A FREEZER FULL OF OPTIONS
Options are limited when it comes to offering and displaying frozen foods, as in-store freezers
are required. Pet specialty retailers often opt for either a stand-up, glass-door freezer unit—
sometimes featuring manufacturer branding—but cheaper options, such as point-of-purchase
mini freezers and simple freezer units with no glass, are also popular.
“A full, up-right freezer with a glass door runs about $3,000 to $4,000,” said Anthony
Johnson, owner of Reef Life Aquatic in Palatka, Fla. “I wish I had a little branded freezer, but I
have a refrigerator freezer that I bought from Sears.”
At some of the larger trade shows, such as the Marine Aquarium Conference of North
America (MACNA) or Global Pet Expo, manufacturers will sometimes offer promotions involving
freezers, but it’s usually up to the retailer to find these deals.
“I’ve thought about that, but the price of stocking an entire freezer full of their food is still
$4,000,” Johnson said. “But at least it’s moveable product.”
It might also be possible to find used freezers for sale.
“I have a glass-door freezer that I bought a year ago,” said Howard “Howie” Berkowitz,
owner of Aquaridise in East Brunswick, N.J. “I’ve been around a long time. Hikari had provided
me with a small desktop-type glass-door freezer 15 years ago. When that freezer started to go, I
went out and purchased a stand-up glass-door freezer from a store that went out of business.”
Though freezers are costly both in terms of upfront outlay and upkeep over time, ultimately,
they pay dividends.
“Per square foot, it’s profitable,” said Kevork Tarakjian, owner of Blue Planet Aquarium in
Fresno, Calif. “It takes up a small area, and with it packed in that small space, you’re going to
COMING DOWN THE PIKE
There are a few new offerings on the horizon in the frozen aquarium foods
Hikari will be releasing reef-related products in the next quarter or so, said
Chris Clevers, president of Hikari Sales USA in Hayward, Calif. However, regulation
is also affecting what and how manufacturers can package frozen diets.
“Packaging for frozen food is becoming more and more complicated as FSMA
and packaging regulations change,” Clevers said. “Even though most of these
products are frozen live animals, more and more regulation on what can be fed
to any pet is causing us some gas pains we have to work through. In most cases,
this creates more cost without any real benefit to the consumer or retailer.”
The trend toward offering healthful diets has permeated the entire hobby, and
many manufacturers offer a wide variety of options to ensure retailers and their
customers can switch things up as needed.
“It’s really progressed,” said Dr. Timothy Hovanec, owner and president of Dr.
Tim’s Aquatics in Moorpark, Calif. “People really do understand that they have
to give a varied diet, especially on the reef side. Not all fish eat the exact same
The manufacturer doesn’t produce a frozen diet, but its line includes a diet
that fish keepers prepare beforehand and freeze to use later. Dr. Tim’s will have
some new items and prebiotics coming out in late summer, Hovanec said.
He noted, in general, that feeding frozen foods gives hobbyists a lot more
control over what they’re offering—and keeping high-end hobbyists happy is
good for business.
“You can really tailor the food to your fish and the condition that they’re in and
the condition you want them in,” Hovanec said. “That’s what people like. It gives
them more control over what they can feed their fish.”
LEVERAGING THE SPECIALTY ADVANTAGE
Frozen aquarium foods are unique in that they are difficult to ship and don’t often appear in big-box stores or
non-aquatic-specialty pet stores, giving pet specialty retailers the advantage in the category.
For this reason, Anthony Johnson, owner of Reef Life Aquatic in Palatka, Fla., encourages customers to
move toward a frozen food diet.
“Part of the reason for that is the price per unit,” he said. “If you’re feeding mysis shrimp cubes every
single time you feed, you’re going to cruise through a flat pack real quick. At $6 to $7 a pack—or with PE
Mysis, at $10 to $11 a pack—it gets pricey.”
Johnson carries Rod’s Reef Foods, Hikari frozen foods, Ocean Nutrition, San Francisco Bay Brand and
Piscine Energetics PE Mysis. Still, he believes there’s untapped potential for more sales.
“If there was a way to trim down the price of the foods, maybe I could move more product,” he said.
“[Manufacturers] would still make the same amount of money, just in volume sales.”
Some customers are more sensitive to pricing, and, as such, retailers maintain competitive prices.
“Customers are always very conscientious of the price they pay, so my prices are very competitive,
especially in this hobby,” said Stephen Myers, owner of Reef Plus in North Aurora, Ill. “My margin is
reasonable. There are a lot of electrical and storage costs that go with [selling frozen foods].”
Hikari sells very well, Myers noted, and his customers also like to use Rod’s Original.
There’s a perception of a premium gradient within the frozen food category, and retailers choose to offer a
variety so that they can capture those who are price sensitive, as well as those who are willing to spend more.
“Your high-end reef customer is certainly the guy who’s looking for the best product available,” said
Howard “Howie” Berkowitz, owner of Aquaridise in East Brunswick, N.J.
Hikari is Berkowitz’s best-selling frozen food line across the board. He also offers Ocean Nutrition
products and Larry’s Reef Frenzy.
Ultimately, frozen foods move well in-store.
“PE Mysis is what sells the most,” said Kevork Tarakjian, owner of Blue Planet Aquarium in Fresno, Calif.
“If someone likes something, they’ll pay. It’s not hard for me to move stuff. I don’t really mark up my stuff that
much. I try to sell at MSRP or whatever online prices are. When you do that, you’re not dusting anything off.”
Do frozen foods offer a competitive
advantage over online competition?
“[Customers] are not ordering frozen food off the inter-
net. There’s definitely a competitive advantage to having
a freezer. … At least you’re make money on frozen food.
As a good-quality aquatic store, there are certain things
you have to carry. And it’s not about the profit you’re
making on it, but you need to drive people into your
store for it.”—HowarD“HowIe” BerkowItz, owner
of Aquaridise in East Brunswick, N.J.
“It’s definitely something that brings people into my
store. Between frozen foods and the heavy dry goods,
such as salt, sand and liverock, that’s what really
brings people in. Nine times out of 10, when it comes
to a light, or a veggie clip or a Mag Float, I can’t compete with online retailers.”—aNtHoNy JoHNsoN,
owner of Reef Life Aquatic in Palatka, Fla.
Pet has added GloFish
sharks to its line of
GloFish fluorescent fish.
GloFish Sharks are a
sleek and elegant addi-
tion to any freshwater
fish keepers are adding to a tank with other fish or completely
transforming their aquarium to a GloFish tank. GloFish Sharks are
members of the minnow family, not actual sharks. Because these
fish can reach up to 4 in. in length, they should only be placed
in aquariums 20 gal. or larger. They exist peacefully with other
GloFish and nonfluorescent community fish. They come in sun-
burst orange and galactic purple. They get their natural color from
their parents and are not injected, painted or dyed. tetra-fish.com
aquatoP’s magnetic aquarium cleaner with LeD
offers a simple and effective way to remove algae
buildup from an aquarium surface. The product features an easy-grip, ergonomic design combined with a
powerful magnet, which results in effortless cleaning.
The LED lighting feature illuminates the cleaning surface of the aquarium so that aquarists will never miss a
spot, and the nighttime viewing mode penetrates deep
into the aquarium to allow viewing of any nocturnal
activity when the main aquarium lights are turned off.
The large surface area of the Velcro-lined inner magnet clears a 4.25-in. swath with
each swipe for maximum cleaning efficiency on glass or acrylic surfaces. It is safe for
freshwater or saltwater. aquatop.com
sera’s ImmunPro and ImmunPro mini allow for the
quick strengthening of the disease resistance of fish.
The slowly sinking food features a high protein percentage of more than 50 percent and the added probiotic
Bacillussubtilis. The probiotic stabilizes the intestinal
flora and strengthens the immune system of the fish,
which makes them less sensitive to diseases. The other
valuable ingredients in the food, such as MOS,
Haema-tococcus and spirulina, are taken up and utilized more
efficiently. This, in return, reduces water pollution. The
food contributes to quick growth, strong development
and brilliant color formation. ImmunPro Mini is suitable
for ornamental fish up to 1.6 in ( 4 cm), while ImmunPro
should be used for all ornamental fish measuring above
1.6 in ( 4 cm). sera-usa.com