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April 19, 2017

Having a clean aquarium with healthy water is the most important element for success in fishkeeping. And as anyone who has had an aquarium knows, having the right filter for the tank is a key component to a clean aquarium. Of course, filters don’t eliminate the need for water changes and regular tank maintenance, but they go a long way toward improving water clarity and maintaining a healthy tank.

While the basic job a filter performs hasn’t changed much over the years, there have been plenty of advances in the category to improve the products. From UV filtration to quieter motors and easy-to-change cartridges, today’s filters are more user-friendly and better for the tank than ever before.

Smaller is Better
From nano tanks to betta bowls, the trend of smaller, desk-top fishkeeping seems to be growing. In these cases, even the smallest of traditional filters end up taking up too much real estate in the bowl or seem too large or bulky hanging on the side.

In order to give these customers better options, Cobalt Aquatics launched a new line of Clearvue internal filters, joining Penn-Plax’s existing line of Smallworld filters to do the job of keeping even the smallest tank clean. The Smallworld filters run on an air pump, which removes the motor and helps save space. The Clearvue filters have a bottom-mounted motor, which allows it to work at a very low water level. This makes it useful for terrariums as well as fish tanks. With a 20-gallon size perfect for nano tanks, the Clearvue line also has 30- and 45-gallon sizes.

Both the Clearvue and the Smallworld are internal filters, which means they are also ideal for planted tanks.

“In the United States market, external filters have traditionally been more popular, but as planted tanks are gaining popularity, people are seeking out internal filters more,” said Les Wilson, marketing and product development for Cobalt Aquatics. “An internal filter doesn’t agitate the surface as much, which can cause gas exchange and make it easier for carbon dioxide to leave the aquarium, and that gas is an important element in plant growth.”

A New Layer
For years, most filters have included mechanical, biological and chemical filtration layers within the system as a whole. Now more filters are adding a new level of UV filtration, which helps get rid of unwanted micro-organisms.

“When you incorporate UV with your regular maintenance of weekly water changing and replacing filter cartridges, the result is crystal clear water and a healthy environment for your aquatic creatures,” said Eugene Lee, project manager at Aquatop.

Two lines currently on the market with UV filtration include Aquatop’s Forza canister filters and the new Cascade Marlin series from Penn-Plax.

“We’re really excited about the addition of UV filtration,” said Michael Acerra, digital marketing manager at Penn-Plax. “With the ability to kill algae and other unwanted bacteria, it will help people have a clean tank without having to dig deeper into what might be causing the algae problems.”

New features and added abilities are also improving the filtration category as a whole. Here are a few that help make things easier for new customers and might even get longtime hobbyists to consider a filter update.

LED Indicators
The new Aqueon LED PRO Power Filters are equipped with an LED cartridge change indicator that flashes when it’s time to replace the cartridge. As the cartridge becomes clogged with waste and debris, the water level rises in the filter, triggering the LED light to flash.

“Knowing when it’s time to replace filter cartridges can be a challenge for new or even experienced fishkeepers,” said Lenitra Friend, brand manager of Central Garden & Pet. “Aqueon has put the thought and work into making it easier to know when to make that change.”

These Aqueon LED PRO Power Filters are available in a range of sizes that are appropriate for 10-, 20-, 30-, 50- and 75-gallon tanks.

Two-in-One Properties
Fluval has updated its FX series with two appealing features. One is the smart pump technology, which turns off the filter and purges out excess air once every 24 hours. The other is a valve that allows the filter to be hooked up to a hose for water changes, using the filter to transfer the water for gravel and tank cleaning.

Making cartridge changes easy is another goal for manufacturers. Cobalt’s Clearvue series not only has a clear chamber to make it easy to see when a change is necessary, but also the top easily comes off to allow the person to just take the sponge out and throw it away or clean it.

“This product was designed with the beginner fish keeper in mind, but it has a performance level the hobbyist will appreciate,” Wilson said.

Aquatop’s Forza canister filters also boast easy cartridge changes with its removable media tray.

A Loyalty Maker
Filters might not seem like the most glamorous aspect of the aquarium category, but they’re definitely a strong component of building customer loyalty. While you might only sell one particular customer a filter once or maybe twice, they will continually need replacement cartridges and sponges.

One way to start that relationship is by selling kits with an aquarium, filter, light and other products a first-time fish owner will need. Many manufacturers have kits already put together, or retailers can create their own from the brands they carry in the store.

Above all, the most important element to building customer loyalty is service. Make sure your staff is educated about the newest products and can help beginners know exactly what they need for a successful tank while alerting long-time hobbyists to some of the newest updates in the category.

“Keeping a customer coming to your store to shop for replacements will help them become more loyal, but overall what they’re really looking for is a good experience, both in your store and with their fish,” Wilson said.

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