Readers' Top Shops 2013


The votes have been counted and verified to reveal big changes to our top spots, plus we welcome some new names in what has been PFK’s closest-fought poll to date!

Yes, the reign of Trimar and Ferrybridge are over, at least for this year anyway, as they get replaced by Emperor Tropicals (pictured above) with Retailer of the Year, and The Trop Shop (below) with Small Retailer of the Year.

I hope they are good because for the first time ever on my time at PFK, writes Jeremy Gay. I haven’t visited either winner, so I put my full trust in those who filled out the magazine pages and voted for them!

"Here at Emperor Tropicals we are extremely happy and proud to have won Retailer of the Year," says owner Dean Westcott.

|It is a great achievement for us especially as it is our 30th year. We already thought we had the best customers and staff, and now it’s official! We would like to thank all those customers and readers of Practical Fishkeeping magazine who voted for us.

"This award is the best birthday present Emperor Tropicals could ask for!"

Hot properties
Marine Retailer of the Year is a hotly-fought category, so congratulations to The Abyss, whose combination of brimming tanks and well-fed fish, along with the odd one-of-a kind rarity (like the soapfish pictured above) has secured them this year’s title.

Online-only retailer Sharnbrook Shrimp (some of its stock is pictured above) takes our new Freshwater Shrimp Retailer of the Year category and tells us that it's currently looking for retail premises.

It seems that taking the winning Maidenhead Aquatics formula to Scotland has been a big hit and Scottish fishkeepers have embraced it with open arms; the UK’s largest specialist aquatic retailer takes both Scotland Retailer of the Year, with its Fishkeeper Glasgow store, and runner-up, with its Fishkeeper Edinburgh store.

North West Retailer of the Year is notable this year because of the sheer numbers of votes the category generated. The title went to Aquahome Aquatic Centre, who, if readers had voted for them in other categories too, may well have stood a strong chance of winning the whole thing! So one to watch for next year I think!

Club and Association of the Year goes to Ilford and District Aquarist and Pondkeepers Society, a club formed in 1934 and one its members believe to be the oldest still active club in the UK.

I’m so pleased for them as I thought it would go to a forum because thousands of members can then vote en masse. But no, a good old-fashioned 79-year-old fish club has won it, so well done!

Embrace feedback
Congratulations once again to Rolf C. Hagen for winning Tropical Product of the Year and Manufacturer of the Year, and hello and welcome to Seachem, which took runner-up in both categories.

My thoughts on why Hagen won is that, one, they have very popular and good equipment with the FX6 and U series filters racking up lots of tropical product votes, and two, I think it is down to their customer services department.

Many companies are very difficult to get hold of these days, so it’s great that Hagen have people at the end of the phone here in the UK to help fishkeepers. And to Hagen’s competitors, please take note! Make your phone number available and engage with the users of your products. Feedback should then be fuelling future research and development as well as spurring you on to make better products.

Seachem is new to the Readers’ Poll winners, certainly in my time on PFK, and I’m guessing for its water conditioners being so concentrate and hence great value for money.

A shake up for next year
I’m tempted to change the product categories for next year, as it may be disheartening for other companies to see Hagen and TMC win year in, year out. They do receive the most votes though. This year there were four products taking joint runner up in the marine product category, and that is just a little insight into just how closely-run they are and what a broad range of products and companies receive votes. I think that if we presented the top 20 companies or products receiving votes, other companies and their supporters may be able to see that the top spot is not quite the monopoly they may think it is.

Online companies selling own brand, discounted electricals racked up a lot of votes this year; I’m guessing as a reflection of recession-affected UK fishkeepers seeking out the tanks and equipment that enable them to keep fish at low prices.

Roll of honour:

Retailer of the year
Emperor Tropicals
Runner-up: The Coral Cave Aquatic Centre

Small retailer of the year
The Trop Shop
Runner-up: Woodford Aquatics

Cichlid retailer of the year

Wildwoods Water Gardens
Runner-up: The Trop Shop

Catfish retailer of the year
Pier Aquatics
Runner-up: Rare Aquatics

Oddball retailer of the year
Wharf Aquatics
Runner-up: Wildwoods Water Gardens

Discus retailer of the year
Devotedly Discus
Runner-up: Maidenhead Aquatics, Edinburgh

Marine retailer of the year
The Abyss Aquatic Warehouse
Runner-up: H2O Aquatics

Aquatic plant retailer of the year
The Green Machine
Runner-up: Emperor Tropicals

Freshwater shrimp retailer of the year
Sharnbrook Shrimp
Runners-up: Woodford Aquatics, The Aquatic Store and Emperor Tropicals

Pond and Water Gardening retailer of the year
The Japanese Koi Company
Runner-up: Emperor Tropicals

Scotland retailer of the year

Fishkeeper Glasgow
Runner-up: Fishkeeper Edinburgh

Northern Ireland retailer of the year
Exotic Aquatics
No runner up

Republic of Ireland retailer of the year
Seahorse Aquariums
Runner-up: Aquatic Village

North-east retailer of the year
Paddock Farm
Runner-up: Durham Discus

North-west retailer of the year

Aquahome Aquatic Centre
Runner-up: Rare Aquatics

Yorks and Humber retailer of the year

Ferrybridge Aquatics
Runner-up: Punchard Discus

East Midlands retailer of the year
Wharf Aquatics
Runner-up: Maidenhead Aquatics, Rutland

West Midlands retailer of the year
Maidenhead Aquatics, Shirley
Runners-up: A and D Aquatic and Garden Centre; MG Marines; and Sweet Knowle Aquatics

South-east retailer of the year
Abacus Aquatics
Runner-up
Maidenhead Aquatics, Ramsgate

South-west retailer of the year

Emperor Tropicals
Runners-up
The Aquatic Store, and Trimar

East retailer of the year

The Coral Cave Aquatic Centre
Runner-up
Amwell Aquatics, Soham

Wales retailer of the year
The Green Machine
Runner-up: Aquabatic

London retailer of the year
The Aquatic Design Centre
Runner-up: Woodford Aquatics

Online retailer of the year

Charterhouse Aquatics
Runner-up: Seapets

Club or Association of the year
Ilford and District A.S
Runner-up: Leinster Fish Keeping Society

Tropical Product of the year
Fluval FX6
Runner-up: Seachem Prime

Marine Product of the year
TMC AquaRay LED lighting range
Runners-up: Bubble Magus protein skimmers (J and K); AquaReef aquariums (Aqua One); Gyractor (Arcadia); and Seachem Reef Fusion (ALF).

Pond Product of the year
Pure Pond Bomb (Evolution Aqua)
Runner-up: Green Go (Kockney Koi)

Manufacturer of the year
Rolf C Hagen
Runner-up: Seachem