Buying Fish from Pet Stores

I’m discussing things a little out of order here. How can you buy fish without first knowing what to fish to buy? Please bear with me, I chose this topic because of what I saw today.

Today I went looking around several pet stores (as one does on a Saturday). I went to 2 big box stores and 2 small local fish stores. I’ll cover them in the order I went to them.

Big Box Store 1.

This store is one that I rather like going to (I recently bought a new tank from there, more on that in another post). The people are incredibly friendly, the store is big and has a lot of stock, the fish section is huge with tons of live plants, fish, coral, and even a small indoor pond. I casually inspected the fish since I’m always in the market for new fish friends, and I noticed a bulk of the fish had a severe case of Ich. This is not acceptable, Big Box Store 1. Not only does this make you look bad, but it also drives away potential business. Experienced aquarists will simply go elsewhere, and new hobbyists will wonder why their fish died so quickly.

For those who don’t know, most fish stores have all (or most) of their fish tanks on the same filtration system. If you see one fish with Ich, it is likely everywhere else in the store.

Local Fish Store 1.

This first local fish store I am a little forgiving towards (bias? probably not). They have been opened at this location for about a week and, until the big moved, specialized in only reef fish. Their reef section is immaculate. Pristine tanks and healthy fish. The freshwater section, not so much. The tanks have ich issues, a lot of the fish are breathing hard or gasping at the surface. This may be because they are all brand new tanks, but I won’t be understanding for long, they should get their crap together.

Local Fish Store 2.

This store is my favorite. I never see dead fish in any tanks here, never seen an Ich issue, and it’s the only store that I have felt comfortable buying fish. I hope that all aquarists find a store that is the store, like this one.

Note a lot of times if a good local fish store doesn’t have a particular item you are looking for, ask someone. They should be able to order it. Local fish store 2 will order almost any species of fish, and if you pick it up the same day, they give you a discount.

Big Box Store 2.

This is my second go-to store for general pet things (I have a Siberian Husky that is spoiled to death). One particular staff member is incredibly knowledgeable about fish, but it does have issues like any other big box store. I decided to buy some guppies from them a while back and, surprise surprise, I got Ich, and 6 of the 7 guppies died. I’m confident it wasn’t my water conditions. I understand that guppies aren’t the hardiest fish out there, but those odds aren’t in their favor. I still continue to frequent this store for other pet supplies and to talk to the fish guy.

When it comes to buying fish, I recommend you go to either a quality locally owned aquarium supply store. If there isn’t one near you, or they can’t get what you want, I recommend buying them online. Shipping fish isn’t ideal and can get pricey, but most sites come with a arrive alive guarantee and a stay alive guarantee (2-3 weeks, which is quite a while). Here are two sites I recommend you look at TRiN’s Tropical Fish and LiveAquaria. The latter of the two has a ton of information about each fish, and TRiN’s has fantastic customer service!

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