Accuracy in Information 2

JP

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I've been working on giving the site a makeover. Please stop by and take a look if you get the time. Things are growing and changing and we have several new pages and projects in the works.
 

JP

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Linda Scott with PetSmart's Corp Communication department has been sending responses to individuals throughout the course of the week as result of letters and e.mails concerning the need for "Accuracy In Information". It is an interesting e.mail and will be posted in its entirety at www.noclownsinacube.net over the weekend. It was a thoughtful answer. Unfortunately it has created the need for additional help and assistance.

We are soliciting photos from hobbyists of tank reared specimens of certain species. here is what we are after:
Clown Loach / Botia macracantha / Specimens in excess of 7"TL
Tin Foil Barb / Barbus schwanenfeldi / Specimens in excess of 8"TL
•Green Terror / Aequidens rivulatus / Specimens in excess of 6" TL
•Midas Cichlid / Amphilophus citrinellus / Specimens in excess of 8" TL
Oscar Varieties / Astronotus ocellatus / Specimens in excess of 10"
Jack Dempsey / Cichlasoma octofasciatum / Specimens in excess of 6"

We will need to be able to visually verify the TL in the photos. And, information regarding tank size and age of fish would be very beneficial.

Our photo gallery link:

We need the support of hobbyists to accomplish this. The conversation with retailers must remain an active one. Your help is appreciated. If you have any questions about our effort feel free to PM me.

If you are gifted with the camera and have the ability to visually document the TL of your fish, but don't have the specimens we listed above, visit our site. Click on the Retailer v. Reality link. Scroll through the list and find the fish with disparities between the retailers and the species information listed. If you have a species with a disparity of significance, take a photo of that species and upload the photos to our gallery.
 
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sully

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or maybe even:

•Texas Cichlid / Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum / Speimen in excess of 6"TL
.
 

JP

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Thanks for all your help. Hobbyists coming together in a cooperative spirit supporting a worthwhile effort and shared concern produces results! Progress is being made. An update of details:

We have obviously been sending letters and e-mails. Turns out lots of them. They made it to the desks of the addressees and were routed to the DVM responsible for Quality Assurance.

We have spoken with Dr. Saint-Erne. We have exchanged e-mails. The topic of concern that is the common thread of the exchanges is Accuracy In Information as it relates to:

•Context of data provided. Point of applicability to the time continuum defined by the life of the particular fish.
•Point of Origin. Turns out that the data provided (South America, Africa…) was not intended as consumer data. Rather it is plan-o-gram data for use by store associates when stocking tanks. A bit confusing.
•Fish Size. The primary source to be utilized was provided nearly two weeks ago. PetSmart has suggested several secondary sources as well as asking for hobbyist input for additional resources.
•Stocking Guidelines. Currently the 1” per gallon rule. They will examine alternative methods.
•Tank Size. They recognize clarity of information issue. Currently defined by need at time of purchase. We are striving to achieve a size based upon authoritative resources that describe “typical size achieved in home aquaria”. A tough task.
•Additives. Some signage suggests a certain additive. The utility of which is questionable depending upon actual chemistry of source water and changes that may be occurring as a consequence of substrate of other décor.
•Care Guide water testing description.
•The Care Guides in general.

The discussions and correspondence have demonstrated the willingness of PETsMART to include hobbyists and customers in the process. It does not mean that every item people dislike or could argue with will be changed. Rather, the information will be provided in a fashion that is clear to the consumer and is clearly based on “authoritative resources”. We can ask for no better commitment than that.

We have more detail, and more detail will be posted over the weekend, than this for viewing and comment on our forum. We will select critical passages from additional correspondence exchanged. We will “extract” not “edit” any comments. At the same time the “extracts” will be provided with any commentary required to place them in context.

We do not wish to misrepresent or allow individuals to misconstrue the discussions that have occurred. At the same time we have no desire to present verbatim transcripts and copies. PetSmart does have competitive and confidentiality concerns. We will honor those very legitimate concerns. They have fish to sell. We have fish to buy. Open and honest discussions can be held only when the concerns of all parties are respected.

The discussions have only bolstered and reaffirmed our respect for PetSmart as a responsible retailer concerned with responsible husbandry and the humane and ethical treatment of animals.
 
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sully

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A three-part update. Part one deals with PETsMART; part two with help we need; and part three with activities being initiated over the next few weeks.

1. The review process at PETsMART has become very detailed. PETsMART and NCIAC.net will continue to exchange information and thoughts about the accuracy of the content through the next several weeks.

To date we can say the fish sizes have shown an incredible change. The information we have seen accurately describes the species being sold. Great job PETsMArt! It is something that PETsMART should be recognized for.

A near universal clarification of tank sizes required has occurred. Sizes have been increased to more accurately represent long term needs. In about 1/2 of the instances there is little if any room for disagreement. In the other instances the sizes are typically larger than what exists on current signage--but could still be subjected to a more careful scrutiny by PETsMART. It is our hope that many of the suggested tank sizes are increased.

Use of “Salt” has yet to be suggested as a requirement for any species reviewed (that is a change).

The people involved with NCIAC.net that have seen the data, reviewed it, and sent back suggestions for improvement are generally encouraged by the results to date. Parts of the process could drag into March.

We have to honor corporate confidentiality of this information. Final decisions have not yet been made. As we are able to share detailed information we will.

2. Which brings us to stuff to do--lol. Next up are PetCo, Petland and Walmart. We have some data for each of these retailers. Nothing as comprehensive as what were able to assemble for PETsMART. We need help getting POP Signage data for these companies. Hopefully people here and other sites will once again pitch into the effort and gather data. Our format can be seen at . Copies of the spreadsheet that drove that page can be downloaded from a link at the bottom of the chart--feel free to use our spreadsheet. Any keystroking and re-entry we can avoid is appreciated. This time you can win a yet to be designed NCIAC.net T-Shirt—lol.

Hopefully hobbyists help out again. We need to have accurate and comprehensive information to utilize during letter writing and e.mail efforts. We also need to have that information during direct conversation with the companies. Help with this will assist both you other hobbyists in getting a good baseline of information to utilize in the practice of Responsible Husbandry.

3. PetCo. We do have enough data to begin our efforts there. We need more to be as accurate as possible. Within the next 10-14 days we will once again post suggestions that specific types of correspondence be prepared and snail mailed or e-mailed. Hopefully we can once again generate e.mails and letters evidencing the concern shared by the hobbyist market.

Hope you all have a Happy and Successful New Year.

sully

You will see revisions to our site to reflect the progress being made in our attempt to work with retailers. It will take us a week to get those changes made—they will include sample letters you could use in our shared effort.
 

Guzalot

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Great work Sully! Giving beginning aquarists bad information is a shortsighted business strategy anyway. Get newbies started off right and they'll come back for more.

One other thing though; I understand that Wal-Mart will be phasing out the selling of live fish.
 
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sully

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WalMart getting out of fish. That is the 4th or 5th time I have heard that. Along with the comment PetCo is getting out of marine fish.

Where did you hear that? I would love to be able to track that one down.
 
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sully

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We are also assisting a gentleman that has decided to introduce this topic to fishkeepers in Germany. The effort is gaining a foothold in Europe.

Also a poster for retailer use has been developed for Clown Loach Care. It is a free download (Printable PDF format) in English, German, Dutch, and Italian. It was created by Martin Thoene at LOL.

A link to get you to download page.
 
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sully

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Round 2 is beginning. lol. As we examine information with other retailers some common problems seem to exist. Here is a letter recently mailed to PETCO. It once again address a very common theme--accuracy of information. We ask hobbyists to join us in sending letters and e.mails to discuss the importance of information and its relationship to the practice of Responsible Husbandry.
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1/31/07

Mr. Jim Myers
Chief Executive Officer
PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc.
9125 Rehco Road
San Diego, CA 92121

Dear Mr. Myers,
I am a fishkeeper. I have shopped your stores for many years. More recently I began to study the species-specific information contained in your Point-Of-Purchase Signage. Within the past several weeks I have also scrutinized the information provided at corporate web site.

During the 4th quarter of 2006 an organization of fishkeeping hobbyists was born. Our focus is to encourage retailers like PETCO to provide information that accurately describes the nature, origin, and characteristics of fish sold. We believe hobbyists will be able to more adequately practice responsible husbandry with better information. Responsible Husbandry. Humane Treatment. These are the two very simple and fundamental goals that underpin our effort. They are two simple goals that PETCO seemingly embraces as evidenced by the PETCO Foundation.

An interesting disparity exists between the Point-Of-Purchase Signage and On-Line information. In-store there is no mention of tank sizes required for the species sold. On-line tank size suggestions are made. The size of an aquarium is one of the most important elements required for the practice of responsible husbandry. The importance of tank size is obviously recognized. It is significant enough to publish on-line. It should be considered important enough to include with in-store advertising.

Some of the suggested tank sizes are interesting. The tank size suggested for the Tiger Barb at your site is 10-gallons. Many authoritative resources suggest something significantly larger. In fact “Aquarium Fish” by Schleiwen suggests a tank of at least 32”. The suggestion by one of your sources of fish information is significantly larger than the size advertised. There are other instances of this issue.

On-line descriptions of environments conducive to the species being sold are provided. “Hiding Spots” is a phrase utilized in many of the descriptions. The same phrase is used to describe a parameter for plant dwelling fish as with cave dwelling fish. Yet, the definition of hiding spot for each is radically different. Indeed, a “hiding spot” utilized by one will often be a “hiding spot” shunned by the other. Based upon the information provided your customers may mistakenly believe they are providing a suitable environment for the fish purchased at PETCO when they are in actuality not meeting the needs of the species purchased at all.

Fish size. In-store and on-line information is sometimes contradictory. For example, the Hypostomus plecostomus is listed as a 4”-12” fish at one brick and mortar location. At another store it is listed as an 18" species. On-line it is a 24” fish. Only one can be correct. Other instances of this situation exist.

Jim, it is my hope that PETCO examines POP signage and on-line advertising to assure consistency and accuracy. Responsible Husbandry and Humane Treatment start at a store. Neither can be practiced by hobbyists without accurate information.

Respectfully,

----------------------

The e.mail method for PETCO is form based at their website. The link to this form is:



e.mail or snail mail. please help us voice our concerns with your participation.

Thanks,
sully

ps. We have a topic in the public area of our message board that we are hoping for some input. It is a question concerning consistency of information being presented. We would love to know what you think about the subject.



We are almost through with the final review of species info with PETsMART. Just got the last of their revised data Tuesday of this week. We will say something of a more specific nature soon.
 
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sully

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We seemed to have wrapped up our end of things earlier this week.  Anything left to do is firmly in the hands of PETsMART.

Here is a copy of the e.mail sent summarizing where we are with the review process.

Nick,
I have enjoyed the process of the review.  Albeit longer than either of us expected.  The people at No Clowns In A Cube.net appreciate the willingness exhibited by PETsMART to accept input from the hobbyist community.  We appreciate that the information from many "authoritative resources" was examined.

I spent several hours last evening perusing the responses this discussion has generated at on-line fishkeeping communities across the web.  I wanted to be certain the basics of the discussion were reviewed so that I did not lose sight of hobbyist concerns on a generalized basis as the details of species-specific information were reviewed.

1). Point-Of-Origin:  A topic that was originally discussed during our e.mails and conversations.  The use of Plannogram information on in-store signage is often misunderstood.  In several instances it is often misleading.  An easy fix that was discussed was the use of "New World" to define the North American, Central American, and South American species often clumped under the existing "South American" definition.  And, the movement of obvious South American or Central American species from the "Tropical Community" tag into this category would be helpful.

And, a species that clearly demonstrates the potential misunderstanding by a consumer would be the Carinotetraodon travancoricus as a Tropical Community fish when it is indeed best suited for a species specific tank.

Or, a change that would not destroy the use of plan-o-gram information would be the simple inclusion of an additional "Species Origination" line of copy.  A line that is used by many of your competitors.

Our early conversations led me to believe this issue would be rectified.  Our discussion Wednesday of this week left me in doubt.

2). Species Size:  As discussed, if the changes you have noted during the exchange of information are implemented there will be a near universal correction of the problem.  The obvious exceptions have been discussed and noted.

3) Tank Size:  Dramatic changes have been seen in your revised data.  All of which are positive.  There is still a surprising contradiction between your sizes (once again, substantially larger tank sizes are now being used by PETsMART) and those listed by the source Linda Scott mentioned in her e.mails to hobbyists as the reference PETsMART utilizes as the basis for Point-Of-Purchase signage data for a limited number of species.

Hopefully you will take one last look at the tank sizes and upgrade many of them. 

At worst we hope that a line of copy to the point that as the fish grows to  "Adult" sizes a larger tank is required.  Especially in those cases the stated length of the fish (based upon authoritative resources) equals or exceeds the depth of the suggested tank front to back.  A size derived from exterior dimensions.

The Betta issue is a discussion that is more wide ranging than PETsMART.  As a result, in our minds, it is unfair to target specifically to PETsMART. 

4). Suitability of species sold:  The obvious species is the Pangasius Sutchii.  As we review your suggestions of species size and tank size we still note a severe departure from that data provided by recognized "authoritative resources".  We question how suitable the species can be for a mass merchandiser to sell if the mass merchandiser believes their data is a better representation than that provided by the scientific community.  More specific concern is created when the representations of sizes still remain far smaller than documented reality.  Yes, That fish will not grow to its potential size in the confines of the tank suggested.  We question whether responsible husbandry and humane treatment is being actively promoted through this type of sales approach.

5). Diet and Décor:  Obviously mostly in order.

6). Tank Strata.  In some instances it is different than the "authoritative resources' discuss.  In other instances we have difficulty understanding where the information was derived.  And, as we discussed so many factors are involved in that definition that a captive (tank) environment will rarely if ever reflect that behavior.  In many instances the depth of the water column in home aquaria is many meters less than the depth of the strata as seen in native habitats--let alone the total depth of the water column found in native habitats.  Are the species being sold with this line of information going to live up to the representation made in home aquaria?  Are false expectations being set-up in the mind of the consumer?

It goes back to one of original points of information that, while not inaccurate, becomes very confusing when utilized out of context.

7). Aquarium Salt as a "Required" item.  I am gratified to see it nearly gone from signage.  I understand your perspective on others.  Hopefully you can understand why we will question the use of "Aquarium Salt Required" for the remaining species.  Especially as it relates to the Leporinus Fasciatus.

Nick, once again, thank-you for the time you took to discuss the issues with us.  And, thank-you for the review of the information we provided. 

Respectfully,
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we will post the final result at our site when possible.  don't forget to send PETCO e.mail
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guppygranny

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I'm mailing my very positive, mostly constructive letter to Mr. Hall on Monday. Guppygranny.
 
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sully

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please send ken the mostly positive and constructive letter. think this guy too--lol

Mr. Jim Myers
Chief Executive Officer
PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc.
9125 Rehco Road
San Diego, CA 92121
 
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