By David Lass
Even though the big-box stores would rather not have anything to do with new fish being introduced to the hobby from the wild, there are always interesting new introductions. Sometimes these new fish become wildly popular, are mass produced and become available at good prices. Other times they either never become very popular or prove to be difficult to commercially produce. Still, I am pleased to say, there are always new fish being discovered, if only by my good friend Heiko Bleher.
Designer shrimp. Shutterstock
Virtually all of the new fish coming into the hobby/industry are from the Far East, primarily India, Burma (Myanmar) and China. When you consider the vast, relatively unexplored areas in the Far East, it makes sense that new fish are being found all the time. In the past few years the two most popular new fish would have to be the roseline shark (Denison barb) and the celestial pearl danio (originally called the galaxy rasbora). Within a relatively short time, both of these fish went from being the hottest new fish from the wild to being commercially produced in large quantities. Prices seem to have settled at levels the market can bear.
The most exciting new fish we are seeing now are the small rasboras and other similar fish that are being found in India and Burma, and the proliferation of different loaches that are coming from China. These fish will go through the same process as the roseline shark and celestial pearl danio. If there is a clear demand from hobbyists for the fish, the breeders in the Far East will set to work producing the fish in quantities. Prices will come down, the fish will be better able to survive shipping, and the fish will become established. With the roseline shark there is even a gold form now being offered for sale.
Because nano tanks are becoming increasingly popular, the small fish coming from India and Burma will, I believe, become very popular. The problem is that prices have yet to come down, and it can be tough to ask your customer to pay $10 for a fish that is less than an inch long. These fish need to be marketed by the store. I have seen many stores that do very well with the small rasboras and such, and the key is always that they have a couple of nano tanks set up, nicely planted and displayed, with the fish.
One excellent store I know has many nano tanks set up in one section of the store, each with either some of the small rasboras, celestial pearl danios, or other small fish. They also have nano tanks set up with designer shrimp. What seems to work best is selling the fish and shrimp from these tanks. That way you avoid the risk of losing them in your larger-selling tanks. Customers also can get a good idea of what a nano tank with some small fish and shrimp would look like on their desk, in the kitchen or in a child’s room.