Top of the shops 2014

We reveal the UK’s top aquatic shops, as voted for by the readers of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.

This year witnessed an even greater diversity of entrants, writes Nathan Hill, with some familiar faces exchanging top spots, while others remained where they already were, as proud defenders. But most exciting is the taking of the highest accolade — Retailer of the Year — by none other than Aquahome Aquatic Centre of Leyland (pictured above).

Aquahome has been flexing its muscles for a few years now, becoming the North-west Retailer of the Year in both 2012 and 2013.

Upping its game to take on the national stage, this year not only saw it make a hat-trick of regional success, but Aquahome has sprung to the top of its game, becoming the number one store that you all overwhelmingly voted for. Only last year, former PFK editor Jeremy Gay flagged it as the one to watch, and we all noted then that if voters had slipped down a few extra categories for the store, it would have romped home with multiple wins.

"All the team here at Aquahome Aquatic Centre are very proud to have won Retailer of the Year. After winning North-west Retailer of the Year in 2012 and 2013, to win the North-west 2014 again but to finally win the big one, Retailer of the Year, is a great achievement for all the team," says manager Chris Haigh.

"We work extremely hard to keep our customers happy and our store clean, tidy and most importantly our fish systems healthy and stocked with great quality livestock from all over the world, so to have this recognised with the PFK Readers’ Poll, fills us all with enormous pride! We would like to thank all our loyal and valued customers for taking the time to vote for us."

Kings of the categories
Catfish Retailer of the Year has been seized this year by Wigan store, Pier Aquatics (pictured above). Pier has long been something of a pilgrimage for the PFK team, always leaving us humbled at owner Neil Woodward’s unstoppable powers in acquiring the unseen and unusual. If we’re ever stuck for inspiration about what to keep, this is the place we’ll turn to.

The Cichlid Retailer of the Year slot has been wrestled out of Southern hands and carried back to Yorkshire by Ferrybridge Aquatics, and for anyone who has shopped there, this will come
as no surprise. Owner Kevin Lawton can happily hang this latest accolade alongside his continuous string of Readers’ Poll recognitions.

Oddball Retailer of the Year has moved down to the wild west, being taken by The Aquatic Store, Bristol. Year on year we’ve watched The Aquatic Store’s legion of followers grow and grow, doing owner Steve Chivers proud with this latest title. I’m confident we’ll be seeing this name pop up again and again, as he continues to excite and elate the 'Brizzle' audience.

There’s no surprise that Sharnbrook Shrimp once again strides confidently past the line to become Shrimp Retailer of the Year. We were initially dubious at the concept of a shrimp-only retailer on UK shores, but owner Lucas Witte-Vermeulen has left us all with egg on our faces. His glorious store continues to pump out the finest shrimp you’ll see, and customers are in agreement: there’s nowhere better for crustaceans!

Another very familiar face is Abyss Aquatic Warehouse, sat immovably as Marine Retailer of the Year. If you’ve been there, you’ll know that this is one store that’s not scared to stock heavily, with tanks filled to bursting point with incredibly healthy fish and corals. There’s seemingly no limit on expense either, and for the opulent aquarist, you’ll not find anywhere better to splash out on some of the rarest finds around. With bright tanks, bulging healthy fish and beaming staff, it’ll take something really exotic to trump this store in the future!

Maidenhead Aquatics continues to dominate the lands north of the border, with Scotland Retailer of the Year going to Fishkeeper Glasgow in first place and Fishkeeper Edinburgh in second, mirroring last year’s result. All we can wonder is what will happen if they open more sites up there!

It isn’t just the Scottish stores making the grade from the Maidenhead chain, either, with Maidenhead Truro and Maidenhead Shirley also nuzzling their way into the top 40 list, and the Shirley store taking West Midlands Retailer of the Year.

There’s no sign that The Green Machine in Wrexham is ready to relinquish its hold in the Wales Retailer of the Year spot, and with its fresh, alternative approach to retail, we’d be surprised to see it slip. Feeling more arthouse than fish house, this is one of the few stores where you can get your feet up and just admire outstanding aquascapes from designers right at the top of their game. This is a shop that leads by example.

Club of the year
Ilford and District Aquarist and Pondkeepers Society celebrates its 80th birthday this year, and what better way to see it in than to be voted Club of the Year by its followers! This category was only introduced last year, and Ilford has now taken the lead two years running. The heat is now on to see if it can pull off a third year, especially in the wake of so many up and coming online clubs and their fleets of followers. Only time will tell.

We love marine!

As interested as I am in the who’s who of retailers, I’m always taken by the feedback over products. And this year, it seems that voters have been overwhelmingly taken with all things salty. Fluval’s Sea range of supplements won the Marine Product of the Year category, and with its goods dominating shelves across the UK, this is something I half expected. Fluval has long been hesitant in embracing the marine market, but now that it has, it’s romping home with all of the glory — let’s just hope there’s more of it in the offing. Given that Rolf C. Hagen also steamed past the competition to be voted Manufacturer of the Year, it’s safe to say it’s on a roll.

Evolution Aqua’s Pure Aquarium filter supplement is at the top of the Tropical Product of the Year category, and having experience of these curious jelly balls, I can see why. For years, the key to locking up the ‘right’ bacteria for a successful filter has proven cumbersome and unpredictable, but EA nailed it, with the ultimate in user-friendly filter supplements. Given the landslide of votes in EA’s favour, it seems I’m not the only one getting incredible success with this product.

Onwards and upwards
Let’s be honest. Being an established retailer or manufacturer in the aquatics business is now harder than it has ever been. The next 12 months are going to be as challenging as ever, and it will be interesting to see if standards can be maintained across the board.

To the current winners, I say this: don’t let things slip. You haven’t seen the numbers of votes trickling in for small retailers in their infancy, but I have. Fledgling sites are popping up everywhere, and some of them are already gaining impressive followings. Drop the ball for just a short while and some surprising left-fielder could be scooping your title next year. Remember how Rare Aquatics came from nowhere to take major titles for several years running? That scenario will repeat itself, I promise you.

Watch this space, everyone. I suspect that next year will be bringing in a glut of new and unknown stores and possibly even brand names. It’s a new world we’re living in. Exciting, isn’t it!

Here’s the full list of top aquatic shops — and products.

Retailer of the Year
Aquahome Aquatic Centre, Leyland, Lancashire
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincolnshire

Small Retailer of the Year
H20 Habitat, Woldingham, Surrey
Ferrybridge Aquatics, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Cichlid Retailer of the Year
Ferrybridge Aquatics, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Sweet Knowle Aquatics, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Catfish Retailer of the Year
Pier Aquatics, Wigan, Lancashire
Rare Aquatics, Crewe, Cheshire

Oddball Retailer of the Year
The Aquatic Store, Bristol
Wildwoods Water Gardens, Enfield, Middlesex

Discus Retailer of the Year
Devotedly Discus, Polegate, East Sussex
Woodford Aquatics, London

Marine Retailer of the Year
Abyss Aquatic Warehouse, Stockport, Manchester
H20 Aquatics, Brentwood, Essex

Aquatic Plant Retailer of the Year
Emperor Tropicals, Plymouth, Devon
The Green Machine, Wrexham, Wales

Freshwater Shrimp Retailer of the Year

Sharnbrook Shrimp, Rushden, Northamptonshire
Woodford Aquatics, London

Pond Retailer of the Year
Woodford Aquatics, London
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincolnshire

Scotland Retailer of the Year
Fishkeeper, Glasgow
Fishkeeper, Edinburgh

Northern Ireland Retailer
of the Year — joint winners

Exotic Aquatics, Belfast, and AMC Aquatics, Limavady, County Londonderry

Republic of Ireland Retailer of the Year

Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
The Aquatic Village, County Dublin

North-east Retailer of the Year
Fish Alive, County Durham
Durham Discus, County Durham

North-west Retailer of the Year

Aquahome Aquatic Centre, Leyland, Lancashire
Joint runners-up

Abyss Aquatic Warehouse, Stockport, Greater Manchester, and Oasis Aquarium, Salford, Manchester

Yorks and Humber Retailer of the Year

Ferrybridge Aquatics, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
South Yorkshire Aquatics, Doncaster

East Midlands Retailer of the Year
Lincs Aquatics, Alford
Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.

West Midlands Retailer of the Year
Maidenhead Aquatics, Solihull
Forty Fathoms, Kidderminster, Worcestershire

East Retailer of the Year

The Coral Cave Aquatic Centre, Hardwick, Cambs.
Seapets, Colchester, Essex

Wales Retailer of the Year
The Green Machine, Wrexham, Wales
Jaydee Aquatics, Wrexham, Wales

London Retailer of the Year

Woodford Aquatics, London
The Aquatic Design Centre, London

South-east Retailer of the Year
H20 Habitat, Woldingham, Surrey
Abacus Aquatics, Sidcup, Kent

South-west Retailer of the Year
Emperor Tropicals, Plymouth, Devon
The Aquatic Store, Bristol

Online Retailer of the Year
New Atlantic:

Club of the Year
Ilford and District Aquarist and Pondkeepers Society
Bristol Tropical Fish Club

Tropical Product of the Year
Pure Aquarium, Evolution Aqua
Fluval FX6, Hagen

Marine Product of the Year
Fluval Sea supplements, Rolf C. Hagen
V2 900 iLuminAir, TMC

Pond Product of the Year
GreenGo, Kockney Koi
Blagdon Affinity products, Interpet

Manufacturer of the Year
Rolf C. Hagen
Aqua One

Tropical Marine Centre opens new showroom

TMC has created a new showroom and training facility at its Chorleywood head office.

Tropical Marine Centre has completely refurbished its old hatchery area, converting it into a modern and spacious facility designed to showcase its diverse range of products to aquatic retailers.

“We wanted a more permanent and interactive showcase for our products,” said TMC’s Managing Director, Paul West. 

“We also wanted to develop a venue where we can have a more direct involvement and engagement with our customers to give them ideas about how to effectively display our products”.

The new facility hosts its impressive range of products with each product group on its own self-contained display.

Every product group is represented from its well-established AquaRay LED lighting range, ponds, frozen foods, planted aquarium and commercial systems through to brand new products such as its REEF Skim protein skimmers and ReefScape model series.

The complete range of Signature aquariums and cabinets flanks the entrance way, and a large meeting/conference room provides a comfortable area where customers and TMC staff can interact in private, away from the busy livestock sales area.

Please note that TMC supplies to the trade only.

Could you be the next editor of PFK?

Practical Fishkeeping, the UK’s biggest-selling fishkeeping magazine, and Pet Product Marketing, the leading magazine for the pet trade, are looking for a new joint editor.

To take on the role you will have a compelling vision for the direction of both consumer fishkeeping and B2B pet magazines and will be able to demonstrate excellent magazine craft as well as how you can get the best out of a small editorial team.

You will understand that the media landscape is changing and will have ideas on how we can build a multi-platform strategy but also understand that brilliant magazines with a unique proposition still have a role to play.

Ideally, you will have knowledge of the fishkeeping and pet markets but it is not essential.

If interested, please contact Jo Green by email at: with a copy of your CV and why you should be the next editor of Practical Fishkeeping and Pet Product Marketing, along with two 200-word critiques of the latest issues.

This is a full-time role based at Media House, Peterborough.

Closing date: December 8, 2014.

Three exciting new job opportunities at Lincolnshire store

Due to to department re-structuring, three positions are now available at Lincs Aquatics, based at Woodthorpe, near Alford.

Marine department leader, full time position
Good rates of pay for a highly motivated, tidy person with good marine fish and reef system knowledge. Must be hardworking and able to work weekends.

The job involves cleaning and maintenance of the marine retail system, new stock shipments ordering and stocking, advising and selling of all marine livestock and dry goods, interdepartmental cover, use of epos till system.

Assistant manager, covering all departments, full time position
Good rates of pay. Applicants must have general all round good working knowledge of all aquatic departments including pond, coldwater, tropical, marine and plants. Reptile knowledge would be advantageous for the new reptile department but not essential.

You will be required to deputise for the manager in their absence, manage department team leaders ensuring the store offers excellent customer service and standards at all times while motivating staff. You will have excellent planning and prioritising skills and be able to demonstrate outstanding people and team management. You will also have excellent communication skills as you will be required to communicate with people at all levels within the business. A hands on approach to be able to muck in with your team is required. You will need to be able to work weekends. A full driving licence is advantageous.

General manager, full time position
Excellent rates of pay and bonuses available (involves working weekends).

Lincs Aquatics is looking for someone with experience of managing an aquatic centre, with a wealth of knowledge of aquatic husbandry and retail including pond, coldwater, tropical and marine. Must work to high standards and have a personal touch for customer service. You must be a highly motivated individual able to manage, develop and motivate a team from the front, with extreme flexibility as every day is a new challenge. You will be responsible for achieving financial targets, ensuring a sharp, neat, professional shop floor image, pursuing high standards at all times and maintaining high standards of health and safety.

Working knowledge and experience of Epos system and full driving licence essential.

Not essential but advantageous is experience with reptiles, as there is a new reptile department within the store.

Please email all CVs and covering letters to

Closing date: October 6, 2014.

New Worcestershire store has a 24-hour emergency number

Happy Fish World is a family-run business based in Kidderminster, and is the vision of James Ray, who has worked in the aquatic trade for over 20 years.

Around four years ago, James was seriously ill and upon recovery decided to go it alone. He set up Happy Fish Care — working from home he offered pond and aquarium maintenance as well as bespoke made to measure aquariums. James started the business from nothing and had no financial backing; within three years the business had grown so much he opened Happy Fish World at the end of last year.

The shop has 74 tropical tanks, 59 marine tanks, six coral tanks, a 6ft plant stand and 18 coldwater tanks, along with all the associated dry goods.

The shop still offers pond and aquarium maintenance and even has a 24-hour emergency number.

Happy Fish World is based at 285 Oak Drive, Hartlebury Trading Estate, Kidderminster, DY10 4JB. Tel. 01299 250431. Opening hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday.

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OFI Secretary General killed in Ukraine plane crash

It has emerged that the Secretary General of Ornamental Fish International (OFI), Dr. Alex Ploeg, was among those killed in the Malaysia Airlines plane crash above Ukraine last week.

In a press release, OFI said: "Ornamental Fish International (OFI) has received the terrible news that its Secretary General, Dr. Alex Ploeg, his wife Edith, their son Robert and his friend Robin, perished in the plane crash above Ukraine on Thursday, July 17. They were on their way to a well-deserved and much-anticipated vacation in Asia.

"Our condolences go out to their daughters, Mirjam and Sandra, family and friends.

"The loss of Alex and Edith is immeasurable to OFI. Alex was much appreciated worldwide and a fount of knowledge about our industry. He was a keystone, not only for us, but also for EPO (European Pet Organisation), Dibevo (the Dutch Pet Trade Association) and other organisations.

"Alex’s vast amount of contacts ranged from ministers to top civil servants in Brussels, Den Hague, Singapore and elsewhere, but also with workers on the floor, breeders and collectors. When he spoke, everyone in our industry listened. His ability to express complex issues simply and logically made him a much-asked-for speaker at international conferences."

OFI Secretariat Roberto Hensen said: "My wife and I have known Alex and Edith for more than 25 years when he and I were breeding fish together on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. Even though we moved to different continents, we never lost touch and I have seen his children grow into wonderful adults. A few years ago he asked me to assist him in the OFI secretariat and I gladly accepted, and he, Edith and I worked very well together as good friends in mutual respect and understanding and with a lot of humor."

OFI President, Dr Gerald Bassleer added: "With much regret, I, President of OFI, deeply respect Roberto’s personal feelings; I worked closely with Alex over the past eight years and he has taught me about the world of NGOs, politics, negotiations, the future of OFI, good food, humor, etc. We will miss him and Edith and our task is to continue much stronger with the pathway they prepared for our industry, friends and relatives.

"This tragedy has affected us deeply. We have lost very special people and for us, Alex, Edith and Robert will be missed forever."

In a separate statement, OATA’s Chief Executive, Keith Davenport, said: "First and foremost, Alex and Edith were lovely people. Good natured, friendly and humorous were just a few of their qualities. I was lucky to meet and know them both and I will miss them. I did not know their son Robert directly but Alex and I did exchange family stories.

"On a professional level I spoke to Alex regularly, often daily. We co-operated on many issues of relevance to the UK ornamental trade. We never tried to decide who achieved what when we were successful rather enjoying our success in working together. Alex provided the working basis of species, which was used  in the recent Import of Live Fish Act revision. The quality of his work is reflected by so few noticing any difference.

"He, myself and colleagues in Germany, worked to remove the threat of import controls that could have followed if a listing of species susceptible to EUS (a fungal disease that can affect many tropical species and be carried by coldwater species) had not been revoked by the EU. When the Invasive Regulation was in the European Parliament he unselfishly made sure I was invited to see to see key MEPs and to various meetings. His knowledge, his contacts, his style (always well informed and organised prior to meetings), his openness and willingness to collaborate on and discuss issues means he will be missed by those who knew him and by the global industry."

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South West Sales Manager required at NT Labs

Do you want to join the team at one of the fastest growing brands in the aquatic industry?

NT Labs, established in 1982, is renowned for its fish medicines, fish food, water treatments and test kits.
Ideally based within the M4/M5 corridor, you will be responsible for managing and ensuring profitable growth in your territory, you will have a proven track record of selling aquatic products, have a clean driving licence and be willing to undertake early starts, late finishes and regularly spend nights away from home.
Business to business sales experience not essential although preferred.  Package includes a competitive salary, company car, iphone, ipad & laptop.
All applications will be dealt with confidentially.
Please apply by emailing (subject South West Sales Manager) your CV with a covering letter in confidence to:

Job vacancy: UK Helpdesk Operator at Casco Europe

Pet and aquatic shop fitting specialist Casco Europe is looking for a motivated and commited individual to provide administrative support and high quality customer service to the maintenance department.

Desired skills and experience:

  • Previous telephone based customer service experience
  • Polite and confident telephone manner
  • Excellent computer and administration skills
  • Experience of aquatic filtration and pet husbandry would be an advantage

Please email a copy of your CV and covering letter to

Casco Europe is based at Unit 23/24 Lawson Hunt Industrial Park, Broadbridge Heath, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 3JR.

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Barley straw situation 'still bonkers' says industry body

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association’s quest to get barley straw products pulled from the EU Biocides Regulation is flourishing again after it received responses from the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

The popular pond products are included in the EU law, which came into force last year, although OATA won a reprieve for the items after officials said they would look into what information manufacturers had to supply to enable the products to remain on the shelves over the longer term.

But OATA wants the products removed altogether from the regulation, which will save the time and costs of demonstrating how the products, which sell for a matter of pounds, work.

"We continue to maintain that it makes no sense to have safety concerns for barley straw products which go into our garden ponds when no-one seems worried about the amount of barley straw tipped into our reservoirs to control algae," said OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

"It seems water companies don’t have to carry out any kind of risk assessment on the barley straw that goes into reservoirs yet dry goods manufacturers could end up doing expensive risk assessments for products that sell for just a matter of pounds and which end up in garden ponds.

"I’ve raised this point with the Drinking Water Inspectorate, the Health and Safety Executive — which has responsibility for enforcing the regulation – and water companies to try to find out just how much barley straw goes into what ends up as our drinking water.

"But apparently no-one knows or seems to care as our latest correspondence from the Drinking Water Inspectorate shows. Yet we have this sledgehammer piece of legislation about products that go into our garden ponds. It seems the powers-that-be have more safety concerns about garden pond water than tapwater. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — that’s still just plain bonkers."

In a letter to OATA, the DWI said: "I can confirm we have had no correspondence with the HSE or any other government body on the subject of the use of barley straw to control algae in the water supply infrastructure."If barley straw products are not removed from the regulation then manufacturers will have to pay for complicated risk assessments to demonstrate how the products work chemically. The fear is that this work could make them uneconomical to continue to produce.

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Job vacancy: Technical/Sales Support

A vacancy has recently been made available to become a member of the OASE UK team.

The company says: OASE is the market leader in water gardening and prides itself in its exciting, innovative and market changing products.

"All we ask is that you have a keen interest in ponds or aquariums and we will provide full training on everything else.  

"This role requires a great deal of flexibility as no two days are the same. A willingness to learn is essential; as is enthusiasm. The role includes dealing with both trade and consumer enquires (verbal and written) so a basic understanding of ponds or aquariums is essential as is a desire to deliver the highest level of customer service every day.  The role is based at our offices in Andover in Hampshire so the successful applicant will need to able to travel there each day or relocate to the area.  A full driving license is essential.

Duties include

  • Dealing with enquiries in relation to orders and products.
  • Testing incoming returns and processing necessary paper work.
  • To attend OASE exhibitions, customer weekends and site visits when required.

"At OASE we have a very stable team who are widely regarded as the best in the industry. If you want to be part of this and grow with us then please contact Amanda Crook, Sales Office Manager; email or tel. 07876 574955."

Closing date for applications is April 30, 2014.

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Sparsholt College launches Masters in Applied Aquaculture and Sports Fisheries

Sparsholt College is launching an innovative Fisheries Masters, the MSc in Applied Aquaculture and Sports Fisheries.

The combination of aquaculture and sports fisheries has not previously been offered at this level. From September 2014, The University of Portsmouth validated course will be available to study at the College’s renowned National Aquatics Training Centre and Salmonid Rearing and Trials Centre.
Explaining why there is an industry demand for this qualification Dr Neil Crooks, Fisheries Lecturer and Course Leader says: "There are currently a number of Aquaculture Master courses available elsewhere but nobody offers a course which also includes Sports Fisheries, Sustainable Fisheries Management or Marine Fisheries Management. We know from the industry that there is a demand for a catered sports fisheries element to the Masters."
The course is ideal for anyone looking to progress their career in aquaculture, sports fisheries or as a Government fishery scientists with organisations such as the Environment Agency or CEFAS, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. The premise is that employers are now looking for high level qualifications and are recruiting on that basis.
Neil explains further: "With the focus on a sustainable secure food chain for the future population with more leisure time available, enhanced knowledge and training is required by both elements of the industry."
It is easy to see why the College is anticipating great demand for these courses; aquaculture accounts for more than half of the fish supply for human consumption whilst angling is the single biggest leisure industry in the UK with a value in excess of £4 billion annually.
The units covered are Applied Aquaculture, Sport Fishery Management, Sustainable Fisheries Management, Research Methods and a Dissertation. The course can be studied either over two years on a part-time basis or one year full time.
Sparsholt College has a national reputation for offering the best training for a career working with freshwater fisheries and fish farming, and exotic and ornamental fish. The outstanding facilities include the purpose built National Aquatics Training Centre, a newly built Salmonid Rearing and Trials Centre and the Sparsholt fishery.

For further information, visit the Sparsholt College website or call 01962 776441.

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Job vacancy: Aquarium Maintenance Technician

A Kent-based aquarium design, installation and maintenance company is looking for an Aquarium Maintenance Technician to join its team.

AquariumGroup is a growing company that operates an aquarium maintenance service covering London, the South, the South East and the Home Counties.

The successful candidate will be responsible for maintaining clients' aquariums in both commercial and residential locations. Occasional duties may also include assisting in the installation of new aquariums, the relocation of existing aquariums, troubleshooting and fish disease control and prevention.

The role will include a considerable amount of driving to various service routes, mainly in central London and surrounding areas, but will also include the South, South East and Home Counties. Installations are nationwide.

Full training will be given for a trial three-month period after which, on successful completion, a vehicle will be provided. Please note that the terms of vehicle provision require the driver to be a minimum of 25 years of age.

This is a part-time position working three days per week on a permanent basis, with the opportunity of becoming full-time in the near future. There are no set hours, but on average these should not exceed more than 30 in any one week.

Starting salary
Annual salary is £10,400 for the duration of a three-month trial period. Salary increase on successful completion of the trial period; salary negotiable depending on experience.

The candidate:

Both AquariumGroup and its customers expect high standards. The company is looking for a highly motivated and dedicated individual with the following requirements:

  • You must be punctual
  • You have a valid drivers licence and clean driving record
  • You will be required to pass a CRB check
  • You are able to do some heavy lifting on a regular basis
  • You are able to work alone but are equally happy to help out as a team player
  • You are proactive and enjoy being hands-on
  • You enjoy getting your hands wet and show initiative with good trouble shooting skills
  • You pay attention to detail and work in an efficient and tidy manner
  • You are a good communicator and are confident speaking with people face to face
  • You have a passion for fish with fishkeeping experience an asset.

How to apply
In the first instance please email a covering letter and CV to Nathalie:

Applications must be received by April 30, 2014.

You can find more information about AquariumGroup on its website.

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PFK Editor Jeremy Gay is appointed Business Development Manager at Evolution Aqua

Following a successful career as the editor of Practical Fishkeeping and Pet Product Marketing, Jeremy Gay leaves Bauer Media in May 2014 to embark on a new role

"There's not much that would entice me to vacate the greatest job in fishkeeping but this opportunity got my full attention," said Jeremy.

"The things that ea can achieve with bacteria and filtration is phenomenal and there is so much potential there to do a whole lot more."

"Evolution Aqua dominate the Koi and pond market, and I bring my extensive knowledge of the tropical and marine markets to them."

"I'm fascinated by the aquatic trade too so it makes sense that I'm going back into it.

"I want to develop products which will really benefit both fish and fishkeeper, and Evolution Aqua is definitely the place to do it." 



George Farmer is TMC AquaGro brand manager

The Aquascaper George Farmer is leaving the Royal Air Force to start a new career with Tropical Marine Centre

After 14 years in the armed forces, and promoted to Sergeant, the regular PFK contributor and UKAPS founder is leaving for greener pastures.

"I approached TMC because I've used their products for years, especially their LEDs and soil," George says.

"I love their Signature aquarium range and think they are a forward thinking company."

George has worked previously for TMC on a freelance basis, conducting aquascaping demos and doing photography.

His new role as AquaGro Brand Manager is a full time role, which he starts on 1st April.

George aims to promote planted tanks and aquascaping to retailers.

Aquatic plant ban comes into force next month

A sales ban on some aquatic pond plants is effective from April, which will stop the trade in five invasive species.

DEFRA introduced the ban last year, giving traders until April 2014 to clear any stock.

The five plants banned from sale by DEFRA are:
Water fern (Azolla filiculoides)
Parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
Australian swamp stone crop/New Zealand pygmyweed (Crassula helmsii)
Water primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora)

The ban means all retailers in England must stop selling these plants or face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to six months in prison. Retailers have had a year to adjust to the ban.

"We’ve been saying for some time that retailers should not be selling these plants and any shops that have continued to do so have had a year to clear their shelves. So there should be no excuse for these five plants to be sold after April," explained OATA’s Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

"These plants have been identified by DEFRA as posing a significant risk when they escape into the our native waterways so we’d also urge retailers and pond consultants to make sure they give proper advice to their customers on how to manage and dispose of these plants when they’re already in ponds. There’s plenty of useful information about careful composting of aquatic plants in Be Plant Wise leaflets and point of sale information.

"It’s vital that our industry is seen to be acting responsibly across the UK when it comes to the 'no release' message because otherwise we’re likely to see yet more plant bans. We’ve already seen Water hyacinth come under fire in recent House of Commons’ evidence sessions by the Environmental Audit Committee. This group of MPs is examining invasive species in the UK and we know that other pond plants — including Water hyacinth and Lagarosiphon — are coming under increased scrutiny. These plants are worth millions of pounds to the industry so if we don’t want to lose these to the trade we need to be part of the solution — not viewed as the start of the problem."

More information on the banned plants can be found on the new pond season page on OATA’s website. 

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Back #handsoffmyhobby campaign to protect aquatic future

The #handsoffmyhobby campaign has been launched to get freshwater and marine hobbyists to shout about why they love fishkeeping.

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association is warning that popular tropical marine and freshwater fish, corals and invertebrates could be under threat if a European lobbying group for animals is successful in its #votes4animals lobbying campaign in the run-up to the European elections being held in May.

Eurogroup for Animals, which is based in Brussels, is asking MEPs to sign a pledge to work towards banning the import of wild caught animals, which could include all types of tropical marine and freshwater fish, corals and invertebrates.

The trade association – which will be lobbying Euro MPs in coming weeks to make sure they hear the other side of the argument – is calling on people power to help in its work by urging keen fishkeepers to contact MEPs to urge them not to sign the pledge.

“We think it’s time that the views of the millions of people who enjoy fish keeping across Europe should also be brought to the attention of MEPs,” said OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

“Currently, many MEPs are signing up to a manifesto written by Eurogroup for Animals. While we can all agree that everyone must be concerned about and protect animal welfare, this lobby group goes much further by asking all political groups to include a call to ‘ban the import of wild-caught animals and restrict the number of exotic species that can be imported and traded in the EU’ in their manifestos.

“Taken to its logical conclusion this would mean if you want to keep tropical marine or freshwater fish, corals, soft corals or other invertebrates you might as well forget it. All of these are either wild-caught and/or exotic, which means they’re not native to the UK, so they would no longer be available to buy.

“Your hobby is under threat right now. If you love your tank we want you to let MEPs know how you feel and tell them #handsoffmyhobby.”

What you can do to support OATA’s #handsoffmyhobby campaign:
    •    Contact the MEPs who have already signed up to the Eurogroup for Animals’ manifesto to let them know how much you enjoy your hobby and ask why they support this document.

    •    Contact any candidates for the European Parliament in your area to let them know about our #handsoffourhobby campaign and why you support it.

    •    You can find the contact details of your local MEP at and the details of those MEPs who have signed up to the Eurogroup for Animals pledge are on OATA’s website.

    •    Like the OATA Facebook page, follow them on Twitter or follow their LinkedIn page to find out the latest news on this campaign – and share updates with your fishkeeping friends in your groups, forums and communities.

    •    Use the #handsoffmyhobby hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to share what you’d miss the most from your tank if any wild caught animal ban came into effect.

There’s more information about the #handsoffourhobby campaign on the OATA website.

Editor - Practical Fishkeeping and Pet Product Marketing

Practical Fishkeeping, the UK’s biggest-selling fishkeeping magazine, and Pet Product Marketing, the leading magazine for the pet trade, are looking for a new joint editor.

To take on the role you will have a compelling vision for the direction of both consumer fishkeeping and B2B pet magazines and will be able to demonstrate excellent magazine craft as well as how you can get the best out of a small editorial team.

You will understand that the media landscape is changing and will have ideas on how we can build a multi-platform strategy but also understand that brilliant magazines with a unique proposition still have a role to play.

Ideally, you will have knowledge of the fishkeeping and pet markets but it is not essential.

If interested, please contact Angela Reynolds by email at: with a copy of your CV and why you should be the next editor of Practical Fishkeeping and Pet Product Marketing along with a 200 word critique of each of the latest issues.

This is a full-time role based at Media House, Peterborough.

Closing date: Monday, 23rd March, 2014




New Import of Live Fish Act UK: Channel catfish get banned

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association has welcomed a new order made under the Import of Live Fish Act which comes into force today (Monday February 17).

The new Act allows the trade to continue to sell almost all fish already on sale.

Following long negotiations with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), which had the job of overhauling the legislation for DEFRA, OATA has ensured that risk assessments must be carried out if species are to be taken off or added to the list.

This means officials cannot remove a species without demonstrating the risk it poses to the UK countryside and it equally gives importers and retailers a clear process to follow if they want to introduce a new fish to the trade.

“This equity was of prime importance to us and it’s one of the reasons we welcome the new legislation,” explained OATA’s Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

“While it does create a ‘white’ list of fish that can be traded, which is not something we would normally support, Cefas’s open, pragmatic and collaborative approach to creating that list was a new and very welcome way of working which has given us a good outcome for the industry.

“For me, the real victory is that we’ve made sure we can’t lose trade in other fish in the future at the whim of officials. Each side has to prove its case for banning a fish from sale or introducing a new species to the market. And we welcome what lies at the heart of this risk assessment process – which is all about protecting the native habitat of the UK.

“However, from today Channel catfish and related species cannot now be sold because they have not been included on the white list. If importers or retailers who deal in these fish want to make a case for having them back in trade they can make the appropriate assessment of the risk the species poses to the wider environment.”

Cefas used the book produced by Ornamental Fish International (OFI) as the basis for the white list – although not every species listed by OFI was included on the white list. Both OATA and OFI (the international trade body) staff sat down with Cefas officials to go through each species on the list in preparation for the final statutory instrument which comes into force on Monday February 17.

“That was a very long meeting but such an admirably in-depth examination of each species with the trade bodies gave all sides the chance to have their say and gave us all an end result that we can all support and get behind,” Keith added.

A DEFRA spokesperson said: “The new legislation is an important step in protecting our native biodiversity as well as ensuring established trade in non-native fish species can continue. We thank OATA along with our other stakeholders for their positive contribution to the policy-making process, which was achieved through transparency, willingness and partnership working on all sides.”

OATA takes on new Assistant to the Chief Executive

The aquatic industry trade body has welcomed a new face to the organisation as Gabriela Solano takes on the position of Assistant to the Chief Executive this week.

Gabriela joins OATA from Bath Spa University where she lectured in biology. She has a background in Biology and environmental science, having previously worked in Canada as an environmental scientist and advisor for Hatch Mott MacDonald and the BC Ministry of Transportation, mostly advising in matters related to large infrastructure projects.

During her time studying for her degree in biology at the University of El Salvador she conducted a small research project on the mating and reproductive behaviour of dwarf gourami. This led to the University setting up a small commercial ornamental fish farm, where she worked in her free time. She also volunteered at a friend’s ornamental fish farm and, at home, kept and bred dwarf gourami and guppies.

After leaving university she worked with El Salvadorian fisherman communities on the conservation of marine resources in the Gulf of Fonseca before moving to Canada to study for her MSc in Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of British Colombia, which included research into water quality monitoring.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Gabriela to the OATA team. She brings a good mix of experience in scientific research, report writing, working with government bodies and presentation skills that will be invaluable in the post,” said OATA Chairman James Allison.

“We have a busy year ahead of us so it is especially welcome to have more technical knowledge to support Chief Executive Keith Davenport at this time.  

“One of Gabriela’s first tasks will be to look at creating a new membership category for pond and aquarium contractors to widen our membership appeal and we look forward to announcing more details about this in the near future.”

On starting her new position at the trade association, which is based in Westbury in Wiltshire, Gabriela said: “I am very excited about starting on this new position with OATA. I am sure I will enjoy the challenges that come with it and I look forward to working closely with the team at the office as well as members and directors to ensure OATA continues to succeed in achieving its mission of promoting and protecting the ornamental aquatic industry.”

Multi award winner Tri-Mar on the move

Four times 'Practical Fishkeeping UK Retailer of the Year' winner Tri-Mar is moving.

The Cornish fishkeeping institution has been at its characterful Victorian home in Tuckingmill, near Camborne for almost half a century, but redevelopment plans for the building means a move to new premises.

The new shop will be just over a mile away at Unit 16B, Pool Industrial Estate with around 2,500 sq ft of space to fill.

Owner Monty Ray, who has been running Tri-Mar since 1987 said, "Both the staff and customers are really excited by the move. The industry has changed a lot in recent years, and this move gives us the opportunity to develop the business further".

Tri-Mar was a pioneer of mail order fish sales which helped expand its reach and reputation beyond the borders of Cornwall. To help keep disturbance to customers and livestock to a minimum Monty and his team plan to run both old and new premises simultaneously for a short time.

Monty explained, "AquaOne is supplying the new display tanks which are arriving in March and we hope to be able to start the process of moving some time in February but it may take a couple of months and heaven knows what we’ll find when we start stripping out this old place!"

The new shop will contain custom made display areas for tropical, marine and coldwater fish and associated dry goods, as well as two dedicated reptile rooms for this expanding area of the business.

The new site also offers easier access and as Monty was keen to point out, "lots of parking, and it’s flat!" in reference to their current pot-holed car park which is often affectionately referred to as 'the pond section'.

While the move will see the end of this most distinctive of fishkeeping premises, Monty is sure that many of the qualities that make Tri-Mar unique will travel across with the staff and fish during their big move.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.