Accuracy In Information - Help a good cause!

  • #1
I'm new to this forum but like what I see. I'm an admin at Badman's Tropical Fish and wanted to spread the word about something.

I have an issue - it is incorrect, species-specific information being delivered to hobbyists by retailers. Information typically provided by retailers that should know better to hobbyists that don't. It is information delivered to hobbyists that rely on retailers to provide honest, accurate information about the fish they sell.

I wander a number of forums. I see, like most of us do from time to time, the endless discussions that get into LFS or mass merchandiser bashing. Over the years I began to tune them out - even avoid them altogether. I always thought if it bugs you that much - do something productive - let's not just complain to ourselves.

I recently stumbled into a couple of those discussions elsewhere by accident. I am a long time member at one of the sites where I saw the bashing. I knew the person bashing well enough that I shared a letter I had sent to PetSmart a couple of days earlier. Only the second time in my life I had penned that type of letter - the first time dealing with the fish-keeping hobby.

The response was interesting. Never really expected it. As I said to an online friend, had I expected the letter to be anything other than a single "angry man" letter that mass merchandisers receive I would have written it in an entirely different fashion and with an entirely different style. But, since it was a single "angry man" letter it is what was sent.

It turns out that a number of fish-keepers from a number of other sites liked what they saw. And thought they too could do the same. I guess it turns out that fish folk do want better.

Here is that letter:

Mr. Kenneth T. Hall
Sr. Vice President, Merchandising
PetSmart, Inc.
19601 North 27th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027

Dear Mr. Hall,

I visited one of your locations yesterday. I was looking for an iron supplement for a planted aquarium as well as a water conditioner. While in your store I looked at many of the fish that PetSmart sells. I was generally impressed with the quality of the tanks and the apparent health of the specimens in Petsmart tanks.

I do, however, take serious exception to the blatant misinformation evidenced on the in-store advertising. POP signage. It could be construed as misinformation designed as a cross merchandising technique to sell other product to the fish buyer. Probably simple mistakes.

Let’s take two of the signs; found on the tank to describe the species therein - if you want I would be willing to address many, many more.

Leporinus fasciatus:

In store sign says max length is 7”. This fish grows to nearly 12” (30cm).

POP signage says a 10-gallon tank will suffice. A 12” fish in a 10-gallon tank? Is the staff at PetSmart familiar with what is commonly called “stunting”? A documented anatomical and physiological occurrence resulting in deformities and often times disease and death.

The signage also calls out the requirement for Aquarium Salt. Why? The fish is found in fast moving waters of the Amazon River basin. One of the last areas you will find concentrations of Sodium Chloride remotely approximating what will happen if a fishkeeper follows your directions and adds “Aquarium Salt”. You may find mineral salts, darn few and certainly of a different nature. And, interestingly, the concentrations of the mineral salts found in the natural environment will typically be far exceeded in many of the water supplies across North America. Is Sodium chloride really “required”?

Clown Loach (Botia macracanthus/Cobitis macracanthus):

Another 7” fish if Petsmart is to be believed. And, once again they should not be. Commonly thought of as a 12”+ species this fish has proven to grow much larger in favorable environments.

A 10-gallon tank is called out on the POP signage. Most respected sources say something along the lines of a tank with the minimum of 36” length for smaller specimens (the ones you sell) and substantially larger for older fish.

Thankfully the myth of aquarium salt was not perpetuated with this species.

Mr. Hall, I guess my concern is that Petsmart postures itself, in so many ways, as to be interested and concerned for and about the life forms it sells to the public. To see such a blatant disregard for a non-mammal line of livestock is disconcerting.

Your company periodically receives a bashing on-line by the “new” fish-keepers. People that discover so much of what they were doing was not really a good approach to promoting fish health and longevity. A bashing delivered to relieve some of their own internal pressure when discovering that fish deaths can be avoided with appropriate care and housing. Call it “responsible husbandry”.

Does Petsmart engage in providing misleading information by design, or are the incredible number of errors in the information provided just simple mistakes? Maybe an error at the printer? Or, even the result of overzealousness by a copywriter attempting to promote cross merchandising without adequate knowledge of the fish he or she is describing?

I am not an ichthyologist, a chemist, a biologist, or a scientist of any kind. I am just a simple fishkeeper that has managed to do the research (utilizing legitimate scientific resources) to gain an understanding of what I need to do in order to avoid the easy art of killing fish. I am a fishkeeper that believes it incumbent upon retailers of your stature to do the same.

Heck, have John Gerstenberger, or the copywriters, simply go on-line to They will find an amazing amount of scientifically based, species specific, information which may help them understand the fish you sell just a bit better. From there it is rather simple to find the competent PhD’s in the biochemistry and fish fields that will more completely fill out the knowledge base required. The legitimate information is out there with just a few clicks of the mouse. The information at the sites for many of the well recognized and respected Universities in the United States (and internationally) provides a plethora of data that discusses many of the issues you could take a leadership position with as a responsible “Pet” retailer.

Hopefully the next visit to a Petsmart will be less insulting to the senses. And, since I do enjoy Petsmart, hopefully the next visit will not be the last. Or, even the beginning of a different approach to promoting accuracy in information.


It seems a number of people scattered about the country, members of several other sites, have decided they dislike wrong info and are writing letters (even stealing the one you just read, which is no problem at all). Don't know that using what I wrote is best, though. Usually letters like that are best when someone speaks from their hearts, in their own style.

POP signage is such a routine thing. So easy to update - and frequently updated and reprinted anyway.

I just want accurate information about species provided.

All the stuff with pH Up and Down, Bacteria in a bottle, aquarium incidental. If consumers start getting basic, accurate, information I will feel like a victory has been achieved. Stores have to make money. As long as they do not harm fish with products that they do not need or lie to a consumer.

I found the address and names contained in the letter on the PetSmart website. If you don't want to use snail mail here is an e-mail address.

Hopefully you feel as strongly as many others do and participate in sharing your thoughts about misleading in-store signage.

Let me stress that this is not about bashing. In fact we frown upon that. This is getting something done in a respectable and sincere way. Please help.

Further notes:

Several domain names have been registered for this endeavor. A couple of them were the simple .com and .org variations of the .net name. And web hosting has been setup for the next three years. The loach lovers out there should appreciate the sentiment in the name:

"No Clowns In A Cube"

The site will not be working for a while. Some others and myself have to sit down and design something. It's easy to make a page and even more difficult to make a useful site. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

This is not a quick, easy thing. But, I think it is important that people get the appropriate information and that the species we all enjoy are treated in a humane way. Send those letters and e-mails. And yes, you may be thinking that letters and e-mails will not accomplish anything and by sending them you are wasting your time. When it is a random person sending something you may be right. At this time what I am trying to do is create traffic and perhaps get PetSmart’s attention with a sudden increase of letters and e-mails.

One last thought: the above letter has been posted or linked to at over a dozen different sites. More than a thousand hits so far between the various forums. Hopefully the numbers grow. Hopefully there is a big percentage of people that take the extra step to mail letters and send e-mails or even both.

Thank you.
  • #2
Re: Help a good cause...

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!! I had stopped shopping at Petsmart because I would invarably go in to get something and hear one of their sales people tell somebody, "sure you can keep that in a 10G tank!" and it would be a clown loach, angelfish, a common plec etc. so not only do their signs need to be updated but their aquatic staff needs to be trained to take care of their animals.
Yes love the name!! I have two clowns in a 75G and will go to a bigger one when needed. Again Thank you.
  • #3
Re: Help a good cause...

I'd like to volunteer my services for the website, if you'd like the help. I do PHP, HTML (and XHTML), CSS (stylesheets), JavaScript, and good ole' editing, basically the whole nine yards. I'll do what I can, I really respect you for the effort and the fact that you're not going around screaming about their mistakes.

Keep up the good work - spread the word!
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Re: Help a good cause...

Marc, I may take you up on that offer if I find out we need another set of hands.

Don't forget to send those letters/e-mails. That's the best thing any of us can do right now.
  • #5
Re: Help a good cause...

JP, THANK YOU for your input. I absolutely agree with you, we need to spread the word and make people aware. We also need more people like you!
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Re: Help a good cause...

Thanks for the kind words.

I know it may not seem like much, but this campaign can raise awareness to this problem and hopefully someday get things changed. It won't happen without everyone's help, though. Please take the time to send something, either a letter or an e-mail.
  • #7
I actually should send letters to all the local fish stores that I've been to. None of them has staff qualified enough to sell fish. None of them ever tells buyers about the cycle prior to getting fish. Hardly any of them ever gives the correct information with regards to tank size and adult fish size, as well as with regards to various species' compatibility, not to mention the issue of overstocking. It's really depressing just going to such stores. So, it's not only at PetsMart or other large pet chain-stores, that have these problems. We definitely need to mobilize people to act and complain until something is done to help this hopeless situation.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Anything helps. It's a good cause. I'm going to post a copy of a message I've posted at several other sites with members that have been a bit more skeptical (and maybe help clear up any concerns people who haven't spoken up yet may have). Some of this is repetive (it was copy/pasted together after all). Here goes:

Right now the only retailer we as a group are focused on is PetSmart. There has to be a starting point. Don't want to get things out of hand right off the bat.

There is a group of about 15 people working on getting some activities planned and organized. Members of the group come from several of the on-line forums. I am sure some of the people here have seen the topic posted elsewhere.

A fairly typical set of questions have been:

"Why PetSmart?" Because they are obviously a company that cares. They are obviously a company that strives to keep tanks clean and livestock as healthy as possible in the store environment. They are obviously a company committed to promoting responsible pet husbandry (90% of their charity dollars are directly returned to pet welfare). They are a national presence. They are a leader in the market.

I have been reminded of one of PetSmart's competitors making a comment years ago along the lines of "we are here to sell pets, not cure them" (not an exact quote). PetSmart obviously realizes the need for the opposite approach. Just look at the Banefield brand of vets in their stores.

"Why not all retailers?" If you get a leader to embrace the concept others will follow. There is a competetive advantage for PetSmart to set the pace. And, from a pragmatic view they are convenient. It is far easier to effect a change with a single retailer than it is to effect an industry wide change. It is the simple one-step-at-time philosophy. Basically crawl, walk, run. A lot of energy and effort can be expended chasing after all the national, regional, and local stores. Flailing madly about will be a waste of much of that. Focused effort and energy holds a better chance of positive results.

And, since responsible husbandry starts with the aquarium we have and how it is stocked POP information is the baseline for all the other issues. Basically it is an approach that starts with step one of fish care.

At the same time it recognizes that every one of us will make the choice on how to stock a tank. We have responsibilities of our own as fish-keepers practicing responsible husbandry. The only way people can learn to be responsible is through the use of accurate information. Some of which is the responsibility of a company to provide. Some of which is the responsibility of fish-keepers to seek out.

"What can sending letters accomplish?" Letters are a first step, and a tiny step. A small group of fish-keepers has assembled on a very private forum to discuss the best ways to attack the issue. It will expand significantly beyond the few forums where the letters are being shared (and whose members are probably already getting bored with me) in an attempt to engage clubs, organizations, and the hobby media in the discussion.

Some interesting offers to help out have been received. Hopefully they pan out. Our three biggest problems right now:

- Assembling a panel of volunteer experts to review signage (the content or actual photos of which are being assembled from cities across the country). I can use fishbase as my touchstone. I don't have the credentials though to actually endorse or condemn any changes which may occur. I have just kept fish for a while.

- Letters. As many as possible. They serve to get attention. and they will serve to keep the issue alive for at least one retailer (have to take it a step at a time) as a complement to other publicity tools.

- Additional visiblity. Next week (hopefully) we will begin to work the media side of the hobby. At least pet media from the industry and consumer side. It is a slow process, being taken an element at a time.

This is getting long winded, as many of my posts do. Like I said, about 15 people are planing and organizing several areas of activity that are required to give this effort a realistic chance of success. We will keep people informed. But, nothing we do will work without your support and help.

All we ask is you take a few minutes to send an e-mail or snail mail. Write a letter (even copy one of the above). We want to keep the message on target. We hope you agree with the message and the approach.

Remember PetSmart is an excellent organization. Trying to do what is right. We are just trying to nicely help them realize something needs a change.
  • #9
Have you written letters yet?

Here is a file you can place in the letters to let PetSmart know that it is a growing group of hobbyists speaking with a more unified voice.

  • #10
PetSmart has been the topic of discussion in other threads on this board.

The basic discussion is one that posits that “Accurate Information” should be provided, species by species, on Point-Of-Purchase Signs.  Inaccurate information leads to poor husbandry of fish.  Misinformation creates improper stocking of tanks.  Stunting, disease, death, and shortened life spans are all a direct result of misleading and false consumer advertising.

A couple of letters have been posted in the other threads detailing the information on just a few of the species.  The few examples are indicative of the problems on the vast majority of the in-store signs.

People have wondered if we have yet to receive a response.  The answer has been a consistent “not yet”.  And, when the reply comes it is expected to a non-responsive deflection of the issue.  Basically a “we will look into it” answer.

A reply did arrive.  It lived up to the expectation.  It was the perfunctory show of concern with the simple statement  “…your concerns…have been brought to the attention of our Management Team.  They periodically review our signage…and will make changes as appropriate on the next review”.

A Product Care Specialist sent the response.  The letters were addressed to several senior level managers.  PetSmart finds it more convenient to let low-level employees speak in answer to correspondence to corporate officers.  It makes one wonder just what will be “changes as appropriate”.

We need your help.  It is the request, once again, to send letters to PetSmart calling for an immediate review and revision of signage.  Fishkeepers cannot permit PetSmart to decide when to correct a problem.  We deserve honest advertising and technical information.  We do not deserve to be routinely misled until they find it convenient to change their business practice.  Unknowing hobbyists do not deserve to be deceived until PetSmart finds it fits their budget to make a change. 

Responsible fish care starts at the store.  Right now it starts with misinformation that only leads to irresponsible and inadequate care.  You can make a difference.  You can help create a change.  Send letters to PetSmart voicing your displeasure.

is now on-line (at least partially).  We finalized a few of the pages and created a temporary welcome page in order to more fully discuss the reasoning behind the campaign, to share the full text of the response from PetSmart (not a whole lot there), display letters that have been sent, and provide a couple of sample formats if you do not have time to draft your own.

If you don’t make it to the site we ask you to include a couple of things in every letter.  First a topic line that reads RE:  POP Signage – Accuracy in Information.  And, if possible copy our avatar and place it in the upper right corner of the letter.  Those two simple steps will help PetSmart understand that fishkeepers are beginning to speak with a unified voice demanding a change and we won’t be easily deflected with the perfunctory PR Reply.

Follow the only active links at  Names of PetSmart Senior Management, as well as address info can be found there.  As the next couple of week’s progress the site will change—but we will strive to make it a quick, easy, and enlightening resource.


  • #11
HI Sully, and thanks for this message I agree with you and with the website.

] is now on-line (at least partially).  We finalized a few of the pages and created a temporary welcome page in order to more fully discuss the reasoning behind the campaign, to share the full text of the response from PetSmart (not a whole lot there), display letters that have been sent, and provide a couple of sample formats if you do not have time to draft your own.

I don't see any sample formats of the letters on this website, and I can't click on the options on the top. The option "Petsmart" doesn't work either.
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Try it now. I was editing at the time and that may have messed things up for a bit.

Here's the page for sample letters:
  • #13
Thank you, it works now I've one question though: since they'll get a lot of letters of the same theme (especially if we use templates), is it necessary for me to write my name and address down? Can I make my letters anonymous? I already know what the answer will be like, so I am not so much expecting the answer as I am expecting a collective act by as many people as possible to send the letters. The more of the letters are sent, the better the chances that the stores will actually try and effect some changes in the way they treat fish and provide information to the customers.
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
If you want to be anonymous that's fine. The only thing that matters is that letters actually get sent.
  • #15
The only thing that matters is that letters actually get sent.

Precisely my point.
  • #16
I understand your concern. Maybe sign your name--and then withold any other identifying info. If everybody starts sending in anonymous letters it could be construed as nothing more than a spam event. And I never want them to be able to use that line. Because above all--this is not a spam event. Then keep a log of the letters you have sent. That way we don't look like people sending petitions with phony names.

just my thought--of course do what you think is best for you.
  • #17
I have found however that personal letters make for of an impact then a form letter. Another good idea could be to take a picture of the sign in the store with the incorrect info on it and then also attach a photocopy of the correct info as well as stayting the the source of the info. Specific examples give them something to go on. Just my opinion
  • #18
we accept all ideas--lol.

You will need to be careful taking photos of signs. Some stores may not allow it.

You are right--form letters are not always as effective. We have ben urging people to write from their own experience and knowledge for many weeks. The other side of the coin, however, is thta some people do not shop PetSmart--they go to another retailer--but they support the goal we are trying to achieve. The sample letters can be cut and pasted then edited to create uour own. Or a letter like #3 hits the topic from a more generic perspective. And, people may support the effort but not feel comfortable writing their own letter. We are trying to give people options so that the largest possible response occurs.
  • #19
completley understand
Jim W
  • #20
I envy your passion for the hobby.

I recently saw 2 strangely mis-labeled fish at Petsmart and just chuckeled about it with my wife and son. They had both small puffers and a species of polypterus labeled as "community fish".

Think of the surprise when someone took home that poly, proudly watching it grow only to wake one day and have it be the only fish reamaining in their tank. :-X

  • #21
I guess it is in part a passion for the hobby. And, in part compassion for hobbyists. I have spent years on-line. Most of that time spent trying to diagnose tank and fish problems through the computer. Many new and long time ,but inexperienced hobbyists, don't have any contact with fishkeeping except through the big boxes. The frustration and anger they develop trying to keep fish alive when working with inaccurate and frequently wrong information is almost painful to hear about. I have developed a mental of a land fill somewhere in New Jersey completley covered by aquariums, filters and fish stuff piled to the sky.

Accurate information being provided by the retailers would end some of the problems for consumers that thought they wanted to keep fish. It might even let them find out they actually enjoy the hobby. Who knows, maybe they would even keep at it for longer than 6-12 months.

The other side of it is definitely the fish. the information about species and stocking is so ambiguous and often wrong that tanks are stocked with fish tearing chunks of fins and flesh from other fish once they make it to their new "home". Its almost like selling someone a lion and a lamb and telling them that it is okay to put them in the same cage together. If that happened people would line up in protest. animal control departments would be confiscating livestock and shutting down the store. It seems with fish the attitude is who really cares--they are just fish. I guess that is my biggest passion. the total diregard of fish as a legitimate life form with any use other than retail profit.
  • #22
I have developed a mental of a land fill somewhere in New Jersey completley covered by aquariums, filters and fish stuff piled to the sky.
Wow where is that?  I've been wanting a new tank or 5!
  • #23
not sure where in jersey--but it has to be jersey--lol. maybe east undershirt.
  • #24
An interesting reaction has been voiced on other boards, in e.mails, and in chats.

Some people are not sure if they agree with the letter writing to PetSmart. Not because they disagree with accurate information concept. Rather as a matter of focus.

The people are asking why not the entire population of mass merchandisers, regional chains, and the mom and pops? Why limit it to POP Signage? Why not address Painted Fish, Hybrids, pH up and down products, the over use of meds created by easy availability, and the other "useless" products sold to new and less well informed hobbyists?

A couple of people, serious minded fishkeepers, have asked why not push for a much bigger goal, the elimination of mass merchandisers as resellers of fish?

The goal of the "Accuracy In Information" push, for me, goes well beyond POP Signage. My goal is that all retailers are required to provide accurate information about the fish and all the products they sell. But, to achieve success and attainment of goals you have to figure out the steps required to realize them.

A lot of us hear the rhetoric spouted by the sports rookies that are taken with early picks on "draft day" in professional sports. We hear one kid tell how he is not only going to take his team to the championship game, but he is going to score the winning points--usually in the last seconds of the game. Then we here other rookies say how grateful they are just to be drafted. Then express their commitment to just making the team and becoming a good team mate.

Almost overnight it seems the championship game is being played. Nowhere to be found is the guy with all the hype. Instead it is the guy that was drafted and just committed himself to the small first step scoring the winning points as the clock expires.

Both of the guys picked early in the draft had the same goal. Both had a big dream. One understood how to achieve it. Small steps at a time.

There could be a push to send letters to every retailer. With a lot of messages about how they sell to the public. That is what has been happening for years. Hobbyist's get ticked off, concerned, or upset. They pen a letter, vent therI frustration, and that is the last of it.

A lot of people have the goal.
A few have taken a step to realize that goal.
Very few will realize success.

The goal is "Accuracy In Information" at all retail locations. Letters to a single retailer is a tool to help achieve visibility hobby wide. It is a tool to gain the attention of the largest, most responsible, Pet retailer in the trade. Without someone paying attention, and then thinking about the issue--nothing will happen. We will have the same situation. This is not an attack on a retailer. This is an effort to help them see that there is a fundamental error in the materials they utilize. An error most likely shared across an industry.

If we can help the leader see the mistake--or share with us why it is not a mistake--then real change occurs. Once change is accomplished with a single retailer the others become easier to educate. Other retailers will be more open to making what fishkeepers see as required change. The push for sending letters to PetSmart is not an attack. It is a campaign to help an industry leader realize the concerns of its' customer base. And to realize the concerns of fishkeepers as an entire community.

Hopefully you will join a growing community of fishkeepers taking the first, small, step to the realization of of common goals.

Don't think that the letters to PetSmart are the last letters you will be asked to send. Think of them as the first of many as each of us in the hobby helps institute responsible retail trade practices.

Send a letter. Please.

Keep it positive. This is an effort to work with -- not against a company.
  • Thread Starter
  • #25
We've finished putting together an page with a list of all the sites that are up to this point involved in the Accuracy In Information campaign. It's a great list.

Right now we're putting together a discussion forum that will focus exclusively on retail trade practices relating to fish-keeping. We will be inviting all the retailers to join the forum so that it is an even-handed approach. Our goal is not to pillory retailers, especially PetSmart. PetSmart does so many positive things. Perhaps if we can get consumers and retailers together on neutral ground something good can come out of it. Not only in regard to POP signage, but to issues like appropriate community tank setups, staff education, hybrid and painted/dyed fish, over use and improper use of medications as a result of availability.....the list is long.

Accuracy in information is about fish welfare, appropriate treatment, and responsible husbandry. We hope PetSmart helps us by taking the lead in the retail market.

Please send a letter if you haven't, and if you have thank you, and keep sending them.
  • #26
have you sent a letter yet--lol.
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
The forum's now live. If you'd like to stop by and see what all is going on please do. Our on-line communities page is continuing to expand. Soon we'll have a club/association page up.

Don't forget to send a letter.
  • #28
Over 10,000 hits on this and similar threads during the past several weeks. People say they are even sending letters--lol. And, getting a standard reply. So, here is the letter of the week we are hoping people e.mail or send via snail mail.
Mr. Kenneth T. Hall
Sr. Vice President, Merchandising
PetSmart, Inc.
19601 North 27th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027

RE: Accuracy In Information

Dear Mr. Hall,
I am aware of the PetSmart reply to recent correspondence discussing Responsible Husbandry and Humane Treatment as they relate to fish. The reply is interesting:

“…your concerns have been brought to the attention of our Management Team. They periodically review our signage and care guide information and will make changes as appropriate on the next review.”

I have a several questions concerning the reply:

• Are these the same Managers that reviewed and approved existing signage?
• Will your company utilize new information that more accurately reflects the true nature and
characteristics of the fish you sell?
• When is the planned review?
• Would you welcome an outside review of your existing information prepared by individuals
concerned with the accuracy of what is currently provided?
• Is there a date to expect revised signage that may be shared with members of dozens of on-line
fishkeeping communities?

Mr. Hall, experienced fishkeepers would willingly work with PetSmart, in a cooperative spirit, to assist your company with the development of the appropriate information required for the responsible care and husbandry of Tropical Fish.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


cc. Robert F. Moran
Barbara Fitzgerald
Mary Miller


Fish are not flushable. They are not consumables or disposables. Consumers deserve Accurate Information. Fish deserve Responsible Husbandry. Without the first the second simply won't happen.

Postal address is above.

Join in and help the hobby.
  • Thread Starter
  • #29
There are things that you can work to change. POP signage is one of them. We need retailers to provide accurate information.

Have you sent your letter this week?

We have samples you can use as is or borrow bits and pieces from and then compose your own.
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
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.
  • Thread Starter
  • #31
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 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.
  • #32
or maybe even:

•Texas Cichlid / Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum / Speimen in excess of 6"TL
  • Thread Starter
  • #33
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 verbatI'm 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.
  • #34
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 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 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 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.


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.
  • #35
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.
  • #36
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.
  • #37
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.
  • #38
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.


Mr. JI'm 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.



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.


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.
  • #39
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.

I have enjoyed the process of the review.  Albeit longer than either of us expected.  The people at No Clowns In A 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. 

we will post the final result at our site when possible.  don't forget to send PETCO e.mail
  • #40
I'm mailing my very positive, mostly constructive letter to Mr. Hall on Monday. Guppygranny.

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