this might be a dumb thing to post about, because I have pretty much answered my own question just by going by my gut... but i'm so new to fish keeping that I just want to talk about it and see what others wth more experience have to say. I apologize if this topic is discussed elsewhere on this site... I looked around a bit and couldn't find enough to answer my question...
I have heard so many horror stories about the horrible conditions in aquariums in big box pet stores. I don't know a lot about what I should be looking for when judging good conditions vs. bad conditions, but I feel like the fish at PetSmart in my city look like they're cared for a lot better than the ones at the LFS I visited today (which has been highly recommended by a few of my friends who have either had fish in the past, or still do have fish).
At PetSmart, the tanks look clean, there are never any dead fish in the tanks, the fish look healthy and energetic, and there are always employees doing some sort of maintenance on the tanks. The plants that they sell are kept separately from the fish. The staff is always friendly and fairly knowledgeable, and if they don't know the answer to a question they don't pretend to know - they always find a coworker/manager to double check and make sure they don't give wrong information (and I have gotten to a computer and done my own research to answer questions I asked to double check the advice they gave, and have never found them to be wrong).
Now today I went to the LFS and was completely unsatisfied. The tanks were scummy, and while a lot of the fish looked healthy, there were also quite a few who looked barely alive, just kinda floated around listlessly. And the guy seemed pretty detached/unconcerned when I asked him questions about which fish to put in my tank once I'm ready to add more fish. I told him I have one female guppy, and that I think she might be pregnant and don't want to put fish in the tank that might eat the fry when they hatch. His reply was "There will be so many that you won't even care if most of them get eaten." His reply made me feel like as far as he's concerned, fish aren't animals... they're just a business and if a bunch of baby guppies get eaten, then so be it. And when I was asking what fish would be good to add, he never asked me a single question about my tank. He just started listing. Didn't even ask what size tank... he literally asked me NOTHING.
I think the attitude about fry being eaten is what bothered me the most... am I being too oversensitive, or reading too much into his attitude? Is my inexperience/the fact that I've never had fish before the only reason why I want to see the fry live? Are they really that expendable? And am I right to continue to support a big box pet store (because just because THIS location is great, in a roundabout way I am still supporting other locations that are NOT so great)?