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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

September 21, 2010

A Brighter Tomorrow

By Patrick Donston

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I've just returned from Super Zoo in Las Vegas and have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Talking with a number of shops, it seems the aquatics business has been picking up. I was told nice success stories and in some cases, a few shops had grand openings with rousing reviews.

One shop in the South moved a tremendous amount of 10 gallon set-ups during its opening weekend. Another shop in the West told me they struggled through ’09, but have seen a 20 percent increase in their aquatics so far in 2010. I was having a conversation with a store in Oklahoma, where they wanted to pick my brain about expanding their fish department. They've been doing well with freshwater sales and decided to oblige their customers’ requests for saltwater animals. What I didn't hear was a lot of complaints as in the past few years.

I saw a couple of neat new products. A "newer, brighter" LED light was shown and priced reasonably well. A really small powerhead (about 1.5 x 1.5 inches) that will move up to 160 gallons of water will be beneficial for nano reefs. There were a number of new probiotic brands and organic waste removing agents. (Something our industry desperately needs.) Numerous smaller, "chic" aquarium designs were displayed for the first time. Which I'm all for, because in today's economy I think this may be an easier way to get the hobby in homes and keep expenses down. If you're a décor nut like me, there were some new castles, ships and synthetic coral. I also saw new African cichlid substrates and natural rocks to aquascape with. For us old-timers, you may remember Sicce--an Italian manufacturer from the ‘80s--is back in U.S. distributorship with a new line of pumps, planted aquarium equipment and carbon dioxide diffusers.

It was also nice to see the major manufacturers and some new independents in attendance. George Blasiola's seminar was outstanding and the aquatics vibe was great. I hope we can keep it rolling into Chicago, the rest of the year and into 2011. For those interested, there will be an Aquatics roundtable discussion for NexPet members on Thursday, Oct. 7, in Chicago. For retailers and any others with a stake in our industry, the Aquatics Industry Summit hosted by H.H. Backer will be on Friday, Oct. 8.

I hope to see you there.

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