Originally Posted by Quacketj
Do most stores operate on a policy where you can pre-order these types of fish? For the most part I've always just purchased the fish they have in store.
Yes, and no. You probably won't have any luck with a big superstore. You need to find a mom and pop pet shop where you can actually talk to someone capable of making a decision.
The real answer depends on your approach. Find out who orders the fish, but don't be pushy about it. Bring it up in conversation. Then find out when they receive the availability lists. Most distributors will fax or email an availability list on a weekly basis, or twice weekly. The LFS generally just fills its tanks, and is not concerned with anything else. In fact, it becomes so repetitious, that they can almost order without even looking. "50 Neons, 25 Red Wag Platy's, 12 pair Fancy Guppies, 25 small Angels, etc etc."
You should offer to PAY for the fish before it is ordered and to take the fish directly upon delivery, without it being placed in the LFS tank. To do this, you will need to be at the LFS on delivery day waiting for the shipment to arrive. YOU NEED TO OFFER TO ACCEPT NO GUARANTEE. In exchange, the LFS should give you the fish at a discount. Have a quarantine tank waiting at home and you are set.
I have used this method many times for bulk orders, such as 50 Neon Tetras or 30 Tiger Barbs. I can usually get a 25% or more discount. That being said, the LFS in my area know i am a dedicated hobbyist who spends money at their store. You have to handle the politics of the situation correctly and do not abuse this with frequent requests.