HWhat is the size of your sales area? Do you walk on top of each other or do you have room? Either way, you can get the display aquariums to work for you.
The term “silent salesperson” might sound a bit old-fashioned, but there’s more to this sales tool than something as mundane as signage. In fact, while your signage speaks for itself, your display tanks can say more decoratively than the most attractive of signs. You can showcase your livestock, durable goods, decorating skills, and the talent of your employees in one show.
Assuming you are selling freshwater fish, marine fish, and reef animals, your best bet is to go for three vibrant environments that will become focal points in your store. Struggling to find that level of extra space? Then turn some of the cattle tanks into phenomenal suppliers of fish products.
To show creativity
So how do you start transforming your mundane aquatic environments into dynamic sales tools? I recommend starting small if you feel challenged in the creative department. Since a store owner often has tasks outside of the art exhibit realm, you might have a salesperson you can trust to set up the first exhibit tank. Think of it as an experiment, but offer suggestions if time permits.
There are no rules, only good and bad. Do not put driftwood in a Rift Lake cichlid aquarium or use tuff stone in an angelfish or discus environment, for example. Use common sense, but an unusual imagination. And please don’t present plastic toys – these tanks are for the kids, not the adults in the room.
Let’s face it, some fish lend themselves well to tank display, while others don’t. Perhaps you would like to sell more number L catfish. First of all, most of these fish are Loricariids (or sucker armor catfish). They love to scrape algae off rocks and driftwood. They also like to hide, but you don’t want the fish in an aquarium to hide, so don’t give them caves to hide. Instead, use large pieces of driftwood that rise from the substrate almost to the surface of the water.
A few live plants may be needed, but these fish usually don’t need them. At the bottom of the tank, use coarse gravel dotted with large, flat rocks on which algae can grow. In fact, you may want to set up a “harvest” aquarium where you grow algae on rocks to roam the catfish environment. This harvest tank should be illuminated 24 hours a day.
Above all, do not encumber this paradise with the number L. An example of each species is abundance. Try to keep all specimens at a moderate size, and I would recommend a 125-gal. tank for this display. Don’t use cichlids, but maybe a few large schooling fish would be perfect. In fact, Flag-tailed Prochilodus or headstanders also appreciate live algae, so they would make good tank mates.
Another fish, and the perfect fish for display aquariums, would be the rainbows of New Guinea, Irian Jaya, Australia and Celebes. These fish are extremely colorful, non-aggressive, feed easily, and love to swim in and around aquatic vegetation. You can showcase fish and plants in this environment.
Today, an “unmissable” exhibition reservoir is a Tanganyika environment with small species of the genera Julidochromis, Telmatochromis, Eretmodus, Spathodus and Tanganicodus. Fish in these genera are roughly related to the substrate, so a long, low aquarium is perfect. Pair them with lake catfish of the genus Synodontis. All of these fish are fairly easy going, but there will be a bit of aggression if pairs start to form. They all love caves as refuges, but they will come out and feed a lot.
Most of the specimens you have for sale will be small, so if you grow some in the aquarium it will help you increase the sales of these fish. Not everyone is an expert on fish, so it’s important to showcase unusual little fish that people might otherwise overlook.
Marine life display
Moving on to the realm of marine reef fish, there is an extremely diverse selection. My main caveat is this: never set up an exhibit that contains both captive-bred and wild-caught specimens of the same species. You can sell these two types of fish all day long, but don’t pretend they mix well in captivity.
For example, try keeping aquarium-reared brown clowns with wild fish of the same species. It rarely works. Of course, your reef fish display stand should have many different types of fish, but they should all be compatible. Fish that eat fish are difficult to bring together without something going wrong.
Now your spectacular marine exhibit may indeed contain predatory species, but only one specimen of each, such as a clown trigger, clown grouper, squirrelfish, goatfish, growl, snapper, puffer, etc. If you prefer a relatively non-predatory display, you can select some of the following: big angels, butterflies, wrasses, silks, hamlets, rabbits, small pigs, pigs, limes, etc.
As for me, I appreciate a 125-gal. community tank with objects such as damselflies, dwarf angels, basslets, gobies, blennies, cardinal fish, wrasse, butterflies, etc.
Decide on the perfect display
I know you don’t have room for everything, so work closely with your sales staff and select what works best for your store and your customers. Of course, if coral is your strong suit, this is the one category of show tank you can’t live without.
A mixed habitat of fish and corals is a very difficult environment to maintain perfectly. When you start to put it in place, I will have a plan in mind and I don’t expect to achieve your goal instantly. In fact, you should give it six to 12 months before you are satisfied.
What a living reef can do for your business is hard to say. It really depends on the location of your store, both locally and regionally. If you are in a large metropolitan area, it may just be one of the many displays of this type. If you’re a little more secluded, this might be the only game in town or even within a hundred miles.
Keep this in mind when you start to install the tank. Can you do it bigger and better than your competition? If you can’t, it can end up being a waste of time and money. However, if you can, many enthusiasts will walk a considerable distance if your store has things that others don’t.
Brackish water environments are often overlooked. They are a little tricky to set up because the water parameters can be quite variable and the varieties of fish that prefer these habitats are more than diverse. The best choices include Anableps, Mudskippers, Target Fish, Scats, Monos, Gobies, Siamese Tigerfish (Datnioides), Half-billed Fish, and a few other really weird species. If you are interested in creating such a display, you should do some research.
Finally, what about miniature animal display bins? I say animals instead of fish because I can’t ignore ornamental shrimp. There are also a handful of micro and mini species of tropical freshwater fish that have become very popular in recent years. A 20-gal. The exhibition aquarium would be large enough to display many of them.
Keep in mind that the smaller an environment, the more difficult it is to balance. The use of many aquatic plants should help achieve this goal. PB
Edward C. Taylor has worked in the pet industry for over 40 years as a live fish retailer, importer and wholesaler and hatchery manager.