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Related Articles: Stocking a BusinessDrygoods in Business, Livestocking a Business, Fish Food Business, Selling Aquarium Set-ups, Selling Tank Set-ups Right, The Mini-Reef Revolution, Custom Aquariums, Aquarium Lighting, Selling Aquarium Filtration, Freshwater Filters, Saltwater Filters, Pumps (air and water), Ultraviolet Sterilizers, Fish Food  & Feeding Accessories, Merchandising Corals and Shells

/Go Rin No Sho of Business

The Right Filter For the Right Fish: Freshwater

Bob Fenner  

Of the many options available in the way of filtration for particular species, sizes, mixes, biotopes and freshwater live-holding systems it seems there might be some kind of consensus on what's "best" for the particular system and organisms in question. Of course there's not! Not only does selection depend on you and your staff's sophistication, what you stock and what your customers' perception of value and ability to pay is; there exists the fun and aggravation of what other hobbyist's opinion's have been listened to, the information, disinformation, mis-information, lack of information of magazines, books, video's, even television and movies. What's a successful retailer to do? My suggestions re what to stock, sources of info. and product, and how to merchandise freshwater filter systems follows.

What Filters:

 Few of us require a discourse on appropriate filter types for the various types of systems and their intended purpose. My biases and their rationale: I like to stock two lines of each type of filter; a best and one alternate (premium). We do this for sponge, canister, outside power, "box", inside power, inexpensive and good undergravel filters. I want to give credit for my best/alternate selection where credit's due: Sears Roebucks. A philosophy of having one choice per type in two price ranges and no more works well for us. Unless you have oodles of money, display space, adequately trained staff to present all sorts of pros and cons for more than two choices, I urge you to stick by this method. I think more choices confuses and disconcerts the customer. Maybe you're a giant chain type or have super-sophisticated customers who demand a broader selection, but I ask you: Is there really not just the best of it's kind and number two at a smaller price, in your opinion, in each filter category/type? I thought so.

Bob's Choices for Freshwater Filters by System/Organisms, Type System/Organisms Brands/Manufacturer

Sponge Breeders, Goldfish Tetra, Jungle quarantine, sick tank Fritz

Box Same and some cichlids Lustar, others

Outside Power All large systems, All Second Nature, with large organisms Hagen, Supreme,

Penguin (Marineland)

Inside Power Live plant systems, to Eheim, Fluval, augment other filters Supreme,

Power Heads To increase efficiency, Aquarium Systems, circulation/undergravel Hagen

Canister Large, live plant, higher Eheim, Fluval water quality, lower maintenance situations 

Wet-Dry Yes for freshwater, see for Tru-vu, Advanced canister filters, for even Aquatic Tech.

more demanding conditions 

Under-gravel Many types of freshwater Lee's (two grades)

Note: I mention power heads here as an adjunct to filtering. We stock two lines of "pump-types" for several applications.

I realize my reasons for my choices, I trust that you and your staff have your own. Ease of maintenance, service, energy consumption, longevity I factor in strongly with actual function. For instance, though Supreme's outside power filters retail for more, use more electricity than magnetic drive units (they're shaft or direct driven), I judge them highly due to their sturdiness and high flow rates. Many people seem to like the Hagen power heads that can be set-up as reverse-flow... There is, as usual an element of personal subjective evaluation. My point, again, is to 1) Urge you to have few (two) choices 2) Know and 3) Be able and ready to explain your choices and their reasons. At our stores, we've gone so far as to print our rationale on "shelf talkers" immediately next to the price.

Sources of Information & Product:

The hands-down choices for what's hot, available and desired by your customers are 1) Trade and hobbyist magazines, 2) Industry shows and seminars and 3) The hobbyist customers themselves.

The "Zines" are best for up-to-date breaking news. I get and scan all of them. Freshwater & Marine Aquarium Magazine is by far the most representative of what's in front of the hobbyist. They have extensive advertising, a what's new section, and a hobbyist write-in column with ideas for (sometimes novel) applications and adaptations. You may not like the direct-mail advertisers listing there, but rest-assured, your customers are probably aware of them. Check out the lines they're offering; the discounters are very market-driven, offering any and all of the most desired gear. You can learn a great deal from studying them and earn a great deal by emulating them.

Trade shows and seminars can't be beat as an opportunity to question and challenge manufacturer and distributor rep.s as to the benefits, operation and merchandising of their products. Many have technical liaisons at the show who can offer you insights otherwise not available.

The hobbyist/customer's opinions and requests are not to be ignored. They are the reason we are in business. We utilize a humble spiral bound notebook as a vehicle for recording requests and inquiries by our customers. We pull this list out weekly when doing our dry-goods ordering.


 Here are some of my best ideas for selling filters: 1) Display your top line of each filter-type in actual operation. Whether on for-show-only systems or on-line with livestock-holding, put on a real demonstration. We use taped labels from the containers of the filters and their media attached right to the filter bodies. Eheim and others have clear and cut away filters for such demonstrations. They work! 2) Work up displays as separate items as well a completely outfitted, even with an installation option. Related valves, media, timers... are all part of the sale, exhibit them as such. 3) Seal (tape) boxes closed! Maybe you do trust that parts won't get lost or lifted; explaining and "making it right" to the real buyer is costly and time consuming. If necessary, open and re-seal original cartons for the prospective buyer; which brings us to 4) Parts: do stock all necessary replacement parts for the lines you re-sell. These can, and should be, well marked-up to cover the time required for servicing the client. I encourage you to parade these in front of the public behind glass or a counter.

So there you have it. One person's opinions on what's best in the way of freshwater filters, how to get to know and order them, and some notes on how I suggest retailing them. 


Kati-Ani info, and water storage  9/13/05 Hello, I was searching your site on information on storing water softened by one of our "Reionator" systems, and found some threads on cation/anion exchange.  That is exactly how our system works; it is a water conditioning system that utilizes a patented multi-resin bed (both cations and anions) that not only removes the hardness, but contaminants like chlorine, nitrates and sulfates to name a few.  It is regenerated with potassium chloride so that the water is sodium-free.  If any of your readers are interested in obtaining more information, they can email me at alpine_water@msn.com <mailto:alpine_water@msn.com> or visit our website at www.alpinewatertech.com<http://www.alpinewatertech.com/>.  The patent was obtained in 1987, and the Reionator is a revolutionary product worth investigating. We also sell a terrific 5-stage reverse osmosis system that has a pressure gauge, membrane flush, and designer chrome faucet.  In our area we sell it for $259.00 including installation, but would drop-ship it to anyone to install themselves for $175.00. Back to my original concern...do you know about storing softened water?  Any idea what the shelf life would be?  Thank you very much <Water needs to be stored in a darkened area, and preferably cool. I would minimize any air space in the container, that is, fill it up to the brim and seal tightly.  As far as shelf life, it depends on the coolness of the storage area and the purity of the water being stored.  James (Salty Dog)>

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