Green, orange, red, purple, pink and gold—with corals available in such a variety of colors, it’s no wonder the popularity of reef keeping continues to grow.
“The reef aquarium category has seen incredible growth in the last decade, and it’s still growing,” said Daniel Griffin, a sales support and education specialist at Seachem. “One of the obvious reasons for this is just how beautiful a well-maintained reef tank can be.”
The sight of a beautiful reef tank makes customers want to replicate something similar in their own home or office. That’s one reason why having a nice in-store reef display is an important part of growing sales in the reef category.
“People like to be able to see what a reef tank might look like before making an investment for themselves,” said Adam Moroz, owner of The Reef Gallery in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. “It’s also a great tool for us to use to educate customers on everything from the fish and corals to the equipment and how it is used and maintained.”
Alive with Color
Displays are a great way to showcase the color and variety available in reef keeping. As the category continues to grow in popularity, the variety of corals available to hobbyists grows as well.
“At the end of the day, when it comes to keeping corals, it’s all about color,” said Michael Griffith, a marketing manager of Segrest Farms. “Coral frags provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly resource that, once the initial colonies are acquired, doesn’t require removing anything from the ocean.”
There are a rainbow of colors available, and the growth of coral frags has made it easier for customers to buy a variety without spending a fortune.
In addition to corals, exciting breakthroughs in captive breeding are making some species of fish more available to hobbyists. Griffith reports that after working out a few kinks, captive-bred yellow tangs are now available, and the University of Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture Lab saw success breeding blue tangs just this summer.
“It was a small batch, but I believe a handful will be making their way into the hobby,” Griffith said.
Keeping it Healthy
In addition to the colorful livestock, products available to help corals and other reef animals not only survive, but thrive, have helped advance the popularity of reef keeping. Foods designed specifically for the needs of reef animals help promote color and enhance growth, and there are a variety of options available. The Coral Food powder from Cobalt Aquatics is easy to feed, and its broad spectrum formula includes squid, salmon, krill, plankton, mussels, oysters and brine shrimp proteins, along with fish oil and spirulina algae, a mixture designed to stimulate growth and color. Another option comes from Reef Nutrition, with its unique Phyto Feast formula, which provides the nutritional power punch of algae rendered in a non-viable form that makes it more shelf stable and convenient. The company also has other foods in its product line, including Oyster Feast and Beta Brine, providing a full range of nutrition for feeding multiple species.
While nutrition is important, so is maintaining balance in a reef aquarium, and Seachem has two new products to help maintain healthy tanks. Reef Reactor is a high-purity aragonite calcium reactor media.
“This product is excellent at increasing and stabilizing alkalinity, which also supports a stable pH and encourages the rapid formation of coral skeletal material,” Griffin said.
The other new product, Biogen, is a carbon-based biopolymer designed to reduce nitrate and phosphate, which can enhance coral coloration and reduce nuisance coatings of rock and decorations.
Making it Easy
Other advances in the products targeted for reef keeping are making it easier for people new to the hobby to get involved and be successful. All-in-one kits that include lighting and filters are one way to encourage people to get started with reef keeping. Instant Ocean makes it easy to get your water ready for corals and other animals with its Reef Crystals Reef Salt, a formula with essential elements in concentrations greater than what is found in natural sea water with extra vitamins, calcium and trace elements to promote the growth of corals, anemones and other invertebrates. Kent Marine offers a Reef Starter Kit that pulls together three products that are important supplements for marine invertebrates: Kent Marine Liquid Calcium, Kent Marine Strontium & Molybdenum and Kent Marine Iodide.
You can also set up your own reef kits, making a display next to the reef aquariums in your store. Putting a filter, a pump, a marine LED light and some water treatment products in a tank makes a one-stop shopping opportunity for people interested in starting with reef keeping. And with reef keeping, as with all other categories of the aquarium hobby, customer education is key.
“We are lucky to have so many great aquarium stores around the country where people can go see corals and reef fish in real life, as well as get advice on how to set up and maintain a reef tank,” Griffin said. “It’s the people who patiently explain how to set up an aquarium and walk customers through the process that keep the hobby growing.”