Petco, Petsmart, etc... Good Experiences

Deberber

Okay, so I know that most chain pet stores, such as Petco and Petsmart, get a lot of heat so I thought I would share this experience I've had with them over the past week. The only LFS I have in <40 min drive from me is a Petco. I was a little skeptical at first as I have not always had the greatest experiences going in them and seeing some rough looking fish in the holding tanks and is kinda what prevented me from setting up a tank again earlier. However, I finally decided to do so. I walked in there and immediately checked out the fish tanks, they have both reef and freshwater aquatics. I was amazed at how amazing and healthy these fish looked and felt comfortable with setting up a tank and using their fish. Not to mention, I feel that they have a very nice variety of fish for a Petco.

The reason why is that they have 2-3 women that do a magnificent job on maintaining them. For example, the one lady spent about 30 minutes with this one family who was getting ready to set up a tank. I overhead her explaining the cycle, fish sizes and needs, equipment need, and even helping them choose the best centerpiece fish for their tank. I've seen them explaining to other employees about each of the fish they carry and the aquarium products that they carry.

Now, this may be a problem when I go to add 6 harlequins in a 10 gallon since its more than the the standard inch/gallon ratio, but I would rather have them be concerned about the fish and have you understand the added maintenance that a larger bioload requires.

Anyways, I would love to hear y'alls GOOD stories/experiences about LFS like these to help people become a bit less worried about using them when a designated aquarium LFS is not an option.
 

SM1199

I wish I could share some good experiences with chain stores, but I haven't had any! The only "positive" experiences I've had with them is when they give me free animals because they don't understand what they are. For example, I got a few free rabbit snails because they thought they were pest snails I even tried explaining to them, look, they have yellow bodies and they move in "hops" like a rabbit, they're rabbit snails. They just said in response "Whatever, if you want pest snails that's fine, there's no label for them anyway."
 

jkkgron2

I’ve had good and bad experiences with chain stores, one petco near me I basically never go to, even if I’m in the area and need to buy some stuff, whereas another has an amazing employee that was actually the reason I now have a big successful fish tank going
 

RyanC14

This one Petco near me has a huge variety of fish and inverts and really knowledgable staff. I have never had a bad experience there. I get the majority of my fish and shrimp from there now.
 

smokeskrene4207

I went to a PetSmart today. After talking about my tank I was guided to marimo moss balls. I decided on 2 guppy an 2 tetra to add to my aquarium as well. They clerk gave me an extra moss ball and 3 extra guppy and a few ghost shrimp because I was interested in them at no charge. I will be back!!
 

Crispii

I rarely go to Petsmart and Petco. The only time I would go there is buy supplies or food.

LFS all the way!!!
 

Deberber

I wish I could share some good experiences with chain stores, but I haven't had any! The only "positive" experiences I've had with them is when they give me free animals because they don't understand what they are. For example, I got a few free rabbit snails because they thought they were pest snails I even tried explaining to them, look, they have yellow bodies and they move in "hops" like a rabbit, they're rabbit snails. They just said in response "Whatever, if you want pest snails that's fine, there's no label for them anyway."

I definitely understand that. This was actually the only second time I've had a good experience with them. First time was surprisingly with a Walmart reef section that looked stunning. Awesome you get a few free things though here and now.
I’ve had good and bad experiences with chain stores, one petco near me I basically never go to, even if I’m in the area and need to buy some stuff, whereas another has an amazing employee that was actually the reason I now have a big successful fish tank going

That's great to here! Having employees that go above what the minimum requirement is key. I'm guessing the types you and I have described likely keep tanks themselves
This one Petco near me has a huge variety of fish and inverts and really knowledgable staff. I have never had a bad experience there. I get the majority of my fish and shrimp from there now.

Glad that you have a positive experience with them! I definitely wish that mine had a bit more invert variety though. Maybe I just go at bad times but I hardly ever see snails and only a few cherry or ghost shrimp at a time with the occassional amano.
I went to a PetSmart today. After talking about my tank I was guided to marimo moss balls. I decided on 2 guppy an 2 tetra to add to my aquarium as well. They clerk gave me an extra moss ball and 3 extra guppy and a few ghost shrimp because I was interested in them at no charge. I will be back!!

That's actually really amazing, especially that moss ball! Just be sure to flip them over every now and then so that the bottom side can get some light too. Also, if your tank allows it might not be the worst idea to get 4 more tetras, since they do like larger groups. If it is smaller, try and at least get 1 more.

Sorry for the group quotes, just thought this would be a good way to reply without cluttering
 

FinalFins

Good experience from petco- cheap products. 1 dollar per gal sale. Ok plant selection
 

jkkgron2

That's great to here! Having employees that go above what the minimum requirement is key. I'm guessing the types you and I have described likely keep tanks themselves
I'm pretty sure he had 26 at one point

He also bred bettas
 

Deberber

I rarely go to Petsmart and Petco. The only time I would go there is buy supplies or food.

LFS all the way!!!

Obviously yes, I would much rather support a true LFS and it is definitely wayyy more fun to browse!
I'm pretty sure he had 26 at one point

That is literally insane! I think at that point it can definitely be called an addiction over addicted to a hobby! Plus just think of the maintenance!!
 

jkkgron2

His dream is to open a LFS so I mean, you can’t blame him, he probably does sell off some of his fish if he breeds any currently to make money. I haven’t seen him for a while so I wonder how many tanks he has now?
 

Deberber

He also bred bettas
That is impressive. He could literally open his own LFS!
 

Crispii

Obviously yes, I would much rather support a true LFS and it is definitely wayyy more fun to browse!
My LFS usually brings in exotic fish that you can't find at chain stores. That is a huge reason on why I focused more on my LFS than Petsmart/Petco.
 

jkkgron2

That is impressive. He could literally open his own LFS!
That’s his dream lol
 

Deberber

That’s his dream lol
What do you even think the rough startup cost for that is not including building lease? Just with all the tanks and supplies alone it seems like a lot. For livestock I guess you just start with some lower cost fish and have a few rarer fish for opening to get people to return, but mostly start with special orders for those types?
 

Crispii

I honestly don't know who you guys are referring to lol. Who is this "he" are we talking about?
 

Deberber

I honestly don't know who you guys are referring to lol. Who is this "he" are we talking about?
A Petco employee that jkkgron2 had encountered who likely has a few dozen tanks by now
 

jkkgron2

What do you even think the rough startup cost for that is not including building lease? Just with all the tanks and supplies alone it seems like a lot. For livestock I guess you just start with some lower cost fish and have a few rarer fish for opening to get people to return, but mostly start with special orders for those types?
Atleast 30k if he wants any exotics, probably way more tho. I’m pretty sure he has 3 gobies from China that he got before they were banned from the aquarium (over fishing?) trade so I guess he likes rare species and would probably sell many exotic ones
 

juniperlea

I don't blame BigBox employees. They put up with me and often recognize me (sometimes with a smile, but not always)! I suspect that the BigBox pet store employees are trained to sell material goods, with fish as an afterthought.
 

smokeskrene4207

I had 3 employees try and sell me things today. I asked each one if they would use the item on Thier own aquarium. None of them did. The fourth person had an aquarium gave me advice and steered me away from the other there's suggestions to more suitable and cheaper option so I believe 90% of box box employees are there for a paycheck and don't care. And corporate only wants those people to upsell. The 10% actually are aquarium owners and seem to be more about the animals needs.

I had 3 employees try and sell me things today. I asked each one if they would use the item on Thier own aquarium. None of them owned an aquarium. The fourth person had an aquarium gave me advice and steered me away from the other there's suggestions to more suitable and cheaper option so I believe 90% of box box employees are there for a paycheck and don't care. And corporate only wants those people to upsell. The 10% actually are aquarium owners and seem to be more about the animals needs.
 

Drewbacca

I don't think it's that they don't care, but they just don't know. They may be very knowledgable on dogs or cats and just got stuck in the fish section for the day. My experience at Petsmart is that you need to do all of your research before you go. I've found it very rare to find anyone who knew what they were talking about, but it definitely depends on what store you go to. The only time I've ever bought fish there was when I found some panda corys there after my LFS had been without them for almost a year. My 2 pandas were lonely, and I didn't want to miss out on the chance to fill out their shoal. I crossed my fingers and hoped they were healthy. 2 years later, they all look great and are happy.

Honestly, you should always try to do your research beforehand, even when you go to your LFS. Some employees know more than others. When I first got started, I had a 10 gallon tank with no live plants. I started with 6 white clouds, 2 panda corys, and a clown pleco. One employee had me put two male dwarf gourami in that tank. Needless to say, the violence and deaths that occurred was the trigger to moving to a 55 gallon. That same employee once tried to sell me a Flying Fox, telling me it was the same as an SAE, but the only difference was that the stripe and fins were slightly different. I've mentioned those conversations to other employees there and they were shocked. I love my LFS, but I steer clear from that one guy and always try to know what I'm talking about before I go now.
 

juniperlea

The problem lies with customers who expect the bigbox pet store to take responsibility for their customers' decisions.
 

peddidle

My best fish store experiences have been with my local PetCo. I have easy access to three stores that sell fish: PetCo, PetSmart, and a local fish store.

Local fish store: I have been there only twice. Both times, I have felt uncomfortable. The first time was because I was just looking to see what type of fish they carry. I didn't have a cycled tank and wasn't interested in buying anything, which I told the person. I felt like they were invading my space in a store that was already cramped beyond belief. I saw mostly healthy fish but was shocked at the way they promoted "large cups" (best way to describe them) for bettas to live in--worse than anything I've seen promoted at the chain stores. I also was disappointed that none of the fish had any decor or plants. In fact, the store doesn't even sell decor or plants. The second time, I was "schooled" in a rude manner about how inadequate my filtration is (Tidal 55 in a 20g) and that basically ANY fish can go in a 20g, regardless of size, as long as the filtration is good enough (I had asked what they had that would be suitable for a peaceful 20 gallon community tank, and they actually said, "Pretty much anything as long as your filtration is good enough." There was zero consideration given to the size, temperament, number of fish, likelihood of breeding, temperature preference, etc, as long as I had a wicked-powerful internal filter that would "prevent hard water from ruining my tank."). Gouramis were in tanks with flow that only guppies could love, and the employee (owner?) couldn't tell me the specific types of fish they had in a tank (just "tetras" and "mollies" and so on). I'm neither for nor against lfs, but I don't buy into the whole "local fish stores are better than chain stores" line of thinking. Even local fish stores can be bad, and chain stores are sometimes better.

PetSmart: Chain stores are going to vary by location/manager. I can't speak highly of my local PetSmart. I won't buy fish there. Their fish section is where fish go to die. I do go there for plants, though. I like that they're in the plastic cylinders and pest free; it makes life much easier for me since I'm not interested in snails that are prolific breeders and I don't want plants that have been in a tank with who-knows-what fish.

PetCo: My favorite local place, although I'm still very careful about what/when I purchase anything. They're not immune to sick/dead fish, and it seems their tanks are sectioned off into systems that run on 6 tanks each. So if I see something I want, I check out all the fish in the other 5 tanks in its section to make sure there isn't anything obviously wrong. So far, so good. The first time I tried to purchase fish there, the new girl put in 6 glowlight tetras, a neon tetra, and a zebra danio. I hadn't noticed because she took the bag up to the cashier before I even thought to look at it, and, quite honestly, I likely wouldn't have even noticed because I was so new to fish and just happy to be getting some. The cashier looked at the bag and chuckled, showed me the error, and took me back to the tank to get more fish. As she started to catch the other fish she stopped, looked at the bag, said some uh-ohs, and told me the fish have ich. She told me she'd return them to the tank for quarantine and treatment and if I wanted to check back in a week, they should be ready for purchase. (I opted not to get them at all.) I had mentioned to her that I was also looking for honey gouramis and she said she could order them for me. Several weeks later, I took home 4 healthy golden honey gouramis. I've also gotten 3 male cobra guppies, 3 amano shrimp, 7 male endlers, and a male dragonscale betta over the past several months; I have not had any issues with any of them. As far as products go, I simply ask the 2 employees I know to be quite knowledgeable about fish to show me what they would use in their aquarium. They seem passionate about their choices that I believe what they show me really is what they buy themselves. They've also offered to order me additional fish if I see something on Live Aquaria I would like (that's where the golden honey gouramis were from, and the rest of their fish stock comes from there).

I'm heading to a different city in a few days and will be stopping off at a couple PetCos and PetSmarts, along with 2 local fish stores and a chain store local to the area. I'm sure my experiences will vary between stores.
 

Deku-Cory

I was pleasantly surprised by a recent visit to my local Petsmart. They had written on the tanks with chalk marker, telling people to check what size of tank a fish needed before considering purchasing it. They also had written on the turtle tank telling people how big they get and how long they live. Then an employee refused to sell a girl a goldfish who wanted to put it in a bowl. It was apparently going to be temporary or something, but still. The fish were still not healthy, lots of dead ones. But it's clear that there is some effort to try and educate people.
 

Pebbels

Okay, so I know that most chain pet stores, such as Petco and Petsmart, get a lot of heat so I thought I would share this experience I've had with them over the past week. The only LFS I have in
The reason why is that they have 2-3 women that do a magnificent job on maintaining them. For example, the one lady spent about 30 minutes with this one family who was getting ready to set up a tank. I overhead her explaining the cycle, fish sizes and needs, equipment need, and even helping them choose the best centerpiece fish for their tank. I've seen them explaining to other employees about each of the fish they carry and the aquarium products that they carry.

Now, this may be a problem when I go to add 6 harlequins in a 10 gallon since its more than the the standard inch/gallon ratio, but I would rather have them be concerned about the fish and have you understand the added maintenance that a larger bioload requires.

Anyways, I would love to hear y'alls GOOD stories/experiences about LFS like these to help people become a bit less worried about using them when a designated aquarium LFS is not an option.
I love Petco actually they just are awesome!!! But I really don't like pet smart asuch no offence they seem to recommended bowls for betas and they have a poor selection of betas...... They also recommended plastic plants that are really scratchy for the betas.......


But they aren't that baddd
 

AquaticQueen

I have only had one good experience with petsmart. The lady actually sounded like she knew what she was talking about for once!
 

Pebbels

I have only had one good experience with petsmart. The lady actually sounded like she knew what she was talking about for once!
Huh wow..
 

tuffcookie

I’ve had 1 good experience at a chain pet store where the lady confessed to having a new fish who got ich and spread it to a whole wall of tanks maybe 12 tanks and that she’s not allowing anyone to buy from those tanks til the ich goes away.

I was there asking about a very specific alternative method to solving ich from the method I was using at the time. but still giving her the benefit of the doubt that she wasn’t allowing anyone else to buy from those tanks
 

pagoda

I sometimes use a chain pet store via their online website but only if they have something that appeals....such as special offers on food or an ornament that I have not seen at my usual supplier.

I have an online aquatics equipment & sundries supplier which is 200 miles away that I have used for 99% of my purchases and I also have a preferred online livestock supplier that is 250 miles away that caters 100% to what I want, they are both extremely knowledgable and as yet I have had absolutely no complaints. My recently ordered 4th aquarium arrived smashed but my supplier was brilliant and had a replacement delivered the next day.

I am unable to leave the house, so online shopping is essential and there is always an element of risk in effectively ordering off the website but so far my two preferred suppliers have not let me down.

I did have a bad experience with another online livestock firm, poorly fish that subsequently died which they were not happy to accept responsibility for despite it being blatently obvious the fish were far too young for shipping. But as I said, that's a risk you take whether online or in person at the store.
 

jake37

There is one petsmart and 3 petco in my immediate area. The petsmart is awful and fishes frequently look very sick (I almost took a clown loach from them that had red gills and tail nibbled away to try to nurse it back ) and poorly treated. One of the petco is similar to the petsmart. The 2nd petco is ok - water is clean but fishes don't look healthy.
-
The third petco is excellent. They will order fishes (if they are in the catalog) on request. They tend to carry some stock that while not rare is not quite as common and at very good prices (I picked up a flash pleco there for $9). I also picked up my gold zebra loaches there - and when I wanted more they ordered additional ones.
-
I chatted with one of the employee there and they explained that they are graded by their manager on how well they keep the fishes (fishes are a small part of their business - the big cash cow is pet grooming - they also run an adoption program - not sure if that is common for all petco - but the cats i've seen there have been extremely healthy and clean.
-
The employee are nice but they really don't know much about fishes. Having said that I had someone at the lfs try to sell me a female swordtail as a male - where as at petco they simply ack when they don't know instead of pretending to know something they don't.
-
So on a store by store basis there is one petco in my area that does a good job with their fishes and none of the ones i've purchased have been diseased or died - the dedicated lfs - which has a very good reputation - i've not been as lucky as several of their fishes have been in very bad shape.
-
What I dislike about both petco and the lfs is that they do not quarantine new fishes. I remember seeing a video from aquariumcoop where cory talks about the fact that they quarantine all new fishes for a few days before putting them into the showroom.
 

CHJ

Petsmart Black Friday sale is always a win.
 

Deberber

What I dislike about both petco and the lfs is that they do not quarantine new fishes. I remember seeing a video from aquariumcoop where cory talks about the fact that they quarantine all new fishes for a few days before putting them into the showroom.

That actually surprises me that your LFS does not quarantine new fish. I thought for sure they all had tanks in the back that do that.

But yes, I actually just started watching some aquariumcoop vids and think they are wonderful!
 

SM1199

That actually surprises me that your LFS does not quarantine new fish. I thought for sure they all had tanks in the back that do that.
My LFS only quarantines saltwater species. They don't bother to quarantine freshwater, but I've never seen a sick fish there and they're considered one of the best LFSs in the state, and some people drive from outside states just to visit.
 

peddidle

That actually surprises me that your LFS does not quarantine new fish. I thought for sure they all had tanks in the back that do that.
As far as I can tell, my lfs doesn't quarantine either. It's so small and cramped already, I can't imagine where the quarantine tanks would be. There aren't any doors to other rooms or anything, and you can walk from the very front of the store to the very back. Fish stores aren't governed by some type of quarantine law nor are they all run the way Aquarium Co-op is, so I really don't find it surprising when a store doesn't quarantine. I just don't buy into the "lfs are better than chain stores" thinking because some of them are and some of them aren't.
 

jake37

What I end up doing is having the lfs hold the fishes 6 days before I pick em up. I have had problem with buying fishes a day or two after they arrive - not just quick deaths (they do have 2 weeks - though petco offers 4 weeks); but a couple of otto infected my tank with something horrible before promptly dying.
 

KingJamal2

Okay, so I know that most chain pet stores, such as Petco and Petsmart, get a lot of heat so I thought I would share this experience I've had with them over the past week. The only LFS I have in <40 min drive from me is a Petco. I was a little skeptical at first as I have not always had the greatest experiences going in them and seeing some rough looking fish in the holding tanks and is kinda what prevented me from setting up a tank again earlier. However, I finally decided to do so. I walked in there and immediately checked out the fish tanks, they have both reef and freshwater aquatics. I was amazed at how amazing and healthy these fish looked and felt comfortable with setting up a tank and using their fish. Not to mention, I feel that they have a very nice variety of fish for a Petco.

The reason why is that they have 2-3 women that do a magnificent job on maintaining them. For example, the one lady spent about 30 minutes with this one family who was getting ready to set up a tank. I overhead her explaining the cycle, fish sizes and needs, equipment need, and even helping them choose the best centerpiece fish for their tank. I've seen them explaining to other employees about each of the fish they carry and the aquarium products that they carry.

Now, this may be a problem when I go to add 6 harlequins in a 10 gallon since its more than the the standard inch/gallon ratio, but I would rather have them be concerned about the fish and have you understand the added maintenance that a larger bioload requires.

Anyways, I would love to hear y'alls GOOD stories/experiences about LFS like these to help people become a bit less worried about using them when a designated aquarium LFS is not an option.
I go to petco for equipment and supplies. My petco has pretty good fish, but I trust my LFS more, because that’s what they specialize in.

Equipment at petco or online is much cheaper than at my LFS.
 

Deberber

I go to petco for equipment and supplies. My petco has pretty good fish, but I trust my LFS more, because that’s what they specialize in.

Equipment at petco or online is much cheaper than at my LFS.
Yeah, I would definitely trust a LFS more so than most Petco's

What I end up doing is having the lfs hold the fishes 6 days before I pick em up. I have had problem with buying fishes a day or two after they arrive - not just quick deaths (they do have 2 weeks - though petco offers 4 weeks); but a couple of otto infected my tank with something horrible before promptly dying.
That literally sounds horrible. It's honestly amazing how many fish have diseases when you get them, it seems like from anywhere
 

jake37

Well that is why they say you should QT the fishes. Alas I failed to do so and paid the price.... hopefully it is a one time thing. I might qt further purchases in a pail (with heater/sponge filter); to be honest I rarely hear of issues with cory and kuhlI (spreading dieases that is) but otto can be problematic.

Yeah, I would definitely trust a LFS more so than most Petco's


That literally sounds horrible. It's honestly amazing how many fish have diseases when you get them, it seems like from anywhere
 

Shika

I only have 2 places within 45-50 minutes of me that sells fish (well. 5 if you count the three Walmarts, but....). One is a Petco and the other is a smaller chain store that's local to the area.
The Petco actually has one employee that seems to know a lot about fish (I'm still new, but the info I hear from her, whether to me or others, seems to match with my research) but, unfortunately, they often have her in the rodent section. (Where her advice is Not That Good, but it's obviously not her specialty. The guy that knows about rodents is always stocking! It makes no sense!)

The other store basically knows you can't put male bettas together and that's about it.
 

CaptainAquatics

The only fish store under an hour from where I live is a petco. Most of the fish I have are from petco, this petco is pretty nice though. I rarely see sick fish and most times if they do have sick fish the separate them, they have a nice selection for a petco even getting in stuff like fire eels and bichirs. The staff there know me pretty well which is nice, I actually am almost like an employee there because whenever I’m in there and a staff gets someone asking about fish there have been times they have told the family or people to go talk to me, and I really don’t mind it. Heck normally if there is no staff there and I see a family with a betta in their cart with like a bowl or something I try to steer them towards something better. Once I got a family to upgrade to a filtered, Un-heated 5 gallon with zeolite and carbon since they were getting fish same day. I also direct people to fishlore a lot, although I think they forget, lol. So yeah my petco is good, if I rated them I would give them 5 stars.

EDIT: I know it sounds like I recommended unheated, I did not, but they didn’t want to get a heater.
 

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