Display Tank Tips & Tricks | Current issue



NOTNothing in your store will sell more tank setups than well-decorated display aquariums. But, it’s a double-edged sword, because the reverse is just as true. If your display aquariums lack creativity, enthusiasm, and a balanced appearance, they could turn customers away from the aquarium hobby. It doesn’t take an expert to create an attractive display. But that requires passion and desire. The main example that comes to mind is the difference between a house and a home. When your environment is pleasant (but functional), you gain both pleasure and relaxation. Similarly, if you are inviting visitors into your home, you want them to feel comfortable, at ease, and happy to be there. And, if an aquarium is part of the decor of the house, it should be as beautiful as its surroundings. So every customer who walks into your store will judge your business, to a large extent, by the appearance of your display tanks as well as those from which you sell fish.

Types of tanks

Nobody said it was going to be easy, but if that doesn’t come naturally to you, find someone else on your team with a good understanding of fish and an above-average artistic flair for all things aquatic. . Personally, I like to challenge staff to try to create better displays than the ones I’ve put together. When given the chance, with a wide range of decorative items and maintenance equipment, you might be pleasantly surprised at what’s on display.


Most of your display tanks should be of the “community tank” type, as the majority of your customers will prefer this type of setup. Decor inside is always a personal statement, tempered somewhat by cost and the selection of items available. It is equally important to ensure that the aquatic environment is acceptable to the fish first and to the aquarium owner second. This requires a good balance between functional and decorative elements.

There are two basic types of community aquariums: natural and artificial. If you want the decor to mimic nature, you should only use items found in nature, such as live plants, rocks, driftwood, and natural substrate material. An artificial display would use plastic plants, plastic or ceramic ornaments and colored gravel. Young fish farmers are drawn to displays with their favorite characters from cartoons, videos, TV, video games or movies.

Location and size matter

A major question for the store owner is: “Where should the display aquariums be located?” You will definitely choose the fish department if you are a full-service store selling live animals other than fish. If you only sell aquatic animals, your display approach should focus on locations scattered throughout the store. Always, the best place will be directly in front of the paylines. The second choice for an impressive display will be “on the trail” leading to the aquatic livestock section.

When it comes to your customers, you and your employees are the experts, so it’s up to you to prove that point. Keep in mind that a great monitor has, at its core, a perfectly reliable filter. Thus, display tanks are created to sell not only decorative items, but also fish and filtration equipment. When you expose a big screen, you give yourself three ways to make money.

To go further in this concept, you highlight in a reef showcase: fish, mobile invertebrates, sessile invertebrates, decorative objects (living or not), filtration and lighting equipment. So it’s always a good idea to display lighting brands that you trust and sell in your store.

Now, the size of your display tanks is a personal decision. I’ve been to many aquatic shops that feature tanks that are over 95% of what their customers would ever install. The tank may look great, but almost no one can achieve such a success. On top of that, square footage can be valuable, so why waste it on a screen that few, if any, customers could ever match?

Creativity is the key

Freshwater exhibits have always been my favorite because they’ve been around since day one of the aquatic hobby. The water garden concept continues to gain supporters across the United States, and if you specialize in this discipline, stocking a wide selection of aquatic plants is essential. I will say that enthusiasts in this field can be quite judgmental – so better have your “A Game” if you want to impress them – and even your regular customers.

Going a different route, you could create a few mini displays for the ornamental freshwater shrimp craze that has gone from an exotic offshoot of the trade to a phenomenon in its own right. Again, do it right or expect to be picked on by the local prawn lovers. You can sell a bundle of Miniature Freshwater Shrimp (and related gear) if you decide to stock them in your store.

Finally, back to basics. As much as the new and exotic offshoots of the aquatic hobby can add to your bottom line, nothing will do a better job than everyday community freshwater pedestrian tanks. Creativity is the key to success in setting up display aquariums. Show your customers something different, but use the same familiar elements. This often means incorporating new species, hybrids or genetic variations created by fish farms around the world. PB

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