03-08-2010, 09:45 AM
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I don't really shop at Walmart, but there are at least 1/2 dozen PetSmarts, PetCos, PetLand, and even a PetGoods (local chain) within 20min of me.
The PetSmarts are usually pretty clean, and the fish look healthy (except for the bettas in the plastic containers). I've been buying fish at these stores on occasion.
The Petcos are a different story. The closest big store to me (<10min away) is a Petco, and I don't think I'd ever buy fish there. 1/2 thier tanks have 'under observation' signs on them, and there always seem to be dead fish in the rest. Thier tanks look like the ones in the photos above. I'll go there to buy supplies because they're usually well-stocked (maybe because fishkeepers avoid the place?), but I won't even wander into the tank area. And except for the one store in the 'nicer' area (which I think is also the newest), the PetCos in general always seem 'dirty' to me...
The PetGoods and Petland are somewhere inbetween, depending on the individual store. Though I've bought stuff at each, but I haven't bought fish from them. It'd be a judgement call on any particular day if I did.
There's also a local pet store (3min away) that has some fish in pretty clean conditions, but not a great selection, and the hours they keep prevent me from getting there except on weekends. Then there's the 2 specialty fish stores (1 ~15 minutes away, and 1 ~1/2 hour). Both are open late into the evenings, so I can go after work. The closer one is great, with excellent service and selection, but prices are sometimes a little steep (i.e., $10 for a Glo-Fish)? They have some good specials if you check thier website for coupons or sign up to be on thier email list, though. The other one, a 1/2 hour away, has an amazing selection of plants, but fish selection is limited, though they do have some more uncommon selections and decent prices, it's just a bit hard to get to. I try to support these little guys whenever possible over the corporate stores, even if the prices are a little more, but at the same time, I'm not going to pay a 100% premium on something, either (i.e., the GloFish at PetSmart are $5).