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Ich/Disease At Pet Stores


Ogpulchra
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I've seen fish with ich in nearly every pet/aquarium store I've been to, even a highly recommended one in the Portland area. Should I avoid buying livestock from those places or is that a normal part of the hobby?

Shouldn't those fish be pulled from the sales floor and treated? Is that generally too expensive for most stores? I usually don't see signs on infected tanks that would indicate they aren't for sale or that they are being treated.

The Co-op doesn't have some of the fish I want or I would just buy from them every time. 

 

Edited by Ogpulchra
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imo, if you see ich or any other ailment of fish at a store, i dont buy out of that tank, and if they use a common system like the petsmart/petco etc, i dont buy period. to me it just doesnt make sense to buy obviously sick fish.

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I never purchase livestock from any of the "big-box" places, that's just asking for trouble IMO.

My fish purchases come mainly from a trusted LFS (very small outfit), AquaHuna or some private breeder.  I can always manage find whatever I'm looking for, but usually need to be patient.

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Any pet store that doesn't have a quarantine system for new arrivals is one I would avoid. 

Every once in a while you will stumble into a chain petstore where the staff knows what they are doing and care. But that's about as rare as a good LFS nowadays. 

While I frequent the Portland area for car stuff I am sad to say I've neglected my duties as a fish connoisseur so I have no good recommendations. 

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I tend to buy/order the fish from my LFS and take it home still in their shipping bags. I then quarantine them. LFS does not quarantine as they do not have the space, and there is always a tank or two or three being treated with meds at any given time.

The fish I do get from them have been thriving, though. 🙂

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I also tend to just do the QT myself. I have never visited any store, LFS or Big Box, that did not at least occaisionally 1) have dead fish or obvious meds in the sale tanks 2) send me home with fish that immediately became sick and sometimes died. Fish care is hard, and if you handle enough of them you will have losses. Better to just be proactive, than worry about their history. I remember even Cory mentioning that he has bought from big box stores.

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On 6/23/2021 at 12:36 PM, Biotope Biologist said:

Any pet store that doesn't have a quarantine system for new arrivals is one I would avoid. 

I think this would go without saying, and most bigger retailers have pretty decent internal quarantine policies, but...

My major objection comes from the large, shared water systems that they all use (manufactured mostly by Marineland, BTW).  If one freshwater tanks (or saltwater) becomes an issue rest have the same potential, due to the fact that they ultimately all share the same water.

You'll know if they recognize a problem, because they will shut all the tanks down, but most times its too late.

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I can understand if smaller stores can't afford to quarantine new stock, but having clearly sick fish on the sales floor just seems like a bad move. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't being overly critical. I did assume each tank would have a different filtering system. 

 

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I've seen ich in a tank once at my LFS, and they had marked the whole tank as not for sale and began treatment. They were not available for sale for at least 3 to 4 weeks after that (I stop in to the store weekly). They don't quarantine their stock prior to putting it on the sales floor, but they will isolate an entire tank and treat when they see a problem.

That said... There are zero freshwater tropical fish stores in my area that actually quarantine their stock prior to sale. I've asked around. Only the saltwater specialist shops quarantine. The stock I've bought from my LFS have all been very healthy (when I tried out a new store I ended up with unhealthy stock and lost a fish), and I practice a quarantine at home with no issues at all.

Basically, if you see ich in a tank and they're not being treated, I'd alert a salesperson and see how they respond. I'd also ask if the system all shares water.

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On 6/23/2021 at 1:24 PM, laritheloud said:

Basically, if you see ich in a tank and they're not being treated, I'd alert a salesperson and see how they respond. I'd also ask if the system all shares water.

Agreed! For all you know they are going under treatment and aren't for sale. You cant always see the meds in the water. When I was treating for ich the first 2 hours after dosing meds the water would be blue, but after that it was crystal clear.

I have a few LFS in my area along with lots of petstores. One of the big box store is amazing, quarintines all fish prior to selling, and bettas are in those betta baracks that the co-op uses But their fish are insanely expensive, its not worth it. The Fish Store 5 minutes from my house is saltwater based, but still has a good freshwater selection. They Quarintine all their fish prior to selling, I have never seen a sick fish, all the tanks are clean. I have never brought home a sick fish from them. They have some GREAT prices on fish and plants as well!

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I wouldn’t buy fish from a tank or store with an active infection going on, but I’m not too put off by a dead fish here and there, as long as the other fish look healthy. Some of these stores have so many fish coming in and out, there’s bound to be a few who don’t make it.

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To me, there's ich and then there's ICH. If a single fish has a single white spot in a crowded tank, I'm not overly worried about it. I'll buy an apparently healthy fish from that tank and treat it. If every fish in the tank has ICH and a lot of it, then no. I'll walk away. Ich is treatable and often just a sign of stress. And fish go through a lot of stress in the retail sales process. A minor ich issue involving just a few fish wouldn't scare me off if the fish I was interested in appeared to be healthy. In a perfect world you'd want every fish sold to be perfectly fit, disease free, well nourished, and stress-free. In the real world, you'd be hard pressed to find one fish in even the best pet shop that was in that condition. 

I'm not a huge fan of the tank to tank filtering systems many shops use, but the reality is most shops and staff will cross contaminate tanks anyway, so you might as well have them all connected.  It probably won't make that big of a difference. Many tank-to-tank systems use UV sterilizers where individual tanks don't, so you could argue that a tank-to-tank system is safer overall. (Assuming the UV bulb is working, the water flow is correct and the bulb is reasonably fresh.) Net dips aren't always used between tanks. Even when they are used, the dip solution gets diluted every time a wet net is dipped back into it. A fresh net dip solution might be 99% effective. By the end of the day after hundreds of fish have been caught, it might be mostly water and completely ineffective. With each use a wet net goes in, drops off water and dilutes the net dip solution while carrying some of the net dip solution back to the tanks. Even if the net dip is perfect, if the clerk gets their hand wet moving between tanks and doesn't disinfect it, they can spread whatever issue one tank has to any other tank they dip their hand into. 

I don't mind some dead fish or minor disease issues in pet shops. It's pretty much the norm. It's almost impossible to totally prevent issues from arising.

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Every LFS will have sick fish even if they Qarantine and do  everythingthing by the book  some illness like neon tetra disease or dwarf gourami Iridovirus can take a long time before you start to see symptoms so it virtual impossible for them to spot every disease fish might have all you can do is watch the fish closely and pick the healthiest stock  

Edited by Colu
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