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Where to buy fish - LFS or petsmart?

This is a discussion on Where to buy fish - LFS or petsmart? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I can't answer about the fin nipping of the Neons because I have never had any. I will say that I have Tiger barbs ...

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Where to buy fish - LFS or petsmart?
Old 07-20-2010, 10:23 PM   #11
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I can't answer about the fin nipping of the Neons because I have never had any. I will say that I have Tiger barbs and they are horrid little fin nippers. They are also incredibly active and drive other fish nuts with their constant and fast movements. That said, they are fun to watch. The Oto's are wonderful little fish and also fun to watch, not to mention they do a great job of keeping the tank clean. Best wait until there is something for them to clean up though.

Sounds like you are on the right track with research. I can't stress enough how important that is. I thought I had done enough research but I didn't and I am now paying for it. Had I not taken some peoples word for it, I would have different fish then I do. Never trust just one source unless you really know and trust them.

There is so much knowledge right here on this forum. We beginners are so lucky to have this place as a sounding board.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:32 AM   #12
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This is a very tough question. I have 2 PetSmart's by me. One okay and one horrible. The staff at both stores are terrible BUT I never go into any fish store without first doing my research and knowing exactly the fish I want. I don't trust any employees, whether it is a manager or regular employee, even if they 'sound' knowledgeable. They've proven to me more than once that they are good talkers and good sales people. That's usually it. If your local PetSmart is clean and well kept, I wouldn't hesitate buying from there. What's nice about them is that they offer a 14 day guarantee on their live stock. If something dies within 14 days, bring back the dead fish and your receipt and you get a replacement fish. No questinos asked. Sometimes smaller fish stores don't offer this kind of gaurantee, but I always like to support my smaller stores if it is a good one. I bought from PetSmart once so far. Out of 12 fish, 2 died. I got 1 replacement fish, as the other one I never found

Inga, perhaps you should speak to a manager at PetSmart about the fis that is giving you trouble. They will probably let you exchange the fish for soemthing more suitable.
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:20 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by LisaC144 View Post

Inga, perhaps you should speak to a manager at PetSmart about the fis that is giving you trouble. They will probably let you exchange the fish for soemthing more suitable.

It has been longer then 14 days. I did talk to them and it was there that they basically told me to flush it. I would need to flush 1/2 of my tank, if all the "wrong fish" cause the problems that they could. Live and learn I guess. I really wanted to avoid all of the mistakes that I still ended up making. Hopefully, I can just make the environmental changes needed to keep peace in the valley.

I think what frustrates me so much is that I was very specific in what I wanted. I said I was going to have live plants, I wanted a friendly, peaceful community tank. I didn't want fish that will uproot plants or eat them, I didn't want fish that were constantly fighting. I got just that. Darn it!

Last edited by Inga; 07-21-2010 at 10:22 AM..
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:25 AM   #14
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We all make mistakes. When you're ready to restock or add more stock, just start a new thread and ask around here first. As you have learned, there are valuable people on this forum that have been in the hobby many years that are always more than willing to help.
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:44 AM   #15
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Checked my water today so that I could post the numbers to answer Inga's question from yesterday...

GH = 120
KH = 40-80
pH = 7.5
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 20
Ammonia = 0
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:45 AM   #16
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Yes, I agree Lisa. I have learned so much here. Too bad I didn't do that BEFORE making all the mistakes. ha ha
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:03 PM   #17
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I'm going to go out on a limb and say something that will likely get me banned.

There's nothing wrong with Petsmart fish.

Yeah, I just said it. Why? Because like any fish shop the answer to almost any question about the quality of a shop is, "It depends." Just because a fish shop is a local place doesn't mean its going to be a good place. Just because it's a big chain store doesn't mean it's awful. It entirely depends upon the people working there. I know LFS that I won't even go in they're so awful. I know a LFS who's employees sell freshwater fish but have no clue at all about them (they're salt water guys). The ONLY fish store employee who asked me about my tank and stocking before netting some corys was wearing a Petsmart name tag.

To me it's very simple, I treat every place that sells fish independently. I go in and I look at many factors before buying fish.
1) Staffing. Are the knowledgeable or are they just fish netters?
2) Maintenance. Are the tanks being maintained properly? Are they clean, not messy, and looked after?
3) Fish. Are the fish active and healthy or are they gasping at the surface or huddled in corners? Are their a lot of floaters?

I never buy on my first trip and I usually go back a few times before deciding to buy.

For instance, the Petsmart nearest me has some great looking fish, always healthy and active. Very few if any dead fish floating. The tanks are clean, in fact there's almost always someone cleaning them every trip. And the only fish store employee who ever asked me about my tank worked for Petsmart. In comparison my LFS has a couple truly awful tanks (the neon/rummynose tetra is just disgusting), there's almost always an algae outbreak in several of them. They're the only place I've seen fish with ich in display tanks, they know next to nothing about freshwater, they have never asked me about my tank, and even with 1/3rd the number of tanks that Petsmart has they still manage to have twice as many floaters.

And for comparison, I have never been able to keep more than maybe 10% of the panda cories I've gotten from my LFS alive. In comparison I'm 6 for 6 with peppered cories from Petsmart. I've also paid less for fish and supplies from Petsmart as well.

I don't hold the LFS in any regard. I know there's the whole push to support small business but offer me something the big guys can't. If you're providing me with no more service or support than Petsmart and your prices are 50% higher what's my motivation for patronizing the LFS? I'm sorry, I'm on a budget, I can't afford to pay 50% extra just because.

TL;DR Version:
There's nothing wrong with Petsmart. Give it a good look over a few times before you buy and if it passes muster buy some fish.
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:37 PM   #18
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Speaking to the issue of the fry.

First off fish like your live bearers have adopted a simple survival strategy. What they do is crank out so many babies that some can't help but survive. Live bearers make rabbits look celibate. If you buy a female live bearer from the store she's almost certainly pregnant, it's virtually unavoidable.

Your pregnant guppy will likely release between four and ten fry, maybe even more. Now, unless your tank is full of very active and very predatory fish, or has no cover at all, many of those fry are likely to survive. Lemme put it this way. I have never taken any steps to protect platy or guppy fry in my tanks and I have never seen more than 50% attrition. So you can expect between 2 and 5 of those fry to survive to adult hood. Now here's your problem. You've got two to five more fish than you started with. What are you going to do with them? Also, odds are good you got at least one male which means unless you segregate them early he's going to get his sisters or mother pregnant and start the cycle all over again. If you take no steps to reduce the population in six months or a year you can have more guppies in your tank than water.

So your options are really limited to be quite frank. You can either deal with an ever increasing guppy population or you can cull what you get. Personally I seperate out any males as early as I can identify them and take them back to the pet store where they'll be tossed in the feeder tank. I keep the females and consider them to be a delayed case of buy one get four free.

So while the store attendant likely seemed callous you've got to understand where he's coming from. Livebearers breed like hyperactive rabbits. Even if you take no steps to protect the fry some are going to survive and make more fish. Eventually you're going to have to start culling them out because they will just overwhelm you. In his opinion if some of the fry do get nicked it's just saving you the trouble of doing it yourself later.

I probably sound callous too but I've bred a lot of platys, more than even I want and I love them.
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:32 PM   #19
I've been signed up for a while now and have just been reading mostly. This is my first post. I agree completely with evaluating each store independently. In my part of Jacksonville there are ZERO good LFS's I have tried them all. I have to drive 25 minutes to a Petsmart to get good stock. If I want anything unique I have to gamble with mail order or an LFS. But, I have only ever lost one Petsmart fish, a common Pleco and it was probably my water quality (if I knew then what I know now). However, I have lost nearly every fish I have ever bought from a LFS. I'm sure there are good ones, but here I have driven all over on my day off and every one had either rude, unknowledgable staff or over priced outdated merchandise or dead and sick fish in high numbers. But, where I used to live there was this little crowded LFS that people drove over 100 miles to buy fish from that I loved. There's actually a Walmart here that has healthy stock and appropriately stocked tanks. Every store is different and the primary difference is the staff. Good staff=Good fish. Don't condemn any store until you have made several trips and looked at ALL the tanks and don't byuy from one until you have done the same.
My next point is that fish are animals and are completely unpredictable. I have a full blooded Chow that is only 35 lbs full grown and is scared of his own shadow. However, I am told that Chows are 90 lb monsters that will maul small children. He always has enough premium food, was trained and socialized from an early age. He's just different for no apparent reason. I have a convict cichlid and a chinese algae eater that are both extremely aggressive. Conventional wisdom says these fish should not live together. However, the CAE is nocturnal and fast enough to get out of the convicts way and they get along fine occupying the tank at different times throughout the day. My cichlid also does quirky things. He swims up the the glass any time my girlfriend or I am around and wags his tail like a dog. When I clean his tank he doesn't hide, he comes right up to the glass and looks at my face while I have my hand and vacuum is his tank. If he's alone too long he gets pale but, darkens up when I come in. The point is fish are not robots that are set to different parameters and aggression levels. They are living things and one fish of a certain species may wreak havoc in your tank while another fish of the same species might not make any waves. The best we can do is research, stock our tanks, and hope for the best. Just because my Green Spotted Puffer rescued from a coworker that made an impulse buy at Wal-mart doesn't eat my fish or nip fins it doesn't mean that if you buy a Green Spotted Puffer from the same Wal-mart and you have the same set-up and stocking that I do that your puffer won't snap one of your danios in half.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:16 PM   #20
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Those last few long replies really gave me some things to think about. Russell, thank you for the dog personality analogy... I've never thought about it like that, I've been treating fish behaviour/personalities as black and white/cut and dry for an entire species instead of considering individual fish. And tyyrlym, when it comes to me trying to learn and think about as many opinions as I can, tl;dr is not in my vocabulary. I read every word. :)

After making another trip to PetSmart and then stopping at a different LFS than the one I visited yesterday, I am pretty set on sticking with PetSmart when it's time to get more fish (next week sometime). I spoke with two people at the LFS and the first one was clearly just a clueless person trying to sell some fish. I started out by telling her I have a tank with a guppy, and was wanting to start stocking my tank soon, and said "how many fish should I add at a time?" Her reply was "you could put like... 10 guppies in or more." I said "Oh, really? Does it matter what size my tank is, or do I just get them and dump them in?" She said "yeah, you can pretty much just dump them in." I asked "What if my tank is pretty small?" Then she finally asked me what size my aquarium is, and when I told her 10 gallons, she said "well maybe start with 5 then, I dunno." I must have given her a weird look or else maybe she figured out I was testing her a bit, because then she grabbed her coworker and he knew a lot... I made sure to ask him questions that I had already researched myself before getting into the real questions. The tanks there were varied in their condition... some were pretty gross looking, but many were very clean... but I think I will stick with PetSmart because of the better prices, and it's closer to my office. I work out of town, and PetSmart is on the edge of town closest to my work, where the other store I checked out today is in the middle of the city. If I start an aquarium at home, I would likely choose the LFS I went to today because it's a 5 minute walk from my house.

Now... I have a list of fish in mind, in the order that I would add them.... 3 x Zebra Danio, 1 oto, 1 betta, 3 x cardinal tetra, 1 African dwarf frog.

Keeping in mind that i already have a guppy who may or may not be pregnant... is that too much for a 10 gallon tank? If I were to remove anything from the list, I would start from the bottom of the list and work my way up. Also... After reading the reply regarding culling the fry, I think I've decided that I'm not as concerned as i originally was about trying to keep them all. And, if the numbers are ok... can anyone see any issues with keeping those particular fish in a tank together? I'm mostly concerned about the betta... I've read and heard mixed answers about whether or not they can be kept with other fish. an office-mate has a betta with an oto and they just ignore each other...

Last edited by iamgray; 07-21-2010 at 09:18 PM..
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