petco vs lfs - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 22 Old 08-28-2007, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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petco vs lfs

after being on this forum for the past few weeks and reading old threads, i get the impression that most people's opinion of stores like petco and petsmart are not very high.

from what i've noticed so far in shopping around (which isn't must considering i just started my first aquarium) is that the lfs's in my area and the petco have a similar selection and similar prices. but the lfs only give a 48 hour guarantee on fish and petco gives a 15 day guarantee.

i guess my main question is, what reasons are there for going to the lfs when petco has a much better guarantee on their fish?
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post #2 of 22 Old 08-28-2007, 05:47 PM
fish_4_all's Avatar
Most LFS give a 2 week guarantee. It is never truelyu a matter of this one is bad or this one is good. All stores have their own policies and their own bad and good qualities.

I look for 3 things, no sick fish, healthy colors and no dead fish that have been eaten to the bone. If you trust them, buy from Petco. I would if I did and had one close to me. Make your own educated decision. Every store will be different even the ones from the same chain. Is like when I buy groceries. I have certain things i will buy from certain places for different reasons.

We are here to help you decide if the Petco you have is a good place to buy so ask any quesitons you need to have answered. If that makes them sound good to you, then I would patronize them, otherwise I would go else where.
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post #3 of 22 Old 08-28-2007, 05:48 PM
I guess it all depends on your local stores, as a rough generalisation people who work in LFS's tend to be more into their fish, know more about the fish and be more happy to chat to you about what goes with what, and what is suitable for your situation.

Wheras folk in the bigger chain stores tend not to know as much, often are there only for a summer job and therefore not too interested in learning more. There also seems to be a general 'sell at all costs' attitude, rather than giving you advice about what is appropriate.

Also, and again because of the generally greater base knowledge, the fish at your LFS will often be healthier and happier fish, and less prone to disease.

Having said that, it really does depend on local situations. There may well be staff at your local petco/pet's at home etc. who know a great deal, and who are happy to help and avise well and honestly without regard to whether they get a sale or not. I'm also sure there are some terrible LFS's out there who suffer from all the flaws I listed above and more.

Personally i find my LFS (North Lakes Aquatics in Penrith, UK) to be awesome, the fish are good, the folk friendly and knowledgeable and i often go in to get just some fish food and end up chatting about this and that for far too long! So i tend to use my LFS, although i have bought fish at my local Pets At Home, and they were healthy and happy, and still are 6 months later, although the advice i've been given there has sometimes been somewhat dubious...

The best advice is to do your own research, so you know what you want and if it is suitable, and to use your common sense. Have a look at all the tanks in the shop (whichever one LFS or petco) Are the fish looking good? are they diseased? Are they even alive? are the tanks clean and free from algae/dirt build up etc. Speak to the staff, but if they seem to be pushing for a sale you're not sure about, then it's probably worth checking the info out somewhere else.

So in general, your LFS often has the edge, even if they are sometimes a bit more expensive. As for the guarantee, it may be that as petco are a bigger company, they can afford to take the losses that inevitably come with a longer time period better than the LFS. Or they may genuinely have better quality fish.

Sorry if that was a bit rambling, and i hope i haven't offended anyone out there. Any hatemail - PM me and i'll apologise profusely!
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post #4 of 22 Old 08-28-2007, 06:38 PM

I have purchased:
most of my fish over the internet;
some from my local PetCo and
very few from my LFS.

I have had "good luck" with all of the above except for several $100's of high end show guppies which I ordered over the internet.

With respect to PetCo several items:

occasionally the fish are mislabeled on their tags but

you can order fish at your local PetCo which they do no have in stock
this is 1st class: as they will only charge their store prices and you will not
have to pay the shipping charges as you would for internet orders.

the drawback to this is that person in charge of their aquatics may not "have a clue" and the store manager may not "have a clue".

In order to overcome this condition, although they will not have access to the internet, ask the store manager to "let you browse through" the fish which are currently available on his computer directly from PetCo distribution.

This works "like a charm".

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post #5 of 22 Old 08-28-2007, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for all of your opinions so far.

when you have petco order a fish for you that they do not currently have in stock, do they require that you purchase it or can you decide whether you want it after they get it in the store and you look at it?
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post #6 of 22 Old 08-28-2007, 08:28 PM
Originally Posted by Jmoney
do they require that you purchase it or can you decide whether you want it after they get it in the store and you look at it?
Never asked: just pulled out my credit credit card as they have always been nice enough to do this for me and I have "never been burned".

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post #7 of 22 Old 08-28-2007, 08:41 PM
Any chain pet store, lfs, or for that matter, any retail store, is only as good as the people who staff it. I am blessed with about 6 lfs's that are, without a doubt, as good as they come.
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post #8 of 22 Old 08-28-2007, 09:47 PM
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One thing that I think hasn't been mentioned is reputation.

A LFS has a reputation to uphold, and PetCo/PetSmart have only the price of their stock the stock exchange to uphold.

It's been my experience that once you find a LFS and you become a customer, you have then become "their customer", and they should provide you service as such. Your reward for being a loyal customer is recognition from staff and wonderful service. If you don't have this at a LFS I'd find somewhere else to go because what keeps small business alive is their ability to be service-oriented. And I enjoy supporting small business.

The employees at a LFS are generally hired for their true interest and knowledge in aquatics. The PetChain employees are hired because that department needed help instead of the cat department. Just for fun (god I am SO passive-aggressive) the other day at PetSmart I asked a girl who was taking care of the fish if Mollies were livebearers. Her reply was "I dunno, let me check", at which point she looked on the tag and I laughed to myself.

I do not want to be a hypocrite though. I admit I do go to the PetChain stores once in a while, when the LFS doesn't have what I need, but it's always hardgoods, never fish.


Pardon the pun, but I'm hooked!
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post #9 of 22 Old 08-29-2007, 10:52 AM
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like others have said, its all personal preference.

i go to my LFS because the nearest petsmart or petco is 45 minutes away. but when i do get out that way i go to petsmart.

i prefer the selection of the bigger chain stores. and the one i go to has some very knowledgeable staff.

price-wise the difference isnt too noticeable but sometimes it is.... example... bala sharks at the LFS $8.50 where as at petsmart they were $5.

women want me, fish fear me
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post #10 of 22 Old 08-29-2007, 11:23 AM
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I actually prefer petsmart/petco to my lfs. It is clear that my lfs cares more about its marine fish and reptiles than they do the freshwater fish. For example the marine fish are all in decent sized well lit aquariums. While the freshwater fish are crammed into 10gl unlit aquariums. End Rant.
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