Are you broke, on a diet and struggling to get used to normal working hours again? Good, because we at PFK are too, but seeing as we are already working on the March issue we are getting some strong indicators as to trends in 2012. Hereâ€™s what we are predicting will be making its way into the PFK office this year.
With the new Ecotech Radion LED light lined up for review and the brand new Aqua One Radiance LED light on the way, 2012 will definitely see yet more LEDs on their way, for fresh, salt and nano tanks.
D and D The Aquarium Solution is now importing top end LEDs from Aqua Illuminations and I’ve just got off the phone to Arcadia who say they’ve just manufactured the new Eco Aqua LED in large numbers, ready for imminent dispatch. The new Fluval Edge has LEDs, Maidenhead Aquatics and Superfish nano tanks have LEDs, as do tanks from Aqua One.
If you haven’t tried LEDs then we recommend you do so, and with so many different ones coming out in 2012 there should be one for every taste, specification and budget.
Own label products and exclusives
Times are hard and with bricks and mortar retailers fighting online retailers for every sale, the cleverer ones are tweaking their product lines so that they’re not all fighting for pennies over the same product.
Expect to see lots more "own label" products both online and instore. An "exclusive" won’t be on sale at the competitors' so prices don’t have to be matched or beaten like for like. Whether it's food, tanks, consumables or electricals, expect some recipe, design or labelling tweaks to make sure that the product they are selling is different from the rest.
Fish and inverts
With average tank sizes getting smaller, so is the livestock, for both freshwater and marine. Tiny Cherry shrimp will be a mainstay of nearly every shop, as will many tiny cyprinids, gobies, characins and catfish.
Asia will continue to produce new danios and rasboras and loaches from far flung regions (like the gorgeous but pricey Panda loach shown above – read all about it in the April issue of PFK) as well as producing more and more popular shrimp and snails in farms in Singapore.
The Internet has allowed fishkeepers to become a niche of niche of niche when it comes personal livestock specialisations so stores will have to increase their variety of livestock to accommodate them, search far and wide for cool new fish and inverts and better still, send them out by courier to their new, agorophobic online customers.
Dare I say it? Fishkeeping equipment is becoming way more sexy than it used to be. 2012 will be the year of gloss white, gloss red and gloss black tanks, and I’m not just talking BiOrbs here, I’m talking big four footers too.
Brushed aluminium CO2 equipment and polished glass filter pipework will make its way to all aquatic shops, not just the few who specialise at the top end.
Protein skimmers will change from black DIY projects to sexy white, red and even orange acrylic, but best of all, all of the above will be on sale at a lower price than ever, because good looks or not, no one has spare money to pay out for pumped up RRPs or pie in the sky introductory prices. We will want it all, yet we will want it for nothing.
If 2012 continues into recession we will see more aquatic shops and businesses disappear. Energy costs more yet there is less profit available both on dry goods and livestock. Many retailers I visited used to tell me that they didn’t make money on fish and instead made it on the associated dry goods. With very little profit for a small retailer when price matching dry goods, I predict that if they don’t turn their livestock around they will unfortunately go under.
The business speak is that the pie is getting smaller with people spending less, yet there are many more people taking a slice of that available pie through competition, meaning most businesses end up taking less. Tiny local retailers – use 'em or lose them.
High price tag fish
When premiership footballers aren’t getting themselves into trouble, a lot of them keep fish, and are willing to blow what most of us would spend on a car, on a posh marine fish. Last year brought us the £5000 Flathead perch (above) from Manchester’s Abyss, and it is perfectly situated in premier football land to sell lots more of rare, deep sea fish, aberrant angels and tangs. All the rest of us just dream of what we would do and buy if we were on £200,000 a week.
Despite the recession 2011 was a good year for many marine businesses so we predict continued growth of the marine hobby in 2012. Marines are just so cool and when we visit a good marine store we are like kids in a sweet shop, with the latest hard coral imports looking pretty candy like in terms of its coloration too.
Tank size used to a be big barrier stopping many from keeping marines but now it will be 15 l or 30 l and there will be lighting, skimmers and livestock to suit. 100 l will seem positively large as the marine hobby continues to progress.
Whether you live and breathe aquascaping, or think that the latest creations look like an underwater version of Lord of the Rings "The Shire" there is no doubt that planted nature aquariums and tank design using live plants has now become a truly global phenomenon.
2012 will see even more fishkeepers and brand new, non-fishkeepers, turn their hand to a bit of aquascaping art, and low and behold there will be all the nano tanks, LED lighting, tiny livestock and shiny CO2 systems that they will ever need.
PFK is off to our favourite event in 2012, Germany’s Interzoo trade show. What will be on show? All of the above in abundance, as British, German, Chinese and American technologies all compete to invent and market the next big things in aquatics.
Beer, Bratwurst, bio technologies and big egos all meet in the gargantuan halls and I’ll have the job of holding back Interzoo virgin Nathan Hill as he bounces from stall to stall.
New consumer event Aquatics Live could be set to be twice the size of its initial launch at Olympia last year. Keep November free and save what pennies you can for the UK’s fastest growing fishkeeping event.
User reviews and opinion will be king in 2012 and through PFK’s website, facebook page and twitter feeds you’ll be in direct contact with us, the writers.
In 2011 we gave away more free food sachets and kit out of our gear cupboard than ever before in celebration of our growing magazine sales so register, follow us or like us and you’ll get a live feed to your favourite fishkeeping magazine, you’ll have a chance to directly influence what gets featured and what you would like to read, and in return you’ll get more chances than ever to win free stuff.
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