Thanks to the new shows on TV and the Internet, the standards for what is a “knockout” show aquarium have moved up a number of rungs. I’ve been thinking that stores might want to reconsider what they want to have in the store in the way of a show/display tank. A thriving reef community or a beautiful, quiet, heavily planted aquariums with cardinals and discus may not be what your customers are looking for. After all, how can those compare with a custom tank integrated into a kid’s double-decker bed? Where the tank is on the upper level, and when lying in bed the kid can see the fish through the bottom of the tank. How about the one for a racecar driver with a model of his racecar in it? Or the tank made from/in a telephone booth?
The problem with the tanks I’ve seen on the show with the guys from Las Vegas is two-fold. One, they never say anything at all about how much the project costs. Second, they add all the fish at once, and don’t explain that for the first couple of weeks the tank requires at least one person from their crew who knows fish to be monitoring the tank daily, and making sure it doesn’t crash.
One day I was in a good local store I know well. There was a couple asking about the huge custom marine tank those Vegas guys had done for a new house on Long Island, N.Y. They wanted to know if they could do something like that for under $1,000? The storeowner explained that the tank itself cost a lot more than $1,000.
My point is that these shows have made the general public aware of what the aquarium hobby/industry has to offer, and it would make sense to capitalize on that. The best way to do this is to set up one or two really knockout show/display aquariums in your store. Make them unusual, thinking outside the constraints of what we usually consider a display tank to be. I know one store that has a shark pond in the middle of the fish room with feeding times for the sharks. Another store has a 580-gallon tank with “Giant Fish” in it; this display not only gets attention, but illustrates why the store doesn’t sell pacu piranhas or red-tailed catfish.
Try something tied to the area your store is in. I know one store near an automobile plant, and they have a tank with models of the cars made in that plant along what looks like a raceway in the tank. Another store in a farming community has a “field” with tractors and other miniature farm equipment. Use your imagination. Display tanks that get attention don’t have to be just about the fish, plants or corals.