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Fish Hobbyist News for Pet Stores

The Latest Developments for the LFS Set

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Fish Hobbyist News for Pet Stores

Koller Craft launched a new line of GloFish Aquarium Kits in fall 2012.

Photo courtesy of The Impetus Agency
New Group for Indie Fish Retailers Formed

Here's some very good news for independent, mom and pop fish store operators who are facing the daunting challenge of competing with big box stores and ecommerce retailers: Aquarium Life Support Systems, an aquarium products distributor based in Knoxville, Tenn., has formed an online fish industry trade group for indie fish retailers, to help them get a fin up on the competition.

According to leading trade publication Pet Products News International, the AquaLife Dealers Lounge (which debuted in August 2012) contains all kinds of resources for independent local fish store (LFS) operators to help them avoid getting swallowed by the bigger fish. Among these are the offering of phone apps, sharing of sales tools and advice, product reviews and general support.

Membership is free to all of those who operate independent brick and mortar fish stores, regardless of size. For more info, go to the AquaLife website.

Dwarf Seashores to Face Possible Ban?

The Fish Channel.com reports that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is mulling over a ban on the trafficking of dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) due to their alleged endangered species status.

The NMFS decided to pursue this matter upon receipt of a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, which claimed that the species is endangered due to diminished habitats, overharvesting and high demand for these critters among fish hobbyists, among other factors.

Not surprisingly, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (which advocates for the pet retail industry) is not thrilled with this development, and is conducting a review of these findings.

If enacted, dwarf seahorses would be banned under the Endangered Species Act.

To see the Center for Biological Diversity petition, click here. To view the NMFS findings, click here.

GloFish a Go-Go

GloFish, those cool critters that come in an array of psychedelic colors, are hotter than ever.

In an effort to meet the glowing demand, Koller Craft of Shawnee, Kan., a leading aquarium products maker that has been in business since 1941, introduced in fall 2012 a line of GloFish Aquarium Kits, available through Petco and other independent pet specialty retailers across the country.

The line of 10 new LED GloFish desktop aquariums range from 1- to 6-gallon sizes and feature unique LED lights to accentuate the dazzling neon colors of the fish.

And speaking of the fish themselves, the company also offers Zebra Danios available in five fin-tastic colors: Starfire Red, Electric Green (a top seller), Sunburst Orange, and the new Cosmic Blue and Galactic Purple. And coming soon: GloFish Tiger Barbs!

A pioneer in the plastics industry that eventually branched out into the pet products sector, this company was the first to introduce desktop aquariums, back in 1985.

Meanwhile, there has a bit of ongoing controversy surrounding these fish since they were first introduced to the ornamental hobbyist market back in 2003. For more about this, please click here.

The Jellyfish Fixation

There's a relatively new star on the aquaria horizon: Jellyfish!

While long considered the bane of beachgoers, there is a small but interesting niche market for these fish that was initiated in 2008 by a San Francisco-based ecommerce company called Jellyfish Art.

The enterprise was the brainchild of a 20-something Duke University biology graduate named Alex Andon, who decided to reinvent himself after getting laid off from his job with a Bay Area biotech company.

This was no easy undertaking, as these creatures are highly sensitive and difficult to maintain in captivity, especially for home hobbyists, as their delicate body tissue is prone to getting shredded on jagged tank corners and edges of filters.

So Andon designed a special round tank with a circular flow system that jettisons the jellies to the middle of the tank, where they remain out of harm's way. He also sells the critters themselves and food (a gourmet form of plankton).

Jellyfish detractors claim that this is just a passing fad because, in addition to the fact that these are high-maintenance pets (if you can even call them that, as they aren't exactly the life of the pet party), they are difficult to maintain, and expensive.

A starter tank can go for $300 to $400, while the fish themselves retail for an average of $40 and up, depending on the species.

But Andon seems to be doing quite well with his jelly babies; he reportedly sold a $25,000 jelly habitat to an unnamed buyer. So time will tell.

Meanwhile, a company called Eshopps came out with a compromise that won top honors during the 2012 Global Pet Expo: faux Lionfish/Jellyfish Aquarium Ornaments. So fish hobbyists can get similar effects as the real deal, without the fuss.

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