Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A Golden Opportunity

Joe Olenik//February 24, 2016//

A Golden Opportunity

Joe Olenik //February 24, 2016//

Listen to this article

Goldfish have been responsible for getting many hobbyists started with aquarium keeping. Basic goldfish are hardy, reasonably priced and do not require a lot of expensive equipment to maintain. Now more than ever, quality fancy goldfish give independent aquatics shops a way to offer something the big box stores don’t. They can also be a great option for hobbyists who are becoming bored with an existing aquarium and are looking for a new direction to rekindle their aquarist interests.

For many seasoned hobbyists, goldfish have traditionally been considered something you feed to large predatory fish, rather than beautiful pets that eat out of your hand and grow to be living jewels. Having a dedicated goldfish display tank in your store with fully grown orandas, ryukins, pearlscales, moors and lionheads will quickly change that impression and can spark interest in uninitiated fish keepers.

“Independent retailers are always looking for a unique position in the marketplace and goldfish offer a huge opportunity,” said Rick Preuss of Pruess Pets in Lansing, Mich. “There are plenty of dedicated goldfish keepers out there and creating a reputation for quality, a good selection and knowledge can generate a strong regional draw.”

Teaching hobbyists proper care for their goldfish is paramount to ensuring success. Because goldfish are high waste producers, aquariums of 20 gallons or larger are best, along with high capacity filters that are easy to service. Cobalt Aquatics’ EXT canister filter is a well-designed, competitively priced option. Its in-line pump can be left running, providing vital oxygenation while the filter chamber is removed for servicing. Quick release valves and lift-out media trays make cleaning this filter a breeze.

To keep goldfish in top form, make sure you and your staff members recommend the proper food. Goldfish typically feed at the bottom of the aquarium and have specific dietary needs. Floating foods should be avoided, as they may result in fish gulping in air, which can cause them to swim upside down. Hikari Sinking Goldfish Excel pellets encourage growth and good body form, Hikari Lionhead pellets promote optimal hood growth in orandas and lionheads, and Hikari Oranda Gold enhances superior color in all goldfish varieties.

Offering customers healthy, top quality goldfish is vital, according to Rowena Chan, owner of Golden Phoenix Fisheries in Fremont, CA. Chan’s goldfish are sourced from carefully selected Asian breeders and are quarantined and acclimated before shipping. For stores that are new to fancy goldfish, Golden Phoenix offers sampler boxes of hand-picked best-selling varieties and sizes that can be shipped direct to your store via UPS or DHL.

“You don’t have to worry about what to order—we do that for you,” Chan said. “Stores can then test their market to see what sells and then order the most popular types in the future.”

Decorations for the goldfish aquarium should be carefully chosen. Sharp objects and abrasive rocks like lava and tufa should be avoided, as goldfish can tear their fins and delicate eye tissue on them. Stylized ornaments like Blue Ribbon Pet Products’ line of pagodas give goldfish aquariums a distinctive Asian flare and displaying them in sales tanks will boost sales.

To get shoppers thinking about goldfish as pets, Chan recommended having a live goldfish display aquarium in the store with jaw-dropping fish swimming around in it. Golden Phoenix will ship full-sized show-quality specimens just for this purpose. Goldfish-specific aquarium setups strategically merchandised nearby are sure to generate sales.

Do not forget about younger hobbyists and the basic comet goldfish. A 10-gallon ensemble with an oversized filter and two free “Fancy Comets”—hand-selected feeder fish—is a sure bet as well. Adding high quality goldfish to your inventory may just be the ticket to making your aquatics department the talk of your area.