Petco v Petsmart v LFS v Amazon

  • #1
I have been getting my stuff from Petco, LFS and Amazon. I have been planning to get most of my fish from LFS for now. I pick up some stuff from Petco and have ordered some from Amazon. I have also orders some stuff from Petco online. I have not shopped at Petsmart.

I read a post recently in which the poster stated that he will not shop at Petco anymore because he did not think they cared about the fish, especially the Bettas. I am wondering if anybody has opinions about where they buy their stuff.

I suspect that it varies a lot from area to area. Petco v Petsmart in one town is probably different from another town based on the staffing of each particular store. No doubt LFSs vary greatly. And online experiences can vary a lot as well. Probably few consistent themes.

But curious about the experience of others. The hobby gets expensive fast. I want to be a smart shopper.

  • #2
I'm not about to bash a company as a whole... ill judge it based on locality.

I like my petsmart in general. They used to lack, but ive been content with their overall care in recent years (the other day a worker even blew me off my feet giving proper care advice to a customer about birds, actually giving accurate good information. I made sure she knew how happy it made me to see someone actually know their stuff).

I have 3 petsmarts in my city. One will not sell you sick fish. One cannot tell you male from female guppy. One is ancient and has the most trumpet snails ive ever seen.
All 3 are clean and about average for health. Lots of ich in the new location that will not sell the ich fish. They will close down the entire wall and medicate them. They have general good knowledge depending which worker is working. All around though pleasant staff. Ive just come to expect different things from different workers.
Petsmart also has a good selection of care items that I can get for decent prices compared to cheaper (in quality) items at say walmart lol

I have another small local store ive found, good prices, unique stock, good staff. Will not sell sick fish, have a hospital tank set up on site. All their tanks have plants and driftwood. They only sell a couple bettas and keep them in 1gal planted vases (still beats a cup) though theyre expensive for the bettas (as expected as they stock only the rare patterns). Mostly healthy stock where expected (still unhealthy DG however). Theyre clean. Trade off is very small selection of supplies for fish.

Hands down best for quality fish though has been my online store, Angelfins. Canada only but man they have really hardy robust fish and I have nothing but good things to say. Never been to their actual location several hours away but ive ordered fish from them and have more coming tomorrow with a new heater too. Ive not been disappointed with their products or fish.

Aaaand then there are 2 local places that need to be shut down and have been at war with the ASPCA and authorities for years but somehow stay open. One is just a new location under a new name by same owners. I avoid. The other has been around longer than I have. Rusty bird cages for sale for over $1000, fish tanks smell, you can smell a barn smell from across the road. All their animals are overcrowded and sick. They have so much an issue with the public going to the media taking photos of the conditions that they do not allow customers in the animal room until they pay for the animal. I will not shop there even if they were selling a magical loach that could talk.

Reality is though that pet stores are a business. Its not always feasible to expect them to treat their animals as pets instead of a product. Cherish the ones you find that treat their pets and customers like gold, but if its about average, perhaps just accept it as a business.

max h
  • #3
I normally go to my LFS store since their staff are first rate and knowledgeable, prices are competitive with the brick and mortor stores, and if they don't have the stock you are looking for they will order it for you. As long as their suppliers carry the items. As far as the hardware side goes that can be a toss up between online or any of the stores depending on price and availability.
  • #4
I get fish and some stuff from LFS .
I order hard goods /equipment from the net ..
I also get most fish these days from Aquabid .You can find specialized fish much easier as there are breeders along with sellers on the site.
Petco/PetSmart gets my money if I need a dog med for my tank...No other reason at all to buy a thing from them IMO .
  • #5
This hobby really can be expensive if you blindly approach it. When purchasing fish, inverts & chemicals, you're pretty much at the mercy of retailers. There are some exceptions.
When it comes to tanks, equipment, substrate & decor, there are some exceptional, if not unbelievable ways to save money. When in doubt consult the forum members.
Debating the quality of the big box pet stores or establishing, which one is the best, is really pointless. The answer is always the same "Hit or miss".
Shop them for bargains on the Black Friday Sale. Use caution when buying fish. Plenty of success & disaster stories out there.
  • #6
I've shopped all of the above for supplies and live stock my go to is my local Petco they have a great manager that makes sure to keep their tanks in top condition. Used to go there and there were dead fish but haven't seen that in a long time. Petsmart was good but went downhill a bit. Still usually always get my otto cats from there with very good sucess. Not so local fish store i've gotten some nice Vonrios and larger pieces of driftwood and i've also brought in some plants for some nice store credit which allowed to get the DW some packs of Omega One frozen bloodworms and of course one of the best things I got from them recently "Chubby" my Pea Puffer.... already a super personable little guy/gal hopefully if its girl her name doesn't offend her . And well I don't think we need to comment about Amazon Go there and type anything in the search bar and you will see why

  • #7
There are no local fish stores in my city, so my only options are Petsmart or Petco. I prefer my Petco over Petsmart, as the people there are actually quite knowledgeable. One of the employees at Petco struck up a conversation with me about how he’d love to sell shell dwelling cichlids here, but he doesn’t think they’d sell well. That to me is pretty knowledgeable. He also said our Petco is one of the top 100 Petco stores in the U.S, so we are allowed to order and sell more fish. I got curvicep cichlids from my local Petco a few days ago! So beautiful and healthy!

Petsmart is fine here. I can go to the store and never see any dead fish floating in the tanks, but for some reason their fish never seem to survive long when I get them. Their selection is also more focused on livebearers and the more common tetras, so I’m not really that interested in what they’re selling in terms of fish.

I’ve never ordered any fish stuff from Amazon besides a Python and a 40 gallon stand. I’m thinking about ordering plants from EBay, though...

As far as just regular retail, Petsmart seems to have better prices and more selection on products. I have guinea pigs, leopard geckos, a crested gecko, and a dog, so I’m definitely very familiar with almost all of their animal sections.
  • #8
I shop at my LFS, petco, petsmart, and online (mostly eBay). Get different things from different places it just kind of depends. My petco has decent discus prices but once I get more tanks up and running I plan on ordering a batch of discus online.

that’s said if your looking for South American fish there’s no better place to look than the Amazon. . .
86 ssinit
  • #9
It’s got to be hard for a lps to make money. Mine sells all pet supplies. It’s a big place with many fish tanks. Fish will die in pet store tanks. I know it looks bad but happens none the less. They remove what they see and thank you for pointing out something they miss. 95% of what I buy there lives a good life. I buy all my dog food there.

Petco/petsmart I buy nothing live there. Not even plants. Yes there deals on tank are to good. Another reason to stay out of them . For those of you that use them ; both will match online prices.

The internet is where I buy all equipment. eBay and Amazon. Also bought some great looking discus online. Would highly recommend discus online.
  • #10
I buy my fish from my local fish farm.
Bettas however from Petco (they have the nicest ones and mines seems to take care of them, and have never had problems with the bettas before).

Petco has the worst fish (other than betta). Most of the time I grab them, they come with some sort of sickness).

PetSmart I used to use a lot before for supplies (However, recently every time I compare prices between them and Petco, Petco seems to always sort of win). Their tank sales are nice though.

Pet Supermarket sends a lot of coupons ( and their driftwood and plants are always very low cost ).

Amazon I use for low cost supplies ( Medications, sponge filters, etc ) or when I don’t want to actually go physically to the store.
  • #11
I use my LFS whenever possible. My thought is if that's their main business then they have more to lose if things aren’t right. Box stores can sell a few more bags of dog food to make up for bad fish. That being said, nothing beats just getting to know the people working at the different stores. In my area there are only 3 LFS. Two are a yes and 1 is a no. I have bought a few Cory’s at PetSmart after going in a few times and talking to them and observing their tanks.
  • #12
I get most common supplies from petco, and occasionally a anubius or java fern, but all my livestock is from my LFS. Few complaints from there, and their so called "expert" on fish is just like one of us, but not the best for stocking. There are a few decent employees, one was concerend about the cpds they were selling because I wanted to buy them and she asked about the nitrogen cycle, tank size, and if I had predators.

They guy on the other hand reccomended 10 WCMM for a uncycled, newly bought 5 gal. But he atleast knew not to sell the royal pleco to this lady. The other female employee, she said the royal pleco stays tiny, and had no clue what she was doing, then the guy interrupts and says it can reach 2 feet.

petco employees are dumb. Clown loaches with nerite snails..... Hope you get profit from those empty nerite snails. You just lost about 30$ in profit...

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