07-16-2010, 09:00 PM
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i would first search your area for a local reefing club. alot of times members sell corals locally from snips of what they have in their tanks. this also helps keep collecting from the wild at a lower rate.
as for fish and sometimes corals, i personally like finding a independantly owned fish store, commonly called LFS for local fish store and i like to support them. i will watch a fish for some time prior purchase. sometimes returning to a store a few times a week to observe. does it swim alright? any visible disease, bumps, cuts, so forth, ask if the store owner will feed it, does it eat healthy? ask what they are feeding it, how does it interact with other fish in its tank and so on. never buy anything before researching it first AND having the proper set-up to put it into. after buying a fish it goes into a QT tank first for atleast a month ( unless some very few species of fish which usually is because of their dietary needs ) and here ill observe health and eating patterns too. drip acclimate the fish into the QT, never "float the bag."
alot of good stores will order fish if you ask for them. i find it better going to buy a fish in person as you can observe it and cannot when "adding to your cart" online. there is also a risk of a DOA with fish as heat in summer is an issue, cold during winter and bad practice of delivery services. just my opinion, hope that helps some. welcome to the forum.