So much of what fishkeepers buy on their regular visit to the pet store is a necessity. Food, water treatments and replacement cartridges for filters are important to keep fish alive and the environment healthy. But it’s the decorations that help keep customers happy and coming back to the store. Whether it’s a treasure chest full of sparkling fake jewels, glowing dragons or life-like plants, decorations add excitement and a sense of fun to aquariums, and for retailers, the category is a great way to improve incremental sales.
“It’s fun to decorate aquariums, and we’ve found that if people have a hard time finding new plants or ornaments that speak to their tastes, they tend to lose interest in the hobby,” said Michael Acerra, digital marketing manager for Penn-Plax. “That’s why we’re always releasing new ornaments and creating new programs designed to make it fun and easy for hobbyists to create their ideal aquarium, whether they’re starting from scratch or updating an existing one.”
It’s also a reason why the category is so diverse. There’s literally something for everyone in aquarium decor. For retailers, the key to keeping the right items in stock is to stay on top of the trends while also understanding their customers and what they’re looking for.
Aquascaping Made Easy
Right now, aquascaping is one of the biggest trends in the industry. That trend appears to have a major impact on tank decorations.
“Many hobbyists are interested in creating an environment that mimics one where the fish would live in their natural habitat,” Acerra said. “But aquascaping requires a great deal of time, dedication and artistic ability. New options in aquarium decor help people get the look without the investment of time, energy and effort live plants require.”
The new line of Aqua-Scaping Plants from Penn-Plax is just one example of how the right products can transform the look of an aquarium.
“Over the last few years we’ve been putting an emphasis on creating natural-looking products to meet the needs of more serious hobbyists,” Acerra said. “Aqua-Scaping Plants are one example, and we’re continuing to develop new products that fit the same niche. We feel this is an area of the hobby that’s been underserved, and we’re putting an emphasis on this type of decor.”
The Aqua-Scaping Plants line includes three different plant species in three different sizes, each with a cup to help suction it to the aquarium floor. The plants are designed to be used as a group to create a substrate instead of gravel, instantly creating an aquarium that mimics the living environment of a fish’s natural habitat.
This line joins an extensive collection of life-like decor from Penn-Plax, including the rocks, driftwood and sinker plants in the Deco-Replicas line. Elive Pet Products’ Natural Elements line also provides a variety of plants, as does Aquatop. Joining its silicone and plastic plants, Aquatop recently added mangrove root ornaments in sizes up to 28 inches to replicate swamp lands.
Bringing the natural world to life isn’t limited to the freshwater category. With the new line of coral decor from Aquatop, resin coral ornaments in various sizes and colors help hobbyists recreate a coral reef tank.
“It’s all about instant gratification,” said Eugene Lee, project manager at Aquatop. “You get the visual stimulation, and create a place for fish to swim around and hide in, without the work of taking care of corals.”
Feel the Glow
While realistic decor is breaking new ground, there’s another area of decor that only seems to get bigger: glowing ornaments.
“Decor that glows in the dark or under blue lighting has been popular in the aquarium trade for a long time,” Lee said. “But definitely with the popularity of GloFish, this is something that’s becoming even more popular.”
There are plenty of options when it comes to glowing plants, including Glow Elements from Elive, GloFish fluorescent plants from Tetra, GlowPaks from Penn-Plax and multi-colored plants from Aquatop with blue and pink tips that are enhanced under blue light. These items allow people to add a little extra pizzazz to the aquascaping hobby, adding a tinge of the fantasy side of things to the more natural world of aquascaping.
Glowing ornaments go far beyond plants. Tetra’s newest addition to its GloFish line includes a dragon with wings that changes color under different types of light. This dragon joins the glow-in-the-dark volcanoes, treasure chests and skulls in Tetra’s GloFish line. Penn-Plax also carries a variety of glowing ornaments including small replicas of dinosaur skeletons.
The best way to highlight any type of decor is through well-lit display aquariums. Building a life-like reef with Aquatop’s new corals or a fullblown shipwreck scene with PennPlax’s scuba divers and treasure chests is the best way to show customers how bringing together a group of elements can create an entire atmosphere within an aquarium. And with the wide variety of options available, there’s no limit to what customers can create.
“There’s no right or wrong way to decorate an aquarium,” Lee said. “In the end, it’s all up to personal taste.”