Jump to content

Fish Store Conditions


Recommended Posts

I am fortunate enough to have three small fish stores and one big box store within city limits, Outside city limits a small pet store with some fish and another big box store.
I have visited each store and everyone concerned has been helpful and courteous.

However, one local fish store, has been helpful but the store appearance is a bit disheveled. I suspect because it is short of help resulting in the lack of maintenance in the fish room. The fish room is unsettling. For instance, one day I visited, only one associate was there, who was in the middle of cleaning one tank, stopped to take care of some customers.

Looking at one tank I observed a dead fish while another fish was eating the remains. Ok, I thought, it's only one tank. They'll get to it. Then, the larger tank had no less then 5 dead fish floating around (that I saw) with one very dead - decomposing type dead. 

As a result, unless things change, I would not buy fish there. Some of the hardware items, ok, but definitely no fish. It is such a shame because, it look so unstaffed and they are quite helpful

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The closest aquatics shop to me is a tiny wee place that’s been open for over 15 years and seems to only have 2 employees, one of which is the owner. The shop is dark and a mess and they’ve not got a huge selection of fish, but the fish they do have are all super healthy and more coloured up than any other fish I’ve ever seen in a shop - and I think they breed some of their stock. If they could afford to tidy and brighten up the place, I doubt anyone would go anywhere else. 
 

On the other hand, there’s another small aquatics shop not far away from the first one and it looks amazing. Recently redecorated, everything is shiny and new and they’ve got some pretty cool animals that you can’t really find anywhere else in the city. Unfortunately, I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people buying their animals only to have them all die within weeks or months. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My favorite shops in the area are all new school type places. Aquarium Coop has the best stock and the fish are always looking healthy. The ADA store is like walking into a giant terrarium with a wall of plants and cool aquascapes. 
There’s an older place that I gave a try but between the dirty tanks and rude staff I wasn’t impressed. 

Edited by Patrick_G
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This very thing is a source of continuing frustration for me. I live in a decent sized city with several LFS and many big chain stores. Whether one of them has healthy fish or not is pretty much a dice game. Sometimes I feel like I'm perpetuating animal abuse by keeping fish.  Why haven't shop owners realized that beautiful tanks full of non-dead fish are the surest way to get customers? Maybe its cuz I don't know anything about business. 🤔

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently visited a LFS in a nearby small town that gave me more than one night of bad dreams. There were so many dead fish being eaten by others, fish missing fins and tails. It felt like a death camp. There was one densely planted tank that had healthy fish in it; they weren't for sale as that was their tank of breeder guppies. The shelves were half empty of food, filters, etc. and everything was a dusty ratty mess. I am cynical so I thought it's probably a money-laundering business rather than an honest attempt at running a LFS.

I went to two LFS in a larger city an hour away today. One was kind of scruffy but had nicely maintained tanks and attentive staff. The prices on manzanita made me kick myself for buying mine from an online seller. Plus they had the old school chunky slab pieces of driftwood on slate that we used to use in the old days before everything became about spiky branches, lol. I love those. If I lived near this shop it would be my main point of purchase even though I badly wanted to give it a makeover.

The other LFS was creepy and had tons of "lobsters" and crabs which made me wonder how many people in that city of 250,000 are able and wanting to keep lobsters and crabs? Maybe it's easier/more common than I know? This store also had snakes and the general vibe felt like "fish store for guys who like to hunt and fish". I would go there in a pinch for meds or something, but wouldn't shop there normally. 

I have only been in about 10 LFS in total, in three states, so I may be looking at an unrepresentative sample, but compared to box stores they are are either unaware of how to attract women shoppers or don't care to, which is a shame. It's true that I'm never gonna have an 800 gallon tank or a reef setup, but I often brought 3 future fishkeepers with me when I shopped and they grew up thinking of Petco as the place to get fish because the LFS where we lived when they were young was like someplace you'd go on a dare.

I think a more boutique vibe with Biorbs, nano tanks, bettas, nano fish and lots of plants but zero larger/aggressive/creepy fish would be a viable shop in most urban areas. Maybe that kind of LFS already exists somewhere and I just don't know it.

  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very interesting topic. I have had two very different experiences with the same local store. We moved to current location about 9 years ago. I found the lfs within a few weeks of being in town. Let's just say, first impressions were not great. It was small, dark, and had tight long isles. It had that musty fish store smell. Water stained ceiling tiles and peeling laminate flooring. You could not see in or out of the front windows because of the water condensation. I know that I did get a few fish but I can not really remember the state of the tanks. 

Then they MOVED!

I think they have been at the new location for 6/7 years now and it is night and day. Same owners, same staff with some additions. Same fish and small animal stuff. We get our cat stuff there as well. The store is big and bright and clean. No funny smells. You can stand 3 wide in the isles (pre covid) or me and the kiddos looking at the same thing at once. I could spend hours in there now instead of wanting to get out as fast as I could. I have built an amazing relationship with them over the last few years and recommend them to everyone.

I know that some of the things could not have been helped in other location as it is a much older strip mall and current was a new build strip mall, but it is amazing the difference a person can feel when walking into a place. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a tiny LFS here, the owner is more concerned about selling product over livestock,  but does keep run of the mill guppies, comet goldfish, small danio's and albino cats so he can call it a pet shop.  I've seen Cory's many times with fin rot getting to treatment stage and offered to nurse them back to health if he was going to give up on them.  He's not at all interested in fish and refused to re-home or save them.  Would rather see them die than give them a chance. 

  • Sad 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2021 at 3:59 PM, Hoi Polloi said:

As a result, unless things change, I would not buy fish there. Some of the hardware items, ok, but definitely no fish. It is such a shame because, it look so unstaffed and they are quite helpful

I wouldn't buy fish there either. If you think they're worth patronizing, buy supplies there, but not fish. I think a lot of stores make most of their money on supplies, etc anyhow - not so much on fish.

I'm doing the same with my LFS - won't buy fish there, but some supplies, OK. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2021 at 7:45 PM, PineSong said:

I think a more boutique vibe with Biorbs, nano tanks, bettas, nano fish and lots of plants but zero larger/aggressive/creepy fish would be a viable shop in most urban areas. Maybe that kind of LFS already exists somewhere and I just don't know it.

Sometimes, when I daydream, this is exactly the type of store I'd like to create (I actually have an empty store front picked out and everything! 😜)!  But...I do not know enough or have enough coin or bravado to make that daydream a reality...haha!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/17/2021 at 10:15 AM, Betsy said:

I do not know enough or have enough coin or bravado to make that daydream a reality...haha!

Same. In my town, there's only a couple of big box stores and two smaller pet shops. One of them, I'll never patronize because of the condition of the store itself... it's disgusting. The other store is in need of updates and renovations, but is decent. There's another new store about 30 minutes away that looks promising (they keep their bettas in 1 gallon acrylic cubes with some hardscape and airstone), but has fairly minimal selection. I really want to have my own store specializing in freshwater (though the money is in marine tanks) where I can share my passion with the community and provide customers with great service and healthy fish. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I usually visit a store two or three times before I buy.  A dead fish or two is no big deal but I won't buy from a store with dead fish or multiple dead fish every time I visit. If the stock looks good and the tanks look clean, I don't really care how the rest of the store looks.  I have a selection of fish vendors within 15 minutes. The closest could be the best If he could pull himself away from his laptop.  The store is really just an extension of the owner's hobby. Overpriced fish and his choice of the best food filter, pump etc. means I will never purchase anything.  Petsmart or Petco aren't bad, at least they have a few employees that have aquariums.  If you can spell aquarium, you qualify for the pet department in the department store near me. They have very few fish and a lot of empty tanks.  The best LFS is farthest away, a little rundown and the only animals they keep are fish.  They are somewhat knowledgeable, and that is where I went before CARE and Cory.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/17/2021 at 10:15 AM, Betsy said:

Sometimes, when I daydream, this is exactly the type of store I'd like to create (I actually have an empty store front picked out and everything! 😜)!  But...I do not know enough or have enough coin or bravado to make that daydream a reality...haha!

haha, i think every nerm at some point has dreamed about opening an LFS. I know I have🤣. But agreed, it will probably never become a reality.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wish I had better LFSs in my area. I know of 2 within an hour of my house that are actually fish stores. One is a newly opened freshwater branch of a saltwater store that's been around as long as I can remember the other is half fresh half salt.

The one that's half and half is small dark and dirty but the fish all look amazing and I would gladly buy there. 

The new one is big open bright and clean but everything is absurdly expensive and the manager is an a**hole. The only purchases I've made there are things I can't find anywhere else and tissue cultures(they sell tissue cultures at a fair price but nothing else). 

I also have one pet store that is maybe 1/3 fish, 1/3 other small pets and 1/3 dog and cat supplies(they don't have any cats or dogs in the store). This store is owned buy a guy I'd guess is in his mid to late 30s and who bought it from the original owners maybe 10 years ago. This is the store I went to when I was a kid and the current owner was a teenager working there. This is the store that got my into planted tanks and where I sell any fish I breed. It's a small dark store that isn't horribly dirty but it's not sparkly clean either. It's not an amazing store and there's lots of areas it could improve in the fish section, but the owner cares and is trying to improve so I'd rather spend my money there than the amazing store that's over priced and the owners an a**

Other than that I have 3 petcos (2 are really nice one is horrible) 3 petsmarts (once again 2 are great and one is horrible) and a pet supplies plus (which is pretty nice). 

If I every hit the lotto I think I'd open a small shop that specializes in nano/community fish and plants but not really high end aquascaping. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2021 at 7:45 PM, PineSong said:

I recently visited a LFS in a nearby small town that gave me more than one night of bad dreams. There were so many dead fish being eaten by others, fish missing fins and tails. It felt like a death camp. There was one densely planted tank that had healthy fish in it; they weren't for sale as that was their tank of breeder guppies. The shelves were half empty of food, filters, etc. and everything was a dusty ratty mess. I am cynical so I thought it's probably a money-laundering business rather than an honest attempt at running a LFS.

I went to two LFS in a larger city an hour away today. One was kind of scruffy but had nicely maintained tanks and attentive staff. The prices on manzanita made me kick myself for buying mine from an online seller. Plus they had the old school chunky slab pieces of driftwood on slate that we used to use in the old days before everything became about spiky branches, lol. I love those. If I lived near this shop it would be my main point of purchase even though I badly wanted to give it a makeover.

The other LFS was creepy and had tons of "lobsters" and crabs which made me wonder how many people in that city of 250,000 are able and wanting to keep lobsters and crabs? Maybe it's easier/more common than I know? This store also had snakes and the general vibe felt like "fish store for guys who like to hunt and fish". I would go there in a pinch for meds or something, but wouldn't shop there normally. 

I have only been in about 10 LFS in total, in three states, so I may be looking at an unrepresentative sample, but compared to box stores they are are either unaware of how to attract women shoppers or don't care to, which is a shame. It's true that I'm never gonna have an 800 gallon tank or a reef setup, but I often brought 3 future fishkeepers with me when I shopped and they grew up thinking of Petco as the place to get fish because the LFS where we lived when they were young was like someplace you'd go on a dare.

I think a more boutique vibe with Biorbs, nano tanks, bettas, nano fish and lots of plants but zero larger/aggressive/creepy fish would be a viable shop in most urban areas. Maybe that kind of LFS already exists somewhere and I just don't know it.

Speaking of bad dreams - I was awake half the night last night and I had an epiphany. I am a recent empty-nester, so I thought I'd apply to my local box store as I'd noticed their aquatic section has gone really down hill. "I can fix those tanks," I says to myself, and even got myself an interview the same day! The lady interviewing me says that they are looking for team players (Check), and not someone who is coming in looking to change everything ("Great", I says to myself). She then offers me the job of random pet store employee who will pitch in and do anything (Again, Great). But the interaction seemed weird.

The epiphany came in the middle of the night when I realized they have no intention of ever doing anything with their aquatics section  - that's what she meant by saying she doesn't want new employees to think they can change everything. She was talking about not doing simple, routine, tank maintenance! Apparently, they like their aquatics section to look like a horror show. I'm obviously going to be doing something better with my time..... 

Edited by Cyndi
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/17/2021 at 1:56 PM, ChefConfit said:

I wish I had better LFSs in my area. I know of 2 within an hour of my house that are actually fish stores. One is a newly opened freshwater branch of a saltwater store that's been around as long as I can remember the other is half fresh half salt.

The one that's half and half is small dark and dirty but the fish all look amazing and I would gladly buy there. 

The new one is big open bright and clean but everything is absurdly expensive and the manager is an a**hole. The only purchases I've made there are things I can't find anywhere else and tissue cultures(they sell tissue cultures at a fair price but nothing else). 

I also have one pet store that is maybe 1/3 fish, 1/3 other small pets and 1/3 dog and cat supplies(they don't have any cats or dogs in the store). This store is owned buy a guy I'd guess is in his mid to late 30s and who bought it from the original owners maybe 10 years ago. This is the store I went to when I was a kid and the current owner was a teenager working there. This is the store that got my into planted tanks and where I sell any fish I breed. It's a small dark store that isn't horribly dirty but it's not sparkly clean either. It's not an amazing store and there's lots of areas it could improve in the fish section, but the owner cares and is trying to improve so I'd rather spend my money there than the amazing store that's over priced and the owners an a**

Other than that I have 3 petcos (2 are really nice one is horrible) 3 petsmarts (once again 2 are great and one is horrible) and a pet supplies plus (which is pretty nice). 

If I every hit the lotto I think I'd open a small shop that specializes in nano/community fish and plants but not really high end aquascaping. 

Really? Seems like High end aquascaping is where the money is in freshwater  - plus you'd get to meet all the cool FishTubers😜

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/17/2021 at 4:25 PM, Cyndi said:

The epiphany came in the middle of the night when I realized they have no intention of ever doing anything with their aquatics section  - that's what she meant by saying she doesn't want new employees to think they can change everything. She was talking about not doing simple, routine, tank maintenance! 

That's how I felt about the death camp store I visited--it wasn't just the difference between good maintenance and "oops, it's hard to find good help and these tanks got away from us for a couple of weeks" maintenance. They couldn't have actually been trying. I've worked enough retail in my life to know how the store could have looked with some elbow grease, even if nothing was spent on updating fixtures or equipment. I love a good before and after scenario and if someone gave me that store to fix up I'd enjoy doing it, but no way would I be able to work for the person who let it get that way and was satisfied with it.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/17/2021 at 8:15 AM, Betsy said:

Sometimes, when I daydream, this is exactly the type of store I'd like to create (I actually have an empty store front picked out and everything! 😜)!  But...I do not know enough or have enough coin or bravado to make that daydream a reality...haha!

@PineSong, you and @Betsywould love the ADA store here in Seattle. It’s filled with Nano tanks, wabi kusa and plants galore. 

  • Love 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/17/2021 at 4:27 PM, Cyndi said:

Really? Seems like High end aquascaping is where the money is in freshwater  - plus you'd get to meet all the cool FishTubers😜

Yes and no. You might have a higher total per transaction(which may or may not translate to higher profit per transaction), but if you're only catering to people doing high end aquascapes you're limiting yourself to a very small subset of hobbyists as potential customers. 

Also if the area lacks a high quality basic fish store then it's unlikely that the local market would be able to support a niche one. 

If I were to ever open a store the goal would to grow the hobby locally and not go bankrupt. I figure fish stores are like restaurants. If start out in it for the money you've already lost. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The large LFS near me near Baltimore, which has been around for decades, looks kind of messy and disheveled. At first glance, it's not a great impression. But, they're always hopping busy with at least 6-8 employees in the freshwater section plus 2 full time at the registers. The fish are well taken care of. There are always 2 or 3 people doing tank maintenance and someone is changing the betta bowls' water (wish they'd get Cory's system). When I scheduled a day to bring (donate) guppies (boy do I miss my wiggle-butts), the guy had to set up a quarantine tank first, so I know they quarantine their fish. They're helpful and for the most part very knowledgeable. I hope there's a store like this when I get to the Boston area. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...