Freshwater Fish - Best Way To Acquire Them

  • #1

Relatively new to the aquarium world. Where is the best place to get freshwater fish? The chain pet stores are an option I know, but is there any other resource that's reliable and consistent?

I'd like to purchase a labeo bicolor (red-tailed shark) tomorrow. At this point, my plan is simply to go a chain pet store and see if I get lucky. Or is this a very common fish that a typical pet store would have?

Thanks in advance for the help.
  • #2
Well, most of us here tend to prefer local stores over chains. But if a chain is all you have, your only other option is ordering online, and that can be expensive and/or impossible depending on where you live.

If you do go with a chain store, I'd recommend making sure none of their fish show any signs of ich or disease. Then quarantine the fish when you get home, if you can.

As for a red-tailed shark, those are pretty common, at least IME.

What size tank do you have? I believe a 55 gallon is the minimum for a red-tailed shark.
  • #3
Is reccomend a good local fish specific store over a chain store. Typically LFS have better quality fish than chains. Granted it may not be worth it for one fish, purchasing online is a good option as well. There’s some really good online stores like Wetspot with good quality fish.

I’m not sure why we need to know the tank sizethough, since this is a question regarding where to purchase a fish. Unless I missed soemthing?
  • #4
Because the OP mentioned that he's new, and people don't always realize that the fish they want will grow too large for their tank.
  • #5
Because the OP mentioned that he's new, and people don't always realize that the fish they want will grow too large for their tank.
Still wasn’t the related to the asked question. If this was my thread I’d be a bit irritated and consider it a bit rude getting asked questions that aren’t related to the thread, unless I asked for advice and such or the giver of advice asked if I wanted it.
  • #6
Good thing it isn't your thread, then.

So many people get into the hobby and get fish like a red-tailed shark for their 10 gallon tank, and then are surprised when they read about minimum tank sizes on sites like FL. They either have to make a return, upgrade the tank, or simply allow the fish to stunt and live a painful, short life. By asking a preemptive question, to someone who plainly stated that they were new, I was attempting to ensure they wouldn't run into the problems listed above later, get discouraged, and leave the hobby like so many people do.

Let's not clutter OP's thread with this. If you're truly bothered, PM me, and we can discuss it there.
  • #7
We really don't have any "mom and pop" stores (I call them that because chain stores in my town are local and support people who live and work there) so my only option is to shop at chain stores. Our local Petco is better than the Petsmart. Seems like our Petsmart has a revolving door of high school kids who really don't know anything whereas the Petco has 3 people who work in the fish department and are awesome. I don't know about the PS, but the local Petco will also order anything legal that they can get, even if they don't regularly stock it for whatever reason.

I ALWAYS support local when I can, and that includes chain stores. Those people that work there live in the community.
  • #8
For what it’s worth I thought asking the tank size was appropriate. If I was new, had a 20 gallon, I would want to know the red tail shark needs a 55. Would also like to know they get aggressive.

To the OP: the red tail shark is a very hardy species. If I was in the market for one, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one from a chain store.

Most like lfs because they are run by people that have been in the hobby for years. But the help they hire, not so much.

I have a lfs that I had bought 40+ fish from over 6 months and never lost a fish. I drive the 45 minutes each way because of this.
  • #9
Working at a LFS, I can tell you some stocking horror stories. Like two 6 inch Peacock Cichlids in a 10 gallon. If someone is asking where to even get fish (not that it’s a bad thing, it’s a good question), they likely are not stocking experts. Rarely will you ever see full grown fish in chain stores, or even private stores. It doesn’t hurt to point out how large they get. It’s not like he ignored the question and didn’t offer any advice. Sorry to stir the pot, but I point things like this out with customers as I think everyone should to newcomers.

OP, if you can find reputable fish only stores, definitely go with them first. However, it doesn’t always mean they’re the best. My store is a chain (not Petco or Petsmart) and we have the best fish in the City, by far. Our store just got lucky with employees who are genuinely interested in fish and everything about aquariums. Corporate doesn’t care about fish, so if my coworkers and I weren’t into fish, this store would be terrible for fish. Like most Petsmart and Petco.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Thanks for all the responses! Very helpful. And thank you for sharing the stipulation regarding this species and tank size. I have a 75-gallon so we're good there. It's good to know that's something to consider (tank size relative to species) in adding fish going forward, as I was unaware.
  • #11
Awesome starter size! I wish I had something that big to start with, sadly, I only had a 5 gallon.
  • #12
Awesome starter size! I wish I had something that big to start with, sadly, I only had a 5 gallon.
Wow that's a huge difference to 75G!
  • #13
The chain stores by me "petco/mart" won't order different fish or plants, not even ones that already carry in the store.
Just have to go there and hope they have xx of xx fish in stock and buy the same day.

I found a LFS, prices were about 1.25$ cheaper for the neons I was looking at (adds up when you want 20+)
There was no "2 week live guarantee" but they can order stuff they don't stock and can add on to their normal orders if I want a lot of something.
Also they had better help, chain stores don't always have "fish" employees. Often will have to send the "Register" person over to come net fish.
Not good for advice.
  • #14
Yeah at my store we’ll order anything if you ask.
  • #15
My advice is to see if you can find a local fish store - not a chain store. I also recommend browsing facebook to see if there are any local fish groups or maybe craigslist etc. You may be able to find local breeders or even a regular fish swap meet this way. Then there's of course shopping online. Aquabid and ebay are ok places to start looking but there are also lots of websites like liveaquaria aquaticarts and wetspot to choose from.

FYI chain stores usually have better prices on tanks ($ per gallon sales) and other aquarium odds and ends than a lfs in my experience. But I get a lot of aquarium supplies used from craigslist, yard sales, and swap meets.
  • #16
I think you might want to call some LFS to see if they have them available. The last thing you want to do is drive and find out they don’t have any and suddenly buy a fish you had didn’t want.
  • #17
Very glad to hear you're starting with such a large tank!
  • #18
Hey, there are always places online that will ship fish. I only ever buy online, myself, but I realize that some people may not have that option. Anyway, if that's something you can do, you can get some great fish from reputable online retailers.

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