Online pet stores could be swimming in fish sales

Pets.com and Petstore.com are hoping to make a splash by selling live fish through their Web sites.

Two online pet stores are hoping to make a splash by selling pet fish online.

In separate announcements yesterday, Pets.com and Petstore.com said they would soon be selling live fish through their Web sites. Both will offer the fish by teaming up with existing online fish suppliers.

Petstore.com entered the market today by acquiring Torrence, California-based Flying Fish Express in a cash and stock deal. The companies did not disclose the financial details of the deal.

Flying Fish Express, which has been selling pet fish online since 1997, offers some 3,000 different products, including saltwater fish, anemones, and corals. The company express-ships the fish overnight through Federal Express in oxygenized plastic bags and special packages marked with the words "live fish" on the box.

Chris Luhnow, senior vice president of corporate development at Petstore.com, said that while Flying Fish Express will continue to use its ffexpress.com Web site, Petstore.com plans to add the company's offerings to Petstore.com's Web site by the end of the month.

Luhnow said Petstore.com chose to enter the online fish market to offer a range of services and products that are difficult to find in offline stores. Petstore.com looked at a number of companies before acquiring Flying Fish Express, Luhnow said, adding that Flying Fish was a leading online fish retailer, with revenues in the "millions" last year, and a high percentage of repeat customers.

"They were a good fit," he said.

Meanwhile, Amazon.com-backed Pets.com said today that it will sell salt- and freshwater fish through its Web site beginning this fall. Under the deal, a Pets.com partner, which a company representative declined to name, will ship the fish directly to Pets.com customers.

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