08-28-2007, 06:48 PM
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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!