Where to buy fish - LFS or petsmart?
this might be a dumb thing to post about, because I have pretty much answered my own question just by going by my gut... but i'm so new to fish keeping that I just want to talk about it and see what others wth more experience have to say. I apologize if this topic is discussed elsewhere on this site... I looked around a bit and couldn't find enough to answer my question...
I have heard so many horror stories about the horrible conditions in aquariums in big box pet stores. I don't know a lot about what I should be looking for when judging good conditions vs. bad conditions, but I feel like the fish at PetSmart in my city look like they're cared for a lot better than the ones at the LFS I visited today (which has been highly recommended by a few of my friends who have either had fish in the past, or still do have fish).
At PetSmart, the tanks look clean, there are never any dead fish in the tanks, the fish look healthy and energetic, and there are always employees doing some sort of maintenance on the tanks. The plants that they sell are kept separately from the fish. The staff is always friendly and fairly knowledgeable, and if they don't know the answer to a question they don't pretend to know - they always find a coworker/manager to double check and make sure they don't give wrong information (and I have gotten to a computer and done my own research to answer questions I asked to double check the advice they gave, and have never found them to be wrong).
Now today I went to the LFS and was completely unsatisfied. The tanks were scummy, and while a lot of the fish looked healthy, there were also quite a few who looked barely alive, just kinda floated around listlessly. And the guy seemed pretty detached/unconcerned when I asked him questions about which fish to put in my tank once I'm ready to add more fish. I told him I have one female guppy, and that I think she might be pregnant and don't want to put fish in the tank that might eat the fry when they hatch. His reply was "There will be so many that you won't even care if most of them get eaten." His reply made me feel like as far as he's concerned, fish aren't animals... they're just a business and if a bunch of baby guppies get eaten, then so be it. And when I was asking what fish would be good to add, he never asked me a single question about my tank. He just started listing. Didn't even ask what size tank... he literally asked me NOTHING.
I think the attitude about fry being eaten is what bothered me the most... am I being too oversensitive, or reading too much into his attitude? Is my inexperience/the fact that I've never had fish before the only reason why I want to see the fry live? Are they really that expendable? And am I right to continue to support a big box pet store (because just because THIS location is great, in a roundabout way I am still supporting other locations that are NOT so great)?
I would look specifically at what fish you are thinking of getting and then choose the ones that seem to be in better health, or with better living conditions.
Wow sounds like you had a poor experience today. It's sad that a LFS would be so blunt about things, but like you said it is their business, and they probably just want the sale. I am going to my local petsmart tomorrow to look at the tanks, I do have to admit that when I am there (dog supplies) I also see employees constantly doing something with the tanks. To me, just keeping the dead fish out of the tanks and secluding the ones with issues speaks more to me about the company and how the fish will be. I had a post saying I wouldn't buy from petsmart/petco but I may have to go back on my word, I'm also going to swing by a LFS tomorrow and see how things look. I know I haven't helped your situation, but with how you described the LFS owner/worker, I don't think I would bring my business back to them.
Hope you find your answer :)
I just posted this in another thread but I will agree completely with Petsmart having clean well kept tanks with healthy looking fish. I have purchased both fish and plants from Petsmart. As far as them being knowledgeable, watch out. I thought that too. Then I got home with my fish and found out a lot more about the species I bought for my community tank. (at their urging)
I now have world war 3 going on in my tank. I am working to change the environment to help stop that but it might not be enough. They sold me fish that they swore were social and would only get a certain size. Turns out the fish are very aggressive and will get a LOT bigger then they said. I went back and complained about some and basically they told me to flush the fish.
I would buy fish from Petsmart again but I would not do it based on the employees opinions. I don't think they are trained very well or I just ran into some really bad employees. I think each Petsmart will be different in that are but be careful until you yourself know better.
As far as Petco goes... Mine is horrid and I wouldn't buy anything from there.
I have a LFS here that I also like but they charge 50 times what I would pay at Petsmart so... I tend to lean toward Petsmart for fish. Now to figure out what I am supposed to do with the fish currently in my tank.
How do you feel about mystery fish through the mail? lol
Thanks for the replies so far... just realized I accidentally referred to the guppy fry as "hatching" when I know they are live...
Oh yeah, and to be clear, I don't blame the employees for not knowing but I do blame them for giving wrong information without concern for the fish welfare. Most fish have a life expectancy of several years but I would guess few actually get to make it to ripe old ages. Improper mixing of species, wrong tank size, water parameter all issues.
If you do have a couple of knowledgeable staff there. That is great. We have a couple that THINK they know a lot but as it turns out, they don't. I now have a Rainbow shark that was marked as a Black Red tail. It was also listed as a peaceful community fish. So was my Leporinus. The tags said their maximum size was 6 inches and they told me most are done growing at 4 inches. We shall see how that works out. I have already lost 2 fish to improper pairings. Like you, I don't want casualties. I am a big wimp when it comes to things like that and I stressed to them that I wanted fish that would get along. My mistake was trusting them instead of doing a lot more research. I did some but not enough.
Ugh.. triple post... with regard to ordering fish through the mail.. I wouldn't even know where to start looking. For now I think I will stick with stores where I can walk in and stare at the fish for awhile before purchasing hehe.
LOL I was kidding about that part. I just teasingly tried to pass off some of my trouble maker fish. I have heard very good things about ordering fish through Dr. Foster's and Smith, Live aquaria. I have not yet ordered any fish through the mail. That concept is still a Little uncomfortable to me but I know a lot of folks do it with great success.
I'm not sure what kind of fish I will be stocking. I definitely want an oto at some point, and was thinking of neon tetras but I have heard mixed answers on whether or not they'll be good with guppies. Some have told me they're fin nippers, others have told me they're not... some have told me they'll eat the fry, whereas the guy at the LFS today told me that "they won't but who cares if they do"... I would like a slightly larger and fancier looking fish to be kinda the star of the show but don't know what to get... all of the fish additions will not be taking place for another week or two because i want to make sure there's no ick left in the tank... so I figure i have time to listen to suggestions and do some more research. :)
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