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Related FAQs: Aquatics Biz 1, Aquatics Biz 2,

Saltwater Fish Only holding systems; dis. control, set up.... MUCH to consider       8/14/15
Hi there,
We own an aquarium store and we have 2 main 2000g fish only systems.
Both are running the following:
Fluidized Kaldness media
Protein Skimmer
Air driven sponge filters to keep tanks clean
<Mmm; what re discounting spread of pathogenic disease? I'd at minimum have a serious UV for each (sub) system; possibly a set of cartridges (though a pain to switch out, keep clean)>

Each tank is plumbed into a central sump and each system is divided into 84 individual tanks.
What my question is that we have been experience some deaths and mainly due to disease we believe and we are trying to keep it to a minimum.
Here are my questions:
1) Should we always run medication in our systems such as Cupramine at ~ 0.25 - 0.4 and Praziquantel
<There are many stores, wholesale livestock suppliers and collector/distributors who continuously run copper... and this is a good brand. The Prazi.... I'd rather administer an Anthelminthic via foods/feeding... do you have a SOP for dipping incoming fishes? Have you read mine? It's posted on WWM>
2) Put regular aquarium gravel to cover bottom of tank that collects a lot of detritus
<Yes; worthwhile to use substrates with Labrids, Gobioids, Blennioids, other fishes... smaller grades (crushed coral or Aragonite); but/though calcareous materials will hasten loss of copper (this will have to be tested and added to at least once daily)>
3) What can we do about algae constantly growing on our tanks from lights on 8 hours a day
<The copper will do this>
4) Is a UV sterilizer crucial and if so, what wattage or model would you recommend for a 2000g system?
5) If we find ich in our holding system, should we treat the entire system since they all share the same water?
<All? You state above there are two systems... the configuration and amount of UV depend on your flow rate. This is also gone over on WWM. Where, when in doubt, over-size>
6) Any other equipment list you would recommend?
<Oh yes; an ozonizer... DO read on WWM Re and please write me back with specific questions>
Re: Saltwater Fish Only holding systems        8/15/15

Thanks for the fast reply!
I have been reading through your website and I will definitely try the guerrilla method. We have 30 boxes coming from Philippines in 2 weeks.
<Ahh; DO please read over and over... (am so olde that I'd make "index cards" of the steps involved.); make sure you have adequate supplies on hand; including staff that know the procedure to help you>
Just one question though. Is it possible that instead of a drip method to just scoop a cup of water into the foam boxes every 10 minutes instead of running 30 drip lines?
<It is; yes>
And for aeration, do you suggest using a manifold or how would you aerate every box without running 30 airlines?
<Aeration is nice; but if you have enough help... water movement (to dilute waste, ultimately bring pH back up) will do. IF you have air, a manifold, DO use it>
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Re: Saltwater Fish Only holding systems        8/15/15

Gotcha! Oh and one more thing.
Do you recommend Prime or Nova+ and Amquel? And should I always dose it when receiving new shipments?
<All three are fine products; and include some of the same ingredients.
None will continuously absorb/neutralize ammonia however. B>

Lighting in Aquarium stores      4/20/13
I was wondering if aquarium businesses use different lighting than people do with their home aquarium?
<Mmm, well; could well be. There is no, or not much standardization here... The mass merchandisers (e.g. Petco, PetSmart) use pretty much the same brand/types of lamps in their holding/retail display systems, but the independents/mom and pops utilize whatever they deem fit. Often the better (full spectrum) fluorescents for most freshwater, planted systems... Metal halides, LEDs for marine... but, again, each store does their own thing here>
I bought a freshwater angel fish the other day and when I got him home he/she had yellow spots on him/her. I never see the yellow in the store. Could it be the lighting in the store in general or the lighting in the tanks above? The light on our tank is a 50% 10,000K/50% Actinic blue. Maybe they use something only available to stores. Thank you
<The store lighting is likely very different than yours stated here...
Stores rarely use actinic (of no real function) other than on some "corals"... to make them "pop"/fluoresce... and most have about 5,600K lamps overall in freshwater use... as the useful spectra for what we most have in mind fall best around this temp. Bob Fenner>

Question for Bob Fenner - Something in the water 11/1/11
Good Morning Bob,
<Hey Edward!>
I have come to Web Web Media many times on a personal mission and always gotten good advice and answers. This time it is on a professional level. I am the office manager for an aquarium service company working in SE Massachusetts. Recently, we have been having major problems with a select number of our freshwater systems and we seem to have tracked it down to the common water source they all utilize. I contacted the MWRA (the authority who is in charge of the water supply) and they provided me with the following report, which I attached to this e-mail. When we test the pH of the tap water in these locations it ranges anywhere from 8.7 to 9.2!
<I see this. High!>
That combined with the ammonia and chlorine is causing chaos with our freshwater systems. We currently use Kent Marine 7.0 buffer to handle to pH and StressCoat to deal with the chlorine. In some instances we have resorted to Ammo-lock by Aquarium Pharm to neutralize the chlorine. Can you make any other recommendations for how to handle this toxic water so it is safe to use on a large scale?
<Yes... the very best would be for you to "batch treat" the water at your facility and haul it about to the customers systems... Is this a practical possibility? IF so, then I'd blend about half this "liquid rock" w/ half made into RO. If not... is there a likely means of storing good volumes at the sites? I would use a contactor there to render the water the same as above... If not, then let's talk a bit further re more expensive haul-able gear for running the water through (likely leased from a water treatment service)>
Any help you can offer would be appreciated!
<Not to worry; we can/will solve this issue for your systems calling for softer, lower pH water. Bob Fenner>
Best Regards,
Wendy Amaral
Office manager
Aqua Vision Tech, LLC
Re: Question for Bob Fenner - Something in the water 11/1/11

Not really practical to be hauling around several hundred gallons of water.
The fish we are having the biggest problems with are ornamental Orandas. We may be able to store water on site for some locations, but others may be problematic. What type of haulable water treatment gear did you have in mind?
<Mmm, a dual resin container that you can hoof about... that can be hooked up to a sink, run under low/er pressure, that will remove about half of the material that is the 623 units of conductivity here. Do you have a "Culligan" or such outfit nearby (almost doubtless given the water there) that a sales rep. can come visit, or you can get on over to show the .pdf you've sent along and some idea of what values you're hoping to render?
They'll have some smallish contactors that they'll recharge on an ongoing basis... again, hopefully you can rig a dollie for this, along w/ hoses, connectors and the usual gear to haul into your service accounts w/o too much intrusion. We used Zerk connectors, good 3/4" ID Color-Rite hoses...
Cheers, BobF>
Edward Warman
Aqua Vision Tech, LLC

Heating Holding Systems. 2/6/11
Hello Crew,
<Howdy Mike>
I have a couple of quick questions to ask today in regards to heating my livestock holding systems. We are looking to move our fish room to a 1200 sq/ft. location that is heated with propane.
Multiple systems for coral, fresh and saltwater fish. The systems are currently heated individually on each central system, but with the move we are going to being adding a section of individual tanks run off of a blower for some holding and quarantine for freshwater stock.
I am interested on your thoughts as to the pros and cons of simply keeping the building temp. up to heat the systems.
<Mmm, cheaper to heat the environment for the aquatic charges, not so enjoyable for humans working in the space>
Could we possibly maintain the building at 78 to 80 degrees F and be able to run the systems without heaters or would it be a better idea to just heat the systems and keep the room temp at a more comfortable temperature?
<Up to you... I'd heat the space/air>
Another consideration that I had was evaporation.
Would it make sense that we would see less evaporation by heating the room vs. heating the holding systems? Thank you in advance for your time.
<You can add exhaust fan/s (again the simplest, least expensive route), and run them on an automated basis, or just turn on for a bit ahead of entering "the barrier"... or dehumidifiers of various sorts>
Michael P. Gillespie
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Aquatic Creations LLC
Re: Heating Holding Systems.
Hello Bob,
Thank you for your quick response! I figured that heating the room would be a
good way to do it. Do you think that I would see less evaporation by heating the room?
<Mmm, yes. "All is relative"... higher humidity in the air above the water interface, results in less evaporation...>
I will also be able to vent the room and run a dehumidifier.
<And do water proof the walls... other surfaces, devices (like phones) IN the contained room>
What are your thoughts on the comfort level of doing this?
<Not hard to do... Have done so, worked inside such facilities myself... for years>
This would be open to the public and I would not want to make the heat of the room a deterrent.
Although, in New England this time of year it would be an attraction!
<Mmm, do have/run a vent during the early AM... when folks will be present; seal the place in the PMs>
In doing some research on WWM it seems as though you are not a fan of the individual tank systems.
<Not in many years, no. Too much work... and equivalents... labour, money... to do so>
Do you think that this would be a mistake to do?
<I do>
In an effort to be as efficient as possible, I was thinking that it would be good to have the blower running to power as much circulation as possible. For water mixing towers, additional filtration and for a freshwater rack system holding 24 small aquariums.
<... but not too small>
My plan is to collect my RO/DI system wastewater as I do already and use it for regular water changes on the individual tanks. I was
also thinking that this would provide some versatility in holding for water types in holding and quarantine. For example, if I need more tanks for rift lake cichlids one month and then the next month more tanks for discus, I could easily make the change for water types. Do you think that it would be worth the extra work involved?
<Don't know if I can guess what you're referring to here. I would run separate sub-systems, that are mixed, recirculated... per water types/quality. See here:
and the linked files above. BobF>
Michael P. Gillespie
Re: Heating Holding Systems.
Hello Bob,
That sounds easy enough to do to make for a comfortable shop!
Thank you for sending the link. My basic idea was that I would be able to change the water type of each individual tank as needed, but I guess that after reading and thinking a little more, it does make more sense to run these as central systems as well. Multiple central systems would still be easier to maintain than a bunch of individual tanks.
<Ah yes>
It would probably make sense to still consider individual air driven filters run off of a blower for
treatment of tanks if and when needed.
<Yes... if your business volume justifies this>
Before I got the idea to run the tanks individually, I had a design for a system to be run off of a header tank. Do you have any links to information on how to set up a central system fed by a header tank?
<Mmm, do follow the linked files... B>
Thanks again for all of your help!
Michael P. Gillespie
Re: Heating Holding Systems. 2/7/11
Hi Bob,
Thanks again for all of your help! Back to the drawing board, but I think that my back will appreciate it!
Michael P. Gillespie
<I know it will. Cheers, BobF>

Coral Display Questions 9/9/10
HI Folks,
<Hello John>
We are currently remodeling the coral section of our store. I'm looking for advice on how to better display our corals. In the past, we used a trough like systems with Metal Halides shining down. The troughs had great water flow and the corals did well, but the customers had trouble viewing them ( glare). Do you know of a system that is visually appealing, has good water flow, is easy to light ( please, no rail systems) and easy to put together? Carpentry, glass drilling and plumbing are no problem. I'm really stuck on the design and would appreciate any help!
<Many shops in my area use the type of system you previously used, but I have seen a few stores using systems very similar to the one in the attached picture which I consider to be visually appealing and easy to service.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

bagger/crimper -- 09/14/09
I first would like to say the website is great and thank you for the time.
I am a small pet shop that is getting into shipping. I know this might not be a very asked question but I was wondering where do you get those baggers/crimpers the big wholesalers use to seal the bags for shipments.
Right now I am using rubberbands but it is just not doing a great job in quantities. Do you know what they are called and where I can find one.
<Mmm, yes... there are a few models... makes. Some are hand actuated, others air/motor... W/ variations. One fave here:
These units are quite expensive... Do consider putting an ad on Craig's list for a used one... And buying the clips in bulk!
Bob Fenner>

Re: bagger/crimper -- 09/14/09
Thanks for such the quick response but do you know of any that are manual/ hand actuated. These all seem to be air actuated and I am hoping to find one that is manual to help with the cost issue.
Thanks Again
<Mmm, I don't... I encourage you to contact Quality Marine (in LA) re... they may have some of these older model units or know where they can be acquired... QM imports and distributes a large line of end-user and industry product in addition to being a premier marine livestock wholesaler. BobF>

Re: Just introducing myself, new LFS in S. Cal., sys. 6/27/08 Hi Bob, <Matt!> Well you said i could call on you and i need ya! We had to move locations to get a bigger unit. Now we are looking at around 1300 sq ft. and i think we are going to go toward having more holding bins for coral and actual commercial holding tanks for fish. <Good... as long as they're service-able... and your customers can look into them easily> Could you advise me on who or where to get these from. Does any company local to SD or Orange County make these systems? <Yes... I would do a good look/see re used gear here that's in good shape, cheap... unless you have lots of money to spend... As this gear can be expensive. Let us "do a run" up to the LA wholesalers (you and I) and ask if someone has, or know who has such for sale> I'm looking for more of a RK2 setup but they informed me that they weren't doing commercial systems right now. Anyways, just looking for some added advise on what to use. We decided against having a bunch of glass tanks, maybe a couple nice large displays, but for growing and farming it just seems like runners would work best. Thanks for anything you can give me information wise. Matt <Best for you and I to meet, get on out and chat. Bob Fenner>

Re: Just introducing myself, new LFS in S. Cal., sys. 6/27/08 Hi Bob, <Matt!> Well you said i could call on you and i need ya! We had to move locations to get a bigger unit. Now we are looking at around 1300 sq ft. and i think we are going to go toward having more holding bins for coral and actual commercial holding tanks for fish. <Good... as long as they're service-able... and your customers can look into them easily> Could you advise me on who or where to get these from. Does any company local to SD or Orange County make these systems? <Yes... I would do a good look/see re used gear here that's in good shape, cheap... unless you have lots of money to spend... As this gear can be expensive. Let us "do a run" up to the LA wholesalers (you and I) and ask if someone has, or know who has such for sale> I'm looking for more of a RK2 setup but they informed me that they weren't doing commercial systems right now. Anyways, just looking for some added advise on what to use. We decided against having a bunch of glass tanks, maybe a couple nice large displays, but for growing and farming it just seems like runners would work best. Thanks for anything you can give me information wise. Matt <Best for you and I to meet, get on out and chat. Bob Fenner>

Re: Halichoeres ornatissimus, and comm. lgtg. 4/9/08 Many thanks Bob. I appreciate your prompt response. <Welcome!> How was the Malaysian dive trip? I suspect you made the very most of it and had a splendid time! <Ah, yes... very nice... am now spiffing/tossing, ID'ing pix, and seeing if they fit on WWM (would really like to place/link all ala Fishbase.org, but need a few thousand hours... am planning on my solo guitar/singing career when I grow too blind... wish me luck!) and then to HD storage... writing against if inspired particularly (I am) and then... the ten or so hours of video to edit... lots to do there> Well, back to my lamp combo experimenting. I'm having to replace the light systems on my 30 feet of rack tanks and have decided to go with 3' 4-lamp Tek lights by Sunlight Supply (rack consists of 10 tanks, each only 1' deep with 5 tanks per level), so I'm trying different lamp combos to get the aesthetic value and appeal that strikes me. I've always used UV Lighting Co lamps (T-12) over these tanks, but they've seen their better days and take up entirely too much space, so I'm converting to the T5's. I love T5 lamps. <Me too... just the trouble and expense of switching fixtures... but gorgeous, energy saving... and cool> So far I'm liking the aesthetics of (back to front) one UVLC 50/50, 2 UVLC Super Actinics, and one Giesemann Pure Actinic. <Their products are fab> Very, very nice color rendition. I have a subadult Paracanthurus hepatus in a larger tank that has this combo, and his color is simply stunning. My apologies for blathering. Thanks again Bob. I appreciate your time. Peggy <And I yours. Cheers! BobF>

Anemone Lighting 11/23/07 I could use some help please. I am running a fish store in Florida and am currently not selling anemones due to a lack of lights on my invert system and a lack of interest in keeping them in my reef tanks for fear of them harming corals (and fear of mixing the anemones). <All valid concerns.> I wish to light a section of my invert system to keep them for sale, and wish to give my customers the best info I can (what better place to find it than here?). So.... do I just flat out recommend (and use) HQI for every species? Is HQI really just as good as halide? Is PC or T5 a choice if they use A LOT? lol. <They will generally require fairly intense lighting. Metal halide would be my personal choice, but PC, T5 and VHO can work in appropriate intensities. HQI is just as good (some argue better) as regular mogul base halides.> Any help you can give me to be able to sell anemones to those who wish to keep them without being "one of those stores" that just sell anything to anyone to make a buck (we like for our customers to keep their livestock ALIVE, the money may help pay the bills, but deaths hurt the conscience). <Be aware as you stated that mixing anemones, even in a sale tank, is not the best thing to do. Also, the average aquarist may not be able to care for many anemones commonly offered for sale. For more information on your particular concerns please read through the anemone FAQ's. Your care for the livestock involved is very much appreciated. Thank you, Scott V.>

Re: Anemone Lighting 11/25/07 Thanks for the quick reply for my customers and I! <You're welcome.> When you say "appropriate intensities" for all things not HQI, are we talking a certain watts per gallon? I know I have a lot of specific questions, but I wouldn't be an ethical fish store without making sure I gave out all the best info to the consumer. <First of all, your concern for doing the right thing is greatly appreciated. I feel that the standard halides are every bit as good as HQI, it is just that some feel that HQI has a slight edge on mogul base. I would not keep an anemone under anything less than a halide, but fluorescents can work. As far as intensities for the different types of fluorescents it is hard to give a general rule. It just depends on the tank, placement and type of anemone. A watts per gallon rule by is by no means rock solid, but it can provide guidelines (minimum 5 watts per gallon). Keep in mind that in smaller systems this rule will still not provide the intensity required. That being said there are certain anemones that should only be kept with metal halide. I would simply stick with Entacmaea quadricolor (BTA). Good luck, Scott V.>

Oxygen ?'s For shipping marines 10/17/07 Greetings there Wet Web Crew! A friend and I are having a debate about inverts and cnidarians on the subject of bagging and shipping, and I figured you guys could shed some light on the subject..... I'm not one for using pure oxygen on anything but fish and a few associates of mine swear by it SO, what do you guys think on this issue? Thanks and Cheers, Mitch <If the animals are being shipped any distance, time (a half hour or so let's say), using close to 100 percent oxygen instead of ambient/atmosphere 21% is recommended... Helps maintain pH, high DO, narcotizes fish and non-fish specimens... all good things. Bob Fenner>

Acrylic Fabrication help, expertise (Aq. bus. f') Hello! I read a note on your website about a request for technical help with reference towards gluing and bending two inch thick sheet. The return address as given is kimchoo_59@hotmail.com I get a failure notice when i send my reply to this e-mail address. Please investigate and advise. Thanks. I am a chemist with over forty yrs experience actually casting the raw material, teaching bending, cementing, machining and every thing else with reference to acrylic plastic. I AM A PROFESSIONAL HIGHLY SKILLED MACHINIST AS WELL. I teach the manufacture of cast acrylic rods, tubes, sheets, blocks, embedments, sculpture, and special oddball castings of any size shape and description. My website for present and future reference am one of one on the web. www.angelfire.com/pro2/frisky 912 462 7212 Thank you, Robert Fenner Your cooperation is greatly appreciated, looking forward to hearing from you, Please keep my contact info on file there is nobody else around with my skills. I worked for the atomic energy commission, among many, many others. PLEASE SEE WEBSITE. <Will post/share. Bob Fenner>

From Adrian Poe (old DMS member in Phx AZ.) re new LFS in AZ 4/3/07 Hey Bob I hope all is well with you! I know you meet tons of people in your travels from here to there, but my name is Adrian, and I was a chair person of DMS (Desert Marine Society) in Phoenix Arizona. <Ah, yes> You might remember me, as I worked at AquaTouch, (I have very curly blond hair, and a pretty loud lady lol) and really enjoyed your chats with us at DMS. <As did I> I really respect you in many ways, and I know you have had experience in setting up and operating a local fish shop. <Heee! Am an old timer for sure...> For the last year my partner and I have been putting together a business plan, and are really excited to get a store open on a side of town that really needs a quality LFS. <Very good indeed!> We have so many great ideas that we feel can really set us apart from the others here in the valley. I will tell you one idea is our "reef lounge". We have been lucky and found a nice large store location, with plenty of room for a reasonable price. We are looking into a lounge of sorts, where there will be a small part of the store, complete with couches, a coffee pot, Internet access- pre set with all the good info site, such as Wet Web Media ;) and others. <Neat... I do like the "feel" of such settings... Years back there was a combo business in San Diego; the Mithras bookstore, Unicorn theatre... also very friendly, casual... Gosh and a LFS in OB that had a similar approach...> The kicker for the reef lounge for me is along with the previous stated we will have a HUGE range of books. From beginner to expert reading to fit anyone needs. This will be available to anyone during store hours, and we want them to feel free to browse the shop, sit in the lounge sip coffee and relax with a book or look up something on-line. I have posted this idea on a forum, and the feedback is AMAZING. People here in Phx are so excited that there will not only be a west side store but also a place for "reef nerds" to get together gab and read some good info. We want to carry a wide selection of corals and fish with a LARGE section for prop. frags. Well I wont get into it too much but I was wondering if you could take time out in your no-doubt crazy life, to shoot me an email or give me a call, to chat about some of the do's and don'ts in starting a LFS. <The email is best for a few reasons... To be able to reflect on what is presented, discussed... to more easily share... and time/distance for calling can be tough (am out in HI for most of this month, then San Diego for a few days, then Toronto...> I hope this email gets to you and I really look forward to hearing from you. Thanks so much for your time, and I hope you have a great day! Adrian Poe <You have scanned over the bits (articles, FAQs), files on WWM re the Aquatics Business I hope/trust... Where do you want to start...? With some aspect of the five critical elements: location, finance, set-up, stock, personnel... or jump ahead into some aspects of operation, promotion? Bob Fenner>

Aquariums? 3/30/07 Hello crew! I was wondering if any of you know of a good aquarium manufacturer in California? A friend of mine has an aquarium design company and is currently using Tydpool Marine in San Diego, <Mmm, I live most of the year in this town... have done so since the late sixties... and was very involved in the trade there, and to a degree (here) still am... And I've never heard of such a company... nor has Google...> the poor guy can never get a hold of anyone and he is really having trouble finding a reliable place to work with. I told him I would help him out, I am also wanting to work with him but I am having the same trouble! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, Brian <Please have your friend contact me, here... Re the nature of the business... the type, number of aquariums he's looking for... Glass, Acrylic, other? Bob Fenner>

Polyethylene tote reservoirs 3/14/07 Hi Bob, <Greg> Can you tell me where I can purchase polyethylene tote reservoirs that I can use as supports for my live coral raceway tanks? I'm looking for reservoirs like the ones pictured here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/pafarmstks.htm Thanks! Greg Appleton AquaTech Imports, Inc. <Mmm, yes... depending on how many you need/want... where you're located physically... and to some extent the application... there are a couple of types of "strengths"/sturdiness in these available... Some (at least used to be made) in the State of Washington and Florida... shipping is a large consideration... They are nestable... but do take up a large volume... There are a few companies in the trade that sell the real tough ones (All Seas... in L.A. and Miami...)... And do want to mention that there are alternatives (for instance, shopping around for used ones... they don't "go bad"... and if someone has folded, is folding... you may be able to pick them up cheap. Ask dealers about you...) and there are designs for making your own... out of various materials... Dick Perrin's liners over wood for instance... Bob Fenner> Cube holding systems for marine fish wholesalers 12/27/06 Hi Bob, <Kent> Just wondering if you can suggest some manufacturers of holding systems for marine fish wholesalers -- we are looking for systems that hold the fish in individual cubes and we haven't been able to locate any manufacturers other than RK2 as yet -- it's difficult to get information from down here in Australia. Best regards, Kent <Glad to help you... the very best units I've encountered were produced for Quality Marine/LA... when Phil Shane owned/ran it... these are individually serviced/drained for water, have separate hinged covers.... and have one side bead-blasted/obscured (very important) that reduces aggression/view from one side/animal to the next... Phil told me he somehow had this "patented"... Am going to cc the current owner/manager here and ask that he respond to you re the possibility of sending this technology or product... Otherwise, the Krechter brothers of RK2 (will BCC them as well), TMC in the UK (ditto) are companies that I know to be competent and honest in the fabrication of such in our trade. Bob Fenner> Advice needed for fish store 10/5/06 Hello once more my wet friends. Despite your continual words of doom surrounding the idea of starting a fish store as a one man op, <You'll see...> I am doing just that. The quick version is: I just moved from WPB, FL to North Central Arkansas, somebody shoot me please?!?) <Heeee! Perhaps a pilot for a teebee show...> to be close to my father as it is the 8th or 9th inning for him. <I say go for "extras"> There isn't much here for employment and I bought a house that just happens to have a couple of small commercial buildings on the land so, what the heck, right? <Neat! This or perhaps something else fish-ornamental aquatics related... aquaculture?> I won't be relying on profit to live so the store will probably start off quite small and somewhat simple and when/if it starts making money, great. If it don't work, I'll have a heck of a nice fish room! Its a new steel building 30 x 40 on a slab. Yes, its pretty darn small! <Big enough> OK, having never done this, I have a few questions that are likely elementary to you. Of course feel free to redirect me on any of my plans that I've made that seems unwise to you. The whole plan is pretty flexible. <Flexibility is a key trait of successful species, individuals> I want to do 4 8'sections in a U shape. 2 tanks high. I have basically a free source for glass cut to my sizes and even drilled wherever I want. <Nice> Its a large glass co. so they have many, many kinds of glass. <Just float will do> I was thinking of just using plain 1/4" glass for the smaller tanks (24 x 16 or 18 x 14 high) 20-25 gal range. Is this ok? <Yep... have them bevel the exposed edges...> Any special glass I have to use? With the variety at my disposal, is there any 'extra cool' glass you might choose for the sides/backs? <Mmm, no... I prefer to paint the backs (sometimes sides...) with water based enamel paint... so can take off later if want to> Right now, I'm basically planning 4 75s 2 over 2 on the left hand 8'section, then for 16' along the back, two rows of the smaller tanks. For the right side I had a couple of different ideas, my favorite being 2 rows of 8' or 6' x 3 or 4' x 12" open top Using the top tank for a macro farm and the one underneath for larger animals (eel, band shark, etc.) This bank will be viewable from both sides. <Mmm... is there sufficient population in this area... any currently developed market for marines? What sort of visibility, accessibility is there to this location?> I also have 3 of those stand alone systems. I forget the manufacturer, but they are pretty nice. 4x2 footprint, tanks 3 high, great drip tray/bio ball, SeaClears, Iwakis. These I want to put all next to each other facing the back tanks and then black ceiling that area at about 7'. Along the 12' on back of those systems, I plan 2 125s or 3 75s end to end for all of the corals, which would be right in front of you when you walk in the door. That's basically it. Considering my location and new-ness, I suspect that a lot of my livestock could be with me for quite a while <Mmm... you don't want this...> and I like to keep my guests comfortable. I won't be stocking a lot of fish so do these tank sizes sound adequate to you? <Yes... thus far... what about the part of the business that really pays the bills? The dry-goods... display space, lay-out...> I'll likely keep inverts in the stand alones and tiny gobies, etc. Now here is where I need the most advice. The whole U fish section will be one water. The sump area would be in the 'back room' under the 16' section. I was thinking of 2 pumps, upper/lower level or left/right side. not sure which would be best or just 1 BIG pump. Your thoughts? <Mmm, one of good size will do (a Sequence series is my choice...) look to get from Quality Marine in LA> I also have a RL 120w UV to include somewhere. I don't have a skimming plan yet. I went to Kermit's in Memphis and saw his GIANT (at least 12"d) air skimmers and was very impressed but I think I need more input on what I should do for skimming. Sorry for being so long winded, but I truly appreciate all the help. You guys really do a great service to the hobby. Fred <A large Euro-Reef would do here... one each for the inverts/verts... The building is to be water-proofed, rust-proofed on the inside ahead of all this I hope/trust... Do draw all out on paper/quadrille... Do the codes there call for 42" aisles? Do check this... and I STILL would get a partner... who will likewise be "on the floor"... And... welcome to the trade! Bob Fenner>

Re: advice needed for fish store 10/6/06 Hi Bob and thanks for your quick reply. <Welcome... as you can/will understand... your success is indeed mine... I take my offerings very seriously> To address a few of the points you mentioned, there really isn't a large market here for marine (yet) but many people do keep fresh. There is one other fish store in town (95% fresh) but their marine area is tiny and pathetic. They have 20-30 common fish and 1 tank of corals that should be reported to the SPCA. There is also of course the super Wal-Mart that has a surprisingly healthy looking system. <Ah, good> I believe they will hurt me mainly on basic dry goods. <My advice here: Select completely different lines. Is possible> My location is in Mountain Home, AR (pop. 35-40k estimate) right on Hwy 62 (the main E-W road across north AR) and the other building on the property is a hair salon that's been here a long time and I will continue her lease as long as she wants because it brings a lot of people into the parking lot. (+ a little rental income helps out). <Yes> As to your note on alternatives, yes, I have thought much about the possibility of A/C or breeding and wouldn't rule it out. Next point, rust-proofing. You caught me off guard on this one. The building (used to be a dress/clothing shop) is carpeted, insulated and paneled inside with a good part of it being slat wall. I was, of course, planning on a dehumidifier (how big?) <Ask about there... from folks in the air-conditioning/engineering business... they'll know seasonally what heat/humidity to expect> but rust/water proofing never even occurred to me. <It should...> What needs to be done with this? <There are a few possibilities... again, I would get out the "Yellow Pages" and have folks bid the work, tell you what they might do. You can look into green-board drywalling and loc-tite or equivalent water-proofing, or go with a pre-made insulation that can be made water proof...> Water volume in the store will be approx. 1200g in the fish system, 250g of coral tanks, the 3 acrylic stand-alones hold about 100g ea. and maybe 200-250g of 'not for sale' tanks. By the way, thanks again so much for taking the time to read all of this. I know that you are plenty busy. The guidance on your site is unmatched on Earth. <!> OK, dry goods. I know, its the bread and butter, but with superWM a mile down the road and the simplicity of eBay/internet purchases, I don't expect my parking lot to fill with people coming to buy filter pads. <Ah, no... you want to shoot for carrying common necessities, but must need specialize... not only for business/profit reasons... but (I assure you) to keep your sanity... To make, keep this experience "fresh", enjoyable to/for you> As, I'm not sure which products they WILL come for, I plan on stocking minimal quantities of a lot of different items, see what sells and what don't and play it by ear. <Do look about for input here... is there a local or even not-so-local club where you can experience more of this first hand? Any way I can talk you into working at the one competitors for a few weeks, months?> I picked up 3 REALLY nice roll around double sided adjustable shelving units that are 4'x4' at the base tiering smaller up to 5' high (like a pup tent). Those, along with all the slat wall is my plan for the dry goods area. <Okay... and you'll need/want some enclosed glass cases for display... and to keep folks away from items you want to provide service for... Medications, pumps et al...> I don't want to get buried under a mountain of items I can't sell. <Yes... I would go into this consciously... don't stock anything, unless you can justify its purchase/showing as "display only" that won't turn at least four times a year... Alternatively, be intelligent, aware like the "big box" stores and get rid of items, lines that don't do this...> As long as I don't dump a ton of cash into start-up, I could easily go several years with little to no profit/sales. <Mmm... am squirming in my seat here... Believe me, you don't want to "do this"... Do me and yourself a giant favor and only make this investment/years' commitment unless you intend a full-effort at profitability> I'm not trying/expecting to get rich with this so much as I'm looking for a sense of personal satisfaction/ accomplishment in building this and then being able to introduce the beauty of the reef to these poor souls not from Florida. <Ahhh! The twin reward. Yes, of course to the process being satisfying in this way as well> This area is growing rapidly as is our hobby in general and I feel my customer base will eventually come around. <Does... take... years> I plan to manufacture some nice small turnkey systems a 10g and a 55g. In addition to my glass connection, I actually have a couple of local sources for small lumber and even acrylic for free/very, very cheap. <Not for long... is made of imported materials, energy... and the country's simple-servant driven economy is on the ever-rapid slide> So, I could almost give away these small systems just to get people in the game. <One approach> I'll be the only source of high quality/healthy fish for 150 miles in every direction. <Would be better for all if there were more> As far as codes go around here.... your jaw would fall right off. I'm pretty sure you can't have live electrical bare wires across the entrance IF there is a hose spraying on then, but that's about it. Seriously, its pretty scary here. <Mmm... I'd go with National Codes for all...> There's not even a local business license or anything required here because I'm right outside the city limit line. Its culture shock for me. Lastly, could you recommend someone from Quality <Yes... call and ask for Eddie or Robert (Macias) and ask in turn that they refer you to the best person there that can/will help with you as a new account. Please mention my name> who wouldn't mind spending some one on one time with me in selecting the right equipment, stock and live sources? Thanks a million, as always, Fred <Glad to assure y/our success. BobF> Fish store questions 9/5/06 I'm working on starting a fish store and was reading through your articles on it and had a few questions. <Okay> My first question is about systems. I really like the look of DAS. Do you have any opinions on them; (quality, durability, filtration, lighting). <I do like the Dutch Aquarium Systems (was largely responsible for bringing them in for a time as the vendor of choice at Petco for their holding systems in the early nineties)... for their looks... but their filtration in particular... feeble> I have been looking into distributors and bayside aquatics seems to have most of what I need. Do you know anything about them in terms of reliability and how reputable they are? <Bayside? Yes... is Ken Wong... the same outfit as their end-user etailing biz Marine Depot... Have been out diving, traveling with Ken in Egypt, Germany, Hawai'i... seen him at his bus. in Anaheim... an honest, competent business person> Is it worth splitting a store with salt and fresh, or is devoting all your space to one and offering a larger selection a wiser choice? <Better by far in almost all circumstances (unless the industry is very developed/specialized in your region) to have/carry both marine, fresh... even pond livestock and drygoods...> Are credit card and debit machines worth all the service charges? <Mmm, yes... for handling charges at your place of business? Assuredly> They seem necessary in some businesses and not in other. Any recommendations on a livestock distributor? <...?! Need to have more than one for any given group/type of organisms...> Finally, would you cycle a retail system like a typical tank or is there a different method? <On a larger scale... the same> This seems like it would be a lot of time to have a set up shop sitting, and not open. Once cycled what is the best way to add stock in a timely manner without putting too much stress on the system? <Posted on WWM> I greatly appreciate any help you can offer. Your site is by far the most informative resource I have found on this subject. Thanks in advance. -Paul <Paul... I salute your earnest effort at becoming a retailer... but would like to chat with you a bit more extensively re these and many other issues... Have you worked in the industry? Do you have time to put in a few months here? A possible visit to wholesaling enterprises? Bob Fenner> Holding system manufacturers? - 04/11/2006 Hello Bob, Miguel from Fraggle Reef here, you guys have helped me out on several occasions, and I was wondering if you had any information on companies in the Los Angeles area or anywhere nearby that manufacture retail/wholesale holding systems? <Mmm, yes> I know of rk2 systems, but Chris is apparently in the Colorado office, and I was looking to get the ball rolling immediately, and wanted to compare prices and services. I was planning on making it a centralized system, in a relatively small area, holding system space for corals is 17'x18', so I wanted maximization of that space, and would put it together myself, all I needed was the actual raceways manufactured, along with the rk2 style smaller holding systems for inverts. Thanks much for your time, it's very much appreciated, thanks! Sincerely, Miguel Fraggle Reef <Well, the Krechter's are very good at what they do, and friends... but their products are indeed pricey. Another couple of choices worth chatting with till you decide are Alan Lem at Advanced Aqua Tanks and Craig DeWalt at SeaClear/Tradewind/CASCO in Cerritos... A note also re checking around to see if some folks have some gear that they might want to sell used. I would call the large livestock wholesalers and ask their owners re this... Totes, tanks, even mechanicals and controllers can be had for much less... and really... does it matter much if they're scratched up a bit? Not to me. Now, if "price is no object"... Bob Fenner>

Re: Holding system manufacturers? - 04/11/2006 Hello Bob, Very true, I'd rather have a scratched up el cheapo tank than pay a premium for the same tank unscratched, I'll contact some of the wholesalers and see if they have extra gear, thanks much for the tip. <Certainly welcome. Works to all's advantage for you to have/use...> In the meantime I'll also contact Alan Lem and Craig DeWalt to get some pricing on the raceways, thanks again for your time Sincerely, Miguel <Real good. Do please send along pix once all is in process. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Road Trip with the fishies ! 3/24/06 Hi Bob, Anthony, et. al., <Fred> Its been a while since I have consulted WetWeb Oracle, but its time to head to my roots and this is where it all started. 5 months straight of reading on WetWeb until my eyes were bleeding is where I learned basically everything that got me going in this hobby. Thanks again and as always for your invaluable service. On to the deal: <Mmm, when are you joining us...?> I have taken the plunge and decided a fish store is my destiny so I'm moving. I am in North Palm Beach presently and I purchased a property in North-Central Arkansas, Mountain Home (where marine means -- something for your bass boat !). <Heee! Congrats!> The fish store building is a new 1200 sqft steel building on a slab. It's built as a store front(gabled front entry, rear/side door, commercial fluorescents in nice ceiling tile). It's small, but it's what I have, so... <Is "right about the right size"... this was approximately the footprint of our retail fish-only places> I have a basic plan in mind including a fish system of basically 24 linear feet, 3 high, <A bit lower... 32" is about right...> probably 3 8' long racks in a L config. This system is 1500 gal or so. The non-fish will be much smaller as I expect to be selling little coral/expensive light set-ups, especially at first. I was thinking maybe 500g BUT, (pay attn, I finally got to a question!) Would it be a BAD idea for me to include my non-fish water with my personal 180 reef and run as one system? <Mmm, do you mind selling your livestock? This is the biggest concern here, not disease, parasites...> The reef will be on a storefront window right next to this system, so it would be real convenient, but what of the safety? <No worries... better to blend, dilute...> On my fish set-up, economy-one large pump, redundancy-2 or more. I'm thinking economy with a spare pump. Your thought on this and any tips or timeless fish store secrets you could pass along on keeping good water and a reasonably dry floor would be fantastic. <A good beginning is what I have posted on the Aquatics Business subweb on WWM...> I've become very capable along the way, but there are often very simple little things/ideas that I realize in some profound moment, that are probably old hat/rule of thumb stuff to you gents. <A lifetime or two's worth> OK, now the important stuff. I have to move all of my critters 1200 miles. Some, but not much is fairly hilly and curvy. I'm right at the edge of the Ozarks. It should be warm enough by then (late April) where heating won't be so difficult. I plan on taking them in my pick-up truck. It has a camper shell so the whole operation will be protected. What might be the best way to do this? <Actually... the best would be not to do it... To instead leave all behind, go build out the store, then send for all... to be air-shipped. If you had to haul, I'd "lightly bag" and oxygenate, Styro and cardboard box all, with heat packs if necessary, and drive like the wind...> I am considering making an acrylic 'travel tank' with dividers to separate and to baffle. <Too much work, damage... not necessary if you can make the drive in under two days> Corals on eggcrate shelves across the top, fish below that in their assigned cells, and a sump area below that of <12" or less. Some PCs on the top and I have wireless temp from PP along with several other monitors that could be inc. But that seems like a big job all by itself and I have a huge one waiting in AR. SO, I saw some 1 gallon clear plastic food canisters, with large flat screw on lid, on EBay cheap. Would fish do ok for up to 24 hours sloshing around in one of these, if I silicone/plumb in a very simple, low volume circ system? <No... time for you to become super-familiar with practices in the trade... Visit some of the better stores in your area, observe how their livestock is shipped to them... little water, lots of oxygen, double and more bagged and some types of specimens "hung" attached to material... This is what you want to do> Also, is there anything (that's safe) like a mild sedative you can add to their water to cushion the blow? (Hmm, I could crush up a valium for them!) Just kidding, I think... you can't do that, right? <I would not use these here> Well, I know my letter is getting lengthy so I'll end with a quick list of fish: Cuban Hog, Coney, V Lion, Sailfin Tang, Orient Swtlips all about 3" green moray 12" O clown, Dotty, Clingfish, Wrasse, Diadema, Yoshi all about 2", Purp Tang 6", Foxface 7". My 2 big ones of course would be granted multiple cells if not housed together (they're best friends, never apart) add to that a multitude of small inverts and a couple dozen corals in various families, only a couple SPS frags. P.S. On the road trip thing, even if you have a completely different idea, please enlighten me. Every time I think I have it ALL FIGURED OUT, I learn something else that makes me see how much more there is to learn. I'm very open to opinion from a respected source. Thanks Again, Be Chatting! Fred <Again, the best of luck, success in your endeavor. Bob Fenner>

Retail Acrylic Holding Systems sources 1/18/06 Hi Bob, Do you know of a company that manufactures the acrylic fish holding tanks seen in retail stores? Please advise. Thanks Nancy <Yes... a few, Alan Lem's Advance Aqua Tanks, SeaClear/Tradewind/CASCO... many other fabricators will... or if you need a bunch, not hard to make your own (really). Have different companies bid, including freight... consider looking about for used if you have time, money is dear. Bob Fenner> Tropical fish facility in storage for sale 10/28/05 Hi guys, Any possible leads to help move this stuff? I'll be happy to give 5% [ i.e. $1,000.00 ] to help. I bought much of the gear from a big shop near S.F. California when it closed down a few months ago and have it in storage awaiting a buyer. <Awaiting? Or searching for?> It includes 6 skids of RK-2 protein skimmers w/ fluidized sand filters, [ one of them huge!], 18 rk-2 pumps, cartridge filters, UV sterilizers, aquariums and aircraft aluminum stands. There's enough gear here to run 5 COMPLETE fish systems and be one of the best stores in the Bay area overnight! New, all this stuff cost 70K...will let it all go for 22K. All you need is a location to set up. <A bargain... have you approached the Krechter's themselves re such a sale?> Here's what there is; 6 complete protein skimmer filtration skids; 5 lg 6 foot 13 inch diameter RK 2 skimmers with 3'sq base platforms, fluidized beds, control panel, UV sterilizers, heaters etc. 1 xl 8 foot 18 inch diameter RK 2 skimmer w/ fluidized bed, control panel, UV sterilizer, heater etc. 18 RK-2 pumps to run skimmers, tanks etc. 10 lg canister filters 2 1/2 feet tall each 2 8 foot aircraft aluminum racks that hold 2 8 foot acrylic tanks each 4 8 foot acrylic tanks 2 4 foot aircraft aluminum racks that hold 2 4 foot acrylic tanks each 2 4 foot acrylic tanks 2 4 X 4 acrylic coral tanks 1 lg dual metal halide lighting system w/ transformers 4 large bags of bio ball material .... 4 150 gallon aquarium sumps...lg grey horse trough type lots of misc material and equipment...i.e.. lots! Sincerely, Steve <Will post on WWM... do you have contact info. you'd like to have listed? Do you actually own this gear? Bob Fenner> Oxygen for shipping 8/15/05 Howdy folks, <Fred> I've scoured the FAQs and the forum, and still come up empty-handed with an answer for my question. I've started shipping out a lot more fish and corals lately, and feel it's time to invest in an oxygen system to bag up most of these with. The problem is that every company I've found offers a rather wide variety of mixtures available, all varying in their oxygen purity. <There are a few...> Now, I would assume (but hate to assume) that since most livestock will ship just fine with good ol' air, that anything more "pure" in oxygen than that would be beneficial, at least to some degree. <Yep> But, I don't want to lose anything due to not asking the question, so here it is: What grade/purity of oxygen is accepted for use in the industry? Should it be the highest grade? Medium? Low? Any idea on a certain % of oxygen? <The higher the better... and the cost difference nowadays isn't much... medical grade is about best> I'd be surprised if most facilities/shippers used the purest form available, as it's also likely the most expensive (forgive me, it's Sunday and I haven't actually been quoted any prices yet, so there may be an insignificant difference price-wise in purity levels). <Here in S. Cal... it's nominal...> Any insights you can offer, as always, are appreciated. Thanks! Fred <Price out what the welding outfits have... including leasing the bottle/s... look for handy options like long flexible hoses, single hand (pistol-type) actuators for helping you fill the bags... even (in the longest haul) combo oxygen and bag-clip machines. Bob Fenner>

I May Like Toast, but I Need Fish Bags! Flat-Based Round-Cornered Fish Bags Hi there Bob <Andrew> I was at a fish auction recently in Brisbane Australia and saw someone selling their fish in round-cornered square-based bags. They sat up on the base fairly sturdily and looked like the niftiest fish bags I've ever seen. I've been contacting plastic bag manufacturers looking for a source but am having no luck. Have you seen these about and if so do you know where can I acquire them? Thanks for your time and resources. <There are a few sources... depending on how many you need/can use... my fave first ref. is the Florida Tropical Fish Farmer's Association... their online source: http://www.4fishstuff.com/. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium shop setup Hi there, I was browsing the net trying to find ways on how to setup an aquarium shop. I read through your site and found some rather interesting points. <Through the years our companies set up a few dozen LFS's> My question to you now, is do you have a sketch of a layout with the tanks and what will be the best filtration system I can use? <Mmm, not right now... am out of the country, away from my files/drawings for a week or so... then will not likely have time to scan, send along, as am back out soon thereafter> I would also like to get any info regarding back-up supplies in an event of power outages. Awaiting your speedily response, and thanking you in advance. Sandra <Sorry for the delayed response... have been on a liveaboard (in the Galapagos)... There are a few references you might well benefit from perusing... especially the last few years of U.S. pet business trade magazines... You can put the last term in our Google search tool for the URLs for these. Bob Fenner>

Commercial Marine Systems Hi, <Hello there> We import fish to Australia, wholesale and retail. I am seeking manufacturers of Plexiglas aquarium systems for commercial use. Specifically Marine Systems, flow-through with cubes for separating like species. <I see... the best single reference I can offer you here are the friends/folks at RK2 Systems (in northern San Diego, California) that have done quite a bit of Plexiglas fabrication in our interest. The cubicles themselves... there is a patent I think Quality Marine still holds re... with one panel bead-blasted to prevent animals from seeing "next door"... individual fills/drains... I will cc Chris Bruenner re... the owner/manager... to see if he of Phil Shane (previous owner) has knowledge of this> I have searched all over the net and coming up with nothing. <I appreciate this... information is not easily accessible.> Can you give me a list of manufacturers. <There are other possibilities. Let's start with these that are best. Bob Fenner> Thank you, George Fallon Aquariums Australia P/L

PSM buying guide...? Hi, Bob Where can I find the PSM buying guide and directory? I'm setting up 24- 30gal. system and I need a little help. I hate making mistakes so, I'm trying to do it right from the start. 24 tanks is a handful but, I'm up for the challenge. Any help you can give me would be welcome. By the way this is saltwater. Thanks, Ed Castile <Don't even know if the new version of PSM has a buyer's guide... but the folks at Pet Business magazine do... am looking right at it. You can contact them at www.petbusiness.com Bob Fenner>

More than a shocking situation I work at a fish shop and there are surge protectors that hold a lot of our pumps for the protein skimmers and such they have quite a bit of salt on them and are usually damp I cant work under the tanks with the plugs without getting shocked any tips or ideas? <Yes... do NOT go anywhere near these outlets... turn all off, have a licensed electrician and/or electrical engineer come and trouble shoot your store... have them make a working plan for duplex or quad outlets mounted on the wall... above the tanks... and have all circuits wired through GFCI's... Not just the livestock's lives depend on this... Bob Fenner> Multiple Tank Filtration In the basement of my house I am building an Aquarium room for different things. <Neat! Wish we had a basement> One set up will before African Cichlids. And the other set up is for Saltwater, and Reef. I am wondering if there is a way I can build one large sump or filtration system for the cichlid set up which consist of 8-55 gallon aquariums. And another large sump for 6-65 gallon reef tanks, along with 8-75 gallon saltwater fish only tanks. Can you help me with this. <Yes> I was thinking of getting a couple extra 55 gallon tanks and setting them up as sumps to go below each setup. <Mmm, I would look for something larger... polyethylene totes as are used widely in the pet fish interest, or making build to suit plywood, fiberglass and resin transit volume sumps... you'll need more volume than a couple of 55s> There are two different rooms for the salt water and freshwater tanks? I was told I could probably use to 55 gallon tanks in series one filled with live rock and a protein skimmer followed by another 55 gallon for mechanical, and chemical filtration and to house the Protein skimmer. Will this work if so, what about the cichlids? Thanks for any advice. Gregory <You've got some studying to do... Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/cntfiltbiz.htm taking notes, reading the Related FAQs and Articles (linked, in blue, at top)... visit some stores in your area with centralized filter systems... look into floor drains, heated water line installations... Lots of "skull sweat" to do before doing actual tool and material purchasing. Bob Fenner>

SW info sheet editing Hey Bob, or whoever is available, << Adam here >> This is Matt from Critter Cabana in Newberg, OR. We are putting together a little info sheet for people who are new to saltwater and have decided to get a tank. << I applaud any store who does this. Too often store owners don't take the time to educate their customers. >> We basically just want to make sure everyone gets off to the right start no matter how much time we were able to spend with them. We were wondering if you would be willing to edit our guide or make suggestions as you have much more experience in this field and are experts at knowing the most common things people are getting wrong or have questions about. << Well I don't mind giving my input, depending on how big this is. I've helped other stores make a little 3 page booklet, and other's make a one page quick info sheet. So, I guess I say send it to me when you have it, and I'll see what I can do. >> It would be greatly appreciated by us and all the future hobbyists in the Pacific NW. Thanks, << Again, thanks for putting forth the extra effort. >> Matt Johnson Critter Cabana << Adam Blundell >>

Marine Livestock System, holding, processing, Indo. Dear Bob, <Jimmy> I am setting up a marine livestock in Indonesia and want to install the best possible filtration system I can. Do you have a diagram or picture of how one of these systems is set up? Can you drawn up your prospective plans for stands, aeration, filtration, tanks, plumbing...? <Can... but "depends" on what you want to do (how many organisms or what type, how often you're shipping... and what you have available... natural water of what quality, synthetic... what if any mains power is available...> I also consider about centralized filtration/skimming, I'm thinking a fluidized bed system would probably be best. <Possibly... this technology is best able to "ramp up" to large, unstable bio-loads> Is there any preference to what commercial filters would be used and that I should look into? <Yes... but likely better to build it yourself there... have you been in the trade much? Gone out to any of the larger trade shows like Aquarama in Singapore?> Fluidized bed would be only one aspect that needs consideration... Skimming is definitely another... as is U.V. sterilization... for at least two separate systems, fishes and corals and what about quarantine? Thanks and best regards, Jimmy Diwan <Sounds like you should spend some valuable time working for someone else for a while... I strongly suggest you NOT just jump into the industry w/o a good understanding of the technology involved, current business practices, the parties involved... Much cheaper to gain experience NOT first hand by trial and error. Bob Fenner> Re: Central Filtration Dear Bob, <Clive> I posted a link to your article on a yahoo group for aquarium business owners. It is part of an ongoing discussion about whether a CFS will be the best for my aquarium store. It would be really great if you can step in there and post your opinion on some of the points brought up. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AquaBiz The discussion starts from about POST no. 98 <Mmm, my thoughts, opinions on the benefits, drawbacks of centralized filtration systems are posted on WWM and searchable by the Google feature on the homepage> Also, could you please resend me the name of the book you recommended for setting up a Central Filtration System. I lost your email since I had to reformat my hard disk due to a virus attack. <Mmm again, no. The several tens of thousands of such FAQs are posted variously on WWM as well. You can find yours by searching under your name or the topic> I was wondering if there is any software for inventory control etc, for the aquarium business. <None specifically, but there are a few POS systems that incorporate code that include this feature/task. You can locate said providers through trade shows in the industry, or "buyer's guides" put out by the few extant business zines in our industry. Bob Fenner> Thx, Clive Fernandes

Re: Question from new retailer I know Bob is in the Tropics, but would someone else take a look at my plans for the aquarium housing units and see if you notice any major flaws. I think the picture is for the most part self explanatory. The aquariums are acrylic with a blue background on both the sides and back, and built-in bulkheads. Altogether I am paying about 1250 for each unit. Any input is appreciated, Thanks, Matt Johnson <Matt, where is the graphic to be found of these units? Not attached. Bob Fenner>

RE: Question from new retailer Hmmm, that is weird, should be attached this time. (It's in a PDF file because its the only way I could keep the numbers readable), Hope you had a good time on your trip... What exactly were you up to? Matt Johnson <Ah, there it is... at the very bottom, left. Nice graphic... I really don't like the "stacked" type of arrangement of this display design... too hard to work on, to clean, catch livestock out of... I prefer "stair-stepped" tiered arrangements of tanks like the customers themselves can buy, use... on sturdy wooden stands (four by's and two by's), carriage bolted and/or screwed together and painted/sealed... with more light fixtures (at least two fluorescents per tank)... much cheaper and functional. Oh, and the Nuka Hiva/Marquesas trip was a combination photographic and shell-collecting expedition... great fun and companions. Bob Fenner>

Re: Question from new retailer Thanks for the response, I've got a couple of clarifying questions for you. First, just so we are on the same page, the attached pictures are what you are talking about correct? <Mmm, no... this is entirely different. Sorry, but I seem to have mis-matched someone else's graphic/note with yours. Will show your images with this message.> If so, how much of a problem is the "stacked" design, I have some concerns with the stair step perhaps you can address. <What you have shown is fine, in accord with what I would do. The lowest/lower row of tanks should be fine to "get into" though they are not "stair stepped".> The stair step would take an extra foot or so of floor space, which in my floor plan would either mean taking out fish tanks, or removing a foot of viewing area (currently around 50") <And make it harder, perhaps too difficult to reach the uppermost row> Am trying in the fish room to create as you suggested an enclosed, dark, undersea feel. If I use an open design the light from the fixtures will go all over the place, rather than the light only emanating from within the tank. <Yes, agreed> I have been trying to think of a way to cover up the mess behind the tanks in the stair stepped design, but I can't really think of a very good way to do so. I'd like people to see at fist glance distinct fish tanks that may catch their interest, rather than an intimidating giant glob of evenly lighted tanks, pipes, and shelving structure. <Sounds good> As far as using aquariums that the customers can buy, I can see the reasoning, but is it practical? Tank drains could get tricky, unless I were to personally make modifications to 100 different tanks. Still I run into the problem of customers being able to see through the back and sides of the aquariums to all the back-end equipment. <Mmm, just the same size, shape tanks of about the same material construction is what I'm getting at> A lot of these things would be perfectly fine if my target market was hobbyists. But I am a full line store with the general public as my primary market, a market that needs to be wooed into the hobby. Bearing this in mind would you still make the same recommendations? Matt Johnson <Hiding the lighting over the tanks as shown would be a good idea... and maybe trying to paint the plumbing behind them. Bob Fenner>

Question from new retailer continued 10/29/03 Not sure if you got my last email... it had a diagram attached... anyway, I have a new question for you. <Bob is out in the tropics for a few weeks... Anthony Calfo with the follow up> I'm working on automating as many maintenance tasks as possible and am wondering what the best way to maintain my specific gravity, seems as though it could be difficult if I have a system that is automatically refilling water levels. What water is lost from fish sales vs. evaporation? Matt Johnson <this is easily accomplished my friend... I describe it briefly in my book of Coral Propagation (Concept Aquarium Dynamics chapter). The gist of it is to simply have a normal running level float tuned to be very sensitive but slow filling for evap top off... and a seawater float that is weakly sensitive but fast filling. Some interpretations can be done here too to tweak it for your system (like either or both on on/off timers to reduce the amount of overlap). Best regards, Anthony>

RE: Question from new retailer Would you cursorily look over my layout (attached), <Certainly will... but was/is not attached. Please re-send> I've made a lot of the changes you suggested, some things to keep in mind is that half of the area is under a very low roof because of a big mezzanine (not mine), so I tried to keep fixtures smaller. Also, any unlabeled units are coming from DAS. <Okay> I'm a bit over my original budget ($65000 total on livestock display!)... Is this outrageous? <Not necessarily... instead, it may well be that your original estimate was unrealistically low... Good livestock display/presentation is often THE largest draw and "advertisement" one will have> The way I saw it, the more I spent, most likely the better my returns would be, and Am not in a cash deficient situation so I thought I would go for it... do you think this is foolish? <No... BUT do take care to not be under-capitalized (along with poor management, the twin most common causes of failure in our and most types of business)... I STRONGLY encourage people to figure on NO INCOME from their stores for at least two years... so their ongoing losses and expenses, including personal, must come from savings or borrowings> Something I am really clueless about is how to execute lighting in this store. It has large windows, but not a lot of ambient lighting. <Have some "lighting contractors" come and tell you what they can do, what you might do... STAT! A very, make that critically important aspect of your shop... it must have good lighting in the drygoods area/s and subdued in the livestock> Let me know if you have got any tips for me... all are graciously welcomed. Matt Johnson <A lifetime's worth of input... but am unfamiliar with you, what you already know, what you might benefit from. You will assuredly learn... a great deal... and soon! Bob Fenner>
RE: Question from new retailer I don't know why the file wasn't attached... but I will try again. If it doesn't work I could fax it, but this one is nice and color coded, and much larger than will fit through the fax. Matt Johnson <Ahh, there it is. Very nice. I think the lower ceiling in the back might actually work to your advantage. The sense of being confined, underwater is to be fostered where the aquatic livestock is. Bob Fenner>

Question/s from new retailer I have made a lot of changes based on your suggestions. I have another question or two for you. <Okay> I have a Loading dock in the back of the store kind of where my fish tanks are lined up... Right now I have it covered up... but I was thinking... Would that be very valuable to have? if I were to keep that open I would essentially cut 5 or 6 feet off the back end of the store. Basically I am asking, in your experience, what is worth more, a loading dock (all my other doors are 3' wide) or the extra floor space (probably all in all about 150 square feet and an employee only hole through my line of tanks would be sacrificed to make the loading dock accessible). <Mmm, really depends on whether you could make "that much" use of the loading dock as such... IMO/E the extra 150 square feet of display space is much more desirable/useful> Here is my other BIG question... on my wall shelving... I think that slat wall looks A LOT better than peg board... but I hear from other sources that the peg board is a lot more functional... what is your take on the two... <The slat wall is and has been for several years "the thing" (see what the mass merchandisers like PetCo and PetSmart use... There are just as many and flexible fixtures that can be adapted to slat wall... and I also think it looks more clean and neat> Thanks, Matt Johnson Critter Cabana <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Question from new retailer <<<Thank you Bob for such a quick response, amazing really!>>> >Thank goodness for the Internet< I'm starting a store (full-line) in the near future, <Congratulations, and welcome to the trade> looking like an opening in February, and here is my question. I am wanting to have a good marine section between 1000 and 2000 gallons (depending on price and space). I have been looking at the Dutch Aquarium systems units, which are the least expensive commercial units I have found, but they are still at around $2500 per 150 gallons. <Yes... am familiar with DAS, I "talked" the folks at PetCo (I was their buyer in the dept) into switching to their fixtures in 93 for a while> As you probably know, each one has an individual sump on the bottom level. I am wondering if you or another company/consultant you know would be able to design a better system for cheaper. <Mmm, yes... but... different. First off, I encourage you to consider "DIY" approaches (there are insights to these posted on WWM under the aquatics business subweb)... but do look at the Marineland, Tropic Marin and SeaClear/Tradewind/CASCO units as well... for ideas, comparisons in features, costs... and talk with others who have used this gear... for their input into utility, maintenance and total/net costs for operation... this varies widely> <<<I have looked at all of these, and I am mostly wondering whether or not the DIY is more cost efficient, is at seems like these systems make you pay for the engineering work that they have done. >Mmm, depends on your time, perception of value... what you're looking for, can afford... To reemphasize the previous points re "other" help, DIY modes... it may well be that there is someone or a business that could help you "get the look" and functionality you're seeking... do you mind if we publish your phone number, and/or email address? Are you in TX? Or? Which town?< I was hoping that you might be able to give me an idea as far as the total/net costs for operations on a DIY vs. a manufactured unit. >>> I have a basement underneath the building and any plumbing is VERY easy if there were to be a sump/sumps in the basement (LOTS OF ROOM!). <You are indeed VERY fortunate here> It seems like this could be more efficient than using my floor space for sumps with the DAS systems. <Mmm, well, the smart designs don't take up much floor space (the retailing gallonage is above, with treatment and transit volume below in the stand/support part of the base> <<< I was thinking that underneath space might be better used, maybe for something like live rock, but I guess its not that great of space... Would it be silly to put the filtration in the basement where water would have to be pumped an additional 10 feet? >>> >Of a certainty, yes. Much better for looks, getting water changes, filtration maintenance done... just a bit more expensive in terms of costs for pumping water< Could you break down for me really quickly the costs/tradeoffs here? <As in? Not knowing you (your background, values) it is difficult (okay, impossible for me with much confidence) to make known what your options are... do you mind "tweaking, tinkering" with gear, making more manual changes, like water... at an initial cost savings? Or... would you rather have most everything "turn-key" and automated...?> <<<I would love for everything to be turnkey, although I assumed everything even in a DIY could be made pretty just as turnkey. I would really like to have the system be customizable and easy to tweak when I wanted to tweak, i.e. If I decided I wanted to add a refugium or a better UV sterilizer it wouldn't be a big deal, or if I wanted to add a calcium reactor it could be done with ease >>> >Maybe "next store"... as you'll find, the technology (and its spread/popularization is constantly changing... a lesson/step in "maturity" (coming to grips with the realization of ones limitations)... Be satisfied that you're doing your "best"... within the framework of what you're familiar with, budget, time considerations< My other concern is aesthetic quality of a custom setup. I'm trying to break the dingy pet store stigma and have a store that is top notch visually, and make a more emotional appeal to customers rather than the average pet store which I think assumes all purchase decisions within a pet store are rational. <You are wise here... very good to have a "sharp" clean look, setting yourself apart...> Is it possible to somewhat on a budget have a good looking custom set up? <Yes... by searching. Have you already started... as in do you have the location set? Other display fixtures, the layout planned pretty much? Hard to start here "en media res"> <<<Other display fixtures are not set yet (although I do have some picked out, just not purchased), and layout not set, I think I knew the answer to this question already was that I can make it look good, but the better it looks the more time and money I will need to put into it >>> >Yes< BTW my budget for both freshwater and saltwater is around $25,000 and I have roughly 700 to 1000 square feet for the fish room, and Id like to have equal parts fresh and marine. <Okay... can be done> <<<Great, I may put more money in later, but that's what Id like to spend for now>>> Tell me everything you can, you can call me too if you would prefer that to email. I love wetweb by the way, I don't know where I would be without it. Matt Johnson <May I ask, what part of the U.S. is this? Perhaps there are some that can/will rise to assist you here> <<< I am in Newberg, Oregon... a town of 20,000, with no pet store within 15 miles (30 minute drive). My main competition is Farm Supply stores, although most people have no knowledge these stores even carry pet supplies, I have a 3000 square foot retail area (an additional 600 square foot mezzanine which I am planning on using as an educational kids discovery area with classes and workshops to supplement the store, I'm still working on licensing and legal for that), I have a 1500 square foot basement with very easy access from within the store. That just gives you a little background>>> >Sounds very nice< Also, DAS did a store layout for me, I was wondering if you would just look at it real briefly and give me a second opinion about it, it doesn't seem to utilize the things I have learned about store layouts from trade shows and the like and Am a little concerned, I personally just graduated from college and don't have practical experience to guide me and I have to trust people. <You ARE wise beyond your years... do remain skeptical, perhaps even a bit cynical re such "help" and opinions overall... gather enough information on "important" points till you know enough to feel comfortable with YOUR OWN decisions. Do you (hopefully) have a partner (someone with vested interest who will be ON the floor with you in this enterprise?)> <<<I am trying to become comfortable with my own decisions... I feel a lot of pressure weighing on each decision I make, definitely makes me wish I had a little business experience in the industry... but my time is now as I have little personal responsibilities, and I feel as though my opportunity within the town may not last, as the previous pet store (very poor IMO) was very much lacking, and moved due to a change in career by the owners husband, not more than 5 months ago. As far as on the floor partners... I have my wife who is very excited and willing to spend as much time as I am to make it work, beyond that I am planning to have one additional employee on the floor during business hours. I myself am not an expert in fish but an intermediate hobbyist in reef at least. I consider myself advance in reptiles and my wife is in mammals, I just graduated with a business degree in marketing, and it has been my life long dream to open a pet store. >>> >A grand adventure awaits you< If I could fax it to ya that would be great, let me know your fax, otherwise I could probably get it on the computer. <Our fax line is 858-578-7372. There is much too much to discuss re these ventures to "chat over the phone"... and the retail side is (IMO/E of course) VERY difficult in many ways... I spent fourteen years "on the floor" myself... and many besides as a part owner of LFS's> <<<I will fax you that floor plan, thanks for taking a look at it >>> >A pleasure< Just let me know what's easier for ya... if you are willing that is, if not, I am willing to pay you for any consultation. <Not necessary or desired. I am pleased to assist you if I can. Your success is my own. Bob Fenner> <<<You are a good man>>> Matt Johnson >I am myself. Be chatting, Bob Fenner<

Re: Layout questions from new retailer It is ok if you want to post my name and email address. Also, I just faxed that layout, let me know what you think. Matt Johnson <Received the fax and have gone over cursorily. Please refer to your copy here and my parenthetical remarks: 1) I would move your tanks/displays labeled "Show" in the back to the front/opening of the store. As it looks right now there is nothing to draw customers in, make it known what your business is about... consider placing some large exhibit right up front, where the public can see it going by and when first entering and leaving your business. 2) On a related note, do consider moving all the reptile displays to the back (maybe near the proposed turtle bay)... there are MANY people who have strong phobias re snakes, lizards, creepy-crawlies... and... these areas can be pretty smelly... by concentrating them near the back, hopefully you can provide aeration out from their area... and allow people who don't want to be near them a chance to get to other areas of your store. 3) The aquarium exhibits, are you yet set on the number, gallonage? In your area of 20k populace you may find that the aquatics area is a very large part of the draw, sales of your business... and may well want/need to expand the number of tanks, total gallonage... keep this in mind when considering the fixturization of the near areas... I would use easily moved islands, wall mounts that can be supplanted with more livestock structure if the need should evolve. 4) A very important item... I strongly advocate your re-orienting your drygoods aisles to make them parallel with the walls... This will save you a tremendous amount of floor space, greatly facilitate directing folks to the back of your store (and more sales) and... cut down on pilferage... from the vantage point of the sales counter, across to the opposing wall, you would/should be able to see if anyone is in the store and what they are doing. 5) Some unrelated items: Do caulk and place coving (the 4" high variety) as for bathrooms around the shared walls of your store... useful for cutting down "bugs" and damage from water spills... Do you have a floor drain (if so you're lucky). Part of our search for locations got extra bonus points if the space had been occupied by a restaurant or dry cleaners... for the floor drains and extra electrical power that was very likely there... Look for or install an air blower to vent air first thing in the mornings, if there is no other such device already. The area marked "Dry tanks" should have electrical pulled to it (or dropped down) for the eventuality that this space will become livestock display (you'll see). Bob Fenner>

Question from new retailer 9/30/03 I'm starting a store (full-line) in the near future, <Congratulations, and welcome to the trade> looking like an opening in February, and here is my question. I am wanting to have a good marine section between 1000 and 2000 gallons (depending on price and space). I have been looking at the Dutch Aquarium systems units, which are the least expensive commercial units I have found, but they are still at around $2500 per 150 gallons. <Yes... am familiar with DAS, I "talked" the folks at PetCo (I was their buyer in the dept) into switching to their fixtures in 93 for a while> As you probably know, each one has an individual sump on the bottom level. I am wondering if you or another company/consultant you know would be able to design a better system for cheaper. <Mmm, yes... but... different. First off, I encourage you to consider "DIY" approaches (there are insights to these posted on WWM under the aquatics business subweb)... but do look at the Marineland, Tropic Marin and SeaClear/Tradewind/CASCO units as well... for ideas, comparisons in features, costs... and talk with others who have used this gear... for their input into utility, maintenance and total/net costs for operation... this varies widely> I have a basement underneath the building and any plumbing is VERY easy if there were to be a sump/sumps in the basement (LOTS OF ROOM!). <You are indeed VERY fortunate here> It seems like this could be more efficient than using my floor space for sumps with the DAS systems. <Mmm, well, the smart designs don't take up much floor space (the retailing gallonage is above, with treatment and transit volume below in the stand/support part of the base> Could you break down for me really quickly the costs/tradeoffs here? <As in? Not knowing you (your background, values) it is difficult (okay, impossible for me with much confidence) to make known what your options are... do you mind "tweaking, tinkering" with gear, making more manual changes, like water... at an initial cost savings? Or... would you rather have most everything "turn-key" and automated...?> My other concern is aesthetic quality of a custom setup. I'm trying to break the dingy pet store stigma and have a store that is top notch visually, and make a more emotional appeal to customers rather than the average pet store which I think assumes all purchase decisions within a pet store are rational. <You are wise here... very good to have a "sharp" clean look, setting yourself apart...> Is it possibly to somewhat on a budget have a good looking custom set up? <Yes... by searching. Have you already started... as in do you have the location set? Other display fixtures, the layout planned pretty much? Hard to start here "en media res"> BTW my budget for both freshwater and saltwater is around $25,000 and I have roughly 700 to 1000 square feet for the fish room, and Id like to have equal parts fresh and marine. <Okay... can be done> Tell me everything you can, you can call me too if you would prefer that to email. I love wetweb by the way, I don't know where I would be without it. Matt Johnson <May I ask, what part of the U.S. is this? Perhaps there are some that can/will rise to assist you here> Also, DAS did a store layout for me, I was wondering if you would just look at it real briefly and give me a second opinion about it, it doesn't seem to utilize the things I have learned about store layouts from trade shows and the like and Am a little concerned, I personally just graduated from college and don't have practical experience to guide me and I have to trust people. <You ARE wise beyond your years... do remain skeptical, perhaps even a bit cynical re such "help" and opinions overall... gather enough information on "important" points till you know enough to feel comfortable with YOUR OWN decisions. Do you (hopefully) have a partner (someone with vested interest who will be ON the floor with you in this enterprise?)> If I could fax it to ya that would be great, let me know your fax, otherwise I could probably get it on the computer. <Our fax line is 858-578-7372. There is much too much to discuss re these ventures to "chat over the phone"... and the retail side is (IMO/E of course) VERY difficult in many ways... I spent fourteen years "on the floor" myself... and many besides as a part owner of LFS's> Just let me know what's easier for ya... if you are willing that is, if not, I am willing to pay you for any consultation. <Not necessary or desired. I am pleased to assist you if I can. Your success is my own. Bob Fenner>

- Finding Efficiencies in a Fish Room - Hi Bob, <Actually, JasonC here this time.> I Love wetwebmedia - its one of my favorite fish websites. I refer people to it daily. <Glad you find it useful.> I had a question for you, I'm in the negotiation (with wife) and design stage of building a fish room. In actuality it will be a 16x20 building in the backyard. With the ever increasing price of natural gas, propane, electricity and Water/Sewer. I've been looking for ways to make the new fish room more efficient, so the wife's nagging about the electricity, water/sewer and gas bills goes down. :) The whole reason for building an out building, is so I can treat the room as a whole better than in the house. I'm planning to use radiant floor heating, to heat the whole room, rather than running heaters in each tanks. Filtration will be a 220v linear air pump, driving sponge filters. Lighting has been a sore point during the design, it would be nice to use natural light via some skylights, but that would result in a measurable loss in insulating ability of the roof. I'll probably end up using standard shop light fixtures w/ 34w T8s. <Nothing wrong with that, and really about as cheap AND efficient as you're going to get.> The boiler for the radiant floor heating is a dual fuel design, allowing switching between natural gas and propane, dependant upon which is cheaper at the time. But I don't think the wife will be too happy about a big propane tank in the back yard... <Bury it.> Do you have any advice/suggestions? <Sounds like a good plan to me - just make sure your wife can't lock you in the shed and I think you'll be all set. ;-) > Andy <Cheers, J -- >

Wall units for retail pet shop Hi, My husband and I are looking to start a pet shop up on the first of the year. We need to find someone who builds a wall unit to hold separate tanks to sell our fish out of. We would like something on the lines of a Wal-Mart or PetSmart setup. Do you know of anyone. Thanks, Shannon <There are a few companies. Marineland, SeaClear/Tradewind/Casco, Dutch Aquarium Systems, Tropic-Marin... If you have already decided not to try to build your own... I would (quickly) contact these (and other folks who your local drygoods wholesalers can/will help you identify) and ask them to send you information re their fixtures. Do you have time to visit the upcoming Backer/Christmas Trade Show (in Chicago, in a few weeks)? You may well gain very valuable insights re this issue and many more by such a visit. The above companies can likely be reached through the Internet... or Pet Business' "Ready Reference" annual issue. Bob Fenner>

Re: business setup the five critical elements of business: setup, does not have anything in it. I was wondering if I could get this information. Thanks Rob Harnish <Thanks for asking... took a bit of looking for an already-keyed copy. Here tis: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/bizsetup.htm Mmm, maybe I can find the time to place the further subdivided ideas/sections in this series... Bob Fenner>

Coral Propagation for Commercial Venture What would the best be to construct a green house? I live in west Florida, lots of sun. How could I do it, propagating corals that is? <These questions can not possibly be answered completely in a simple email. Before you begin this venture, please invest in a good book. Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" is explicitly intended for this purpose. You can find it here http://www.readingtrees.com/ along with various other online retailers.> Thanks a lot, Rob <Best of luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Re: skimmer manufacturers >I don't think I had to do the reference thing. I do remember doing >it for All Seas Marine, though. -Steven Pro Maybe it's me, or my age and expectations? I expect that if I want to sell my product, that aside from financial and business documentation, that I have to *serve* all takers equally, with respect, like I *want* their business. I was in the horticulture business for sometime and I dealt with all sorts of wholesalers and customers. It was *never* considered *my* privilege to purchase from any manufacturer or wholesaler, it was always *their* privilege to *sell* to *me*. It was ALWAYS my privilege to sell my product to anyone. It is a HUGE warning flag when it becomes a "privilege" to *purchase*, use and sell someone's product. This is what Euro-Reef writes: "The following is a list of information we require in order to process your request for pricing and dealership privileges." I'm not selling cars, I'm outfitting several thousand gallons of grow out and holding vats with skimmers and perhaps selling them retail here and on-line. It's not privilege, it's a job and a service. To me this is indicative of a poor attitude or a company that obviously has all the business and customers it wants and doesn't need any more. Bob, this is another version of the bank that will only loan money to those who don't need it. Whether they have a good product or not. Craig <Mmm, in the realm of human interaction, what I think we have here is a conflict of perception (not value...) and easily "solved" or at least resolved... The Macare's intend (am very sure) an understanding of only "who" they want to deal with... not an arbitrary distinction of "we'll choose"... Have you called Jeff, Bob re? They don't "sell direct"... to the end-user, consumer... for good reasons. If there is further confusion on this matter, pls do contact me. Bob Fenner>

Re: skimmer manufacturers Hidy Ho, Bob, I wrote Jeff and explained my situation, I don't expect I'll get an answer before Monday. We'll see if it's possible to proceed from there. They (Euro-Reef) do sell direct wholesale. I called and talked to them directly before I received the response by e-mail from Jeff. <Really? Mmm, perhaps we aren't talking the same thing... this can work out... but am surprised they don't just sell through distributors... If someone with similar products could put them out of business in a year or two with just this difference in approach to sales, distribution...> f the end user is not a retail customer but a licensed grower (me), importer, wholesaler (me) or retailer (me) that uses the product to produce goods and services (me), then they pay use or sales tax, but they buy wholesale, *not* retail (me). <I see...> No confusion Mi Amigo! <All right... Good luck. Bob F> Craig

Question for Anthony First, I just wanted to say "thanks" to Anthony for speaking at That Fish Place in Lancaster last weekend, it was both informative and interesting. <thanks kindly... my pleasure> Which leads me directly to my question, what was your opinion of the tanks, etc at TFP? <it is a difficult thing to say fairly. The industry benefits from very successful merchants like TFP and they do us a great service of attracting a great number of new hobbyists into our fold. Yet, they are challenged by their very success and the sheer volume of product that they turn over to maintain all animals/fishes in optimal health. It is a truly difficult and challenging thing to do when the turnover rate is so fast. Still... they offer a huge selection and great variety of choices. My advice is that even if we could say that the condition of their fishes is a bit rough at times, they are still a far better choice than mail order. And much can be easily overcome if you do yourself the favor of properly quarantining all new animals at home for 2-4 weeks. QT is critical for success with marine animals... never assume that because an animal looks to be in superb health that it is not carrying a pest predator or disease. And so... to answer your question. I found their invertebrates to be in excellent condition and good variety/supply. Their fishes that weekend seemed to be in average condition to me but caused little worry to me as I am (finally :) ) patient enough as an aquarist to QT all new purchases at home without exception. That includes live rock, coral, plants, corals, crustaceans, fishes...everything wet! If you can be equally diligent... you will have far greater success with livestock from any merchant and you'll be able to take advantage of TFP large selection and variety. Mail order livestock should really be a last resort> As a new hobbyist in the area, I am realizing I don't have a lot of saltwater LFS choices, thus its hard to tell the quality of the livestock when I have nothing to compare it to. <yes, understood and agreed my friend> I am determined to only support conscientious suppliers and retailers, and am simply looking for an impartial opinion as to how TFP measures up to others you have seen in your extensive travels. <you'll find that the smaller stores that move less product have sometimes healthier stock but necessarily higher prices. I have complete confidence in QT procedures and so can afford to purchase livestock from such bigger merchants and selections. If you choose not to QT livestock you will need to find a merchant that holds their fishes longer for evaluation and be willing to pay the higher price.> Thanks, Ryan Achenbach <best regards in your endeavors! Do browse through our archives here at wetwebmedia.com for more info on QT protocol, mail order fishes, and like topics. Use the google WWM search tool at the bottom of the index/home page. Be seeing you at the Anniversary sale again in April at TFP :) Anthony>

International Exhibits Information Dear Bob, I would like to invite you to visit our web site at www.internationalexhibits.com Please be advised that we are in the process of updating the site. Although it contains 176 pages, this represents about 1/3 of our product lines. Currently, we manufacture 8 product lines and have distribution rights on another 20+ lines. If you have an interest in a specific product I will obtain information from our archived files for your review. For your display needs we have distribution rights with Recom Group, a large corporation comprised of numerous companies. Each company manufactures a different type of in-store display, ranging from cardboard to acrylic to wire displays to modular wooden displays. Depending on the item, our wholesale rate is typically 30% below the retail price for cardboard displays and 40% below the retail price for all other items. We split the difference between wholesale and retail with our customers. As a result, you will save 15% to 20% . Note: there are several web sites for their product lines. Please go to www.discountdisplay.com www.cardboarddisplays.com www.recomgroup.com Need more information on what you're looking for? Feel free to email or call me with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your response, Susan Pryor 313.387.2070 <Thank you for the input. We have many friends, associates who build, re-do their booth displays... will accumulate your mail, info. on the business subweb on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Another Question (the pet-fish industry, retail...) Hi Bob, I have one more thing I need help on. If I emailed you a picture of how my store is set up right now, and the condition it is in, could you suggest how I should go about rearranging it to cut down on our shrinkage, to increase our visual appeal, and to maximize our use of space? <Likely, yes> I'd really also be interested in opinions on how kiosks / special displays and the such would work with our location. <Perhaps we can/should "quit our day-jobs" and write up a tome or two on modern retail merchandising? Seriously, there is MUCH to discuss here> Let me know if you'd be willing to take a look, or if you also know anyone that would be willing to take a look at photos and give some ideas. Also, do you have any knowledge about the current state of point of sale systems? <A little. I attend a few of the national and international trade shows in the industry every year, and have done so for decades> We were using a system for the past 12 years, and it died recently, and we need to find a new system. If you don't know about them, did I read correctly that you work for Petco? <Yes, for three years in the early nineties, bringing on (making real) their livestock (principally aquatics, some reptile) lines; livestock and drygoods... very challenging and rewarding work> Could you put me in touch with someone who does know about them but would be impartial as to which system is best and would be willing to give out info? <Need to know "you" better to help determinately... Did you go to the Atlantic Backer Show this last weekend? Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Ben Maryland

Multi Tank Filtration Bob, I was reading your article on Wet Web Media and have more questions. I'm sorry but I simply cannot get a picture in my head of how this all works (call me dense!) <Just don't call me late to dinner> I am setting up a pet store and want to install the best possible filtration system I can. Do you have a diagram or picture of how one of these systems is set up? <A bunch in my ancient files likely> I have looked at local fish shops, but most of it is hidden from view and most owners are not too keen on helping out the competition. I can't afford a commercial system, so I want to do it myself. I have lots of experience with single tank systems but nothing with these larger setups. Any additional information you can provide is appreciated. Ty <Need more specifics. Have you drawn up your prospective plans for stands, aeration, filtration, tanks, plumbing...? Will take a look at what you have if you'd like. Bob Fenner, just back from Australia>

Re: Multi Tank Filtration Thanks for the reply Bob, but I think I have it figured out. <Good to hear/read. Please write if I may be of assistance. Bob Fenner> Ty

Commercial setup questions Robert/Anthony (or whomever :-), Hey, doing some research into setting up a marine fish store (with a bit of fresh water on the side). <A bold move!> After doing a lot of research your site, manufacturer sites) and visiting several in the area and away from the area stores, I still have some questions/issues (outside of the business ones). <I would hope so> -Easy Question: Where is the source to find the store buyers guide. I keep seeing it references, but have not been able to find that one. <Take a read through the existing industry magazines... Pet Industry News (Fancy Publications), Pet Business...> -Doing centralized filtration/skimming. If we're looking at pushing several thousand gallons of water (let's say 4000-5000 gallons of tanks - yes there will be some large and a lot of holding tanks), I imagine a fluidized bed system would probably be best. I imagine we could get away with trickle, but it would seriously be pushing it. Is there any preference to what commercial filters would be used and that I should look into (Aquaneer, RK2, Emperor aquatics ??). Any others worth mentioning ?? <Fluidized bed would be only one aspect that needs consideration... Skimming is definitely another... as is U.V. sterilization... for at least two separate systems, fishes and non-... and what about quarantine? Do contact the Krechters at RK2, the fine folks at Emperor Aquatics... and consider piecing their mechanicals together yourself... much savings here. -If you do centralized filtration/skimming, one overdone system, or two sized identically to handle the load and doubled up to be in parallel (in case one fails). Also, how are these 'pallet' systems by RK2, Emperor, Aquaneer ? <At least two> -Even if you quarantine, I'm not sure c. irritans and other parasites can be completely eradicated in all tanks all the time. So, what is the best method for control of that is used to control such parasites ? <Careful buying, selection of livestock from reputable sources, dip/bath and possibly quarantine procedures, optimized holding facilities and nutrition... See the "Three Sets of Factors: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm > Is it with the 300W UV's that are used in the filter systems that I see ? Or the 25 micron filters that they seem to be used with bead systems ? <Can't tell what you see. The UVs need to be matched with water flow to be effective, would not use micron filters in a store setting (too much maintenance)> That sounds like it'll filter out quite a few parasites, but only if it makes it to the filter, and not the ones that attach and spawn in-tank.. .. I'd like to quarantine for two weeks to insure health and feeding, but at the same time, not even sure the quarantine system can remain parasite free. <This can be, is actually done by a few outlets... they "nuke" the filter media (culturing new all the time in their main/display systems) with bleach between batches of livestock... and are meticulous about keeping nets, other gear in use only with the quarantine system> If that gets affected, you have to bring it down to eradicate it. Do people who quarantine, have a set of quarantine systems for every shipment they bring in (otherwise you won't have a 'clean' system for your quarantine for the incoming shipment) ? <More of the former... In actual practice most people "get away" with the "Guerilla Acclimating Techniques" listed on WWM> -For your nice display tanks (the ones that you have showing, but aren't for sale) - do you plumb that into your main filter systems or do you isolate for safety ? The advantage is water stability, but the disadvantage is possibly having something take down your showcase tanks as well. I don't think the stability issue would be too much in a 225, 400, 600 gallon display tank, but the reduced maintenance is definitely a plus. <A bit of both, either is what I/we've done in actual practice> However, if the above answer of having sterile tanks being ok, then its not a big deal to plumb into central systems. -Amount you want to turn over in your display tanks ? Generally in home tanks, I turn over 10x. Any rule of thumb for store displays ? It looks significantly less at 'most' stores, but that may be from want to saving power. Dunno. <Four or more times is about right> -Amount of new water replaced added per day ? I imagine that a small amount of water changed out per day, rather than larger 'water change' every week is much better. Is there a percentage that should be strived for in this environ (2%, 3%, 5% per day ???) <Generally, make up water from selling livestock is about all that's needed for replacement... a few percent likely... in sumps, pre-made...> - Optimum 'store' conditions ? Temp -78 ? Salinity of 1.021 (or lower to save on salt) ? <Too large questions... some organisms likely lower, higher... Here's where sub-systems for displaying frags, high-temp. tropicals come in... and spg, only this low in FO systems... and even then, not for all fishes... e.g. syngnathids, amphiprionines prefer higher density water> PH ?. Also, how do you buffer PH in a system like this that doesn't have a lot of buffering capability ? Same reef buffers that are used by hobbyists, but on a larger bulk scale ? <Ah! 8.2-8.4 pH ideally... and plenty of buffering capacity. And not achieved through expensive, vacillating supplement methods... best by use of a calcium reactor... Cheapest, most stable mode> -One thing I have noticed. There are a lot of sick fish out there. If you had customers sign a waiver, would it be possible to charge for hospitalization of fish. most fish just need a monitored stable copper, hypo or anti-biotic treatment for the most common diseases since most people don't have the time, money, or capability, or desire to adequately treat fish. Or would this cut into too your sales of 'marginal use' products (like kick ich, rid-ich, clout, etc). <Better to simply provide the better, best livestock yourself... as you'll see. You are not, do not want to be in "the human behavior business", but the "Pet-fish business"> -Premixing of salt water. Is there any slightly more automated way of doing this, even in a slightly larger setup. Or is it done pretty much the same way - large vat of holding water, dump the amount of salt in and let the pump aerate/mix for a day - then pump it to the salt water holding tanks ? <All sorts of ways... wish you could come out and see Quality Marine's systems in Los Angeles... but you want the mixing sump/s t be circulated, warmed... near the sumps they will serve (manually) and the water serving them with a spigot "right there"> -Is it better to have a chiller in line, or have a very good air conditioner and use ambient temp to keep tank temperatures in line ? Heating is easy, no issues there. <In almost all cases, in-line is better, less money to acquire, operate.> -For tank drains, I noticed all are basically overflowed (about 3/4 or 1") into a larger Drain line. usually like 12-24 tanks are drained into a 3" sump drain line (slight pitched down) to the main sump area. Island type of areas are drained to an immediate sump which are then pumped to the main sump. Would it be advisable to put ball valves off of each tank ( $10 extra/tank which is not a big deal) before they get to the main drain line ? <Mmm, no... just believe in gravity if have, want to shut off a tank from the main system... have the valves on the discharge side going into the tanks> You could then 'cut off' a tank if you needed to and treat/dry/replace/clean a tank, without anything going into the 'mains'. Any benefit there ? <None really... and too hard to get to shut off (too much space lost behind tanks... expensive), too much likelihood of overflows...> Actually in one store I saw, everything was to intermediate sumps and then pumped to the main sump. Not sure if it wasn't designed properly or not but it did have islands of tanks which pose a problem to get water back into the 'back' and probably the 'low' tanks didn't have enough vertical height to properly 'drain' into the sump. <This happens too often. What should be arranged is the overflows are tied to "crosses" behind the tanks (to allow venting) and the "down spout" of the crosses drop immediate down a foot or more to the "sloped drain line" that returns water to the sump> Not sure if it was intentional, but was thinking that it may be a good design anyway. That allows your sump to be a bit 'taller' rather than short and wide (taking up less space). Is this feasible ? What would be the proper sizing for a commercial type of sump ? 25% of total gallons ? <As large as possible, practical> -For returns, how do you handle even flow to all tanks. Obviously you have a few return pumps pumping into a larger pipe, but do you just use T's to separate water for all the tanks and then let them drain into tanks. How do you achieve relatively equal water flow ? <Valves, all plastic> or at least be able to send more water to certain larger tanks like 60/80/100's rather than your smaller 40's ? I imagine 1" returns are probably ok. <Two inch, bushed down to 3/4" is almost standard... once again "conventions" of what is available stock and cost per unit> -Business question - what is the general ratio of dry good sales to wet goods in a decently run store ? <The higher dry goods the better... very few stores make any money on livestock (really)... Should you go ahead with your plan/adventure/enterprise, we will re-visit this issue> Obviously the numbers are different, just looking for ballpark here. Obviously a lot of emphasis will have to be put on dry goods since there is a lot of sales there as well. <And almost all profit> Thanks for any help. I have a good idea of what's going on and what's needed, but should I look at a consultant in these types of matters as well, or just learn as you go ? Anything I'm really missing here ? <The very best advice I can offer in these regards is for you to "go, work in the field, in as many aspects (wholesale, manufacturing, definitely retail...) for companies you admire for as long as you deem prudent to gain a firm understanding of what you're about here". I take it you do, will have an "on the floor" equity partner here... Do not go forward in any substantive way (lease, gear purchases...) w/o securing this relationship... Believe me, you cannot, will not, will not want to operate a store w/o such a liaison. Find someone with confluent dreams and more importantly values... Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Ed

Re: Commercial setup questions Robert, thanks for the responses. Obviously a follow up in order :-). I'll look into some of the industry magazine, and see what I can dig up. Don't always see them around. <Not about much... in recent years have become exceedingly thinly-disguised product and service endorsements... but still worthwhile to "read between the lines"... and particularly useful for their annual "Buyer's Guides".> -Yes I understand that beside fluidized bed, there is also the skimmer aspect of it. I've seen some even with 'bead filters' as well. I'll definitely talk to the guys at RK2. Even the RK2 guys have 'pallet' all-in-one filters (FBF, skimmer, UV interconnected) ready to go. Are you saying that there may be significant savings to be had by going their separate mechanicals rather than those interconnected systems ? <Yes... Rob and Chris Krechter are friends, but their units are exceedingly expensive.> -Yes there will probably have to be separate systems, cold water (if we do that), fresh water, marine-fish, and marine-invert/corals. Ironically, we may start out marine only, doing the two marine ones first and then rolling fresh in later. <Ironical? In what way/s?> Your comment 'at least two', is that in reference to marine fish and marine invert/corals - or two for each ? <At least two total... likely more> -Yes the quarantine is still an issue. I can see where you're saying a complete one-time use system (open, not closed for each quarantine batch), will essentially neutralize that system. I guess within a batch, there is going to be issues where some may be sick (perhaps unavoidable no matter how good your suppliers are at times) and must be treated. But that also assumes a single shipment for every quarantine system that you have. <Or time frame more likely... as in all in, all out every two weeks or so...> -Obviously the dipping/guerilla acclimation will be followed diligently. -However, let's assume that everything is properly quarantined. If you somehow do get marine ich, or a parasite in your tank, how is that usually treated ? You obviously don't go fallow and flush out your entire store of whatever number of tanks do you ? Do you medicate your entire fish 'line' to remove it (that's a lot of meds that generally I imagine you don't want to do :), or will the aggressive UV (since home UV is marginally effective due to size/power) of a commercial unit work(150-300W) on eradicating it ? If that route is implemented, it will be sized and flowed following manufacturers recommended flow rates. I just can't imagine an entire fish line staying completely parasite free with the turnover that happens. With hobby tanks, it is achievable with diligent quarantining, but retail ?? <About all the above techniques do occur, are put in use... very much like the same challenges that face hobbyists...> -You mention subsystems, for a good network, how many ? Is it easier/better/cheaper to size smaller with multiple systems than doing two single larger ones. I mean having 6 or so 1000g lines are much easier to spec out (more availability of equipment) than two 3000/4000 (actually more like a 5000 and a 1000). <Mmm, both can be more difficult...> If its just a salinity issue, I'll drop that and not worry about salt costs, that's minor compared to labor.. . Tradeoff on multiple systems is maintenance, but how many are needed vs desired ? <Not salinity issue alone... safety, not having whole store with troubles (along with prophylactic measures of sterilizing nets, specimen containers...) due to mixing of water/systems> -Was looking at running a 500/1000 gph <Mmm, not this big, fast...> RO unit and having it go into a 1000 gallon water holding tank there. All water would then be run from there, as you indicated, the mixes would be 'tapped' from there, mixed, aerated, aged and them pumped to the salt water holding tanks (probably a 1000 gallon storage tank there as well). or it may be two tanks, with one for drawing from, while the second one was aged, but that just confuses things. <Okay> -Ah, yes on the ball valve cut off. I saw them on the returns to cut off a tank, not the other way. So with a return valve, do you recommend their use on individual tanks, or not useful at all ? If they are used to control flow, then I imagine they are needed/used. Ball valve or gate valves ? Gates, right ? <Ball are better IMO/E... if you use gates, silicone over the screws on the handles> -For returns, from an island on the floor setup, I imagine that you would drain to an intermediate sump and pump to your main sump ? <No, all to a/the main sumps> -The plan is to have all work done behind the tanks (there will be walkways behind the tanks out of customer view). <The costs of rental space needs to be considered here... do work on alternate lay-outs...> A bit more space, but I've seen some very elegant layouts where everything was dark (even lit) but all tanks were designed like they were in-wall (with sliding access covers above each tank). All work/plumbing was not visible and behind/above the tanks (with above being covered by the sliding access panels). -Human behaviour. Not trying to change human behaviour by hospitalizing fish - just trying to profit on it by providing a 'service'. Understand your point on being in the 'right' business though. <Very well> -May visit out there. Did you say Quality Marine and Underwater world are good places to visit to see this in action ? <Yes, as wholesalers... as are Sea Dwelling Creatures, All Seas... many others in the L.A. area.> Hmm, drygoods are that extensive huh ? I figured it was very important, but didn't realize that the fish were loss leaders. Sounds like all the work for fish is pretty much to draw people in to buy dry goods. <Bingo... that, and to keep the folks who work the floor/store so many days, hours from going bonkers, losing their sense of place...> We are planning on doing a large nice looking fish layout, but just to be slightly 'over the top' as that draws more traffic. I've noticed that I gravitate toward stores with very interesting fish, and ones that have 'amazing' displays. <A good approach> If drygoods are what drives this, then I imagine its better to have a few large display tanks 500gallon and 1000 gallon types, and work more on presentation of display for success. <Mmm, depends on your customer mix, what you are trying to achieve... I am more of the mind to display systems like your proposed "end-users" can/will employ... Hence, in some neighborhoods, smaller systems utilizing gear they can/will purchase from you makes more sense... In other settings, where you will be doing custom installs and maintenance (out of your shop), you will do better with more spectacular, larger set-ups> Sounds like a real disappointing way to proceed, but is all too frequent the reality behind the business huh ? <I find it neither disappointing, nor "real"... more a challenge and "made reality"> What do you mean, by re-visiting this issue ? Are there better methods to achieving this ? <Mmm, simply "forecasting" here... Retain our correspondence and come back and read it months, years later...> Perhaps direct importation of certain species from exporters in Indonesia/et al and dealing with the bad stock oneself ? (I actually have a lot of importation knowledge from another business I have, but not in live goods :). <You are getting way too far ahead of yourself here. Walk first, crawl if necessary> No real necessity on the equity side, but would like to make a go of it if I can do it without losing my shirt on it. It has been a nice hobby and I do have trusted people/family who would share in it. <Only proceed if "they" as in someone/s will/are committed to being there, as in "on the floor". Our old businesses, corporations built out dozens of stores for ourselves and other people... We got to the (good) point of not going ahead with any w/o this stipulation being met. I will not help you period (lost sleep, money, happiness, livestock) w/o a real partner. Bob Fenner> regards, Ed

Ich prevention (at the retail level) Anthony, et al Just curious. At one point I was thinking of opening a fish store (still in the back of my mind). Anyhow, I know quarantining is the safest method for hobbyists. However, how to local pet stores who bring in large quantities of fish into their display tanks prevent or treat ich ? Especially since all or a lot of them) are centrally plumbed to the same filter/skimmer ? If you did a system, chances are you would plumb most of your tanks to a common filter/water flow system. Anyhow, that would mean the Cryptocaryon irritans parasite has free flow into all the tanks - and would possibly infect all the tanks and their inhabitants. What is the general method to prevent ? just put it out and hope it doesn't break out. if it does, then put them in treatment tanks ? that gets ugly since chances are if one has it in a tank, the entire tank's inhabitants are possibly affected. Do stores have a constant flow of trace amounts of copper for prevention ? I know 99% of stores are not going to quarantine for two weeks, and ich is bound to break out at some point, and the entire system will be compromised. . . Any idea ? Thanks Ed <Most stores use one of several methods for parasite control. 1.) Separate systems for fish & inverts with the fish system maintaining a preventative level of copper or malachite green/formalin 2.) Massive UV and/or use of ozone 3.) Hyposalinity You can read much more on central systems under the Business section of WWM. -Steven Pro>

Re: Commercial setup questions Again, thanks for the time. It's more the architecting of the systems than anything else that determines setup. <Okay> Yes, I'm aware of RK2 being sinfully expensive, but also quite good. I got most of there information from their design site that isn't up yet :-). <Have been on those boys re this for... years now!> But since this isn't a commercial fishery (yet :), your point of multiple subsystems is definitely worth considering and brainstorming before deciding. I was actually more inclined to get two larger systems (probably small/mid size RK2 units) for the entire marine setup, than the multiple units. However, with the advantages of multiple subsystems (isolation, flexibility, eggs in one basket), the architecting is significantly different - basically having filter/skimmer setups for each 'line' would be called for. In that case, the RK2 stuff would be overkill, and probably more along the lines of multiple Marine Technical's, ETSS's larger commercial units running for each 'subsystem'. <Better, yes> -OK, did some research on UV and dwell times and parasitic death/mutations. It appears that high powered UV is what is used at a lot of places to keep these under control and does it quite well. Just not as effective at hobby levels. . Still no substitute for quarantine and dipping, but definitely nice to know. <Yes> -Now have to think about quarantining systems for a few days. It may be better to consider quarantining offsite (away from retail space), if it gets extensive. However, depends on shipment timing and as you said - all in, all out, or running two lines for q-tank. Off site quarantining and then shipping in would be the ideal way, but obviously, walking first would be better. <Yes... have tried to talk, shame, harass the trade into providing better livestock at the collection through pre- and post-retailer levels all my professional life> Was just thinking offsite, since that could essentially be done now for some experience :-) - get 12-16 tank holding system, bring them in, dip, and hold in q-tanks and get used to that whole 'process'. <Too stressful to be too "off-site"... many advantages, real and P.R. wise to being "on-site". Would easily trade off the "behind the tanks" space for a "receiving/quarantine room".> -Layouts- always an issue. I've seen a lot of purely functional layouts (98% of all fish stores), and a few just amazing layouts. I was more impressed with those layouts as it brought a tremendous amount of traffic just from the 'aquarium' look of things. That 'in-wall' type of look with nice tank setups (a few sand beds, rock aquascaping, interesting specimens, etc) in a nice dark environment outside of tank lighting was quite impressive. The goal is to bring people in and let them bring others in. <Yes... need to have enough personnel to watch shop while whoever is behind the tanks doing maintenance, livestock catching...> From there, if they are just looking - great, enjoy. If they want to buy, then you've got them into your store and hopefully you'll have the items they need/want available that PetSmart doesn't. <... embrace the "other" competitors as your best allies... You will greatly learn and benefit from their existence in this way> I've got a layout in mind, sort of like a big horseshow possibly a double horseshoe) with another aisle down the middle (about 8 ft wide and tanks on either side. That gives a U shape with the ability for people to walk down and back onto the other side and tanks on both sides for them. Middle aisle will have a door on one end for behind access. Since its 'cut off' from the back, not sure how to get drain to the back unless you pump it, or have raised flooring (next question). Each end section will have a show tank - probably a 300G coral reef tank, a 300G aggressive tank, and possibly even a 1000G shark tank in the middle. Still debating the shark tank as I'm not as big a fan as possibly just having tangs, angels, triggers in another larger aggressive tank. They are more personable when people come to see them, than a shark hiding away behind rocks. . . -have seen some stores with raised flooring. Basically wood deck type of flooring. I imagine its mainly to drain from spilling, etc. I've also seen plenty with just plain concrete flooring. I prefer the nice carpeted approach, just have to be diligent about spills (and run a dehumidifier). <Much to discuss, consider here... draw all out on paper... to scale... go and visit potential rental properties... locate ones with existing floor drains, enough amperage, signage... if you can.> -yes our approach is a bit more on the 'wow' end - then again, marine systems are a bit on the more expensive end anyhow. We will still carry a lot of supplies to start people off with as that is the best way to bring people into this hobby. But the goal is to go over the top, to have a setup where people know that you are the best marine setup in town. <Ah, excellent> There isn't a lot of marine stuff within 45 miles of here, and the rest is all picked up by a local pet**** chain. Even the ones further away, while good won't have the draw. I believe presentation does a lot to draw people in - just a matter now of whether to be more a an impressive display with show tanks, and push dry goods, or to have 48 nicely laid out 40/60/80 gallon display tanks. <Up to you... your perceptions about who you want to be... what the "market" will accept, adapt to> -Yes this isn't a lone one person run shop. I've owned businesses before and understand the need for 'on the floor' management. This is by no means going to be a one person with one employee setup. . . I have two others who are interesting in being there and doing the work necessary as am I as well. I just happen to be the equity side of things. <Ahh, a relief to read. Very good> Unfortunately doing things small/slowly has never been real palatable to me, rather than doing it right. I may have to check some of my enthusiasm here to prevent me from opening an aquarium :-), but it is something that has been brewing awhile (as you can tell with what I do know, and unfortunately don't know). It's at the stage now, where my wife says I'm almost doing an art exhibit with the ability to buy said displayed art. . . That's ok though, as that means you're getting the right package display across, which is good for retail. <Yes... there are "show-case" shops... Are their aquarium service companies in your area? If so, you'd do well to chat your proposal for a retail outlet over with them. Bob Fenner> Ed

Re: Commercial setup questions Robert, Thanks again. I'll work on getting you a sketch of the layout. <I'll be out of the country the next month, starting tomorrow> We've been looking at places awhile. The economy has made available some places that were previous not (a good and bad thing I guess). Once I've finished a Visio drawing or something, is there somewhere I can get it to you for review/comments ? <Yes, here (the Net) or fax: 858-XXX-XXX> We were thinking a bit larger at larger at 3200 sqft, but there is also a 2200 sq ft space. I presume you're going to tell me to walk/crawl at 2200 :-). . . <No... don't start too small> So depending upon whether its 3200sqft (that's 6 aisles) vs. 2200 sqft which is 4 aisles, that'll probably be how many 'subsystems' I do. I guess I'll start looking at MarineTechnical and ETSS units, although I'm partial to Beckett air injectors. Will also look at possible a RK2 holding system for quarantine as well. I've heard they have good cells specifically for this (probably for uwwe or others). need to do a floor layout to determine where/how this will work. There is one individual that I know of who services aquariums (student at a local university). There are two companies about 45 miles away that do do this sort of thing. I have very good relations (as a customer) to those two stores. <Would they allow you to "hang out" a day or two a week for a couple of months?> I don't really want to 'be' a particular person. I prefer to stay in the background to the extent that I want the store to be the focal point. <People come into stores for a few reasons... definitely the displays, merchandise, pricing... but also for the staff... know this> We do want the store to be the best and have the means (capital and/or otherwise) to do it, as there just isn't much around here (the chain that does have salt is weak, and the larger national chain doesn't do salt outside of dry goods). But you do bring up and interesting scenario that I completely didn't realize, that dry goods are your bread and butter. That everything else is customer draw. if that is the case, then I may/should re-configure some layout to emphasize an extensive selection of dry goods (almost like a PetSmart or something for freshwater) to capitalize on that. . . The only good thing is that we have the capital to make it happen, we just have to 'do it' and hopefully find a way to succeed. . . Ed <Many paths my friend. You have the business background, seem to have the pet-fish knowledge... now, formulate a winning formula for putting them together. I will help you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Shelving units for aquariums I am wanting to open up a pet shop & have had a difficult time finding out where to purchase a shelving/rack system to hold the fish aquariums in the shop. Do you know of any supplier that handles shelving for the pet shop aquariums? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Tina Sutherland <Both Marineland and Dutch Reef Aquariums sell ready made tank/shelf systems, as well as, various acrylic manufacturers. Give a read through http://www.wetwebmedia.com/indarts.htm As a fellow industry professional, I cannot stress enough the importance of a good business plan and sufficient capital. -Steven Pro>

Fish room construction Hello, I really enjoy your web site, and appreciate the great information posted there. I am in the process of building a new home and will have a large area as a dedicated fish room. I keep mostly African Cichlids, and anticipate having 2 multi tank systems of ~400 gallons each with separate central filtration systems. I plan another multi tank rack of approximately the same volume but with smaller individual tanks, with sponge and box filtration, and 3 large community tanks (125-200+ gallons each). I have been trying to research central filtration options, and options for the tank racks, and have found some good general information, but I'm looking for some specifics. Even if they do not match my proposal exactly, I'm early enough in the planning stage to be able to adapt. Do you have any suggestions or thoughts? Thank you for your time- Tom <Several of Martin Moe's books have drawing for laying out a fish room. I would also look and see if there is a local aquarium society in your area. I would go make friends and tour some of their fish rooms. -Steven Pro>

Filtration question I really like your site it has been helpful. I need an overflow system for my store. Can you help me? 216.676.XXXX <Perhaps. But not by calling. What is it you seek? Bob Fenner>

Hi Bob (new fish store dreaming/planning, salinity measures, introspections into the nature of the truth) Hope all is well in your end of the world. I'm not having much luck finding anyone in the area who needs help so I can get some experience in the retail end of things. <Know that this is not a "very" sophisticated industry Mike... No real written history, legacy of operations, set-up...> I'm still looking though. Helping Susie w/her job search and getting our condo in Denver sold is eating up a lot of time too though. So it goes. <Yes, many obligations, tasks in this "modern" life> On to happier things: Well, I've started the ball rolling on getting a 5.5g setup for a mantis that someone is holding for me over on reefcentral. Things are going well but I've got one equipment issue I need help on. I purchased a Seatest hydrometer, and so far I've gotten 2 different readings for tapwater, let alone when I test the saltwater I've mixed up... At any rate, could you recommend a good brand please? <Of hydrometer? This is fine... not accurate, but precise (gives about the same inaccurate measures consistently)... do check and make the samples about the same temperature, learn to "tap" the box on a corner to "knock off" the little bubbles on the "pointer"... and not worry re spg measures to a great degree... Unless it's very important to know, set salinity... in which case there are other types of measures: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm In which case you may want to invest in a refractometer> Also, isn't the usual ratio for salt/water 1 cup/gallon? I can't read the directions on the bag, they're in German. I'm just fishing for an opinion, as I'll be stopping by the LFS to return the hydrometer this afternoon and I'll pin down the owner as to what exactly the ratios should be. <Better to "size all up" (like in fast food restaurants) and make a mark in your pre-mix/storage container for a "whole bag"... fill up to this mark with freshwater, toss in the contents of the whole bag...> Thanks Bob for all your help and support, Mike (I just realized how right you were when you said that if I hung out long enough, I'd start answering questions. You wouldn't happen to have any good ideas for the numbers on the next powerball drawing would you, since you're psychic and all? ; ) ) <That would be cheating... you and your future. Likely you've heard the old saw about "paying your dues" before you can "sing the blues"... You're not ready to sing my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sealant for acrylic sheets and concrete Dear sir, We have to set up a sea world in south India for which we have to create an acrylic tunnel with 60 mm thick bent acrylic sheets and butt joined. we have also to create other acrylic panels joined as butt joints. please advise the kind of adhesive required by us for butt joining of acrylic sheets. <Hmm, who is doing this install? I would hire the folks out of Australia here (am sure you know who I'm referring to) to make these welds sonically (expensive gear, technology) rather than fooling with solvents...> we have also to seal the joints between acrylic panels and the concrete groves in which the butt jointed panels will be fixed for tunnel and for other panels as well. Please advise us the kind of sealant required for joining and sealing joints between acrylic and concrete groves <Once again, don't do any of this yourselves... these latter panel areas need to be set in a steel groove and bolted ahead of embedding in silicone based material...> please quote the CIF price including applying details/ fixing details and the packing details etc. for sealants if you can arrange. we are also looking for filtration system for 1million litres of salt water per hour and technical people who can work for us on the project. <Have Lawson, Worley, other full-engineering firms that do "exhibit design, engineering, install" fly out, bid this work> in what other areas you can provide support, please let us know. regards Suresh Chawla indoitalian@yahoo.com <I will send your note around, and post it on our principal site (WetWebMedia.com) to solicit other peoples notice. Bob Fenner>

Equipment Inventory! <New business help> Hi, I have been keeping marine fish for fifteen years now. I have invested a tremendous amount of time and money into this hobby. I LOVE IT! We are establishing a wholesale/retail business for sell of livestock (corals) and equipment via the Internet, primarily. It was a simple task to locate livestock breeders, however I have met with opposition when attempting to purchase equipment from manufacturers wholesale. <Welcome to the trade, and be assured I can and will help you in your endeavors> Well known equipment manufacturers are insisting on charging my company just under retail prices! These equipment manufacturers appear to be furtively refusing to deal with a small unknown dealer in accordance with some unknown code between themselves and established retailers! Can you provide me with contact information for equipment manufacturers intent of doing business! <Mmm, how should we proceed at this point? Let's take this program, planning a step at a time for now. Please tell me a specific kind of gear you're looking for, and I will try to guide you to a reasonable source. I suspect that the folks you may have contacted are/were leery of the possibility that you were "a consumer looking for deals"... rather than an earnest entrepreneur... You do have the "trappings" of an intended business? Fictitious name, licensing, logo/stationary, business and marketing plans? Have you worked in the field for someone else who can/will give you reference? Tell my where you are located, will be located geographically... do you have "Pet Business Magazine" annual Buyer's Guide? Attended any industry trade shows? Let us communicate. Bob Fenner> --- Kirk Davis

Re: Equipment Inventory! (Joining the trade) Thank you for responding. It is also my intention to take it one step at a time. As far as equipment goes, we are looking to stock small quantities of powerheads, air pumps, filters of all sorts, chillers, etceteras; general supplies. <For the "less expensive" items (under let's say twenty, thirty dollars cost, I would buy/get these from a local distributor, or even (if small number needed only) from etailers (Our old companies found it cheaper to buy Eheim canister filters this way...). For more expensive gear, let's identify the maker, US distributors and contact them> Our primary focus revolves around the sell of corals. I would agree with you when you say, "I suspect that the folks you may have contacted are/were leery of the possibility that you were "a consumer looking for deals"... rather than an earnest entrepreneur." This may be true, however, I suspect there is a greater agenda at hand. Quantity and corporate or pertinent wholesale distribution credentials was never discussed. We were shut down after requesting a wholesale price list. No doubt, I would have received a better response if we were Pet Smart or PetCo. <Mmm, not so sure re any "greater" or even an "agenda"... have been in the trade for more than a third of a century, and worked for Petco putting together their aquatics drygoods and livestock program for three years in the early nineties... If anything, name recognition just grants acceptability as legitimate players... you will get the same by altering your approach. If you were in a "trade show" setting for instance, or mailed/faxed your company letterhead to a distributor, manufacturer, you would receive legitimacy/service> Our corporate headquarters is located in Hayward, California. We do not have any references, except for the retailers that we have patronized in the past. <In Hayward? Please contact Dr. Bob Rofen at Kordon/Novalek in your town (his/their link/addr. on our links pages), and ask him for an audience. He is a paragon of excellence in our trade... built a good deal of it... and will know how to "show you about" the industry, aid you tremendously "hard and software" at this juncture. Please ask if he doesn't have time for a referral in turn... and mention that I asked this favor> Unfortunately, these references are not the type needed. Fortunately, our lack of references will not dictate our level of success in this business. Our level of success will be measured by the quality of service and products provided! <No my friend, both are requisite. If you can't, won't become steadfast partners in the trade itself, this will direly hold you back... Think about this thoroughly> My partners and I have been maintaining marine reef tanks for a very long time now, we saw a noticeable lack of coral livestock in our local stores. <And, the bizillion dollar question of the moment, "Why do you think this is the case?"... these are different endeavors, markets... as you will come to understand... If you have the resources, inclination, work in a retail setting for a few weeks to months... you will understand> We decided to help meet this need. We should be allowed the chance to flourish into a large profitable franchise! <Allowed? I certainly welcome you, and will aid anyone who contributes to the hobby, business, science of aquaristics... You will find that others in our trade are willing helpers of such enterprises as well> Although we will not be purchasing high volume to start with, our business still equates to a profit! What don't they understand, to offer us reasonable wholesale prices now to assist in our growth, is to ultimately reinvest in themselves for the future! <There are "reasonable" signal releasers, indications that people are "participants" or "just looking"... Perhaps you and your cohorts don't yet "look the part"... As I asked in our last corr., do you have a business plan, marketing plan, fictitious name statement, business license, stationary/business cards? Do come down to the WWPSA trade show in Anaheim next month with same, and I will show you about to as much of the trade as you likely want/need to be aware of at this point. Link to the show on the WWM links pages. Bob Fenner>

Re: Equipment Inventory! I would like to thank you for taking the time to provide us with a little knowledge. My business partners and I formed a closely-held S-Corporation in 1999. We currently provide services in the medical industry. To answer your question directly, yes we possess the necessary credentials needed to conduct business in the State of California. Have we written up a formal business plan for this particular venture yet? The answer is no! Our primary focus at this point is establishing report(s) and account(s) with the proper equipment manufacturers, and the cultivation of our primary product (corals). <This writing/documentation will REALLY help all the way around... to make clearer in your mind "who you want to be", how you're going to go about your business, how long it will take to see it profitable... and much more... including being able to show to prospective suppliers for authentication> We currently have a merchant enabled website through Card Service International that is not being utilized. Originally, our current business was introduced as an Internet company. However, we found that clients in the medical industry remain traditional in their approach to purchasing. I have found the aquatic industry to be far more liberal when implementing the Internet as a viable selling tool. <This is a very kind term> One contributing factor would be a broader demographic yielding a substantially greater prospective client base. <Greater than medical?> Our plan is to shut down our current web application and reopen it as a merchant enabled on-line catalog for live corals. <A viable outlet I am confident> Prospective customers can browse our site for the latest coral species featured, or equipment. As you already know, on-line customers are searching for a better deal and great service! It is important that we purchase directly from the manufacturer whenever possible as a means of cutting costs. We are also interested in any avenues that you have established with regards to on-line promotions. <Hmm, we do have the largest audience...> What are the exact dates of the WWPSA convention next month? <Posted the link on the WWM Links page... it's the 8-11. Hope to see you there. Bob Fenner>

Re: Equipment Inventory! (aquatics business) Thank you for your words of wisdom, however, a lesson in business 101 is not needed! The importance of a plan is not foreign to me. Presently, I am thirty-one years of age and I have written and assisted in the writing of five major plans for business ventures! Two were funded, and one is pending. The point is, per my experience, business plans are essential to the company, shareholders, and lenders. No manufacturer, supplier and/or distributor has ever requested to view our plans for the purpose of corporate validation. <I agree for other business "types"... the ornamental aquatics business is substantially different than any other I'm familiar with... as I'm sure you will come to agree> This information can be obtained by anyone through dedicated public sources. I am not asking for investment from you or these manufacturers. All I requested was contact information for the necessary equipment manufacturers. Is the submission of our plan part of your personal screening process? <Yes, a good way to put this> Please inform me. Otherwise the contents of such a plan would undoubtedly be proprietary information. <Just the overview will be sufficient... otherwise, you can likely dispense with the possibility altogether... I encouraged the exercise for the dual purpose; that just gone over, and to assure myself that you folks were ready for the business end of the proposition. At this point, you can gain entry into the legitimate parts of the trade by way of careful association as I've stated> Either you can, or cannot assist us by providing us with the requested information! Also, you failed to provide me with the exact dates of the WWPSA convention. <Bizarre! I see the notice is missing from the string below, but it did come over and I posted same on the WWM recent FAQs pages... See the link there: the dates are next month, July 8-11 in Anaheim... Bob Fenner> Thank you.

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