How to start an Aquarium Shop in UK USA (Business Plan)

Aquarium Shop

Do you have these questions in your mind?

  • How to start an Aquarium Shop?
  • How much does it cost to start an Aquarium Shop?
  • How to find the best location to open an Aquarium shop?
  • What are top-selling fish in an Aquarium Shop?


In this article, you will find answers to all your questions. So please grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is an Aquarium Shop?

With a global market value of around $4 billion growing at a CAGR of 8.1%. The Aquarium Shop Industry is one of the biggest industries in the world right now. 


Starting an Aquarium shop business can be profitable for those passionate about our sea life creatures and products. An Aquarium Shop business primarily sells products and animals belonging to our beautiful sea creatures.


However, starting a successful aquarium shop requires more than a love for these beings. It requires a solid business plan, a clear understanding of the industry, and a robust financial foundation.


By the end of this article, you’ll learn the steps you need to take to start an Aquarium shop business and the critical considerations for making it a success.

Market Insight: In the UK, the Aquarium shop market is valued at £100 million, while in the US, the market is valued at around $1.2 billion.

Aquarium Shop

Types of Aquarium Shop Business models

When starting an Aquarium shop business, it’s essential to choose the right one for you!


There are different business models for aquarium shops, and the right one for a particular shop will depend on various factors such as location, target market, and available resources.


Here are some common types of aquarium shop business models:


1. Retail-only model: 

In this business model, you, as a shop, can sell aquariums, fish, and other aquarium-related products to consumers. In addition, this model can offer services such as aquarium maintenance and installation as well.


2. Online-only model: 

In an Online-only model, you sell aquarium products and accessories through an e-commerce platform. It eliminates the need for a physical storefront, lowering overhead costs.


3. Hybrid model: 

You can provide the convenience of online shopping and the personal touch of in-store customer service by providing online and offline business models.


4. Maintenance-focused model: 

This business model focuses primarily on providing aquarium maintenance services to customers. This can include regular cleaning, water testing, and fish care.


5. Custom aquarium model: 

This business model specializes in custom-designed aquariums for customers, offering various design and installation services.


6. Wholesale model: 

This model focuses on supplying aquarium products to other retailers or businesses rather than selling directly to consumers.


Note: An aquarium shop may incorporate only one of these models or elements of multiple models into its overall business strategy. 

Remember, as a startup, your goal should be to keep your costs low and depend on your skills. If you push the process and try to go full-service from the very beginning, there is a good possibility that you’ll be overburdened and may get lost in the process.

Aquarium Shop

Pros and Cons of an Aquarium Shop

Pros of an Aquarium Shop include:

  • An aquarium shop can be a fulfilling way to turn a hobby into a career.
  • Maintenance and care is constant, meaning customers return to the shop for supplies and advice.
  • The aquarium industry provides a competitive advantage and a loyal customer base.
  • Aquarium shops can offer a range of products.

Cons of an Aquarium Shop include:

  • Aquarium shops can be expensive to set up and maintain
  • Demand for aquarium products and services can be influenced by seasonal changes
  • High competition
  • Aquarium shops require expertise in fish care, water chemistry, and aquarium maintenance, which can be time-consuming to acquire and maintain.

Investment is required for your Aquarium Shop

The investment required to start an Aquarium shop business in the UK & the US can vary depending on many factors, such as the size and location of the company, the type of equipment and supplies needed, and the labor cost.


The average cost to open a small aquarium shop in the US ranges from $100K – $250K. While in the UK, the average cost to open a small aquarium shop ranges from £50K to £150K.


Some Common Expenses in running an Aquarium Shop include:


  • Rent or mortgage payments for the building or space
  • Different types of fish to sell
  • Fish products to maintain the health of the fish
  • Cleaning supplies for aquarium, buildings, products, etc.
  • Employee wages and benefits
  • Insurance
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Maintenance and repairs for equipment and the building
  • Utilities such as electricity, water, and internet
  • Point of sale systems and software
  • Professional services such as accounting and legal fees.
Aquarium Shop

How much will you earn in an Aquarium Shop?

It is easier to estimate earnings in the Aquarium shop business with more information about the specific company, such as location, target market, and competition. In addition, factors such as overhead costs, sales volume, and pricing will all play a role in determining earnings.

The average US aquarium shop revenue can be around $50K – $200K annually, while an average payment in the UK is around £30K – £100K per year, with a profit margin of about 5%. 

Seasonal Business:

The busiest season for aquarium shops tend to be during the spring and summer months, when people start to set up new aquariums or upgrade their existing ones.

During these seasons, people are more interested in purchasing new fish or other aquatic pets to add to their tanks. The holiday season can also be a busy time for aquarium shops, as many people may be interested in purchasing aquarium-related gifts for friends and family members.

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Aquarium Shop

Pick Your Aquarium Shop Niche!

There are various niches in an Aquarium shop that you can consider specialising in based on your interests and the demand in your area. 

Here are some of the popular niches and their sub-niches in the aquarium shop industry:

1. Saltwater aquariums:
Specialize in selling equipment and fish for saltwater aquariums, which require more specialized equipment and a higher level of expertise to maintain.

Sub niches:

  • Coral-only aquariums
  • Reef aquariums
  • Nano aquariums
  • Predatory fish aquariums


2. Freshwater aquariums:
Cater to customers who are interested in setting up and maintaining freshwater aquariums, which are generally less expensive and easier to maintain than saltwater aquariums.

Sub Niches:

  • Planted aquariums
  • Biotope aquariums (replicating a specific ecosystem or biotope)
  • Cichlid aquariums
  • Discus aquariums


3. Aquatic plants:
Specialize in selling a wide range of aquatic plants, such as mosses, ferns, and flowering plants, and related equipment such as fertilizers and CO2 systems.

Sub Niches:

  • Terrarium plants
  • Mosses and ferns
  • Tissue culture plants
  • Aquatic bonsai trees


4. Aquascaping:
Focus on selling products for creating beautiful and natural-looking aquascapes, such as rocks, driftwood, substrate, and plant species that are suitable for aquascaping.

Sub Niches: 

  • Iwagumi-style aquascapes
  • Dutch-style aquascapes
  • Natural-style aquascapes
  • Hardscape-focused aquascapes
  • Minimalist aquascapes


5. Rare fish and exotic species:
Specialize in selling rare or exotic fish species, which may require more expertise to care for and attract hobbyists looking for unique or unusual fish.

Sub Niches:

  • Monster fish (large, predatory fish such as arapaima, arowana, or piranha)
  • Nano fish (small, colorful fish such as rasboras, tetras, or guppies)
  • Oddball fish (unique or unusual fish such as pufferfish, eels, or frogfish)
  • Invertebrates (crabs, snails, and shrimp that are less commonly available)
  • Discus fish in rare or unusual colors and patterns

6. Breeding fish:
Focus on selling fish for breeding purposes, such as providing breeding tanks and equipment, and offering advice on how to breed and raise healthy fish.

Sub Niches:

  • Livebearer fish breeding (guppies, platies, and swordtails)
  • Egg-laying fish breeding (cichlids, bettas, and angelfish)
  • Rare fish breeding (breeding and raising rare or difficult-to-breed fish species)

7. Custom aquariums:
Cater to customers who want custom-made aquariums and unique designs that reflect their personal style and preferences.

Sub Niches:

  • Themed aquariums (e.g. Star Wars, Spongebob Squarepants, or Harry Potter)
  • Nature aquariums (aquascapes that replicate a specific natural ecosystem or landscape)
  • Wall-mounted aquariums (aquariums that are mounted on a wall or built into the wall)
  • In-wall aquariums (aquariums that are built into a wall and visible from two sides)
Aquarium Shop

Licences needed for your Aquarium Shop 

While the basic licences such as Business Licence, Health and Safety regulation, Sales Tax Permits are applicable to almost all business (To read more about the licences ‘Click Here to read our Mini Guide’). 

Some specific licenses and permits might be needed to open an aquarium business in the UK and the US. Those licenses are as follows :

1. Fish and Wildlife permit:
If you plan to sell or display certain species of fish or other aquatic animals, you may need to obtain a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the state wildlife agency.


2. Zoning permit:
You may need to obtain a zoning permit or a special use permit from your local government or city hall to operate an aquarium shop in a particular area.


3. Building permit:
If you plan to make any structural changes to the building or space you will use for your aquarium shop, you may need to obtain a building permit from your local government or city hall.

Aquarium Shop

Checklist of Equipment needed for an Aquarium Shop

Here is a checklist of equipment that an aquarium shop may need:


  • Aquariums of various sizes (including nano aquariums)
  • Aquarium stands, racks and/or cabinets
  • Aquarium lighting systems
  • Filtration systems (canister filters, power filters, sponge filters)
  • Heaters and temperature controllers
  • Thermometers
  • Aquarium substrate (gravel, sand, or soil)
  • Aquatic plants and fertilizers
  • Live rock, coral, and other decorations
  • Protein skimmers (for saltwater aquariums)
  • Air pumps and air stones
  • Water pumps and powerheads
  • Water testing kits (for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and other parameters)
  • Aquarium salt and other water conditioners
  • Fish nets and other handling tools
  • Gravel vacuum and siphon
  • Fish food and feeding tools
  • Quarantine tanks and medication
  • Aquatic photography equipment
  • Water storage containers


Note: The specific equipment needs may vary depending on the size and focus of the aquarium shop. As a startup, you may or may not have the required funds to buy all the equipment here in this list but just buy as much as you can and just start there. 

A typical day in an Aquarium shop includes:

1. Opening the shop
2. Serving customers
3. Managing inventory
4. Cleaning
5. Closing the shop
6. Paper work and administrative tasks
7. Maintenance

Aquarium Shop

Types of Fish & Products to sell as an Aquarium Shop!

There are many types of fish and aquarium products that you can sell in your aquarium shop. Here are some of the most popular categories:


1. Freshwater Fish:
There are many different types of freshwater fish that you can sell, including:



  • Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Angelfish
  • Discus
  • Cichlids
  • Bettas
  • Goldfish
  • Koi


2. Saltwater Fish:
Saltwater fish are typically more expensive and require a more advanced level of care. Some popular saltwater fish species include:


  • Clownfish
  • Tangs
  • Gobies
  • Triggerfish
  • Angelfish
  • Wrasses
  • Groupers


3. Invertebrates:
In addition to fish, you can also sell invertebrates, such as:


  • Shrimp
  • Crabs
  • Snails
  • Starfish
  • Anemones
  • Coral


4. Aquarium Plants:
Live plants can add a beautiful and natural look to aquariums. Some popular types of aquarium plants include:


  • Java Fern
  • Amazon Sword
  • Anubias
  • Java Moss
  • Cryptocoryne


5. Aquarium Supplies:
There are many different types of aquarium supplies that you can sell in your shop, including:


  • Aquariums
  • Filters
  • Lighting
  • Heating
  • Water conditioners
  • Testing kits
  • Decorations
  • Fish food
  • Medications


6. Custom Aquariums:
You can also offer custom aquariums that are built to your customers’ specifications, such as:



  • Large aquariums
  • Wall-mounted aquariums
  • Built-in aquariums
  • Furniture aquariums
  • Themed aquariums


When deciding which fish and products to sell in your aquarium shop, consider the demand in your area, the level of care required for each species, and the price points of different products. Offering a wide range of fish and products, attract customers with different interests and needs, and create a thriving business.

Trends and Challenges in an Aquarium Shop:

Trends in an Aquarium Shop Business

1. Increased demand for aquascaping and planted aquariums
2. Growth in the popularity of nano aquariums and small species of fish
3. Focus on sustainable and ethical sourcing of livestock and aquatic plants
4. Adoption of modern technology
5. Increased emphasis on education and customer service

Challenges in an Aquarium Shop Business

1. Maintaining consistent water quality and managing disease in livestock
2. Managing inventory and logistics for live aquatic plants and animals
3. Staying up-to-date with changing laws and regulations
4. Dealing with competition from online retailers and big box stores
5. Balancing the demand for popular species with ethical and sustainable sourcing practices.

Aquarium Shop

Employees to hire for your Aquarium Shop

When hiring employees for an aquarium shop business, You should fill several key positions to run the business smoothly. 

Here are some types of people you may want to hire:


  • Store Manager
  • Assistant Store Manager
  • Sales Associates
  • Aquatic Specialists
  • Maintenance Technicians
  • Marketing Specialists
  • Delivery Personnel
  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Cashiers
  • Bookkeepers
  • IT Specialists
  • Aquascaping Designers
  • Water Quality Experts
  • Animal Care Technicians
  • Water Testing Technicians
  • Fish Quarantine Specialists
  • Wholesale Buyers
  • Aquarium Design Consultants
  • Education and Outreach Coordinators


Hiring the right people is crucial to the success of your aquarium shop. Find employees with a good attitude and a good fit for your business.

TIP: People like coming to clean & hygienic places, keep premises neat & clean. If you are operating from home or counter-selling, make the area clean & safe. Unhygienic products can make your customers fall ill. It will again make you lose your customers.

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Find a good location for your Aquarium Shop

Tips on finding a good location for your Aquarium Shop:


  • Choose a location that’s easily accessible and visible to your target customers. 
  • Consider busy shopping centers, malls, or high-traffic streets.
  • Check out your competition. Try to find a location far enough away so that you won’t be competing directly with them.
  • Consider the demographics of the area to make sure it aligns with your target market. Plan on selling high-end aquarium products, you’ll want to choose a location in an affluent area.
  • Look for locations with affordable rent that fit your budget.
  • Ensure that your chosen location is zoned for retail use and that there aren’t any restrictions on the sale of live animals.
  • Ensure that the location has ample parking space available and is easily accessible for customers.
  • Consider the size of the location and the layout of the space. 


A good location will determine whether your business will succeed in the future. A perfect place with your beautiful aquariums will always bring profits to your business in the future. 

Tips to help your Aquarium shop grow:

1. Establish a strong online presence
2. Offer high-quality products and services
3. Provide excellent customer service
4. Foster a welcoming and engaging in-store experience
5. Offer regular educational events and workshops
6. Leverage the power of customer reviews and testimonials to build trust
7. Partner with other local businesses and organizations
8. Offer unique products or services
9. Embrace new technology and tools
10. Monitor and adapt to changing trends and customer preferences

Aquarium Shop

Shall I go for an Aquarium Shop franchise?

Buying an existing Aquarium Shop Franchise of a recognized brand is a good idea; however, it is expensive also.

On the other hand, the franchisor will benefit you will all the existing brand image, customer loyalty, advertising, market research & strategies.

In addition, you will get guidance from the franchisor about training the workforce & ambiance of the premises. 

Some of the top Aquarium Shop Franchises in the UK and USA:


  • Maidenhead Aquatics
  • The Aquatic Design Centre
  • Seapets
  • Aqua One
  • Watermarque Aquatic Superstores
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Aquarium Adventure
  • Fish Mart
  • Aquaridise


In conclusion, starting an Aquarium Shop Business in the UK and the US can be rewarding and profitable. However, conducting thorough market research, creating a solid business plan, and securing the necessary funding is crucial. 

It is crucial to find the right location, choose the right equipment and suppliers, and create a unique and inviting atmosphere for customers. 

Following these steps, you can set your aquarium shop up for success and build a business that customers will love for years.

Want to Save Time in your Business Launch?

  • How to Create a Business Plan
  • What is Market Research, USP, Niche & Positioning
  • How to find a suitable name for your business
  • How to create your brand image (Logo + Branding)
  • How to Register Your Business
  • How to Register for Taxes
  • How to get Licenses / Permits
  • How to Open a Business Bank Account
  • How to Get Business Insurance
  • Which Payment Processing Terminal (POS) to buy
  • How to get Funds for your Business
  • How to do Sales & Marketing – Offline & Online
  • Why have a Website / Blog / Social Media
  • How to build & train your Dream Team
  • How to provide Excellent Customer Service
  • Buying an Old Business Vs Franchisee Vs Own Brand from Scratch

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FISH STORE TOUR – YT Channel ‘Aquarium Co-Op’

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A. The cost of starting an aquarium shop can vary widely depending on factors such as the size of the store, the inventory, the location, and the equipment. It is important to create a detailed business plan and budget to estimate the costs.

A. The specific permits and licenses required may vary depending on the location and local regulations. Generally, you will need a business license, tax identification number, and any relevant permits for selling live animals and aquatic plants. Check with your local government and health department for specific requirements.

A. The types of aquariums and livestock you sell should depend on your target market and their interests. Consider offering a range of aquariums in different sizes, styles, and price points. Livestock should be healthy, well-cared for, and sourced from reputable suppliers.

A. The equipment and supplies you need will depend on the size and focus of your aquarium shop, but may include aquariums, filtration systems, lighting, heating, water testing kits, food, and other supplies. Consider stocking a variety of products and brands to cater to different customer preferences.

A. Here are a few well-known Aquarium shop chains in the UK:

  • Maidenhead Aquatics
  • The Aquatic Design Centre
  • Seapets
  • Aqua One
  • Watermarque Aquatic Superstores

A. Here are a few well-known Aquarium Shop chains in the US:

  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Aquarium Adventure
  • Fish Mart
  • Aquaridise
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