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August 3, 2015

“We are seeing growth in the ‘specialty’ betta types, the unique strains such as the Dragonscales, the Twintail Halfmoon and the Dumbo Super Delta,” said Michael Griffith, marketing specialist for Segrest Farms, an ornamental fish wholesaler. One of the newest varieties offered by Segrest Farms is the Koi Betta. The name derives from the red and black spots on its white body, which resemble a tri-colored koi fish.

“These designer fish are an emerging category,” said Matt Allen, director of marketing for eLive, a provider of innovative and stylish aquarium products. “If you have room, it’s worth it to allocate space to these higher-end fish. They are attractive to the customers who come in your store on a regular basis, looking for something new and exciting.”

A variety of species, colors and price points are important in growing betta sales, but no matter how great a selection is, the fish won’t move off the shelf if they’re not attractive to the customer. Make sure the bettas are healthy and well lit to show off their bright colors. eLive offers a retailer display for bettas that can highlight these fish in your store. The display contains shelves for individual betta cups, each of which has an LED light underneath and an air pump that connects to each cup to keep the fish moving and active.
It’s important for retailers to note that there is continued growth in this category that was already strong.

The 2015-2016 pet owner’s survey from the American Pet Products Association reports that 39 percent of freshwater fish owners have bettas, up 4 percent from the previous survey. With these numbers, it’s no wonder that betta products take up a large portion of shelf space.

Better Betta Habitats

While designer bettas are a growing category, there’s no denying the betta’s allure for first-time fish owners. What better way to grab that customer than with a betta kit? They come in many different designs and styles. Seen as more than just a fish bowl, the product includes a flashy built-in LED lights. Tetra’s Betta Bubble Kit is popular due to its unique design that jazzes up the traditional round bowl with a stylized base.

Aqueon, a premium aquarium product designer, offers a couple of different options that can house more than one betta. Its BettaBow 2.5 Desktop Aquarium Kit has a divider separating the living space into two different areas, and the Betta Falls Aquarium Kit, just introduced last year, features three individual chambers with frosted panels to keep the bettas from seeing each other and trying to attack each other.

For a different look, eLive offers a Betta Bowl and Planter option, which offers an exotic desktop or tabletop item with a betta and live plants rooted at the bottom all in one. The company also offers a service for customers that allows them to print a personalized background for the Betta Bubble and Betta Cube enclosures, adding a unique type of customization to their product line.

Unlike many freshwater starter kits, betta aquarium kits often don’t include a filter. In their natural habitat, bettas live in stagnant water, so they don’t prefer a lot of fluid movement. But filters help keep the bowl clean, so eLive Pet has introduced a betta filter designed especially for smaller habitats.

“Our small, air-driven filter creates gentle movement within the bowl, to give betta owners the ability to filter their aquarium without disrupting the fish,” said Allen.

Central Garden & Pet also has a filter that works well for betta aquariums. The Aqueon QuietFlow Filtration system offers four stages of filtration for clean, clear water, including a patented Bio Holster that removes ammonia and nitrates. The filter is included with the Betta Falls Aquarium Kit.

The Betta Specialty

With an abudance of betta owners out there, it is advisable to make a betta section in any store as a destination point. Set it apart as a separate segment within the store’s fish category, displaying items specifically for bettas—everything from food and water treatments to accessories to help clean the bowl, all in one place.

It may come as a surprise that food sets bettas apart, one quality strong enough to differentiate them in a store.

“As carnivores, bettas feed on insect larva and invertebrates in their natural habitat,” said Andy Hudson, research and development product designer, Central Garden & Pet. One of the newer foods on the market from Central Garden & Pet is the BettaMin Select-A-Food. The multi-section canister lets you choose from three types of food. The variety of this selection provides the nutrition bettas need to support digestion and improve vitality, as well as naturally providing carotenes to enhance the color of the fish. Another fun product is the Aqueon Betta Treat, composed of freeze-dried bloodworms, which also helps improve coloration. It should be partnered with a pelleted food to ensure a balanced diet.

Betta accessories are also another lively way to draw customers in.

“We developed products to help people maintain and care for the bowls, which are smaller than most aquariums,” Allen said. eLive offers accessories, such as a mini-siphon, to help with water changes, smaller fish nets and a soft sponge brush for cleaning the inside of the bowl.

Running betta-themed promotions that highlight betta products will help increase sales growth at most stores.

“Promotions not only highlight bettas as a great pet, but also drive consumers to a specific destination within the store,” said Lenitra Friend, brand manager, Central Garden & Pet. “Once there, they will have exposure to the different types of habitats, décor and maintenance items, hopefully becoming loyal, repeat customers.”

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