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Aquatic Marketplace: Nano Tanks See Big Sales

Posted: Feb. 12, 2013, 8:45 p.m. EST


Once considered a fad, nano tanks are well-established and gaining retail footprint and sales in the hobby.
By David Lass

Though they started years ago as a fad or craze, nano tanks are well-established in the hobby today. In fact, insiders reported that the tanks continue to grow in popularity.

“That’s all we sell,” said Greg Gordon, owner of Dog Patch Pet & Feed in Naperville, Ill. “We special-order any tank larger than 20 gallons. We have 12 nano tanks set up on the counter, and we sell them ‘as is,’ meaning customers can take their selection with them, including all of the livestock.”

The only consideration with selling nano tanks is to make sure that the fish or invertebrates sold for the tank are appropriate, especially when the species mature and grow in size.

“We do very well with nano tanks,” said Steve Oberg, fish room manager at Preuss Pets in Lansing, Mich. “You have to be very careful with marine customers, who might really want and need a bigger tank.”

Best Display Techniques
Retailers and manufacturers agreed that the best way to sell nano tanks is set up, with livestock, in the store.

“Set one up,” said Sean Raines, product manager for aquatic equipment for United Pet Group (with brands Tetra and Marineland) in Blacksburg, Va. “Consumers, especially new to the hobby, have a hard time visualizing possibilities by looking at the box, or a nano that is dry.”

Nano tanks for fish and plants
Fully operational displays sell more nano tanks, livestock and accessories. Courtesy of Absolutely Fish
Most stores display at least a couple of working nano tanks.

“We display at least six nano tanks on the counter at all times,” said Mike DeOliveira, freshwater curator at Absolutely Fish in Clifton, N.J.

Matt Moretti, the aquatic department manager of the five Dave’s Soda and Pet City stores located in Agawam, Mass., and four other nearby towns, concurred.

“The most effective way to sell nano tanks is to have a few set up and running in the store,” he said. “An endcap of well-packaged products is nothing compared to a fully operational display of various tanks, all well-decorated and containing healthy livestock.”

Some stores make creative use of their live nano tank displays. For example, Absolutely Fish sells shrimps from a couple of its nanos because it is easy to keep track of them—and catch them. And Dog Patch Pet & Feed keeps fish and plants in its nano tank displays.

“We always like to have some sparring dwarf cichlids or some oddball crayfish or the like,” Gordon said. “We also like to keep at least one Hagen Fluval well-planted with live plants.”

Best-Selling Tanks
The selection available for nano tanks is large and expanding all the time. Aqua Design Amano expanded its nano tank line complete with the tank, light, substrate and a CO2 system, said Frank Wazeter, the managing director for Aqua Design Amano USA, which is located at Aquarium Design Group in Houston.

“Our best-sellers are the Nano Sky, AT and Zen Nano Series,” said Frank Kudla, vice president of sales for Aquatop Aquatic Supplies of Brea, Calif.

Stores reported selling several brands of nano tanks.

“The Hagen Flora (for live plants) and Ebi (for shrimps) sell very well for us,” said Jim Reiman, owner of Tropic Waters Pet Center in Eau Claire, Wis. “For both nano tanks we can sell a fair amount of plants, shrimps and small fish like the new mini-rasboras.”

West Hartford Puppy Center and Aquarium reported mainly carrying Oceanic Systems Inc.’s BioCubes.

“It makes for an easy upgrade to LED lighting for keeping SPS corals once they are doing well with their first BioCube,” said Joe Glotzer, manager of the West Hartford, Conn., store.

Preuss’ Oberg said, “In addition to the Hagen nano tanks, we do well with Innovative Marine’s nanos and the Marineland LED kits.”

Nano tanks have achieved the status of a best-seller for most aquatics departments, retailers reported.

“One of the barriers to entry in the aquarium hobby has always been the steep initial cost,” said Aquatop’s Kudla. “Nano tanks greatly reduce that barrier, while bringing living style to your customers’ home. They need not be a hobbyist to own an aquarium.”

While not representing a huge sale to begin with, nano tanks often give customers multiple tank syndrome, retailers stated.

“Nano tanks can be an excellent source of recurring income,” said Wazeter of Aqua Design Amano. “Fifty percent of first nano tanks lead to more tanks.”

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