At some point every retailer has wished for a crystal ball. After all, wouldn’t it be great to have the ability to see into the future, to know which new products were going to be long-term best sellers and which ones would just end up collecting dust on the shelves? If someone looked into their crystal ball back in 2003, they would have seen a bunch of neon colors. In the almost 15 years since GloFish were first introduced, the fluorescent fish have taken the freshwater category by storm, breathing new life into the aquarium industry and brightening up sales, literally.
One reason it seems there is always excitement surrounding GloFish is the constant addition of new fish to the line. The last quarter of 2017 saw the introduction of GloFish Sharks, which are already making a big mark in the industry.
“It certainly generates some buzz when there’s a new line released, particularly when it’s something we haven’t had before, like the sharks,” said Joe Hiduke, sales manager at 5D Tropical, Inc.
Sharks were chosen as the newest species to enter the GloFish group for numerous reasons.
“For one thing, they have very interesting and different behaviors from the rest of our GloFish species,” said John Fox, general manager at GloFish.
In addition to different character traits, the fish add depth to the category in other, practical ways. Currently available in two colors—orange and purple—these fish are actually bottom-feeding minnows. This means there’s now a fish within the category which can help keep the aquarium clean by eating any leftover food that sinks down. GloFish Sharks are also the type of fish that are just as happy being alone as with a group of other fish, opening up the possibilities for people to add them to an existing community of freshwater fish, while making it possible for someone new to the category to buy just one fish and be successful.
Another difference is GloFish Sharks grow up to four inches long, making them bigger than the other species already in the category.
“We recommend an aquarium of at least 20 gallons for one fish, but with multiple, GloFish Sharks should be kept in aquariums larger than 40 gallons with ample bottom space for each to establish a territory,” Fox said.
GloFish Sharks join the ranks of GloFish Danios, Tetras and Barbs, with colors including red, green, orange, blue, purple and pink.
“Demand for all of these fish has just really taken off,” said Laura “Peach” Reid, president and CEO of Fishmart. “GloFish Tetras are one of the more popular fish out there, and it will be interesting to see how the new GloFish Sharks add to the excitement.”
The Supporting Show
While fluorescent fish definitely brought something new to the freshwater category, the GloFish experience is about much more than just the fish themselves, thanks in part to aquarium kits, color-changing lights and glowing decor.
“It’s not just a new species to try out, it’s a totally different experience when you compare it to traditional aquariums in that it brings interactivity and connects people to their fish in a way that other fish simply cannot,” said Sean Raines, marketing of Aquatic and BSA for Spectrum Brands Pet, Home and Garden Division.
The interactive experience is fed in part by the line of GloFish decor, which ranges from plants to ornaments such as castles, volcanoes and skulls, all bringing new excitement to t h e aquarium. One of the newest additions to the product line is a dragon that changes color depending on whether it is under blue or black light, and other color-changing ornaments are in the works. These products are designed to enhance aquariums with the Cycle Light, introduced last year, which includes a black light in addition to the typical white light and the blue light that makes GloFish fluoresce. The fish themselves look different under black light, adding to the interactive experience.
Other manufacturers are getting into the glow market as well. Penn Plax’s Aqua Plants brand offers a full line of plants that glow under blue lights, and Uniclife’s glowing effect artificial corals add a tropical flair to the GloFish tank.
For the most part, GloFish have a strong appeal to children thanks to their bright colors, and the heartiness of the different species make them a good choice for people relatively new to fishkeeping. This makes aquarium kits a perfect fit for the category. Tetra offers a variety of aquarium sizes in kits that include LED lights with both white and blue lights, a filter, a heater, fish food and water conditioner. Aqueon has also entered the glowing market with Neo Glow LED aquarium kits complete with blue LED lights, a filter, decorative plants and samples of food and conditioner. These aquariums come in a variety of sizes and shapes including column, rectangle, cube and hexagon.
Capitalize on Fun
To really take advantage of everything GloFish and other things glowing products have to offer, it’s important to focus on displays that really showcase to customers what this experience brings.
Make sure to have all of the different species of fish on display, as well as the different colors, so people can see for themselves the choices available as well as how the fish interact with each other. You can also take full advantage of the Cycle Light, with one aquarium set on blue and one set on the black light feature so people can see the difference and take part in the experience.
There’s also a book included with Tetra’s GloFish kits featuring Gloria GloFish that helps personify the pets and add another interactive element for families. Feature this book as part of the GloFish display to help grab customers’ attention and set up a conversation starter.
“There’s never been anything better for getting new kids interested in the hobby, and my hope is that at least some of those kids will stick with it, benefiting the aquarium industry for years to come,” Hiduke said.