made packaging changes, said John Pailthorp, vice president of marketing for
Spectrum Brands Pet, a subsidiary of Spectrum Brands Holdings, headquartered in St. Louis. Most
recently, the company updated the look of the packaging for its TetraMin, Tetra Goldfish, BettaMin and
“Our flake food packaging now identifies the type of fish each food product is made for,” Pailthorp
said. “It’s based on where the fish feeds in the aquarium—top, middle or bottom. It also details how
Active Life Formula supports the immune systems of fish, based on long-term university studies.”
SURVEYING THE COMPETITION
BRICK-AND-MORTARS VERSUS BIG BOX
The repeat sales that fish foods can bring to a brick-and-mortar store are a big part of
retail success, helping counter tough competition in the market, industry experts reported.
“Foods and consumables products play a vital role to retailers,” said Damian Hall,
senior marketing manager for the Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass. “Repeat sales
products really drive consumers in store.”
Online competition, of course, has been a big factor in aquarium retail for a while now.
“Dry foods are being purchased online,” said Rick Preuss, owner of Preuss Pets in
Lansing, Mich. “The fact that they have good shelf life and can be shipped without any
concern is a big factor. I’m sure a large percentage of that sector is supplied by online
The stiffest online competition is in the dry flake and pellet segments, specifically,
according to industry insiders.
“When it comes to dry foods, customers definitely buy online,” said Patrick Donston,
owner of Absolutely Fish in Clifton, N.J. “There’s no doubt. When my maintenance
department employees go out to do a service, all of a sudden they’ll see customers have
dry foods they ordered from Marine Depot or Live Aquaria.”
However, retailers reported that food is still seeing robust in-store sales growth, as
customers continue to place their trust in brick-and-mortars.
“Our most persuasive market position is the fact that we have a robust selection and a
stronger understanding of why customers should get what they’re getting,” Preuss said.
In general, customers still want to have the option to come in-store and learn from
“We’re keeping as busy as ever,” said Asher Getzoff, inventory product specialist for
Wet Spot Tropical Fish in Portland, Ore. “I really wouldn’t know how often people are
buying online because I don’t see those metrics. But the people who are coming in are
still interacting with people in the store. Ultimately, I’m sure some people are buying some
kinds of fish food online. But it’s not a gigantic concern because people still want to come
in for everything else.”
hIkarI sales usa presents hikari Bio-Pure reef riot. The reef-specific blends
use the 3-Step Sterilization process and
offer a wide variety of varying-sized ingredients, which are gut-loaded with bio-encap-sulated multivitamins. Add in Okanagan
Lake Freshwater Mysis Shrimp and users
have a blend offering corals and smaller fish
a mix they will love with nutrients sources
they need to develop to their full potential,
the company states. The product is available in a carnivore and herbivore version in
an 8-oz. flat pack. hikariusa.com
zoo MeD laBoratorIes presents
turtleclean 10 and 20 Deluxe turtle filters. This
is a fully submersible filter that cleans up to
10 or 20 gallons of water with ease. If a tank
is tall and skinny, aquarists can use less of the
tank’s footprint by placing this filter vertically.
If a tank is shallow, they can lay the filter horizontally. Once set up, the filter can be dressed
in one of several included attachments (spray
bar or Venturi valve) to custom fit it to a
habitat design. At cleaning time, the trap door
allows users to effortlessly replace the filter
cartridge without removing the filter from
the tank. Hobbyists no longer need to worry
about messy deconstruction of the filter and
total disruption of animals when the tank
starts to get dirty. The body of this filter can
stay securely in place within the tank while
the cartridge is quickly rinsed and cleaned in