Whatever Happened to Aquarium Themed T-Shirts?


Reef2Reef Saltwater Aquarist T-shirt

Is it just us, or have aquarium themed t-shirts fallen out of style among the many members of our community? For a while, we saw shirt companies popping up all over the place, offering witty sayings and art that any aquarist could enjoy. And it wasn’t just shirt companies that were trying to get into the game. Large retailers of aquarium equipment were also trying to appeal to the growing audience.

But it seems that aquarium themed t-shirts are on the downward slope of their popularity peak. We may be totally wrong here, but with a handful if the t-shirt companies closing up shop due to high costs and low profit margins, we think there is definitely something going on here. Were the shirts just a fad that has run its course? Is it a marker saturation thing? We don’t know, but we certainly want to see more of those funny one-liners that let aquarists recognize each other when they’re not at hobby centric events…like random occurrences at the hardware store or other places around town.

That thought aside, we do realize that manufactures and retailers are still cranking out shirts that promote their companies. There’s few other means of advertising that are better than what essentially amounts to a mobile billboard, but we aren’t taking about these shirts. Instead, we are asking shirt companies who almost exclusively sell just the tees we’ve grown quite fond of.

Are we missing the mark on this assumption? Nobody likes to be wrong, but for this case we’d make an exception.


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  • T-shirts are the lemonaide stand for entrepreneurs. I think people go “Heh, t-shirts”, grab one or two, then move on. Shirts definitely have a lifespan and I think it shows the maturation of the reef industry that t-shirt swag isn’t all that novel anymore. What’s the next step? I’m not sure. Wearable aquariums? A clownfish in platform shoes?

    As one of the first t-shirt only stores in the industry, I knew it wasn’t a big market, but I think the market is saturated. People don’t care if they wear an aqarium t-shirt from some business – they just want to wear an aquarium t-shirt.

    For myself, everyone has a favourite reef critter, and it’s difficult to capture each one. Designs are expensive to develop and execute, and you’ll always get someone saying “It’d be great if you had this shirt that says _____”

    BTW – The shirt you posted above, is one of those “mobile billboards” you were talking about.