To be honest, it's really hard for me to walk past a fish (or any animal for that matter) that's in trouble and not try to help it, but I've been trying to restrict myself from "rescuing" any of them even if just for the reason of preserving the health of my own tank.
Not to mention I'd spend a fortune if I was to purchase all of them full price. Just the little neon tetras themselves at my local Pet Supplies Plus are over $2, so buying a healthy school of them ends up being a bit expensive to the average person that doesn't know any better and just wants a bit of added colour to their home aquarium. I ended up buying a school of them not to long ago and unfortunately one died by the time I got home before I even had the chance to float the bag (which took me less than five minutes from check-out). The others I had mixed results with.
And then when they do offer 2 for 1 deals or something, it's always
fish like redtail sharks. In other words, fish that you should keep one
of in most cases. I'd like to see the day when they offer sales like that on schooling fish.
I will admit I was a bit impressed last time I went seeing when I got the neons I was also going to get a small gourami, but the worker that was netting the fish for me commented on how he didn't think keeping a fish from the "semi-aggressive" group of tanks with the "community tanks" was a good idea. My dad and I have always kept the smaller gouramis with the more peaceful tetras with no issues, but I was caught off guard and doubted the decision so I avoided getting it for the time being. A bit of research later, it seems there would have been no issues at all with pairing the species so I'll probably go back after I finish planting my tank to get one, but that was the first time any worker in the fish department had ever said something that wasn't purely to encourage a sale, and I told him as much.
My experience with Pet Supplies Plus in general has always been sort of mixed. There have been weeks when I've gone in and the tanks were completely riddled with disease, and there have been weeks where almost all the fish look healthy and vibrant. We've also ordered fish through them before (such as an Atlantic Stingray my dad wanted as well as a type of Amazon stingray a couple years after) and the fish that we order directly have always been in fantastic health, so I'm wondering if the special orders come through more reputable distributors.
I'm probably going to start getting my fish from Agway when I can though. I've always been extremely happy with how their tanks looked, and while it is sort of a chain company, the local one is owned by someone locally (the dad of a girl I graduated with actually). I got my Clown Pleco
from them, and he has just been an absolute doll, plus their prices are a bit fairer.
I can't comment on Petco though. We just
had one put in, and I've only been in once to look at aquarium lights and heaters/filters. Most of their tanks seemed to be reasonably healthy (even the saltwater ones), but I didn't get a good look at them seeing my attentions were focused elsewhere. However, they did have the bettas in the cups and they were stacked several rows high (which I couldn't help but wonder what would happen to the poor little guy that's stuck on the bottom in the back). Some looked pretty healthy, but others... not so much.
Unfortunately I don't have a truly local fish store anywhere close by. There was one my dad would always go to, but it's quite a drive away and I think it ended up closing down (which was a real shame... we got our chameleons from there when we had them and their tanks looked like display tanks in and of themselves). Either way, my choices are a bit limited.
Lol, I think I rambled a bit though. Oh the faults of typing out thoughts as they come to mind xD