Retail Aquarium Stores React to Pandemic

19 Mar, 2020

Manhattan Aquariums, located in one of the most heavily impacted cities, has been on a roller coaster ride these past few weeks.

Manhattan Aquariums, located in one of the most heavily impacted cities, has been on a roller coaster ride these past few weeks.

While many aquarium retailers around the U.S. continue to operate under “business as usual,” inevitable change is coming. Some aquarium stores are already enacting changes in an effort to limit the impact of the Coronavirus among their customers and staff while weathering the pandemic. This story may be updated with new reports and viewpoints as they develop. Last updated: April 7, 2020 at 0:30 am

via Manhattan Aquariums, New York, New York – 4/4/2020

Manhattan Aquariums – situation developing on the daily.

New York is turning out to be the epicenter for the pandemic in the United States. Nearing the beginning of March, clients both commercial and residential started asking our service techs to skip maintenance. Manhattan Aquariums is a retail aquarium store located in Manhattan near the Hudson Yards and Jacob Javitz center, and we also have a service/maintenance arm with approximately 200 accounts. Since 2001, we have been building the business in Manhattan and the surrounding Tri-State area. With many high-end custom design/builds, and discerning commercial and celebrity clients, we have always been mindful of our clients’ preferences for efficiency, privacy, and value. But this was a very unusual situation, and we were striving to answer clients’ questions the best we can. There were a lot of questions, from clients, and also employees.

Things were changing day by day. By mid-March, we had already gone through iterations of “our store had to close”, then it was deemed to be “essential business”, later we thought NY would have a tight lock-down and we need to close after all, and finally arrived at very limited hours 4 days a week so that customers can get the LSS and tank maintenance supplies their pets needs. The staff has been trained to strictly observe all medical recommendations (glove, disinfecting, social distancing, etc). We also expanded our policy of free delivery with any purchase over $49 between 96th St and Canal St.

Servicing has been very challenging, with most businesses closed, and people sheltering at home, about 70% of accounts we cannot access at this point in time. The ones we can access are often limited or have special instructions. Our staff is diligently coordinating these needs with the clients and working through any issues.

We believe if we can all work together, have a little perseverance and also kindness for those around us, we can come out the other side stronger than ever. – Toni N. Xiong



Living Reef Orlando adopts curbside pickup and delivery options.

Living Reef Orlando adopts curbside pickup and delivery options.

via Living Reef Orlando (LRO), Orlando, Florida – 3/17/2020

As we all go through this difficult time with uncertainty, we are changing things up and taking precautions where it is needed. We have no plans to close, as we have families dependent on our place. We also understand the precautions many of you are taking to avoid public areas, so we are now offering CURBSIDE PICKUP and DELIVERY. Call ahead and we can have your order ready to pick up, just pull up to our front door and we will bring your order out, no matter how big or small. We can also deliver your order if you’re within a 10-mile radius for a small fee and minimum order.


via Preuss Pets, Lansing, Michigan – 3/21/2020

Kirbay Preuss of the family pet shop Preuss Pets shared a personal update on curbside service and adjusted hours for the remainder of the week, with extended morning curbside pickup hours. Preuss says that while the store remains open, they are trying to limit casual visitors in the store.

Adjusted hours and curbside service!

Posted by Preuss Pets on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Preuss Pets institutes Preuss Pick Up.

Preuss Pets institutes Preuss Pick Up.


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• Reef-a-Palooza Orlando 2020


Aquarium Zen in Seattle has opted to close their retail location through April 1st.

Aquarium Zen in Seattle has opted to close their retail location through April 1st.

via Aquarium Zen, Seattle, Washington – 3/18/2020

Dear friends of Aquarium Zen,

In light of the escalating Coronavirus situation, I’ve decided to suspend our retail storefront’s normal operations until April 1 (no joke). I want to protect the health and safety of my customers and employees first and foremost, and in order to move through this phase with grace, I feel it’s in everyone’s best interest if we close for a bit. I was hoping to leave the shop open as an oasis of normalcy in a chaotic time, but things seem to be escalating by the minute. Thank you for your support and understanding in this difficult decision.

We are going to try and brainstorm some options for some limited economic activity, like curbside services and online sales. My employees and I will be working at the store trying to improve our aquatic ecosystems, offerings, and displays, so when we do re-open I hope you will find new energy and a reinvigorated Aquarium Zen.

Unfortunately, this decision will make for a significant economic sacrifice to our normal flow of resources. I have no plans to lay off any employees at the moment. If you would like to continue to offer financial support at this time, you can do so by purchasing an online gift certificate that can be redeemed at the store when we re-open or when we launch our online platform. Here is the link for the e-gift cards:

Thank you so much for your support over the years. We’ve been growing steadily and the business has been developing beautifully thanks to the wonderful community that has grown up around Seattle’s little aquascaping speakeasy! I hope to use this shutdown phase as an opportunity for Aquarium Zen to mature into a greater potential. Please take care of yourselves, and reach out to me for advice or just to say hello! I will miss you over the next couple of weeks; you are pretty much the only family I have. Your fishy friend, Steve

Anyone interested in curbside services? Aquarium Zen, Seattle just received three pallets of fine Japanese aquascaping supplies!

Anyone interested in curbside services? Aquarium Zen, Seattle, just received three pallets of fine Japanese aquascaping supplies!

Update, 3/31/2020

Aquarium Zen will be open for curbside services from Wednesday through Friday, 1 PM-7 PM starting tomorrow April 1 until at least May 4. Need a guppy? A dozen Amano shrimp? How about some Java fern and dwarf baby tears? Running out of fish food? Would you like Steve to curate and select some hardscape material for you? How about starting that new aquascape project to help chase away the quarantine blues? We got you covered.

While we still haven’t rolled out our webstore for online sales, the process is pretty simple. Give us a call at our NEW store phone number during business hours, place your order, we’ll take your credit card payment over the phone and then arrange a time to pick up your order. Call us when you arrive and we’ll bring it out to you from a socially distant yet emotionally very close place. The new store phone number is 206-499-1372.

We love you Seattle, stay strong and be safe.


Are you a retailer and would like to share what you’re doing to adjust to the new business climate? Send your story to

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About the author

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC & CORAL Magazines, and is a Sr. Editor and Publishing Partner with Aquatic Media Press, LLC & AMAZONAS Magazine. Matt has kept aquariums for 38 years, has worked in most facets of the aquarium trade, is an active aquarist and fish breeder (both marine and freshwater), and was recognized with the 2009 MASNA Award as the MASNA Aquarist of the Year.

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