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Ontario Retailer        5/8/14
I own an aquarium specialty store of 2500 sqft in Waterloo, Ontario,
<Congratulations to you!>
I stumbled across your forum and now I'm addicted! Lol
I was looking to do something very similar hoping mainly to get ideas from
other store owners on ideas to increase sales etc. Your site seems to be exactly what I'm looking for and I'm wondering how I would get more involved and how I post questions etc.
<As you're doing now>

My store has freshwater fish, saltwater fish, plants and corals along with a
wide variety of dry goods. We opened in Dec. 2011 and so far so good.
I'm always looking for ways to increase sales and interest in the aquarium
Any advice would be appreciated on how I can better make use of your site.
<Do read through the Business Subweb:

for input, ideas.... Stay curious; and write if/when you'd like to chat further>
Stace Bleich
Aquariums by Design
668 Erb St. West, Waterloo
committed to being green in a world of blue
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Expanding my maintenance company     3/7/13
First, I'd like to thank you for this platform you have provided for me and other aquarist to ask questions and get answers.
I own an aquarium service company. It started as a side job while working at a LFS. The store doesn't offer this service so they gave the accounts to people at the store.
<A win win for all>
Over time I have built up between 40-50 accounts, some I service weekly, others I service monthly. As I got more and more accounts I formed a LLC to protect myself and do things the right way. Things have been going very well and I'm enjoying what I'm doing, although stressful at times.
<I did this for 19 years; can/do appreciate>
I am faced with a few decisions to make.
1. I am still working at the store and would really like to break away. I am making enough on my own that I don't need the paycheck from the store. I wouldn't lose any customers but I highly doubt I would gain anymore from them either.
<Mmm, I would discuss w/ the owner/s, manager/s re... Perhaps you can pay for their leads, installs? Some few months equivalent of the monthly charge. Or some (less likely) commitment to continue to buy drygoods, livestock through them>
This is a major concern of mine but I feel like if I continue to work at the store, I will not be able to grow my business any larger.
<I assure you this is not the case. In fact, there are many "other" customers/accounts that you can/will generate that won't/don't actually go to stores... You should expand your marketing possibilities. We can talk over, or you can begin by just reading the business subweb on WWM>
I want to take it to the next level. If I leave the store, this will be the first major career risk that I have taken in my life. I will be depending solely  on myself.
<This is all you've ever had>
2. I do not have any opportunity to set up holding tanks at my house
<Really? No room at all? Maybe you can/should move to a larger residence; maybe one w/ a garage or even separate structure>
 so I was considering looking for a warehouse to set up a few tanks to start bringing in my own coral. I already have wholesale accounts set up and I have an outlet (my maintenance customers) to get rid of the coral.
 While searching I found a very small location, 250 sq.ft. I would be able to sell retail
<... don't do this. Not worth the time, headaches>
 from this location if I wanted to, but this isn't my plan. I would start with one tank, large enough to hold about 50-100pc of coral. Having a commercial location will also allow me to receive deliveries from many of the major distributors that only sell to stores, this way I will be able to get aquariums, filters, and other dry goods. Rent is very cheap for my area, under $500 + utilities.
My main concern is that I will overextend myself.
<You are wise here. Most businesses fail from one of two causes:
Undercapitalization or poor management... both symptomatic of "over-extension">
 Even though the rent is cheap, as of right now I have very little overhead.
<Again; does it make more sense to "put the rent/$500 into a better combo.
living and business place instead? The time not lost from driving back and forth is of major importance>
 If I decide to sign the lease, I would have overhead, but Also an opportunity to make even more money since I would essentially be breaking away form the store and any profit they were making off my sales will be mine.
How can I decide if this is a risk worth taking?
<Only you can decide... but there are tools that can help you... See here:
for a brief review of decision making/selecting location/s...>
 What am I overlooking or have not taken into consideration?
<Just data you may already be aware of, a plan of decision. Not to worry, you're apparently doing most all fine.>
Thanks for you time.
-Richard from Florida
<Glad to assist your efforts. Bob Fenner>
Re: Expanding my maintenance company    4/3/13

Thank you for your reply.
I have since decided to scrap the plan of getting a retail/warehouse location. You are right, the time and money that I would have to put into it would <not> be worth the effort. I would have to sell so much just to break even.
The original reason why I wanted to get a warehouse/retail was because of humidity and also not having a large space. With your help, I decided to figure out a way to make it work so I invested in a dehumidifier and a few shallow aquariums to put in my town house.
<Good; best to start, and even "stay small" in terms of ones "foot print", and overhead>
The 500+/month that I would have to spend will now stay in my pocket and/or go to coral/livestock and my overhead will stay very low like it currently is.
I am still working at the store while trying to figure out the best way to leave on good terms and hopefully continue to get clients from them. Like i mentioned in the last email, my main concern is getting new cliental. In my last email I said/you responded:
"This is a major concern of mine but I feel like if I continue to work at the store, I will not be able to grow my business any larger.
<I assure you this is not the case. In fact, there are many "other" customers/accounts that you can/will generate that won't/don't actually go to stores... You should expand your marketing possibilities. We can talk over, or you can begin by just reading the business subweb on WWM>"
Can you elaborate on this? What tips do you have to market myself and get new accounts that don't go to stores?
<Ask your current customers for leads... ask your commercial accounts if it'd be okay to put out a business card holder near or even on the tank...
Have classy stickers made and affix these to the stands, tanks of your accounts... Overall be pro-active in promoting your business. Are there business associations in your area? Medical, dental et al? Ask re how they get their meeting speakers... Sign up to give "aquariums in your office, benefits/plusses" via their speakers bureaus>
 What other marketing possibilities are out there?
<Almost endless. Ask other folks in diverse service industries... Plumbers, Landscape, Office-scape, Designers... how they generate leads, accounts... Offer to co-work w/ them>
 I am currently on Facebook and 90% done with a website which I plan on putting on Google Adwords (pay per click) and Google Places (free).
<Mmm, this should help, but DO be much more "mano a mano" locally... Really more effective use of your time. Bob Fenner>
Thank you for your time and help. I truly appreciate it.

To swap or not to Swap? Frag momma frag, whatcha gonna do?     10/1/11
Hi Folks,
<Hello John>
I'm looking for some fatherly advice...of sorts. I started my own marine store 2 years ago. It's growing very nicely and has exceeded my expectations.
Some of my customers have suggested I hold a frag swap at the store.
I'm torn as to what to do. My pros and cons list is equal. My main pro is that it would get people into the store. My main con is that I would lose sales. I need some advice to push me over the edge one way or
Thanks for your Time!
<Worth trying in my estimation... along w/ some other promotion/al... sales at your shop. Have a sign up process, offer to sell supplies... Better for your customers to do their fragging w/ skilled, knowledgeable guidance at your store than elsewhere eh? Bob Fenner>

Fish Merchandising cards? 8/5/11
Bob and Crew,
About a year or two ago I saw an ad in one of the pet industry mag.s for a company that had sets of labels or cards for fish stores with the fish name, picture, info and a place for price. These were made to keep behind the counter and when you had the certain fish in stock you'd go through the hundreds of labels and find the fish you ordered and put on the tank for the customers to see.
<You likely mean Quality Marine and their label program:
I've been searching for this company or product for awhile now, does anyone over there know who this company was or know of a product like this that pet stores can buy?
<Mmm, and there was an outfit, I think in Omaha or Lincoln/NE named Pet Connection or such that sold these separately. Don't see their link>
Also, any suggestions for the best ways found to label the tanks for prices?
<"Ink pens" and someone with good script>
Everything seems to wipe off too easily, and the ptouch is just so expensive for the labels... What have you guys found to work
<The above... Distinctive, easily changed>
Thanks guys,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Marineland Promotion:  1/7/11
 Hey Bob,
We are launching a new section in our website and thought you might be interested in it.
Here is the canned info below.
Hope you had a great holiday season and you are doing well.

Below is an email that will go out to our email database next week about our sweepstakes to introduce Marineland's new section on our website that will feature user added content and will also soon include user generated ratings and reviews, ask and answer section, as well as an ask the expert section. Please feel free to post to give your readers an early chance to submit stories and enter the sweepstakes.
Hey Les! Is this public domain? I.e., can we post to WetWebMedia.com?
Cheers, and happy new year, BobF
Feel free to post!

You could win your choice of FREE Marineland LED Lighting!

Share your story with us.
'¢ What inspired you? Who inhabits your aquarium?
Any funny fish tales?
'¢ What makes your aquarium unique or interesting?
'¢ Submit photos or a video with your story.

Enter the Oooh-Aaahquariums! Sweepstakes.
Click here http://www.marineland.com/MarinelandStories.aspx

Marineland's new LED lighting systems.
The most natural light under the sun.
And moon.
© 2010 Marineland

Les Wilson
Director Marketing- Equipment
United Pet Group Aquatic Division

Re: Fish retail piece  12/10/10
Hello Bob,
Here's the text, for your perusal and commentary.
<Have read over and will post as such... I too don't deem this pc. "too pertinent" to the trade. BobF>
While it's interesting in itself, I'm not clear what the fish hobby/trade side of things might be. If this was me, and Cornelia was willing, I'd like to see this integrated with some experience from an aquarium retailer, so that an overall "synthesis" might be extracted. In other words, here's the general retail environment, and here's some advice for those selling aquarium fish and dry goods.
For example, Cornelia mentions deals for bulk purchases. Many aquarium shops can do this easily, i.e., six schooling fish for the price of five, and in doing so, they promote better fishkeeping as well as the welfare of such fish. Likewise she mentions impulse purchases. Over here in England it's pretty common for retailers to place bags of bloodworms and such by the checkout tills. For 50p or three for a pound, they're extras with a healthy profit margin, plus some fun for the aquarist when he or she gets home.
On the other hand, offering hot beverages may not be an option in stores where livestock is being sold, so she'll want to check that's an option. I probably wouldn't want a drink handed to me by someone who's been fishing out dead guppies!
One aspect she might want to review in some more depth is location. Here in England the most successful chain routinely places its stores in garden centres. The two retailers seem to attract similar sorts of clients, and it has to be working well given how rapidly Maidenhead Aquatics has expanded.
But with that said, they've just opened their first boutique-style store in an upmarket mall. It's a fascinating store with very specific sort of customers in mind, and the types of fish and hardware being sold reflect that.
Anyway, a bunch of my own ramblings there for you two to think about!
Cheers, Neale


Title: Retail sales jump 1.2%, encouraging hope for Christmas plus 5 simple suggestions to boost your sales.

The Commerce Department announced that October '10 sales for the retail industry jumped 1.2 percent from the previous month, the biggest gain since March. The increase was driven by a 5 per cent spike in auto sales, which analysts said was particularly encouraging as it showed consumers were ready to tackle big-ticket purchases. Furthermore, September's sales gain was revised upward coming from a 0.6 percent increase to 0.7 percent.

Still, shoppers remained choosy about where they spent their dollars.
Furniture stores and electronics retailers each suffered a 0.7 percent drop in sales. Department store sales also declined 0.7 percent, while health-care stores dipped 0.1 percent.

Instead, shoppers returned to restaurants and bars, sending sales up 0. 3 %. On-line retailers, which have held up a lot better than their bricks-and-mortar counterparts, registered a 0.8 percent jump. Consumers also bought more clothing, a 0.7 percent increase.

Excluding autos, retail sales rose a decent 0.4 percent, in spite of the mixed performance across sectors. Retailers are hoping that this momentum will fuel the all-important holidays.

Based on a survey by the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, nearly 11 percent of consumers have finished at least half of their holiday shopping, up from just greater than 9 percent a year ago. The group predicted shopper's average spending would inch approximately $688.87 in 2010, a 1 percent increase over a year ago.

The NRF's annual holiday survey found that more shoppers are expected to purchase gifts for family and friends - as well as themselves. The amount of consumers who said they planned to indulge themselves rose eight percentage points to 57 percent in 2010.

The forecasts, coupled with the new October data, paint an image of consumers treading carefully on their way to the mall. Economists say that spending is unlikely to rebound without a corresponding improvement inside the job market.

The unemployment rate remains stuck at nearly Ten percent, data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed hope. Mass layoffs have declined in dimensions and frequency. And private-sector employment rose 0. 3 % during the third quarter, compared with last year, the 1st increase since 2008.

How may you increase add-on sales through the Holidays?

Below are a few solutions to improve the units per transaction, and increase the average transaction as a result.

If you want this, you should buy that - Creating feature areas in your store which have a couple of major items you wish to push for holiday flanked by complimentary products helps sell not just that one item. Use signage and have your employees connect to customers to assist them to know how the products come together.

Stuff the Stockings - I always push stocking stuffers for holiday as customers are always trying to find those unique, fun little things that round out their holiday gift giving having to break the bank. Create an entire stocking stuffer display to make it interactive, as being a stocking stuffer smorgasbord to get customers to get a number of additional items.

Sample products - Whenever they check it out, they will buy it. Make sure you have products available for testing everywhere and use signage, or have employees interact to get customers to use different products. The chance for a sale rises significantly if you can put the product inside customer's hand.

A warm drink may be the method to get them to stay - offering a warm beverage like coffee or apple cider gets customers to linger longer. It provides them time and energy to scope out much more of your store as they walk around enjoying their beverage. And that means they might find more gifts than that they had planned on, leading to increased sales.

Wrap the Cash Wrap - You've created a few different ways within your store to have your clients to purchase more, and the cash wrap will be the final opportunity. Make sure you've got impulse items at your cash wrap that customers can grab and go. Products under $20 usually perform best.
Bonus points for items that may be sampled together with 8-10 of them available.

So you? What exactly are your favourite sales techniques to increase Holiday sales?

About me: Cornelia Ortega is writing for the <a href="http://www.retailsalestraining.org/">retail sales training ideas</a> blog, her personal hobby blog dedicated to recommendations to assist retailers to practice sales employees and keep our economy healthy.

Neale's drive-about/UK, the petfish industry 7/30/2010
> I was off visiting a fish shop yesterday, a very nice one that mostly handles marines plus community tank tropicals. Anyway, they had some goldfish. When people buy them, the first ask the size of the tank, and then what sort of goldfish they have. They won't sell to anyone with a tank too small, and won't sell standard goldfish to people who have fancies. Definitely a step in the right direction.
> What impressed me was that this was a family-run store, but a very profitable one. The owner was going through the accounts with. His modal average spend per customer is about $50, and it's a poor week if he doesn't make $10,000.
> All the sales staff are trained, and all have to maintain one of the marine tanks -- including daily water tests -- which is surely a pretty good handle on expertise.
> He also manufacturers and delivers his own line of mid to high-end reef-ready aquaria. He holds spares for the bargain basement filters and whatnot, but doesn't sell them, and instead treats things like Tetra and Eheim as what people should start with. His argument being that people buy a cheap Chinese filter, it breaks after two years, so then they buy an Eheim, so why not cut out the middle step and go straight to the decent stuff.
Bottom line, if this is anything to go by, if the independents want to compete against the generic chain stores, it seems to be they have to aggressively go upwards in terms of training, livestock, hard goods, etc.
But how to get this across to the struggling retailers who think cost-cutting is the way to survive?
Cheers, Neale
<Setting examples, offering help... time going by; awareness (if poss.) by consumers. B>
> Oh, I'm sure it's subliminal... people stay in the hobby longer, spend more money, if they have a useful retailer who sets them up right.
<Ah, yes... this direction, perspective is actually not only the best form of promotion, but the only way to build the hobby, industry long-term>

Coral Business Question 1/8/10
HI Gang,
I've been pondering coral, fish and dry goods sales lately. I own a retail store that caters to people owning aquatic creatures. Because of the economy I decided I need to revisit my business plan and sales strategies.
Fish are selling well. Corals....what is it about corals lately?
<Not as many of the "type" of folks that initially buy these are coming into the trade/hobby interest... the economy>
The market seems saturated with home grown freebies and cheapies. Everything is listed as rare whether it is or not. What are you folks seeing in regards to coral sales?
<Some hotspots of activity in parts of the U.S., but mostly the trade is very slow>
Any suggestions on how to turn them around?
<All sorts of possibilities... trying to work with local clubs, individuals who are producing such... Spiffing up, placing pix of new arrivals (regularly) on your website... RSS'ing folks who sign on to be notified...
Workshops in your shop, yes, on propagation... Seeking out better sub-areas of the hobby for better sales opportunities...>
Would hosting in house coral seminars or starting a club help or hurt?
<Oh! Help>
I know you folks have a ton of experience and I would just appreciate hearing your viewpoints.
Dry goods seem to be the low man on the totem pole. I guess the online stores are getting the edge on price.
<Unfortunately the case... One really needs to hone their assortment... to avoid trying to compete with etailers...>
We continue to offer quality service and advice.
<Do you do installs and maintenance? I REALLY suggest you start, beef up...>
We aren't the store that will sell a Meyer butterfly to a 9 year old, let alone even get one in stock.
<I will/would shake your hand... anyone's who would be self-employed in the current USA. Cheers, and "stiff upper lip", Bob Fenner> 

Aquarium Service Advertising. 09/14/09
Hello Mr. Fenner and Crew,
<Howdy Michael>
Thank you very much for all of your help and advice over the years. I am truly excited to be going to MACNA this year and will be attending on Saturday specifically to see you and for your talk on hitchhikers!
<Ahh! Makes the presentation all that more exciting for me>
Will you be available for some service industry questions during the day as well?
<Likely so... other than sleeping, other biz of life, oh, and doing the few hours a day that I do on WWM, I try to be out and about at these venues, mingling, chatting with folks>
I feel that I have been very fortunate with my company Aquatic Creations LLC to have been able to remain in pretty good shape despite the economy.
I would certainly love to hear your feelings on the state of the aquarium industry.
<Mmm, okay... The industry is doing 30% some worse in recent years for most all retailers, manufacturers, but many in the svc. side have done quite well. Glad to hear/read that you're amongst these>
With all that said, you and the crew have been an absolute blessing to the industry and to the hobby. I look forward to continued education from your site for many more years!
<Thank you... and us!>
My question for you today is in regards to advertising. There has been many posts made to this topic on WWM, but specifically you seem to favor that we hit the pavement and make contacts.
<This in addition to having a "good" website (with examples of work, some indication of costs... that is attractive, navigable...) is the best route (or at least vying with doing a good job at/with existing accounts (and having business cards or other contact info. located on, in cabinetry...), and getting about locally with better/best fish stores, designer/s and their outlets... Is really the best return on investment (time and dollars)
for growing your business, adding accounts>
I like this idea as well and feel that I am personally far better at communication face to face. What is the best approach for this method of reaching out to potential clients given the present economic climate? My
personality does not allow me to be a high pressure salesperson. What are the right types of businesses to approach and who are the right people to talk to within those businesses?
<Mmm, well, coming right up are the "holidays" season... You might want to try having potential customers come to you, by participating in "Christmas Shows", having a display (manned) at an entrance/exit to a
large/fashionable (higher end) shopping mall, attending a professional (medical, dental...) trade show as a vendor... OR getting out yourself to professional settings, AFTER making initial contact (likely via the phone), finding out who is the decision maker, IF they have a system currently and/or know who may... and meeting with them with your brochure/s, sales "book" (can be images and script in a laptop ppt presentation or analog in a binder)...>
Another side question to you about advertising. This may not really be answerable, but I am sure that you have experience with this and could possibly offer up some guidance. I have purchased 3 good sized central
systems for holding and quarantining our livestock prior to adding it to our clients tanks. The initial intention for these systems was strictly for that purpose, but I have found that there is a good number of hobbyists
that are happy to pay a little more for a clean, quarantined animal.
<Yes, and well there should be>
I do not want to step on the toes of the local retail stores as we do get a lot of service business from referrals from these shops, but I also don't want to turn away sales from interested customers. Do you have any suggestions on how to advertise a quarantined product without upsetting the local walk-in retail shops?
<Be open, honest with them about your practices... IF folks are finding you (that is, instead of your advertising, soliciting them) I would go ahead and sell what you can at a fair price (i.e. giving away nothing). DO bear in mind that all of this is taking up your time, that you are incurring an opportunity cost that you should in turn be adding to the price to compensate yourself>
Thank you in advance for your time and I look forward to seeing you at the end of the month!
Myk Gillespie.
Aquatic Creations LLC.
<See you soon Myk. Bob Fenner>

Re: Aquarium Service Advertising. -- 09/14/09
Hello Mr. Fenner,
<Just Bob please Myk>
Thank you very much for your quick response. I certainly do appreciate your advise here. My website www.reefdelivery.com is not spectacular, but is inexpensive and easy for me to operate and update.
<Actually, it appears to me to be very nice... complete. My own kibitzing... would have a rotating customer's system graphic... much larger than what you have... under your masthead... and Bigger thumbs, maybe a sub indexing of systems by type (fresh, marine)... and size... on your "Our Clients Aquariums" page/folder...>
The decision was made at the beginning of the year to go with the new website from the original www.aquaticcreationsonline.com. I got more than a few complaints to the length of that name.
<Hmmm, yes... reminds me of our (Nature Etc., Inc) last go at having retail shops... I thought "Aquatic Environments" was a great name... descriptive, encompassing the living, non-living aspects... Poor idea. Luckily a waitress at a bar we just happened to be visiting, chose the much better "Wet Pets" and saved us from going broke from each letter cost in can signage, and causing car accidents from people driving by trying to read the whole name.... Heeeee!>
I do plan to bring an experienced web designer in to make suggestions, especially for the products pages for those that may wish to make online purchases. These need to be much more user friendly and capable of shopping cart purchasing.
<Good points>
My clients tanks do not have any form of advertising for me on them.
Instead, I have offered an incentive program to my clients that offers them a credit to their service account for their referrals.
<Mmm, if they are tolerant of this... ask that a professional appearing, small, metal/Mylar backed name and phone number sticker be placed inconspicuously on a bottom edge of the tank...>
I've gone back and forth about the idea of advertising on my commercial accounts tanks. I feel that it could take away from the beauty of the display. Perhaps there is a way of doing this that would be eye catching, but not an eye sore?
<Yes... see my note above... And DO hand out business cards to the folks there and abouts...>
I had not even thought of attending other industry trade shows! What a fantastic idea! Being in NH. I would imagine that there is likely not much locally to my service territory, but I will certainly look into that. This would be more feasible for me as a manned display at the mall would have to be manned be me and I don't think that I could afford the time.
<Can be a real bonanza... Takes time, planning though...>
Thank you again as always. I look forward to seeing you at MACNA this year!
Myk Gillespie
Aquatic Creations LLC.
<Ah yes. BobF>

Guidance... Petfish, life   08/18/2008 Robert <Ron> This is an email intended for you but please anyone chime in. I am looking for brainstorming and I am not about causing dissention from your guidance. <Okay> I am trying to make sense of the things I have learned in the last 2 years and put in their proper place the things that are wives tales, myth, misinformation and things that work that supposedly are not suppose to. <Again, I understand this preface> I am new to this life controlling endeavor of saltwater reef keeping and I will be the first to say that when my daughter wanted a fish tank, that with my previous experience with freshwater I did all I could to get her to choose saltwater, because if I could spend the rest of my life as a reef inhabitant I would. (The Incredible Mister Limpet) <Thrummmm!> Why does it seem LFS managers do not take the charge seriously as professionals or do they just let themselves get worn down with all the redundant questions. <A bit of both in my observation... more the latter in recent years> Which brings up another thought as why don't they see a money making idea that seems to scream at me'¦ hold class once a week or month on saltwater keeping, it would build client knowledge and keep them in the LFS as returning customers as well as create more revenue opportunities. <Mmmm... very likely has a good deal to do with A) Human nature, B) Market forces, economics that tend to sort, choose the types of folks that gravitate toward such positions, "careers", C) A lack of vision, drive per the above influences... More I could add, but I'd like to propose instead that you go forward and help the LFS's about with organizing such. I myself think it's way past time for the stores to not have on-site computers, with reference sites readily linked, to inform, inspire their customers, along with their staffs' input. Your turn.> When I first started my Tank I made the mistake of going to a local large franchise pet store and listening to 'their resident expert' and walked away with a 30 gal tank, a fluval 205, a protein skimmer, thermometer, heater, artificial rock castle (which killed my first fish), bag of salt and some starter bacteria, oh yes and a 10w light fixture. Up front all things that for a beginner seems like what you need but all things I replaced within the first year as my knowledge increased. <Have heard worse...> Am I wrong in saying reef keeping is kind of like computers'¦ double the recommended size? <Mmm, interesting comparison... maybe so> Back to the first fish, yes'¦ a sergeant damsel added 2 weeks later after only the starter bacteria was added and ammonia levels where '0' he immediately swam into the castle never to be seen live again. I felt horrible, but the ammonia level never changed? It was trapped in the non circulating water in the castle which is probably how and why the damsel got trapped and died. I threw away the castle and bought live rock directly from a display tank and a clown, hippo tang, and the elegant coral. <Yowch!> The history of which you guys are aware of, as luck would have it I still only had the 10w lighting system. I put it in a crevasse in my live rock point down (as it was in the LFS) in a water flow area under the return from the skimmer, it doubled in size. As I read up on the elegance I realized 'I had done it wrong' so I put it in a non water flow area of my tank point down in the sand, where it immediately began to recede. It got to the point where it was a quarter inch long and less than an eighth of an inch wide and separated in the middle, inside it's clam shell. Now a little while before this I had bought a 130watt pc light so I do not know if it was the change in light or change back to old location, but one and a half years later it is over 10 inches wide and green tent all the way across the base with purplish tentacles and solid purple tips and an excellent fleshy skin covering the clam shell base. I wonder how many people know this is suppose to exist, I have yet to see this in the LFS or the net. I now have a 50 gal tank, a 405 Fluval filter, 2 inches of sand, 35 lbs of live rock (Fiji / Solomon'¦lite and porous) and am being choosy about adding more, Chiller, UV filter, current 156 watt F-5 light system, and every 3 weeks I use a vortex filter, and R/O water filter. At present time I have not done a water change in 6 weeks and plan on not dong one for 9 weeks total, my filter has not been cleaned for 3 week intervals and I am having less problems than back when I was doing weekly water changes and filter cleaning. And yes I am buffering with dKH and Purple up and adding iodide; so far this is where my knowledge has me and I am still working on learning more chemistry. <Good> I do not have nearly the hair algae problems or glass algae green or brown. Use to be I would clean glass in the morning and I would get home and the glass would be covered, my chemistry was perfect (had it checked by one of the largest fish stores on the east coast'¦ full testing) they where amazed when I told them the problems I was having. Now I clean the glass about every 5 days minor film. UV and Diatom filter, I was actually talked out of buying them by a worker at the LFS. I say with as strong emphasis as I can muster, buy them and use them. I have a ton of mushroom coral, metallic green star polyp, a Duncanopsammia Axifuga Colony (that started as 2 polyps and is now 13 :>), a sponge, 7 feather dusters, and a clam (the last 3 have all grown on their own, out of nowhere) and oh yeh the elegance. 7 coughs, 5 emerald crabs. Now for what you are going to beat me up about if you have not already :>) 2 hippo tangs (which have gotten allow swimmingly from the beginning), 2 clowns which have made a great home in the elegance, royal Gramma, Bicolor Pseudochromis (yes they get along very well, they have made homes on opposite sides of the tank and sometimes even swim together), Lawnmower Blenny, Splendid Mandarin, Scooter blenny, both where thin when I got them and have gotten FAT since then and are eating very well. I think that is all I have, please your input is very much appreciated and listened to and followed up on. <Much life can be purposely crowded into captive systems... "successively"> Again I hope you do not get tired of hearing this but, I am very much appreciative that you started this site and that ALL who have joined in to help and ask the questions and discussions (good and bad), have helped me as well as others, not to mention the inhabitants of our tanks. Ron :>) <Perhaps one day you'll join us too. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Information on Organizations willing to defend against the Abuse of Fish  4/24/08 Hello! My name is Samantha Anderson and I live in Sidney, Nebraska. I am writing to tell you of a situation that is really upsetting. Recently our local Wal-Mart store has decided that it is unnecessary to have gravel in their fish tanks, and so they removed all the gravel, rock, sand, etc. from the bottoms of all of their fish tanks. At the same time they decided that it was unnecessary to have so many small tanks with feeder goldfish, so they moved all of the fish from their only large fish tank to other smaller fish tanks and put over 1,000 feeder goldfish in the larger fish tank. As you probably have already figured out this managed to kill off and is still killing many fish. I also question their understanding of fish in general since there have been numerous times that I have seen fish in a tank that included their predator. For example: smaller Goldfish with Oscars. If that is their idea of display then it is grossly disturbing! Since Wal-Mart is the only fish supplier in our town I really don't know who to ask for support to stop this. Not only is this neglectful and abusive to remove the habitat from their tanks it also reduces the quality and life of every fish that has to suffer through this. This needs to stop now. I appreciate the time you have taken to read this email. Thank you. Samantha Anderson <I sense your frustration, and applaud your concern and efforts to address/fix this situation. Not just Wal-Mart, but other chains, even independents have displayed woeful ignorance in their choice of "assortments" (e.g. Green Spotted Puffers... a notorious fin-nipping brackish species... sold as freshwater community...), mis-stocking, and poor management practices. As far as I'm aware, the sorts of laws and institutions that protect companion animals (e.g. dogs, cats), farm animals... do not (as yet) apply to ornamental aquatics. Nonetheless, I DO encourage your popularization of this situation (the local media) and writing to corporate management... And, of course, the striking of purchasing these animals, perhaps all products, services from such outlets in protest. Vote with your dollars and feet. Again, my congratulations to you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>

New <actually...> biz idea, "Tanks (Love) For Sale..." TV ads ineffectiveness   7/7/07 My name is Joseph and I am from SF Bay Area California. I have a business idea I want to run by you guys. <Okay> I want to start a Rent-to-Own aquarium business. Targeting the mid income public. <Good idea... we did this for almost two decades> Using Television commercial. <Mmmm, not likely at all to be "cost-benefit useful"> Full service hands free packages, I know the rent to own business and I was into the hobby for about 5 years. I know how addictive and gratifying it can be. I also know the work and responsibility. I feel I can offer the plusses of the hobby without the hard messy stuff. Has anyone tried this? <A few folks, companies over the years, yes> I cant find any businesses like this and have never seen anything like it. Especially advertised on TV. <Our trade, ornamental aquatics, HAS used this medium (mainly Tetra's (under Ulrich Baensch and WLA's stewardship) co-op ad programs years back... But, as stated, there's not enough 'catch per unit effort' to warrant such expense... Perhaps targeted ads in the local mag.s for home improvement... Attending professional trade shows... Placements in kiosks of sorts in large shopping malls with the demography of population you perceive your customer base to be made of... We/Nature Etc. Inc. used these last three to economic advantage... Bob Fenner> Thanks for your time, Joseph

Before I Mail These Out... Service, etailing promotion... FWIW/Alternatives   - 05/01/07 First of all, thanks for the response on my last marketing question.  I've decided to start marketing my saltwater-only store by using direct mail to get my tri-fold brochures (very colorful of course) out to the customers with the greatest potential. <Good idea> Please stop me if something doesn't sound right, and/or if you have anything that I'm missing.  In hopes of boosting immediate sales (and possibly service accounts), I'm considering on targeting the following: -Doctors, Physicians, Hospitals, etc. -Dentists, Orthodontists, Oral Surgeons, etc. -Lawyers(?), people with "disposable" income, etc. <A good target audience> I wish I could find a list of "The most likely places to see an aquarium", but my search fell short, so I'm going on assumption only.  In the smaller towns of Michigan, saltwater aquariums are scarce, so I don't see first hand where the aquariums should be.  Please let me know if there are any obvious ones I'm missing. <Mmm... well... do think there is more "bang for the buck" to be had by building your site... having time go by... offering "bonuses" to your existing customers for their help... tie-in sales> In addition to boosting immediate sales, I also want to build relationship with other businesses, in order to generate some future sales.  I want to reach the following business, just to let them know there is someone in the area with the expertise, and so they keep us in mind if any requests came from clients and/or if they just want to put an over-the-top aquarium into a new project: -Architects -Builders -Engineers -Contractors -Interior Designers/Decorators   <Good thinking...> I guess I'm not sure who is the most responsible for putting an aquarium into a design/project, but I'm guessing that most of the businesses I listed would influence the decision in some way.  Again, let me know if you'd make any changes to my list of "future business" targets. <Not targets... but the means stated... is expensive, and don't think the ROE (return on effort) will be there> I'd just hate to miss out on an enormous aquarium installation, just because a builder didn't know we existed.  I wanted to run these by you and get your thoughts before I "pull the trigger".   Thanks again Bob! <Welcome... Am back in San Diego, and sending out billings today. If you folks want to stay on WWM, do make a payment today, or we'll be dropping you. BobF>

Saltwater Marketing   2/20/07 I purchased a saltwater-only store in a very small Michigan town about a year ago, and I'm looking to grow the business. <Good> Our first year was somewhat of a "break even" type of year, but we have made a lot of worth-while improvements. <Also> Now that the improvements have been made, I really want to concentrate on marketing the business.  Because the store is in a very small town, there is minimal traffic, and a majority of our customers come from a city or two away.  I have a degree in marketing so this should be an easy thing for me to figure out myself, but who is my target market? <And perhaps more importantly, "Who can you make your Target Customer"... and how> I've been going cross-eyed trying to find the answer on your website (maybe I just have to look a little harder?). <Heeeee! Likely not (that) much there...> I read that saltwater is more of a "big city" and freshwater is more of a "small town" type of market, but that's all the info I've come up with. <Mmm, much more that larger population centers have a bigger sub-set of folks with more "disposable" (love that term) income> If I could find out who I need to target in my advertising, I'll be able to take it from there. <Mmmm, may need to, want to change your presentation... but likely a bit of educational/inspirational curve here... to foreshorten time-wise> Before I purchased the store, my initial thought was that my target market would be people with a lot of money (maybe I'm watching too much TV and see the celebrities with the big aquariums), but my customer base seems to be somewhat of the opposite.  Is this just my store, or is that usually the case? <Could be... but unless the region is outright depauperate... no avocations... there is hope... "Fish and liquor stores do well during hard times"> Just looking for a little advice. Thank you, Adam <A bit of insight here... I'd look for help in putting tog. a survey (anonymous) at your store... with the help of a local H.S. business class student or two... or even College... or even better the SBA (we used their retired executives outreach years back with great result)... asking who they are income wise, what they keep, how long they've been in the hobby, how they came to be in it... How they suggest reaching your target customer... And making more of this latter... through participation (production?) of a local and/or online hobbyist group... Met some fantastic folks in the retail side in SC last week... one young fellow produces an online newsletter every Tuesday! Do you have such a database? How might you develop this? Bob Fenner>

Partnerships with local establishments... Where pond service and retail cooperate to all's benefit     1/14/07 Hello Bob, <Hey there Brian!> Your passion for this industry is infectious to say the least! Thank you for sharing all your experience and resources, a true well spring and boon for us all! I have been operating an aquarium and water garden design, installation and maintenance business, out of my home, for several years now. <... and I did the same as you are likely aware> I was thinking about going retail, but have diverted that thought to partnering with local retailers and offering my services to them. So far so GOOD! <Yes... and retail is really hard... Harder than stand-up comedy IME!> I have been in concert with two retailers, a garden shop for the water garden business and an aquarium shop for both the water garden and aquarium business (I am providing my aquarium maintenance service to their customers). My problem is that I am having some difficulty getting these wonderful establishments to carry the water garden parts and pieces. They love the enhancement the water garden display brings to their establishments, aesthetics and all, but are not willing to take the next step and start stocking the drygoods.   <Mmm... this will likely come... with growth of both your and their businesses... in the warming months... this season or next...> I have entertained the thought of occupying some floor space, maybe on a rent basis and put my money where my mouth is and carry the items for retailing purposes. <Mmm> This is where it gets sticky. There are all kinds of issues that run across my mind with this proposal. Commission on sales, keeping track of sales, cost to me for floor space, having an individual staff my space, etc. . I am trying to have a great access point to send my current and future customers to, so they can have a nice "retail" experience and hopefully round out my  "fullserviceness".   What are your thoughts on this matter. Is it a bad proposition for my current business model, which is to be a full service, service company? <Well... for one, kudos on your apparent drive, ambition... and direction... When do you sleep? And... secondly... I would not go the renting space, providing drygoods route here... Too likely to be real troubles with jealousy twixt all the other outlets... and as you state, not easy to monitor your/their inventory... I myself encourage your ongoing efforts at encouraging the stores to stock more... and make offers to help them with presentation/s... Like free in-store pitches on water garden design, installation... stocking, maintenance... Perhaps an offer to build, place a small sample pond (we used to have Tetra 32 mil liners on sort of "Lincoln Log" emplacements in our retail shops... Maybe to help them plan an end-cap display with pond-oriented merchandise... Foods, water treatments... to a few pumps (like the Luft) filters, large nets... for the "pond season"... You can even look for some help with all this with some of the larger manufacturers and distributors...> Will it somehow start conflicting with my current loose "partnering" situation with these establishments, and maybe create a future strain? <Yes... I think this is too much a possibility> Your sage advice would be much appreciated! Brian Dahle The Fishman Aquarium and Water Garden Services www.fishmanservices.com <Remember... persistence pays... Hope to meet you on the pet-fish high and by-ways. Bob Fenner> Clams (for sale) Hi Bob, Thanks for adding my link to your site. :) I appreciate your support. Saw Scott at SDC this past Thursday and he is getting a nice shipment in a few weeks, now you know I will be there. <Like Xmas, Bdays for adults> This is a lot of work but am enjoying it. Take a long time to answer e-mail regarding clams and posting pictures but I want to get the name ClamsDirect out. :) Household name for clams buyers. :) <Mmm... do keep building your "brand"... I would suggest you consider placing small, strategic ads in FAMA, having a considerable, substantive website. Bob Fenner> Best Regards, Barry

Re: clams I am joining AMDA, I think it is good and maybe be some good advertising for us. What's you thinking on this? GREAT thought about FAMA ! Barry <Hello, this is Steven Pro. I am one of the guys that helps Bob answer his emails. I am leaving this email for Bob to respond to, too, but I figured I would give you my two cents. I am a former Board Member for AMDA and a current regular member and I would not encourage people to join. I will not be renewing my membership. Your money will be better spent elsewhere. -Steven Pro>

Re: clams I am joining AMDA, I think it is good and maybe be some good advertising for us. What's you thinking on this? <Mmm, the American Marinelife Dealer's Association is at a lull... not much of any advertising value here. But worthwhile to involve oneself in the industry> GREAT thought about FAMA ! Barry <Do include an image or two... perhaps get a friend to write up "your business story" as an article... A tremendous boost. At some point we can/should talk over your carrying Knops' Clam Book, a few other titles (they don't die!) and Calcium Reactors of a line or two... and the great consumable products which are feeder stocks and supplements... All important and profitable tie-ins. Bob Fenner>

Re: clams Thanks Steve for your input. <You are welcome.> Most hobbyist do not know what AMDA is. <Correct, it will get you very little publicity. The membership is only $50 per year, but for that you get next to nothing; listing on their website and a VERY occasional newsletter. I also strongly disagree with the current leadership and the direction the organization is taking. Sincerely, Steven Pro>

Re: clams Boy you are funny. :) " They don't die" <Keep this statement in mind as your "livestock" business progresses> I have wrote to Daniel a few times and has been helpful in answering some of my question regarding something he states in his book, "Giant Clams" I also drop him a note saying what I was going to do with my business, never replied. <A shame... he may not have received your note. Jules/TLF distributes the one title in the west (DianaF the rest of Knop Products)> I am sure he has heard this before and thinks this is another hobbyist trying to dabble in this kind of thing. Not true on this end. Spent several hours making a business plan and setting up the proper equipment to better house the clams before shipping. Had my shipping boxes examined by FedEx testing facility to help in shipping to avoid some lose. <Mmm, good> A lot of business start off small but can turn into a big business if willing to devote the time and some money which I am willing to do. Being in business I also know that you have to have some folks willing to work with you like Scott and a few others. You of course. :) I was telling Scott the other day that by years end my marketing plan is to have approx. 300 clams in stock at all times. Don't think he believe me. <He should. SDC goes through MANY clams> From the 48 shipments that I had done in the past 3 week, I have had nothing but praise in regards to my product and customer service. I have always thought word of mouth advertising is the best advertising. <Ah, good> Any comments from you or feed back as to how to better do things, I ALWAYS have a opened mine. <A trait to be praised, emulated and cultured. Bob Fenner> Regards, Barry See my new "Banner" :)

Using Printed Handouts   9/27/06     Hello, I've been reading your website and I love it. Lots of great information. Thanks a lot for putting it together. I am starting an aquarium business (the only one in my area!), and I have printed up a few handouts for hopeful customers. I will be selling, setting up and doing maintenance for saltwater aquariums. In your "using printed handouts" article, you said that we could use one of yours for ideas (or to 'copy it shamelessly')  I cannot seem to find one on your website, unless I'm just not looking in the right spot. Your help is greatly appreciated. Butch Marek <They're there... in the Aquatics Business subweb... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/Biz%20Index/Biz%20index.htm see in the tray under "Marketing..." Bob Fenner>

Statute (perhaps height?) limitations, retail ad. campaign idea to share, selection service sought for marines    5/2/06 Hello Mr. Fenner     Crazy to think that someone of you statute will be actually corresponding with me!  :) :) <Heeee!> couple of things... but before background... am a LFS worker/manager in a salt only store. 1)   For the summer time slumps my company does a "frequent fliers club card" every $10 spent on livestock gets customers 1 stamp after 20 stamps $20 off any live stock... keeps profit margins and keeps customers coming back for more ... stamps that is :):) maybe pass it along. <Neat. Will do> 2) My employer is currently seeking a cherry picker as the companies that we have been dealing with for 12+ years is not meeting the standards of our competition ... any personal contact info would be appreciated sincerely Brian Borate     <Mmm... do you know the folks at Fish Heads? Bob Fenner>

Consumer Activism (and if you drive with your fish, be sure to belt up) - 12/1/05 Hi Bob, <John with you today filling in> This is an important letter to circulate. I thank you for sending a link when it is published so I can further circulate this..... <I honestly don't know if this will be published... I expect it might, but with no express or implied support of your views. Certainly not on my part. If it is published, you may find it on the dailies> <<All is posted unless specifically directed not to.  Marina>> Subject: Boycott Tetra -- a Bad Corporate Citizen! I first saw the call to boycott Tetra when the movie 'Finding Nemo' came out.  Tetra's spokesperson, Carol Huntley-Weber, appeared on CBS's The Early Show and plopped 2 clownfish and 2 seahorses into a bowl of tap water. She made no mention of the salt needed. No doubt, the animals died.   <This has already well publicized. I was quite appalled to hear about it.> Carol, the spokesperson for the largest fish food company in the country, obviously knows nothing about keeping fish.  Now I have discovered that Tetra spent over $100,000 to support monster truck racing. You can Google the phrase 'Tetra monster trucks' to see photos of the Tetra sponsored trucks.  Tetra's support for these gas guzzling, air polluting vehicles does absolutely nothing to help the aquarium hobby and the hobbyists who make Tetra wealthy! <Hmmmmmm> Even more astounding, Tetra spent $750,000 to purchase from Nickelodeon the manufacturing rights for children's toys. The toys were based on a TV program, Fairly Odd Parents, which shows kids riding in a car while talking to a cartoon fish in a fish bowl that was just sitting on the back seat. These toy products have received terrible ratings from consumers. <I am sure that will send a much larger message to Tetra than this rather ill-conceived letter> I wonder how many more fish may have been killed and how many more kids were misled by this nonsense. <Why? I've been driving around in monster trucks with fish in bowls on the back seat. Is there something wrong with that? The Tetra ads told me to! :P> The irony is that Tetra, with $266 million in sales a year, does absolutely nothing to support our fish hobbyist forums and websites. Yet, Tetra squanders amazing sums of money on hobbyist disinformation featuring stunningly ignorant spokespeople and ridiculous schemes that pollute the environment. <They indeed may not have the fish's best interest at heart. I cannot comment on that. But they are in the business of marketing to potential hobbyists. In attracting more newcomers to the hobby, they are directly benefiting the trade and the stores we rely on. This benefits us.> Tetra is a bad corporate citizen! That is why I am boycotting Tetra and I invite others to do the same. Circulate this letter and email to consumer@tetra-fish.com  <This may have to be edited out. Marina? Sabrina?> <<No, but I may have something even better (outside of going to their site and calling the (800) number).  http://www.tetra-fish.com/ENEWSROOM/index.asp - with a person's name and phone and everything.  Found via Google (but be careful, there is another Tetra, not at all associated with fish).  Marina>> to let them know that you are appalled by this irresponsible behavior and that you expect better from them!!! <I would encourage you to think from Tetra's viewpoint here. I am not saying or implying that I endorse (or do not endorse -- how's that for disclaimer verbiage?) what they do, simply that, in my experience, a scathing letter like this is not likely to be effective in achieving your goals.> <<Maybe not a single letter, but if it grows, it can be very effective.  However, the best vote is with your dollars.  If you disapprove of their methods, actions, etc., then don't buy Tetra products.  Marina>> Jeff Stevens <Jeff, this is all just my opinion, and I have no idea what the reaction of other WetWebMedia crew members will be. Perhaps they will comment on this also? Thanks for the e-mail. Best regards, John> <<Mmm, I guess I will... Tetra, as owned by Warner Lambert was a good company (IMO of course), supporting, growing the hobby, industry... they do (currently) have a nice, informative website, circulars... I do agree with the "Nemo incident"... RMF>>

Marketing, Networking, Visiting, and Dinner 11/3/05 Hi Bob,  Are you back in SD? <Yep, just back late last night> I have finally opened my store, only with livestock I had since before and I have not yet been up to LA. I wanted to get some initial traffic on the site before buying a lot. Hopefully someone will soon find the store. <I see> I have relisted the domain with all major search engines and reefs.org (just a link). Apparently reefs.org or reefcentral don't feature banner ads anymore or at least I could not find any. <Strange... thought this is how they made their big bongo bucks> <<Me, too.  I'd try to contact Chucker to solve this problem, RDO does seem to have banner ads. Check out this page: http://www.reefs.org/sponsor.html  MH>> Next comes decisions how else to spend ad bucks. Directed ads on reef websites seem better than pay per click listings on Google. I looked on Wetwebmedia and although it probably gets a lot of traffic, as you told me, only a few advertisers were listed. Is the right side ads $200 per month as listed? <Yes... but am still doubtful that this is money well spent for you at this present time> Magazine ads are expensive but may reach many people. What would you recommend? <That we chat. James Fatherree is visiting... picking him up tomorrow night... Let's get together. BobF> Tapio 

Thanks and a favor 11/2/05 Hi Bob. First thanks for the post a couple months back about our new retail store in Tulsa and employment. We received several calls/emails about jobs for fishgeeks. I finally got our new web site up and would really appreciate it if you could give a section of it 30 minutes of your time. You may not remember me [If I said this in my last email to you sorry to waste your time] but we met on a couple of occasions during my employment as sales manager of Seachem and Sera. <Do recall> I have been in this hobby and industry for 20 years and have written lots of stuff I never exposed to anyone other than my Dell.  <A shame... perhaps not too late...> The last 5 years of my life was in Atlanta running a service / custom aquarium business. I finally put thoughts, theories, ideas [what I call maintenance articles] on our new site for the shop in Tulsa. <Outstanding> I have always put hobbyists into 3 categories beginning, intermediate, and expert [the later term used lightly]. These articles were written exclusively for beginning and intermediate hobbyists. Thus the reason for this email. I really enjoy your writing. I am not a writer, according to my wife just a fishgeek. <Both are developmental (disorders...) traits/qualities/talents> In your opinion, am I missing anything for the new guys. The focus of our new business is to encourage more people to get into the hobby [like most retailers]. We have a pretty aggressive marketing campaign scheduled to kick off in about 3 weeks. I wrote this stuff because over the years I heard the same thing... love to have a tank but they are a pain in the a--. I wanted to put a reference guide to the most common questions and problems for beginners and intermediates on our site.  Any thoughts about what we are missing for these folks would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the extended babble. Very best Scott M. Kosciolek President Premier Aquatics of Oklahoma  By the way I think I have already caught just not updated the misspellings and grammar issues.  <Mmm, where's that URL? Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Re: thanks and a favor 11/2/05 Sorry, it was late last night www.premieraquaticsok.com  Scott <A very nice site indeed... The best I have seen of its kind/genre. I very much like the looks, the brevity of the articles, the comparison of flea infestations... Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Business: Merchandising Corals Hello Friends at WWM! <Hi there Matt> I am looking for a way to more effectively price our corals. What we really want is to do underwater tags, but we're not sure quite how to go about it. <U/W? Me neither> Have you ever done this, seen it done, or simply have any brilliant ideas that would be relatively simple and effective? <Mmm, maybe labeling a "stand" of PVC pipe section... or color coding same... and sticking the coral bits, colonies on these... with a legend outside the systems?> We clean the glass on our tanks daily and no solution that requires writing on the glass is a desirable option for us. We have tried bulletin boards but naming proves difficult, and customers aren't pleased with their ability to find the price of the coral they are interested. <Good points... a common gripe> Currently, we have tags that we Velcro around the tanks, which are nice because we can provide a lot of information about the coral, but its a very difficult system to maintain and changing price based on size and health is very difficult after a tag has been made and printed.  Thanks! Scott Johnson <Will ask Antoine here as well... as he has been a retailer too. Bob Fenner>

- Snazzy Fish-wear & Etc. - Dear Friends at WetWebMedia, Triggerfish & Pongo have been creating nature themed art for over 20 years. Our apparel designs have been extremely successful in a variety of venues. The Nature Company and Discovery Channel Stores, among many others, have enjoyed remarkable success with our shirts, with sales exceeding 30,000 pieces per design for our bestsellers! Our designs are distinctly unique in their exquisitely fine detail and their rich vibrant colors. All of our images are beautifully screened on 100% cotton, custom color, extra-heavyweight shirts. To guarantee flawless reproduction of our art, we really do scrutinize every single print! Just ask our printer! We are pleased to announce, and invite you to visit, our new website featuring our best new designs. We are here >    www.reef-rainforest.com These exceptional nature designs portray myriad fascinating and colorful creatures in their intriguing and exotic natural habitats... coral reefs, rain forests, kelp forests, mountains, plains, wetlands and woodlands. In addition to very specially priced retail selections, you'll find a gallery of our exclusive wholesale shirt designs. A very attractive price and available terms afford the opportunity to offer an extraordinary shirt at a great price. These unique designs are perfect for a wide variety of venues and interests; conservation / education programs, divers, birdwatchers, adventure travel, aquarium, zoo, and museum shops, and many more. We offer several inexpensive options for the addition of a name drop or logo. Finally, on the site is a fine nature art gallery; a collection of outstanding original art, potentially available for licensed use on a variety of products such as posters, cards, puzzles, calendars, mugs, etc. We create our art out of our real love of nature and our sincere wish to share the inspiration to protect and preserve the precious treasures of the natural world. We sincerely hope you'll take a minute to visit. Thank you and best wishes, Glen R. Smith / Patricia Smith Triggerfish & Pongo Designs www.reef-rainforest.com   <Thanks for sharing. Will post on our daily FAQ and link pages and hopefully will bring some traffic your way. Cheers, J -- >

Aquarium Journals Hi there Mr. Fenner, <Good to hear from you Lisa> I hope all is well with you and all your travels have been filled with good times. Well, here I am 1 year later and business is picking up, but you were correct about marketing....it really takes getting in the car and driving the US. As you know my husband and I live in San Francisco so I've got to go back to work, in addition we are working on starting a family....not very conducive to driving across country. Several suppliers are placing reorders now so the book is selling well where I have been able to place it. I think the only way to sell them now is to either find independent sales reps in the business or ask a national supplier to use their sales staff, or maybe even sell the business to someone who would like to travel. Do you have any information on these sales people? <Some... am given to suggest you consider T.F.H.... which Microcosm took the sales/distribution route with... instead> Or know someone I could call who would? As always, thank you so....much for your time, I do appreciate your help. Have a good day. Sincerely, Lisa Harwood <I doubt if the independent reps in the trade would be interested in just the one title... or that they would be able to do you much good (unless they could place the work with the mass merchandisers... Petco, PetSmart... let's say). Do consider approaching Glen Axelrod of TFH re this possibility. Bob Fenner> 

Aquarium Canopy Hi...I am selling my home in which I have a 55 gallon aquarium covered with a decorative custom canopy I designed and built myself...problem is... most of the  prospective buyers have complimented my aquarium more than my home...not a real problem per say, but it has lead me to think that there may be a market for my canopy...any suggestions on how to market it? Thank you. <Yes. The best (simplest, least-expensive, more likely to get you results) is to place an ad in the best of the hobby zines (Freshwater and Marine Aquarium) in their classifieds... and sell the plans for such... ALONG WITH having an internet site to refer folks to examples/photos of the finished product. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium Journals Hi there Mr. Fenner, <Hello Lisa> Hope all is well.  Well, I have been marketing like crazy and am seeing how tough it is to get the word out..... <Yes, particularly during the "summer doldrums"> I am getting a great response to the journal but sales are slow....wanted to ask what you thought about approaching Microcosm to work a deal for distribution. <Very fine people. Do ask Mr. James Lawrence (owner, manager, chief editor) for his input (I'll cc him here). He likely has some very valuable insights> Seems like they have that all figured out.  Do you think this is a good avenue to approach or should I just keep plugging away? <Always... continue to "plug away"... in addition to others co-efforts> I have also spoken with Susan Steele at FAMA magazine, they are putting me in the October issue in the Showcase section, she mentioned that you are the one that does their product reviews.....would it be possible for you to review the journal for FAMA? <I will gladly offer my input to Sue.S/FAMA if they'd like it, but the "blurb" you have is very complete for the purposes of their "Showcase"> Thank you so much for your time, I really do appreciate it.  Have a great day! Sincerely, Lisa http://www.aquariumjournals.com <Bob.F just back again, from Indo., and dazed>

MACNA XV Hi Mr. Fenner, <Howdy Lisa> Hope all is well.  I am considering going to MACNA to promote Aquarium Journals and I remembered that you may know someone with whom I could split a booth.  If you know of someone who may be interested in this could you let me know?  Things are definitely starting to pick up and I think the show would help get the word out.  Thanks for your time. <Good idea, venue. I took a look at the current exhibitors and the only one thus far that I think might work is Leng Sy (of Miracle Mud fame). Have cc'ed him here, and will gladly chat with both of you re the possibility of sharing a booth. Leng, Lisa only needs a few square feet of space and is a very nice person. Please do email her re this. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Lisa Harwood Aquarium Journals.com

New Business Mr. Fenner: We have recently opened up a Saltwater Fish Store located in Roanoke, VA.  <Ah, congratulations! Welcome to the trade.> We have been open for 3 weeks and are just now starting to have some problems with one of our Livestock suppliers. I have read your visit your website daily and have learned a lot from you. Can you recommend any wholesale suppliers to me. Our orders range from $1000 - $1500 per week. <Many. Do you focus on reef organisms? If so, please contact Sea Dwelling Creatures in Los Angeles... Let me start again. Please tell me about your store. Size, make-up of current customer preferences, what you hope to accomplish... and I'll gladly offer my input and assistance at helping you make your business successful.> I would appreciate any information you can provide me. Thanks, Kathy Rand <Chat with you soon. Bob Fenner>
Re: New Business
Thank you so much for your quick response. It just so happens that I found Sea Dwelling on your website and have already contacted them. <Ah! You won't be disappointed. Good stock, good folks> Our store first of all is the only ALL Saltwater store within a 120 mile radius.  <Wow, quite bold!> We have not advertised as of yet and already have enough sales in the first three weeks to cover the first months bills.  <Amazing. Congratulations. You likely will not have to "advertise" much... "Word of mouth" is the best way to build, retain a clientele in our industry... Do a good job, friendly and knowledgeable service, selection, fair pricing... and all is fine> We have plans to advertise next week. Any suggestions.  <Classy ad stating that you're new, what you have to offer, encouraging folks to come in... All promotions "do" these two things: tell potential customers of benefits (of products, services... you offer both) and 2) Urge them to action...> We have several people who we are talking with to set up Aquariums in their homes and businesses. We offer the service that if they purchase the setup from us, we will come to their home and show them how to setup and maintain their tank. <Very good. Hopeful you have in place or are developing a "routine", Operations Manual to direct your staff in how you want/expect this work to be done. Oh, you are welcome to our old companies ones... They're posted on the Business Index of the WetWebMedia.com site> We carry mostly reef organisms (95%). We have almost 2000 gallons right now and growing. Our customers range from the experienced to novice. Our goal is to provide the highly sought after unusual species for our pros as well as to educate and guide our novice/new customers. We have only one other pet store in town which sells a limited number of saltwater fish and needless to say the tanks are dirty, the fish are sick and the staff either doesn't know what they are doing or even care. We hope to put them out of the saltwater fish business.  <Mmm, actually, they are your best ally... think strongly on this... and never mention your competitors (to the public, folks in the trade) in a negative light... and do help them in what ways you can... they are you, believe me. I can/could go on with numerous examples and points re this statement/request... but will assure you that a "poor competitor" in a given field is a bad one... Do keep "your eyes on the prize" (which is doing the best job you can do), and not be concerned about the apparent, supposed poor actions of your competitors. Learn from them... and help them to make the trade better in your area.> Myself and my partners take great pride in caring for our livestock, we quarantine them, and have a hospital tank set up in our backroom. What we hope to accomplish....To share and pass on our knowledge, passion and love for the hobby. Kathy <Excellent. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Tank glow Dear Bob Hi from down under ,Bob could advise me as to have you ever seen any luminous /glow in the dark products in fish tanks . <Yes... every few years there are a few decor items (like from "Blue Ribbon", a manufacturer/reseller of such) in the trade> Reason is I've developed a paint very good if you were to compare it to any thing else to be bold it's the best of the lot water based etc. do you think there's a market in the US would value your advice. am seeing one of Australia's largest builders on Wednesday . here from you soon regards Simon <Hmm, will post your note on our sites, send it around. Don't know who you might approach directly... but do know how I would go about trying to sell this product if it were mine. The international trade show, the Interzoo is coming up in May 02... would take samples, brochures, business cards, and show it about: http://www.interzoo.com/d/index.html There are other regional shows... but this is the best. Do make some "mock-ups" and put together a web-site with images of same... have the paint checked for toxicity to fresh, marine life by an independent lab... And we'll be chatting, if not having a pint at Interzoo! Bob Fenner>

Advertising of individual owned aquariums Bob, I am preparing to sale one of my reef tanks - It's a DAS 75g glass with solid oak stand and trim with built-in skimmer and bio filter. I have a web site page that I would like to use to advertise the sale of the tank. Are you aware of any Marine/Reef web sites that promote sales of individual owned aquariums? <Am sure there are ones that do... or should do...> I've never seen this type of service on WetWebMedia - does it exist and I just don't know about it? <Hmm, no... not currently at least. What part of the world are you in? Let's try you listing this on our chatforum first: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rocky Phillips
Re: Advertising of individual owned aquariums
Thanks Bob. I listed it on the Chatforum - any other potentials you can think of? <Not w/o looking about... let's see how the chatforum pans out. Bob F> Thanks, Rocky Phillips
Re: Advertising of individual owned aquariums
Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas area <Hmm, have you tried posting with the local marine, fish clubs? The local fish stores? In the classifieds of the local papers? Bob Fenner> 214 285 1727

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