Harm Reduction for Over-Stocked Newbie Tanks

poeticinjustices

I've opened this thread for community discussion based on a conversation with another member in another thread after I made a return/rehome recommendation. It's not my intention to start a fire-storm, but I think that people are going to have a lot of opinions on it. My intention here is not to debate whether or not it's okay to over-stock tanks. I think we can all agree that it makes things very difficult for all fish and people involved and it's best not to encourage it. It's the biggest rookie mistake second only to not understanding the nitrogen cycle. I did it. Generally, the recommendation for an over-stocked tank is to return or re-home the fish. There's no argument here about the benefits of finding a suitable home for a fish in an over-stocked tank, but I am challenging the concept of returning a fish back to the pet store, particularly large chain pet stores which are, at the very best, hit or miss when it comes to quality pet care. However, the nature of the fish store, be they an LFS or a large chain pet-store, is to move product. They stock what sells and they stock a lot of it and I'm curious as to whether or not returning a fish to even a reputable LFS is a good idea.

Walk into ANY pet store- LFS, LPS or CPS (my new acronym, chain pet store, assuming it hasn't been created yet)- and there can be little doubt that the species of fish in the most dire of straights are the goldfish and the bettas. Bettas are kept in tupperware, tiny, unfiltered and unheated. Goldfish may as well be. Their tanks may be the same size or even bigger than the other tanks in the store but there are far more of them crammed into every square inch of it than there are in any other fish tank. Add to that the incredible bio-load of these fish (whom I happen to love) and their stocking situation is even more grossly out of proportion. Ever been to an LFS, LPS or CPS right as they get in their new goldfish stock? It might be easy to miss how bad the situation is because many of the fish rapidly die off and the tanks begin to thin out, but truth is in the timing. Freshly stocked goldfish tanks are a site to behold, like a train wreck you just can't take your eyes off of. Some of the fish are super stressed from the trip, gasping at the surface, some are already dead and being picked away at by other fish. Still others are clearly injured from bullying by other goldfish, normally a rather peaceful species, who are probably only bullying because they are stressed too. And then there's the disease. You've all seen it.

It would take A LOT for a newb fish owner to over-stock to this degree and most people recognize that this level of stocking doesn't make for a beautiful aquarium even while the fish are alive and healthy. We typically stock our tanks in a manner that allows us to at least see them interacting with the environment we've created without being smooshed up together. So it's generally fair to say, I think, that typically the over-stocking error made by a newb is not anywhere near as bad as the over-stocking that occurs in pet stores.

So, what's the solution to their over-stocked new tank? Return or re-home. Let's be really honest for a moment about the reality of re-homing a fish for a newbie fish-keeper, who is unlikely to know many experienced and qualified fish-keepers. If they did, it's likely they would have known enough not to over-stock their tank in the first place. There are places you can post your fish like Craigslist but it's something that takes time, to be sure. It's unlikely they are going to find someone to take a fish off of their hands, particularly a fish so readily available at all kinds of pet stores. Plus, most of the time newbie owners just want their fish and don't want to wait to re-home a fish when they can just return them.

Now, let's talk about the return. I've been recently made aware that it's common practice, particularly among CPSs, to "cull" (read: flush and leave to die a slow death in the sewers) return fish or simply put them in the feeder tank. I've only heard this from one member so you can definitely correct me on this if you know better but it does make sense if you think about it with low resale value fish like goldies and bettas. When this doesn't happen, then they either get put in QT or directly back into the for-sale tanks. Where they are, once again, over-stocked. Only now it's exponentially worse and the propensity for disease and death and generally poor quality of life is also infinitely higher.

Let's look for a moment at the newbie member of FishLore. He or she has just posted a thread showing off and asking for help on their new tank. We take a look and we see it's over-stocked. Or, it will be when the fish grow. We feel compelled to do our duty and let them know this. That is a good thing. I am not arguing that we don't do our best to educate people on the reality of their situation. They've come to the more veteran members of FishLore for a reason, it's absolutely fair to be honest with them. I'm only suggesting that we take a harm-reduction approach and provide a more comprehensive view of their options and let them make an informed decision. It's easy to lose sight of the reality of the life that awaits the pet store fish when you've been successfully keeping your own fish for awhile. This new member has come to FishLore because they care enough to want to do it right. That's a really good starting point. With the exception of grievously over-stocked tanks, many newb keepers do not actually have over-stocked tanks yet. But they will in awhile when the fish grow.

For many of us, even me who is totally new at this, we started off with a couple fish. As our education grew so did our attachment to our fish grow. This relationship between fish keeper and fish takes time but it is real. Your fish know your presence, their routine, react to you. They are family pets and I would like to think that MOST new fishkeepers who have taken the time to come to a wonderful community like FishLore, have the potential to feel that love and attachment for their fish as well. As that feeling grows, so does our desire to do right by our fish. I just purchased a 75 gallon for my tank that is not yet over-stocked technically but will be when the fish grow. I'm that committed to them. Most of you are too. Whose to say someone else can't be even if maybe they don't appear to be at first? How many of us knew how dedicated we'd become to this hobby, how it becomes more than just a hobby but rather an indispensable part of you, when we started out?

I am starting to believe the best thing we can do for a newbie fish-keeper with a somewhat or soon-to-be overstocked tank is, first, let them know it's over-stocked. Second, recommend re-homing if possible. Third, provide them with helpful education on how to maintain an over-stocked tank at least until a more suitable home can be purchased or found. The first 2 are no problem on FishLore, but I'm not really seeing the third happen. In fact, it didn't even occur to me, who is CURRENTLY a newb and maintaining an over-stocked tank temporarily, to help someone else learn that it is possible. There should be no misleading the newb fish-keeper into thinking it will be easy, especially if the tank is uncycled, but it can be done and it's really not THAT hard especially with the support of an amazing community of people like the members of FishLore. I'm starting to realize that the absolute last recommendation made should be to return the fish to the store. If that's the case, we may as well tell them to euthanize the fish then and there because, more than likely, that's what's going to happen to the fish back at the pet store, particularly with a goldfish or a betta, only it's going to be slower and more agonizing. Even euthanizing the fish a year or so later when it becomes too big for its enclosure is a better option, at least then the first will have been given some measure of love and care in its brief life. At least the fish will have spent some time being fed, tended to and given direct attention and love before it passes on. And I'm hard-pressed to believe that someone who cares enough to come onto FishLore is going to have the stomach to do that to a healthy fish they've kept for awhile rather than find it a new home or upgrade their tanks. We all know how our fish become fixtures in our lives. We grieve for them, go through extraordinary lengths to save them when they're injured or sick and we usually end up buying or finding them better enclosures down the line when we've been given the time to grow attached and the education to do better. There's no reason to believe a newbie fishkeeper on FishLore wouldn't be willing to do the same given time.

I don't see much benefit in encouraging people to return their fish to the pet store just because their tank is a little over-stocked anymore. Now it's one thing if the tank is empty and they are asking what to stock it with, but if they've already made the purchase...it seems we'd be sending the fish to a far worse fate in doing so most especially for goldfish and bettas. Instead, I'd rather focus on helping the new fish keeper learn the reality of their situation and that is IS possible to maintain a tank that's not TOO over-stocked using good filtration, proper feeding and more diligent tank maintenance. Most newb fish keepers tend to keep tanks no more than 29 gallons. It's not hard to do a couple extra water changes a week and get a better filter on tanks of that size and, more than likely, after seeing all the beautiful healthy tanks on this site and getting to know their fish, they'll WANT to upgrade given the chance. If not, then they've at least bought the time to rehome them. And yes, I even believe that euthanizing the fish once its grown too large is starting to look like a better option than returning them to the CPS. At least then they'll have known a happy life for a little while. The LFS is a little different as it tends to be staffed and shopped by more knowledgeable fish-keepers, in which case I would encourage the newb to talk to their LFS about how they handle returned fish, and make an informed decision from there. But including returning the fish as one of the first viable options for resolving over-stocked tanks before all other resources have been exhausted just seems far too limiting, in my opinion.

I JUST made the rehome or return recommendation on this site, and I feel icky inside about it. Fortunately the member I made it to had the heart and presence of mind to re-home one and bring the other to a reputable LFS from which they didn't originally purchase it and where it stands a chance of finding a more suitable home, but honestly that's no thanks to me. And I think that a person actually willing to do that maybe should have been given the chance to hear that the tank isn't yet over-stocked and can be maintained quite well with a little extra work, And maybe I should actively recommended that they do this before returning it to the CPS from whence it came and allow them to make a decision from there, and support them in whatever they choose. And I've seen these return or rehome recommendations made here before on other threads and I have to wonder if we're really doing the right thing by suggesting they return the fish. FishLore is an amazing place and I do not, for one moment, mean to undermine the expertise of the people who have been keeping fish for FAAAAAAAAAR longer than I, so if you can offer me a reason why it's better to include returning the fish as one of the first recommended options for dealing with an over-stocked tank over good education on how to maintain an over-stocked tank (or soon to be overstocked tank) for a time, I'm totally open to it.

This doesn't necessarily apply to fish that are pretty much guaranteed to find a home with an experienced fish-keeper, but with fish like goldfish and bettas at a CPS who will most likely either die at the store or go to another inexperienced owner with an over-stocked and uncycled tank (who may not ever find their way to FishLore or another forum for help), maybe it's best the fish stay with the FishLore Newbie who has come to this community to learn how to properly care for his or her new fish.

If we're going to direct our energies anywhere, I am really starting to feel it should be on encouraging people not to buy fish from a CPS if it can be avoided, not to give them our business in the first place. Even at the very best LFSs, I've seen goldfish and bettas wither away and die. Not because their tanks and tupperwares aren't maintained at least somewhat adequately, but because their lives are so poor and empty, they literally lose the will to live it.

With the help of the amazing people in this community, I have somehow managed to cycle my first goldfish tank. Which is over-stocked and was uncycled when I put fish in. I knew about the nitrogen cycle, but it's not the same as experiencing one and I didn't fully appreciate how dangerous it was. And many of you know how panicked and obsessive I have been, and I'm not saying I want this for another newb, but a little education and reassurance goes a very long way. For 6 weeks I put in the effort to keep my fish safe during this process as best I could, but most of that decision was made in the first few weeks prior to finding FishLore and I wonder if I wouldn't have just returned the fish myself had that been suggested to me by a forum full of people who know much more than me about fish-keeping before I got the chance to get to know my fabulous fish. And I would have missed out, because I absolutely adore my fancies. Since my cycle was already headed into the final phases and I already posted my intention to upgrade, rather than recommend returning the fish, you guys got me through the cycle. I am so grateful for all the help that was provided to me here for that and now I am moving the fish into a much better tank because I've grown to love them not only by way of their own cute factor but by way of witnessing your passion and dedication to your fish. There's little reason why we can't foster that in other newbie members in the same situation, as far as I can tell. Certainly some new members will make the decision to return their fish, and that's their right, but maybe others will be willing to commit the time and energy necessary to maintain an over-stocked tank for awhile rather than send the fish back to certain death.

There are of course exceptions. New members who have over-stocked community tanks with incompatible fish will most certainly see those and themselves to misery. So it needs to be done, to some degree, on a case-by-case basis. I know this. And not all fish keepers who come to FishLore will end up being as dedicated as many of the people here, but sometimes they have to be given the chance the really warm up to their fish before deciding to give it an ideal habitat, and I think any person who is willing to return the fish to the store or here out the members here because he or she has been told the fish will be unhappy because the tank is over-stocked stands a chance of taking very good care of their fish and maybe even getting THAT fish the right tank when the time comes and MTS has set in. And veteran fish-keepers have the opportunity to foster that good intention in newb fish-keepers by helping them learn how to maintain an over-stocked fish tank in the mean time. Anyway, it's more humane than returning them to a CPS, I see that now, especially if they are one of the more terribly abused and "expendable" species in pet stores like goldfish and bettas.

I hope my intention is made clear here and that I haven't offended the people who have been so helpful to me because I am BEYOND grateful for the extraordinary insight and patience and feel truly privileged to witness and become a part of the passionate many. It's just something that has been sitting on my mind since the thread I mentioned where I followed suit after many others before me and made the return or rehome recommendation (again stressing the rehoming if possible is not the folly in this recommendation, the returning is) where I think a rehome or learn how to maintain (at least for a time) recommendation would have been better advice and I felt the need to share this perspective. And if I've overlooked any important factor here that makes recommending returning the fish a good enough decision that it shouldn't be our very last recommendation and should come before offering insight on how to maintain an over-stocked tank, please let me know. If I sound completely ignorant here, I'm always willing to learn why. These feelings have come on the heels of MY OWN return/rehome recommendation, but I know I'm not the only one to make one under these circumstances, and I'm open to hearing and reasons as to why my change of heart might be ill-advised, however well intentioned it may be.

If you've made it to the end of my most epically long posting yet, thank you all for your time and attention

-EndDiabtribe-
 

Claire Bear

Hi, I get what you are saying, I really do.
I have a concern. Some newbies with an overstocked tank and a will to learn may be able to help their fish survive to larger and more appropriate homes. However, more will probably become frustrated with their venture into fishkeeping never to return once disease or frustration has caused their tank to succumb to common problems related with overstocking.
It is too easy to blame an outbreak of disease on the stock that was purchased. While that can certainly be the case, it can also be a by product of inappropriate housing. I am not saying that the LFS has the better home but they usually do have the better filtration system. They also have access to treatment readily available if they are knowledgeable as to the need.
I will always advise to return stock if possible or rehome. I agree that if you have an overstocked tank and want to try to keep it that way until another option opens up, then by all means get filtration, filtration, filtration!
And water change, water change , water change!
However, be prepared to run into stress induced fishy medical issues and disease. Swim bladder problems, ick, and other issues will menace the stressed fish!
Return or rehome or keep. Tough call!
 

Lucy

What a well thought out post.

In my area CPSs (I really like that acronym!) won't take back live fish.
What they get is drop offs.
They come to open the store to find a huge fish in a bowl sitting at their door abandoned.
One LFS does and adds them back to their stock another does as well.
For the latter, depending on the species and size it either goes into their huge display tank or back into the tanks they came from.

One thing to keep in mind is that not everyone has the space, means or parental permission to upgrade especially if we talk about the larger species.
Common plecos, goldies, and Bala Sharks for example.

In a perfect fish world we could (and do) help and advise on how to maintain an overstocked tank until the tank can be upgraded but sadly even with the best intentions, life happens and that long coveted huge tank never materializes.

In that scenario the fish are at risk of getting sick, being stunted and/or just not enough volume of water to handle the waste production

This may seem like a pessimistic attitude and I don't mean it as such but being on the forum and in the hobby for a little longer we've seen the best intentions gone awry.

It's easier to re-home or return a 2 inch pleco than it is a foot long one.
At that point a person would be lucky to find a fish store that will take it or fish keeper who has the space to house one.

This is not to discount your wonderful thread or ideas and no offence is taken.
 

poeticinjustices

Hi, I get what you are saying, I really do.
I have a concern. Some newbies with an overstocked tank and a will to learn may be able to help their fish survive to larger and more appropriate homes. However, more will probably become frustrated with their venture into fishkeeping never to return once disease or frustration has caused their tank to succumb to common problems related with overstocking.
It is too easy to blame an outbreak of disease on the stock that was purchased. While that can certainly be the case, it can also be a by product of inappropriate housing. I am not saying that the LFS has the better home but they usually do have the better filtration system. They also have access to treatment readily available if they are knowledgeable as to the need.
I will always advise to return stock if possible or rehome. I agree that if you have an overstocked tank and want to try to keep it that way until another option opens up, then by all means get filtration, filtration, filtration!
And water change, water change , water change!
However, be prepared to run into stress induced fishy medical issues and disease. Swim bladder problems, ick, and other issues will menace the stressed fish!
Return or rehome or keep. Tough call!

Absolutely 100% true. We want more people in this FANTASTIC hobby and we don't want to over-whelm them. And most often pet stores do have better filtration (though I dunno what the comparison would be if you actually did the math on how miuch fish received how much filtration).

This is all why my primary argument is for education. I've never new (NOTE: this is a typo, but I'm not sure what I meant to say so I can't correct it HAHA) fish-keepers on here and actually take the advice of the members. So, for example...

Newbie FishKeeper: Hello all. This is my new 20 gallon goldfish tank, I have 2 little common goldfish in it. But I put them in and now I'm learning about something called the nitrogen cycle? Help! I don't want to hurt my fishies...

(haha I'm not so good at impressions)

FishLore Community: Welcome to FishLore Newbie! We're glad you came here for help and can definitely get you through it if you'll stick with thus (this is my favorite aspect of FishLore, the follow through). There are some things we feed we need to let you know. The first and most important is that you should know your tanks are over-stocked, common goldfish need LOTS of room because they like to swim really fast and also produce enormous waste, plus man do they grow! We tell you this because you have a few choices here. The first is to re-home your fish if you can, a pond is preferable but someone with a big tank will do. You don't have to do it right away necessarily, and you don't have to do it at all if you think you're going to upgrade your tank down the line (we all have haha) but it will create some extra work for you down the line, including more frequent and larger PWCs and better filtration until and unless you decided you want to upgrade. Your tank isn't over-stocked yet, but it will be in think. I've included a link to a goldfish growth chart to help you in your decision (side note: a member did this for me a very long time ago in offering me a growth chart so I knew what I was facing, it was quite helpful, but I haven't seen it offered up since). Now, if you decide to keep your little guy until he either gets too big or you find a home for him. There are certain risks that come with over-stocking if they aren't looked after properly, these are what they are [insert stunting, stress, illness shpeal here]. We can help you figure out a good maintenance routine that isn't too back-breaking and we can recommend some excellent ways to boost your filtration for the tank, many of them totally inexpensive (like those plastic pot scrubbers for bio-media, those were AWESOME) and this will help reduce that risk. It's certainly possible to maintain an over-stocked tank for awhile, but it's generally a bit more difficult. If you think you can handle it, and it's certainly possible and has been done, then we're here to support you and help you figure out the best way to do that. There are many members who started out a with a goldfish tank over-stocked, I'm going to "mention" some of them here so they can give you their experience if you'd like. If not, then another option is to return your new fishy. If you do this, we support you all the same and can help you figure out new stock that can live the rest of their lives in your new aquarium. Do try to check with your CPS on what the policy is on returning fish and what they do with them. Sometimes it's worse than keeping them, so know that some LFSs will actually take the little guy, even if you didn't buy them from there (I was really excited to learn this new member's LFS did this) and you might want to try them so your fish has a better chance of finding a new home. So you have lots of choices, and there really isn't a wrong one, it's a just a matter of what you think you can handle (I think if we're comfortable letting people know what the long-term and short-term consequences of over-stocking fish are- stunting, namely- we also should be comfortable letting people know what the result is in returning fish. This last part being predicated on the revelation that returned goldfish are simply "culled" or stuck in the awful feeder tank, which I think is probably more likely at a CPS.). Then of course there's the shpeal about the nitrogen cycle too.

See where the difference is? Most of that is what we do already. Except for that tid-bit that says it can be done if you're willing to put in the little bit of extra work and open to re-homing or upgrading when the time comes. I am talking about a response that doesn't discourage or encourage anything (I think haha), but I've offered a comprehensive idea of what it means. And let the newb decide whether it's going to be too much work for him or her. He might just say, "yeah, I wanted a hardy, easy fish that I could keep in this tank, so I'm just going to take him back" or he might say "you know, I think I can do the work for awhile and when he gets too big, I'll find him a new home or I might even get him a bigger tank." Or maybe he'll be really stubborn, keep the fish and not do the work and the fish will die. I'm still not completely certain this is a fate worse than going back to a CPS for goldies and other severely over-stocked fish. It's the choice and the comprehensive education that matters.

I think I'm mostly just talking about goldies and bettas here, because plecos and bala sharks aren't usually so heavily stocked at the store that they are likely to die there. At least not at the stores I've seen. But everyone's locale varies, so maybe I'm missing that point.

You guys, it hurts my heart that I even had to think about this. Newbies make mistakes and it kills me that sometimes rectifying those mistakes for the newbie means a death sentence for the fish. Seriously, shame on most CPSs for how they treat their fish particularly those with bigger needs.
Lucy - I didn't know about the drop-offs, but again it makes sense that's what people do. It's awesome that your LFS does this with strange fish that have been dropped off, that's why I think it all depends on what you've got in your area. Now I'm going to call my LFS and an LPS I go to with a good reputation, and see what they do with returned/abandoned fishies. I'm really curious to know.

Haha I felt kind of "diabtribe hung over" when I woke up this morning and was afraid to check this page thinking, "Oh god what have I done!" haha. Once again I'm reminded the FL is filled with a non-judgmental group of people who are willing to hear all sides. And I know you all have been dealing with newb fish-keepers A LOT longer than me, so I take your experience to heart. I'm just suggesting that we expand our recommendations to include the idea that maintaining an over-stocked tank IS possible with an honest description of what both keeping and returning the fish might mean for the newb. This is why re-homing is the absolute best option, in my opinion, but sometimes you gotta buy the fishkeeper a little time do it
 

sheilashoelady

I am not lucky enough to have a LPS or LFS nearby, but the CPS that I am most fond is is really quite good with this. They will not put returned fish back into the stock tanks, but they keep them all in a big adoption tank. Then they have tags on the stock tanks saying "We have ***** fish available for adoption. Please consider giving them a home!*

So these fish are not being flushed, and are not resellable, but the aquatics staff has made an effort to give these fish another chance.

Since this IS a CPS, I would think that others in their company do the same thing, so I will continue to suggest rehome/return. Sometimes upgrade is not an option, and I am seeing more and more teen/young people who live at home with their parents/in a college dorm on this forum. These folks are usually unable to get a bigger tank, even down the road, so I feel it is better to rehome a smaller fish, than have to rehome a huge pleco that has outgrown your tank.

Also, a lot of newbies are already overwhelmed by the nitrogen cycle, and stocking lists. I know I was. If I had been told to just keep changing water every single day to ensure my overstocked tank didn't get too out of whack, I probably would have given up. Some times tough love is best in the long run.
 

poeticinjustices

I am not lucky enough to have a LPS or LFS nearby, but the CPS that I am most fond is is really quite good with this. They will not put returned fish back into the stock tanks, but they keep them all in a big adoption tank. Then they have tags on the stock tanks saying "We have ***** fish available for adoption. Please consider giving them a home!*

So these fish are not being flushed, and are not resellable, but the aquatics staff has made an effort to give these fish another chance.

Since this IS a CPS, I would think that others in their company do the same thing, so I will continue to suggest rehome/return. Sometimes upgrade is not an option, and I am seeing more and more teen/young people who live at home with their parents/in a college dorm on this forum. These folks are usually unable to get a bigger tank, even down the road, so I feel it is better to rehome a smaller fish, than have to rehome a huge pleco that has outgrown your tank.

Also, a lot of newbies are already overwhelmed by the nitrogen cycle, and stocking lists. I know I was. If I had been told to just keep changing water every single day to ensure my overstocked tank didn't get too out of whack, I probably would have given up. Some times tough love is best in the long run.

I LOVE that your CPS does that! Seriously, that's amazing, and it's reassuring that they're not all bad. The thing with CPSs though is that just cause they're under the same name, doesn't mean they've been created equal. PetLand is a major CPS around my area. But the stores are franchised, individually owned, and the aquatics guy at the one I trust told me that they all do their own things. I happen to trust that PetLand, but I've been to several that I don't.

It's really just a matter of sussing out your CPS and going with your gut on how you feel they treat return fish. And I'm not really talking about the fish that aren't as common and will most likely find a good home, I'm talking about the ones facing a death sentence if they go back, even if they did go into the sale-tank. Those fish are the goldfish and bettas. Even bettas have a lot of experienced keepers that love them and they don't require the sheer volume of space goldies do, but goldfish are more likely than anything to go to someone who has no idea what they're doing and no interest in learning and I've met a few fishkeepers (mostly on other forums and some LFSs) who have actually made feel like less o a hobbyist because I choose to keep something as ordinary as a goldie. But I won't turn this into a "which variety rocks the most", I'm just saying it tends to be those species that get a bad deal most of the time. And very few of their fates are good.

I've never seen an adoption tank, I wish more stores were like yours and had them, but I've lived in many places and always feel out the LPS and CPS stores and I've just never seen it. I wish I had though That would change everything.

But still, I'd like to bring this back to my original point. I am not suggesting we encourage over-stocking or that we overwhelm the newbie, certainly not. In fact I think the only thing that should be actively encouraged is re-homing IF we encourage anything at all. But realizing re-homing isn't always possible and neither is keeping them, I just think we should give them another choice too and help manage their expectations about what each choice entails. But I think that in ADDITION to the return or rehome options...we include the "make it work" option as well. Not that this decision should be under-taken lightly, and it may be that the newb chooses to return the fish in which case, so be it, but it is a possibility that a few people might be willing to do. That isn't to say we shouldn't be honest. They'll need more water changes, better filtration, and if their tank is uncycled it might make it harder to get it cycled, and that there are certain risks involved and that if they end up rehoming them later they may have a much harder time doing so, and probably in the face of these choices MOST people will choose to return their fish (and I'm not saying we judge them for that, absolutely not), some will find a way to rehome them but maybe 1 in every 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 or 100 or even more will decide that they have the constitution to do this and that one day they might be able to upgrade, like I did, or maybe meet someone down the line, possibly even on FishLore, who has a pond or another setting more appropriate. It's a long-shot, but if it really is THEIR choice, then shouldn't they know all of their choices?

And for that one fishy life saved that would most certainly die back at the store...

Isn't it worth it?

I think it is, at least for bettas and goldies.

So I'm not suggesting we disillusion anyone here, but it IS possible do without devastating consequences if you decide you're willing. I just remember the last time I went to my local PetCo and saw what was happening there in the goldie and betta tanks, and I left in tears, angry and upset and feeling totally powerless to do anything about it. And maybe someone here might feel the same. And might decide they will do what it takes to give this one tiny life a better existence than the one promised them back at many CPSs, especially now that they've found FishLore.

I know I'm not the only one on the forum who hurts for those fish, which tells me I'm not the only out there willing to do the work to keep them safe in a tank that's not quite appropriate. I'm also not implying we shame people who return fish to their CPSs for lack of a better choice...I'm just suggesting we give them a little HONEST hope, and let them decide knowing that they have the support of experienced fish keepers like the people here to get them through it, whatever they may choose.
 

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