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Blake Tedeschi

This is a interesting article like everything else in life its always tough to find a good aquatic store. It would be great if there was a website that let you rate top aquatic stores in your local area. Not all LFS's are bad...there is an incredible local fish store in the NJ area called Tropiquarium. They have incredible tanks, great livestock and the owner is incredibly helpful always takes the time to chat with me. Here is a video of one of his tanks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Us5hIhrDNo


I have to agree with this entirely. Most of the LFS I've visited are OK at best, down right afwul to visit at worst. Stear clear from a store if you see a lot of live stock like Flame Scallops and sickly Dragonnetes.

Of course, you also have to consider, as stated in the article, that the Aquarium Hobby is a business. The tragedy is that people make assumptions about aquarium keeping and fail to do research. I've seen my fair share of people buy Anemones and Clown fish and simply throw them in to one of the "package set up deals" you see at PetCo that are barely suitable for hardy freshwater fish. If more experienced hobbyists try to spread knowledge to any one setting up an Aquarium, we could very well avoid seeing LFS stock such exotics as Leopard Sharks and Flame Scallops.

Hell, if we're lucky, the internet might become some kind of trend. You know, that way people research before purchasing. If only the internet was well known...hmmmm...

I honestly don't see how any one could avoid researching any thing before spending several hundred dollars.

Betty Road

I completely agree!

Captive Aquatics

Irresponsible consumers and irresponsible shop owners create a downwards spiral, but one that can be reversed through education, ethics, and personal responsibility.

Pet stores should promote responsibly collected and/or aquacultured livestock, which encourages consumers to purchase such. This forms a win-win circle, because consumers purchasing (and insisting on purchasing) MAC certified or aquacultured livestock forces pet stores to carry it, etc.

Of the ~18 pet stores in the Houston and surrounding areas, only two of them don't cause me to think "why did the owner of this store even start this store in the first place, much less continue to operate it?"

There are exceptions to the rule, but as it stands now, fish and pet stores are a disgrace to the hobby.


I agree - I have 4 very large pet stores near where I live and I would only class 1 of those as very good. Where they are much better then the others is the staff on hand with key knowledge and advice - there is nothing worse then asking a shop attendant and they know nothing about the product.

Fish Tanks

I would agree that some of these LFS' are very inadequate. Finding a specialty fish shop that has informed employees can be difficult to find. I think it's important to do a little research and find a store where the employees know about the fish and care about the health of the fish they sell you. Ask them a lot of questions.


Very ironic post - I recently got my pair of misbar clowns after an LFS opted to sell me a very sick pair of True Percula clowns... they did good by their word to replace the sick fish they sold me - even though it was a few months later as I let my tank run fallow to ensure any parasites/pathogens were gone that the original fish introduced.

...overall they are good (livestock is healthy 95% of the time), but I really dislike their attitude - treating me like a newbie, I'm no expert, but I know how to keep a reef tank.... I won't be shopping with them again, solely because of their attitude towards me as a customer.

One thing I've never understood is why most LFS's show tanks look so crap? Surely they should be extremely healthy, they are show tanks after all...

something fishy

I would have to say that this is completely ridiculous. Yes, there are some LFS's that should not be in business due to lack of knowledge and poor business practices, but not because they tend to their customers needs. Do you really think the online stores do it differently? If someone who has zero experience in the hobby orders a Moorish Idol or a anemone online, then they will sell them one if it's in stock. Under this line of logic; "not purchasing animals that are known to fare poorly in captivity" does not work. I would believe they (online FS) will also sell anything people will buy. I think your 'beef' lies squarely on the shoulders of the uninformed consumer. I've seen on many forums where a person will get into this hobby with little to zero research into the fish or corals they want to keep. I don't care how healthy the fish is; left to the care of the uninformed they will not live long. Case in point: goldfish. Properly cared for goldfish should live very long (sometimes more than humans). But most die within weeks, months, or years due to lack of proper sized tanks and maintenance.

The second problem with this opinion is that this person could not have possibly surveyed the thousands of LFS's that exist to draw the proper conclusion. Yes there are many bad ones, but who buys things there? Once again, the uninformed consumer. I say all this with the fortunate situation of having a very good LFS. My LFS would never have allowed me to take home many fish without knowing that I understood the proper care and maintenance techniques for each. They also will not stock some of the more questionable fish; so that eliminates consumer temptation.

My last statement if you care to read it is 'put up or shut up'. Meaning, if you know how to do it better then why don't you have your own store to show us how it's done. I would much prefer to buy a fish that I can verify its health visually and this can only be done in a LFS. Anyway, that's just my opinion. Anybody agree.

Captive Aquatics

I always speak from experience, not heresay. The online vendors I recommend have completely different facilities than a LFS does/will. I have visited or worked in a half-dozen large online vendor holding facilities, and was very impressed with the quality and low mortality rates. On the other hand, I have visited many dozens of LFS, and still have not been impressed - not once. I've seen more dead or dying fish in one pet store than I saw in all of the thousands of square feet of holding facilities for online vendors, combined. Sad, but true.

Did you read the article? I stated all businesses exist for the sole purpose of making a profit, and it is up to the consumer to make informed and ethical decisions. I agree with you on this - hobbyists need to practice conscientious animal care, and I am more of an advocate of hobbyists "shaping up" than anything.

There are thousands of bad LFS because people don't have alternatives. I don't like making blanket statements like "they're all bad" but the sad truth is...they pretty much are. Sure, there are always exceptions, but that's exactly what they are - exceptions. That's why a (very few) stores have are very well known, simply because it's easy to shine when your competition is an embarrassment. While I haven't been to thousands of LFS, I've been to hundreds. I've yet to see a single LFS and think to myself "they did a really good job here, I would be willing to purchase from this store". Again, this is not something I (or anyone else) is/should be happy about, but that doesn't make it not so.

I own an aquarium design and consulting company, and don't have the time to manage two businesses at once for the time being. At some point I do plan on opening a LFS "done right" when I'm not too busy juggling my corporation, it's subsidiaries, and my staff!

Captive Aquatics

Of course, I'd rather start an online store...why limit the quality of my livestock to local consumers?


There are a rare few who actually do take wonderful care of their stock. I live in a town with a nationally renown store and am amazed at how well their fish are kept and hold up. They have an entire separate facility for new shipments and sick fish. This is not common and I am so lucky.

Captive Aquatics

You are lucky, and kudos to the store near you. It's sad that a local fish and pet store becomes 'nationally renown' simply by taking basic responsibility and ethics!


If you are in the upstate of South Carolina, Atlanta, or Charlotte for that matter you should visit Sandlapper Aquatics (a marine specialty store in Clemson SC) they do everything the opposite of what this article describes. They offer as many sustainable options as possible, quarantine all new arivals, offer a ten day guarantee, have very reasonable prices, and have been knowledgeable and helpful in every aspect of the reef aquarium hobby. They also have amazing display aquariums! Without them I would not have had the successful, enjoyable experience in this great hobby that I have had. Don't be too cynical as you may miss out on something great right beneath your nose.

Captive Aquatics

Thanks for chiming in! Sounds like a very nice LFS, which is always nice to hear about.

I'm a big fan of the LFS that get it right (and my company even assists local fish stores!) but unfortunately, those are very few and far between, which is why we're all forced to talk about those few!

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