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August 23, 2016

Walk into any pet store selling fish these days, and you’ll see betta fish and betta-related products taking up anywhere from eight to 16 feet on the shelf. You might even find some stores with an entire aisle devoted to bettas, with signage pointing customers to the betta department. It’s a far cry from a few years ago, when there was maybe two to four feet designated for bettas.

It might seem like a lot of space for a fish that costs an average of $4.99, but when you add up the other purchases that go with the fish, it’s extremely marketable,” said Matt Allen, director of marketing for Elive Pets.

Those other purchases include aquariums with dividers designed for multiple bettas, betta foods, water conditioners, heaters and other accessories such as brushes and feeding tools.

“Merchandising tanks next to accessories such as décor, maintenance supplies, food and water care is a great way to promote halo sales on betta-specific items,” said Lenitra Friend, brand manager at Central Garden & Pet.

Not only does a big betta department help increase sales, but these fish are also enticing new people to the category.

“A large percentage of betta owners are first-time consumers, which is good for the aquarium category overall,” Allen said.

The Betta Necessities
Of all the betta-specific products on the market, it’s the food and water conditioners that draw repetitive sales and get customers in your store where they can see other things such as new décor and plants, which leads to incremental sales. And there are two reasons to have your betta department well stocked with food and water conditioners specifically for bettas. First, customers who own only bettas will be shopping specifically for betta products. Second, items designed for the specific needs of a fish will allow that fish to be healthy because it is getting what it needs.

“When you can provide for the specific needs of a fish, whether it’s dietary or water conditions, the fish is going to respond in a positive way, with better health and brighter colors,” Allen said.

Aqueon’s Betta Food—BettaMin from Tetra and Betta Color Granules from Elive Pet—are created specifically for the needs of betta fish. All three contain shrimp, among other ingredients, to promote brighter colors and provide balanced nutrition.

Water conditioners designed specifically for bettas are another important item for the betta department. BettaSafe water conditioner from Tetra and Betta Bowl Plus from Aqueon are designed for the smaller bowls and aquariums bettas are kept in. They contain trace elements to reduce slime and promote proper color.

Elive Pet is also getting in the water treatment game with two new products out this month. Betta Natural Habitat is a water conditioner with essential minerals and peat extract that is designed to mimic the soft-water conditions where bettas are found in nature. The Betta Tea Tree Health is an herbal treatment for bacterial and fungal infections that can be added to water on a regular basis for preventative measures.

Beyond the Basics
In addition to food and water products, there are other accessories designed specifically for bettas that can add incremental sales to your department. The Betta EasyFeed Tool from Elive Pet helps with portion control, ensuring the fish gets the right amount of food while cutting down on waste to keep the environment cleaner.

The Betta Bowl Heater from ZooMed helps regulate the temperature for bettas, keeping it warm like these tropical fish’s natural habitat. There’s even décor targeted specifically to bettas, with ZooMed’s Betta Bling, which includes mermaids, deep-sea divers and aquatic flora.

Home is Where It’s At
The food, water conditioners and accessories might be strong drivers in the category, but the first thing every new betta owner needs is a place for the fish to live. This is where the category is really expanding, with products that appeal to first-time fish owners, especially kids, all the way to the dedicated hobbyist looking for something new and interesting.

One of the big product lines this season is the Finding Dory Betta Aquarium Kits from Penn-Plax. The kits come with an LED light as well as a background and stickers featuring different characters from the blockbuster movie. It’s important to emphasize to customers that these tanks are not designed for the Dory fish itself, the blue tang, which needs a lot more space. Instead, they’re designed to take advantage of Dory’s popularity even in the betta category.

“When we have a movie like this based on tropical fish, it’s imperative that as retailers we take advantage of this opportunity to get kids interested in the hobby,” said Ivan Fielman, vice president of national accounts at Penn-Plax.

Elive Pet’s recent Glow Cube is another product that appeals to kids. Filled with glow gravel and plants as well as glow-in-the-dark resin, this aquarium is fine for other small fish but is geared toward bettas.

On the other end of the spectrum, Elive Pet and Aqueon have designed betta aquariums for the customer with a little more sophisticated taste. One of the most recent product launches from Aqueon is the Betta Falls aquarium.

“Bettas can be aggressive with one another, and this aquarium has three different chambers to allow people to have more than one fish and keep them separate,” Friend said.

The aquarium also includes Aqueon’s patented QuietFlow Filtration and a filter cartridge to help keep the water clean, but what really makes it stand out is the cascading water feature.

From water features to plants, Elive Pet’s Aqua Duo aquarium kit allows you to have a plant in the filter for added interest. The three-gallon size also allows for more space for the fish to swim and to add more décor.

“Aquaponics is an emerging part of the aquatic industry, and this really appeals to a different consumer than your entry-level betta owner—a more high-end consumer,” Allen said.

The variety in aquariums really speaks to how broad the betta category has become. While you find everything from Finding Dory décor to aquaponics filters for bettas, the fish themselves are also just as varied, with price points ranging from $3.99 to up to $100 for the very rare varieties.

“Sales in this category are strong and we feel the category continues to grow,” Allen said. “It’s not just the old betta bowl you used to see anymore; the category has expanded to keep up with the interest, which benefits us all.”

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