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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ecosystem Displays

By Patrick Donston

Store Owner, Absolutely Fish


An Amazon River ecosystem is a really cool display. It incorporates different rocks, driftwood, lush-green plants and thousands of fish choices.

What's really neat is the diversification and appearances a shop can experiment with. They can be small (5 to 10 gallons) with small tetras and algae-eating shrimp or moderate with unique specimens. Larger displays are great for piranhas, arowanas or stingrays. When designing such a display, use fish, plants and invertebrates native to the region. Below I've listed some of the many choices:

Small fish: neons, cardinals, rummy nose, cory cats, apistogrammas, rams, pencil fish, hatchets, ottocinclus, black-penguin-phantom-lemon-pristella and many other varieties of tetras.

Medium fish: Discus, angelfish, leaf fish, farlowellas, pictus cats, plecostomus, freshwater barracudas, Anostomus, keyhole cichlids, pink tail chalceus

Large fish: Geophagus (earth-eaters), severums, oscars, peacock Bass, piranhas, Leporinus, arowanas, Dora cats, shovelnose cats, t-cup and motoro rays,

Plants: swords (Echinodorous spp.), Zosterfolia spp., Ludwigia spp., Egenia (L. elodia), Vallisneria types, hairgrass, umbrossiums
Be aware of compatibility issues when choosing your mix of livestock.

Driftwood and natural gravel should play an important role when setting up such a display. What seems to be a common misperception about the Amazon is that it's one river with one type of environment. To the contrary, the Amazon basin drains the entire northern half of South America and has many tributaries. Not all sections have the same water chemistry or appearance. By being creative and using some of the attributes, you can be unique and get the point across.

So what's the point in all this? A colleague of mine from a prominent store in the mid-west once said to me: "Patrick, customers don't care about special set-ups. They just want a nice aquarium filled with fish they like." What he was referring to was a failed concept where manufactures put out a variety of products to simulate freshwater environments from around the world. The problem was that it was a bottle in a box. Although the concept was great, it was difficult for customers to connect with. Creating an environmental eco-system where people can see and admire is different. People connect with living things more than inanimate "objects and packages."

Inspiring your clients leads to sales in the form of books, supplements, decorations or possibly another set-up. We have placed appropriate conditioners and decorations to create such an ecosystem by our display.

So get creative and energize your customers’ imagination. Trust me; it works.

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