Petco And Petsmart

  • #1
Petco: It seems to vary a lot more by store in aquatics than Petsmart? There is a Petco (Minneapolis) that I went to that has a pretty limited freshwater (and some saltwater) selection and the tanks are all in very poor condition and literally all of the bettas were sick. But there's another Petco (Minnetonka) that I go to regularly where they have a massive variety of fresh and saltwater species (they have seahorses, asian stone catfish, and some other uncommon aquatic animals) and have generally pretty healthy fish and multiple types of shrimp and other inverts. It's just odd seeing how different these to Petcos are in my opinion.

Petsmart: Seems to be rather similar in aquatics in every store. Some stores will have larger variety or healthier fish, but they all have roughly the same exact setup and the tanks never seem to be in great condition. They also never seem to have many uncommon species of fish and have very limited invertebrates. Ghost shrimp, nerite/mystery snails, red claw crabs and "fancy" shrimp (which are new) are the only inverts I remember seeing. Compared to petco they seem to just not vary as much by store.

These are just some random observations I've noticed. If any of you have seen similar things or have anything else to add please share!
  • #2
Petco seems to have better fish choices, while Petsmart sticks with the bread and butter species. Petsmart also pushes their cheap branded aquariums over selling other manufacturers' aquariums. In short, I like Petco better.
  • #3
My local Petco is better than my local Petsmart, mainly because they actually take care of their fish. Everytime I visit Petco, their tanks are very clean with minimal deaths. Petsmart on the other hand had tanks filled to the brI'm with algae and I would see multiple deaths.
  • #4
Petsmart is wayyyy better here then Petco. The Petsmart’s always have clean tanks, lots more selection, and they always have healthy looking fish!
Petco on the other hand, all the tanks are usually pretty empty and the fish in there always are a lot smaller and more diseased looking. Usually lots of dead fish
  • #5
At petco the senior aquatics specialist gets control over what fish come in and can order anything their suppliers sell, but as far as things like fish meds they all have the same minimal selection.
Petsmart on the other hand, is pretty much fully operated by the suits as far as what they do and don't sell, but going back to fish meds again, Petsmart has a much better selection to pick from.
They look pretty similar on the outside, but that little bit of employee influence can make or break a store.
  • #6
I used to buy plants from Petsmart. I have not had a tank set up for several years and recently went into a couple Petsmart locations and none of them have actual tanks with live plants for sale. They only have the individual plants that are not submerged and are in plastic........ I don't notice a big difference between Petsmart and Petco in my area. I am lucky enough to have a really nice LFS less then an hour away so I get most living things from them. However they are more expensive then Petsmart and Petco on filters and other supplies etc.....
  • #7
I think all these stores aren't created equally.

For example, I have a local PetSmart that is run very well and have super clean tanks and healthy fish (I've been a good amount of fish there and they've fared well). I could drive 30 minutes to another PetSmart and it is just poorly run.

As others stated, I do think Petco has better stock options. PetSmart seems to be very vanilla in terms of fish selection. Plus, Petco also has better plan options (many of my plants came from there and are thriving today).
  • #8
Our Petsmart tanks look better than Petco's. Petco is farther away so I don't usually go there much. PS only has tube plants Topfin I believe. Last time at PC their plants looked abysmal. PS's fish are plain Jane. PC's are a little better. As for healthy fish I've had pretty good luck with both. My lfs is amazing. Lots of plants and fish varieties. Their API test kits are 22.99 where at the chains 35.99....What? Kind of put off by plants right now at the lfs because I got some planaria (luckily in QT) on some susswassertang. I'll wait that one out a bit!
  • #9
Elaborating on the employee touch thing, my main Petco is an amazing store with amazing people that blows the local PetSmart out of the water. But there are other Petco's around town can't even begin to compete with the very vanilla PetSmart locations in the same area.
  • #10
The PetSmarts I have been to in San Diego are terrible. I'll never buy a fish from any of these. It's really sad to see how those fish live, and usually die.

Petcos here in San Diego are hit or miss. There's one in Escondido that actually always has healthy, good looking fish. I bought pearl danios from there a year ago and they're all healthy. A couple other Petcos are good but many are just as bad as the Petsmarts in the area. I still only go to the good Petcos as a last resort to buy fish, or to buy fish food if I'm not in the area of one of my local fish stores.

There's 3 fish stores in the city I go to instead though. I much prefer these stores than the big box ones, even the good Petcos I've been to.
  • #11
All of my local pet stores have such variable care and such a high turnover with staff that I find it difficult to entertain the usual “what size tank do you have and what’s in it?” chat with the fish department. It makes me feel a bit like a jerk, but seeing dead fish, hearing bad recommendations, and then being asked about my tank by someone who can’t sex a fish or even keep one alive just makes me cranky. I will agree that Petco usually has better species options, but my local Petsmart seems to have at least a bit better health of fish. That being said, Petco is the only one of the two that I’ve seen have a quarantine tank.
  • #12
I like both of my local Petco/Petsmarts But if I had to choose I would pick Petco cause they have a dedicated plant tank and their staff especially the manager are caring and have a lot of up front knowledge as well as a pretty good variety of different species even though i'm still only in the freshwater community stage all my fish have done well from both places.
  • #13
My local Petco has many dead Betta fish, especially on Sundays ( I hand the dead ones to indifferent cashiers...last count was 6 so far in 4 months.) . My Pet Smart - I have never seen a dead Betta in a cup. If there are dead fish in the tank, I'm told they did not survive adapting shipping. A few workers there are into fish, so overall Pet Smart seems better run. I rarely have to wait long for help, whereas Petco I have to chase someone down.

My dollars are split down the middle between purchases at each store, but in terms of overall fish care, pet Smart by me is better.JMO
  • #14
I think that's the whole point, both chains have their quirks and hiccups down to the individual stores, so it's impossible to give a definite answer that one is better than the other.
  • #15
I only have a petsmart and no petco. The petsmart is not very nice and I have decided to never go there again since its so frustrating (low stocking, poor quality, etc). We'll see how that goes LOL. There is a PetSupplies Plus and a Pet Supermarket fairly close to me which are by FAR superior! Very helpful staff and much better quality.
Anthony Bloom
  • #16
I'm seeing a bit of the opposite here in the Green Bay Area. While Petco runs their "usual" fair with some variety once in a while (they did get Assasin Snails once, but had no clue what to do with them - thus they died in the tanks rather quickly on them), Petsmart often has more unusual or unique fish types often for sale. Our local Pet Supplies Plus also seem to be between the two, offering usually only one or two unique options when I have been there.
  • #17
Reading all of these posts, makes me long for all my "mom&pop" stores that are all gone now. When I was a kid it was an adventure for us to go with dad and just enjoy looking at the beautifully run aquarium stores and knowledgeable, caring staff. Whom I must add, we knew by name. But that's pretty much gone now.
  • #18
I can't complain about either one, here in Raleigh. I can get to three different PetSmarts in fifteen minutes, and they all seem equally well cared for and staffed. I hate the way PetSmart keeps bettas, but I rarely see a dead one on the floor.
Our PetCo is OK at best, a couple have closed, and although the bettas are fancier and kept in bigger cups, I've had employees walk up to me while I was admiring a not dead one, comment that another looked pretty bad off, and then walk away. All while multiple dead ones were on the shelf. I've gotten fish from both that lived long lives, and also fish that died soon after purchase for no apparent reason.
On the contrast....I bought fish from one mom and pop shop in Wake Forest that ended up having camallanus...and now my tank has camallanus.
Another nearby LFS told me it was OK to get a gourami out of a tank with several dead fish in it, on the same filtration bay as a tank full of ich, because they have UV so it would be fine. I did not buy a gourami from them. I bought one from Petsmart...and it died anyway in three days.
It comes down to buyer beware....never buy fish from a tank with a sick/dead fish in it... You don't know what is going on, and the $11 an hour employee probably doesn't either.
Rana Loca
  • #19
PetSmart employee here. Yeah all PetSmart stores are basically the same in what we get in although some stores may get in things that others don't based on availability. For instance, we haven't gotten the new fancy shrimp yet even though we are the highest volume store in the district. We also haven't had fancy goldfish in ages, as far as I know other stores are having the same issue with the goldfish.
I once talked with a Petco manager about the variety of animals that they carry, she said that it was all based on how much product they move and how much money there is in the area. If they sell in high volumes they get to "unlock" different tiers of animals. And the manager gets to choose what to carry. So that seems to be why each Petco is different. I may have gotten some details wrong but it was a few years ago that I talked to her.

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