Business Overview

As the proud owner of a pet fish store you not only will sell goldfish to young fish fanatics, you also have the opportunity to build a large commercial customer base tending to those interested in large aquariums in doctors offices, restaurants, and other public spaces. A wide range of accessories such as gravel, plants, and filters are offered to keep your customers' tanks clean, healthy, and unique looking. It can be a challenging business to open, but if you are passionate about fish, it can be a creative, rewarding, and profitable venture involved in customer service, design, and animal care.

Who is this business right for?

Opening up an aquarium store is perfect for the entrepreneur looking to support their passion for keeping beautiful and healthy aquascapes filled with exotic and common fish. Owning a pet fish store also allows owners to share such passion with their fellow aquarium enthusiasts. It's encyclopedic knowledge regarding water quality maintenance and fish health that will separate a local fish store guy from a valued member of the fish hobbyist community. Attention to detail and a commitment to maintaining a pristine, yet attractive storefront is also crucial in building a customer base that will return. Of course, the successful pet fish store owner will also have a solid understanding of good business practices.

What happens during a typical day at a pet fish store?

When you run your own fish store, on any given day you might need to:

  • Feed and care for the fish, plants, and tanks in order to maintain attractive sales displays
  • Receive shipments of new livestock/acclimate new fish to your display tanks
  • Maintain inventory of new tanks, accessories, and food
  • Provide friendly and helpful service to any walk-in clients
  • Reconcile daily sales receipts and invoices
  • Offer in-home services for large customers with fresh or saltwater aquariums
  • Research custom orders for exotic fish and new aquascape designs
  • Maintain and train your staff

What is the target market?

Your clients will most often be of three types: families looking for inexpensive, low-maintenance fish, lifetime fish hobbyists, and commercial clients looking to fill large aquariums. The fish hobbyist and the commercial client will provide you with the most profit per purchase, and they are also highly likely to become regular clients. Hobbyists will return on a steady basis to replenish their supply of tank maintenance products, and commercial clients will be in need of someone to perform regular maintenance duties on their aquariums.

How does a pet fish store make money?

While you can see a retail markup of 100% over wholesale on a single fish, the costs of water, electricity, loss of other livestock, and time can quickly lower that margin. The largest profit is found in in-home services supporting large commercial clients. These services can include tank cleaning, water testing, water treatment, etc. Accessories such as gravel, plants, and decorations offer the most consistent income with a general profit margin of 10-30%.

What is the growth potential for a pet fish store?

It is possible to expand from a small storefront on Main St. into a larger location as you build a dedicated pool of customers. Larger metropolitan areas will be better able to support a busy location as you can offer more services for high-end clients.  Some startups have expanded into multiple locations as they built a solid reputation for healthy fish and happy customers.