MeetINg DeMaND for QualIty
While frozen offerings are increasingly popular and are taking a larger share of the marine
fish food market, demand for flake and pellet offerings is still alive, and new marine diets are
appearing on the market.
Piscine Energetics, manufacturer of PE Mysis Frozen, recently expanded its offerings with
the introduction PE Mysis Flakes and PE Mysis Pellets.
Traditional manufacturing processes can affect the nutritional quality of foods, said Nuri
Fisher, president of the Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada-based company, and a challenge Piscine Energetics faced was creating a process to protect the nutritional profile of mysis shrimp
when incorporated into pellets and flakes.
“We’re taking fresh mysis and mixing it with our other ingredients, but we’re never expos-
ing that mysis to extremely high temperatures,” Fisher said. “Our mysis shrimp is exposed to
temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a very short amount of time. Then, we use a
Pellet and flake food types continue to do well for pet specialty retailers.
“Our No. 1 pellet food is the New Life Spectrum Thera+A, followed by the PE Mysis Pellets,”
said Steven Bayes, owner of Reefers Direct Aquatics in St. Cloud, Fla., adding that his favorite
food is the frozen LRS from Larry’s Reef Services.
Other manufacturers are coming out with new flake offerings as well. Hikari Sales USA
recently introduced its Saki-Hikari Marine Carnivore food and Saki-Hikari Marine Herbivore
food, and it will soon release a frozen Omega Enriched Brine Shrimp in a cube format, said Chris
Clevers, president of the Hayward, Calif.-based company.
The Saki-Hikari Marine line offers a probiotic-enhanced nutrient profile, which is formulated
to help marine fish more fully utilize the nutrients present and reduce waste, Clevers said.
“The Omega Enriched Brine Shrimp offers marine fish hobbyists a treat choice [to help
support] their fish’s immune system,” Clevers added.
In the marine hobby today, both manufacturers and consumers are focusing on quality
products with higher price points. This is leading to growing profit margins for pet specialty
“Years ago, aquarists would find the cheapest, easiest food to feed their tanks,” said Rod
Buehler, owner of Rod’s Foods in DeKalb, Ill. “Eventually, we realized that a $10,000 reef tank
deserved more than a 49-cent can of flake foods, or single ingredients or ‘fish-meal’ in a single
product packed in water or with gel binder fillers.”
Buehler’s solution was to introduce a blend of fish and coral foods in his original recipe,
formulated to be a complete reef food. While more expensive for consumers, these premium
offerings have had other benefits, driving demand and increasing margins for retailers.
“The reason we use frozen foods in-store is because they’re fresh,” said Kreig LeBlanc, man-
ager and co-owner of Aquariums West in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. “There’s a lot of
variety, so no matter what type of organism you’re trying to feed, there’s a food made for it.”
Seachem’s line, Hikari’s line and OmegaOne’s offerings all do well for LeBlanc, he noted.
hat’s sellINg erchaNDIsINg & MarketINg
INvestINg IN DIsPlays
With the rise of frozen offerings, independent pet
specialty retailers have had to invest in freezer
displays, but often these turn into profit centers for
“We have a large clear-glass Hikari freezer,” said
Kreig LeBlanc, manager and co-owner of Aquariums
West in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. “It’s
all marketed quite nicely. Everything is arranged by
category and price point. People can come and see
the frozen foods right through the glass. It’s always
well stocked, and customers can mix and match.”
Because demand is so high, LeBlanc is able
to keep product moving through the freezer,
which helps to further promote the perception of
“We have a high turnover rate, so we’re always
getting new product in, and our customers know
that,” he said. “Nothing sits on the shelf for too
Most retailers have moved to freezers with glass
doors, mainly to help with merchandising.
“We started with a freezer with no glass door,
and we really didn’t sell as much food as we do
now,” said Donna Harris, co-owner of Blue Reef
Aquatics in North Las Vegas, Nev. “Visibility definite-
Frozen food packaging helps sell itself, said
Steven Bayes, owner of Reefers Direct Aquatics in St.
Cloud, Fla. He uses a Cobalt-branded freezer in-store,
along with marketing materials from Larry’s Reef
Service to highlight some of his offerings, he added.
“Our glass-door freezers are packed, and we
have a good margin on them,” Bayes said. “The
freezer definitely isn’t a loss leader; it’s a necessity.”
Most retailers reported keeping their flake and
pellet foods close to the freezer, which generally
puts all the marine diet offerings near the front of
the store, making everything easy to find and access
what competitive advantage do frozen foods offer
independent brick-and-mortar retailers?
“Frozen foods are going to bring people into the
store versus ordering online. It’s good for business in
that sense. … Being here for 10 years probably helps
a little bit, as does the quality of our product and
livestock. I tell people all the time: Shop from a store
[with displays] that you want your own setup to
look like.”—steveNBayes, ownerof Reefers Direct
Aquatics in St. Cloud, Fla.
“Customers don’t generally want to buy a
frozen food over the internet. Because we’re
a specialty store, there are not a lot of other
[retailers] like us around. … We’re not a big-box
store. Frozen offerings keep customers coming
back for me.”—kreIg leBlaNc, managerand
co-owner of Aquariums West in Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada
“We usually sell frozen foods for more than what
you can get it for online, specifically for the fact
that nobody is going to order a single pack of
frozen food and have it sent to them at an ungodly
rate. We do push more frozen foods than we do
dry food specifically for that reason.”—DoNNa
harrIs, co-owner of Blue Reef Aquatics in North
Las Vegas, Nev.
BraNDs has added
tetra cleaning Bacteria to its Essential
Care Program for
the “clean” aspect
of the Essential
Care Program, Tetra
Cleaning Bacteria is a blend of
millions of beneficial
When added to an
aquarium, the live
bacteria serve two
functions: to break
down sludge and
debris, and to boost
filter performance to
remove toxins such as ammonia and nitrite. The product can
decrease the need for tank maintenance by reducing waste
buildup on gravel by up to 25 percent, replenishing the bac-
terial balance of an aquarium, according to 2017 laboratory
testing. A formula is available for all tropical fish, and there is
a formula for goldfish. tetra-fish.com
ceNtral garDeN & Pet presents the aqueon Betta
Puzzle aquarium kit. The red or blue puzzle-shaped kit
is great for a single betta, or four can be linked together
to make the ultimate puzzle. Each unit has a frosted
wall to prevent betta from seeing one another. Each kit
includes decorative gravel, a small plant, Betta Food and
Betta Bowl Plus water conditioner. aqueonproducts.com
aQuatoP offers high-clarity, low-Iron glass tanks. The simple yet elegant
aquariums are constructed with low-iron glass with a 91 percent light-through
rate versus 84 percent for regular glass. Combined with polished beveled edges,
the high-clarity series is perfect for reef or planted eco-systems where the nat-
ural beauty and colors deserve the clearest view possible, the company reports.