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Wrap It Up; They'll Take it

Aquarium kits are an ideal way to get customers started in the aquatic hobby, and they pose a win-win for customer and retailer alike.


Manufacturers and retailers in the aquatic industry report that prepackaged aquarium kits are a relatively simple sale: They provide a good chance of success for the first-time fishkeeper, and they are affordable.

“The aquarium kit trend is based on an easy buy-and-go item to start someone off in the hobby,” said Christopher LeRose, aquatic division manager for Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield, Mass. “A customer can purchase a kit and have everything in one box to start a new aquarium. They do not have to buy each item separately.

Kits are great for beginner hobbyists on a budget

“For our Marina line of kits, the 5-gallon size has been our best-seller,” added LeRose. “It’s at an easy price point for a beginner and has all the proper filtration to be successful in the hobby.”

Kits are great for beginner hobbyists on a budget, said Howie Berkowitz, owner of Aquaridise in East Brunswick, N.J.

“The brands that we carry—Aqueon, Tetra and Marineland—all provide the major components at a price that is affordable,” Berkowitz said.

“From a features and benefits standpoint, aquarium kits need to be complete, visually appealing and give the retailer and consumer the peace of mind that the equipment within the kit will support their anticipated fish capacity for its size,” said Ernie Katris, managing director of Elive in New Berlin, Wis. “At Elive, we strive to include premium filtration, clear tops and hidden lighting while creating a visually appealing habitat for the consumer and their fish.”

Price is a principal concern, but it’s also important that a kit contain everything a hobbyist needs, said Steve Lapp, owner of AquaVarium Pets and Supplies in Catskill, N.Y.

“Aqueon and API are kits that do very well for us,” Lapp said.

Indeed, standard starter aquarium kits are no longer simply 10-gallon tanks.

“There are many good packaged kits in the 2- to 9-gallon range,” said Gary Knabe, co-owner of Elmer’s Aquarium & Pet in Monroeville, Pa. “Our current favorites are the Aqueon Minibow, the Marineland Contour and the Aqueon Evolve. They make it easier for a beginner to get started, as they have the filter and light built in.”

Hagen released its new 5-, 10- and 20-gallon LED kits under its Marina brand, LeRose said.

“We had a great response from our customers when we launched these at the past SuperZoo show,” he said. “They are the three best-selling sizes with an upgraded LED lighting system. We will be releasing two new Fluval 5-gallon kits under our Spec line that are very similar to the original Fluval Spec. We have marine and plant versions; the difference is that we have added new LED lighting.”

​Bettas long have been touted as the most popular starter fish, but small ornamental shrimp, also great for small tanks, are gaining ground. Further, bettas’ habitats are becoming more comprehensive and impressive, said Aquaridise’s Berkowitz. 

“Gone is the day of a small ivy bowl for your betta,” he said. “Here today is a nice 1- to 5-gallon tank with a filter and a light to house your fish.”

As there are many varieties of bettas available, putting everything together in a small starter tank with a beautiful betta can equal great sales.

 Another popular starter tank is one for GloFish; there are many in-store displays that feature the entire packaged tank to get started. The key is that retailers must help ensure that first-time fishkeepers are successful with their first tank. There is an old adage in the industry that if a customer fails at keeping their first fish tank, they will tell everyone that “fish are impossible to keep alive.” Of course this is untrue, yet still there are many tanks that end up in garage sales.

“If the shop can do a good job guiding the customer in the right direction—not overcrowding the tank, not overfeeding and [encouraging] regular maintenance; this hobby is so addicting that if anyone is successful they are going to get another and then another tank,” Berkowitz said.

Beyond incorporating LEDs for kits and the fact that most manufacturers have added all the proper equipment for the success of the environment and the hobbyist, LeRose said aquarium kit aesthetics will gain more attention and further the trend.

“We might start to see more on the design side in new tanks to come,” he said, adding that curved glass tanks could be on the horizon.  


This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Pet Product News.

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