If you do not have a section of your fish room at your fish store devoted to live aquatic plants you are missing out on one of the fastest growing, and most profitable, segments of the aquatics business. Besides simply making a fish tank look better, live plants in a tank significantly improve the health of the fish. Healthy, fast-growing aquarium plants use ammonia, nitrites and nitrates as nutrients, thus removing some of these toxic elements from a fish tank. In addition, the best insurance policy against having any nuisance algae in a tank, either on surfaces or floating in the water, is to have plenty of live plants.
The profit from selling live plants is significant, and the margins can be even better than what you can achieve with fish. In addition, if you offer a good display of live plants (without even getting into the “high tech” planted tanks using CO2), there is a wide assortment of substrates, additives and lighting that can be sold for planted aquariums.
When it comes to live aquarium plants, there are two primary considerations. First, the source of live aquarium plants can be either your fish wholesaler/distributor or one of a number of companies who deal in nothing but aquatic plants. The plants-only guys may mean that you will have to have a larger section devoted to plants, but the advantages of getting plants direct from the growers and eliminating one step in holding and handling them is usually worth it. The second consideration is keeping and displaying the live aquarium plants. I have found that the best way to keep and display live aquarium plants for sale is in tanks with about one to two inches of natural gravel, individual tank filters and T5 HO fluorescent lighting. In addition to the plants, you should keep algae eating shrimp and small algae eaters, such as Otocinclus.
Any hobbyist can keep some live plants in their tank. If you are not promoting this aspect of the aquarium hobby, you are missing some good sales, and your customers may not be having as much success with their fish tanks as they would with live aquarium plants in them.