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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

December 8, 2010

Unique Freshwater Fish = Happy Hobbyists

By Patrick Donston


Last week I was on Blue Zoo radio. If you've never heard of it, it's a wonderful online program detailing “the wonderful world of tropical fish.” Frank Reece, the host, brings on guests from all facets of our industry to discuss the ins and outs of aquarium care. It's very informative and interesting. (

Frank asked me if I've noticed a lot of freshwater hobbyists moving into marine/reef aquariums because they're easier to do these days. Not really, I answered; no more than in the past. I've found that passionate freshwater hobbyists are not interested in changing their pastime. They seem more inclined to advance their pursuits by trying new fish they haven't kept or bred before.

Keeping your freshwater clients happy is easy to do if you budget well. Bring in at least one, if not two or three, freshwater shipments a week. Not every two weeks or monthly. Even if shipments are smaller, bring in something new and different every week--they'll come in every week. Here are some different fish you may want to try to hopefully expand your clients’ interest.

Catfishes: Try some higher priced plecos of the "L" numbers, such as gold nuggets, snowballs, phantoms, vampires etc. I've heard shops claim they don't have the clientele to pay the prices. You'd be surprised who will pay if they see them. Corydoras cats other than the standard types are great complements to your collection. Adolfoi, sterbai, venezualensis, lazers and pygmaeus add flavor to community and planted aquariums. I always try to stock West African cats when I can, such as giraffe and the many Synodontis species. Synodontis multipunctatus comes from the east African rift lakes and are a must for any shop that carries African cichlids. They come from high pH waters and should be kept with your Africans. With all catfish, make sure you keep your gravel clean, as they can get sick from dirty, detritus-covered beds.

Schoolers: There are so many I couldn't possibly list them all. The "new to the hobby" micro-rasboras are peaceful, colorful fish—they’re unique and send a message to your clients, "We're cutting edge.” Others to try:

● Amanda tetras (beautiful red color)
● Kitty tetras (complements head & tail tetras)
● Green neons (complements neons and cardinals)
● Different pencil fish, such as Beckford or red marginatus
● Different rainbows, such as millennium, praecox, bosemani, turquoise
● Different livebearers, such as Endlers and the new color morphs (pink ribbon, cobra, red flame)

Anabantids: The betta craze is still here. Do you ever try roundtails, deltas or crowntails? What about sparkling gouramis, chocolate gouramis or ctenapomas. They can't be kept in bowls, but the do ship in much better than the past and spark interest.

For goodness sake, have a selection of plants and change it up a bit. There are dozens upon dozens to choose from. I can't tell you how many times a customer has told me; "You know the reason why I started coming here was because you were the only shop with a nice selection of plants."

Planted aquarium hobbyists are probably the most passionate of all the freshwater keepers. They're usually not interested in ever setting up a marine aquarium and go where the plants are.

Isn't that what we're aiming for?

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