Quality of Fish at PetSmart and PetCo?

FishayFishay

I've heard lots of bad fish stories concerning PetCo and PetSmart. What is the average condition of the fish that you've gotten from PetCo or PetSmart?
 

VWTDI02

What everyone else experiences doesn't really matter. It is all dependent on the individual store and the people that take care of the fish. I'm in Charlotte and I go to a couple different PetSmart's and PetCo's and their fish are all in a variety of conditions. It comes down to looking around to different stores and seeing which one has the best conditions.
 

Fishy Friends

Petsmart nearest my house great - one on my way home from work - would not buy fish there.

Petco - no to buying fish there - got a great deal on a 55 gal stand there.
 

Edmund

My petsmart's pretty good and it's because it's got a couple employees who really know their aquariums. The guppy stock seems to have a consistent issue with columnaris but I can't be sure if that's petsmart's problem, their supplier, or a breed-related issue.

Lesson to be learned is that within-store, there is variation too.
 

skar

I got almost all my fish and aquarium life from these stores.
There are a few other pet stores with better conditions for their fish
and animals, but travel and convenience always plays a role.
Most of their fish are cramped and stressed when they are there but their colors
improve and adjusted well for me. I did have Ich in my tank from a purchase one
time yet I guess that happens.
 

VWTDI02

Also if you use a quarantine tank you should be fine. My rams have started to show their colors after about two and a half days. I just avoid obvious cases where the fish are missing fins or already show ich
 

Fishy88

It really varies from store to store. Go in and examine how they treat their tanks. Dead fish floating around? Walk away. I have a great PetSmart near my home I often get fish from. Then there's a Petco down the street that was truly scary and I reported them to their headquarters. So it depends from store to store. Most important of all is to quarantine your new fish before putting them in your tank, regardless of where you got them. Disease can spread rapidly into your tank and create a mess if you skip the quarantine process.
 

brebre

Ive gotten fish from petco and one of my guppies has almost reach his life expectancy. Ive also purchased fish from walmart (before I knew what I know now) thathhave died of old age. Its a hit and miss. It all depends on the store and the quality of the of everything.
 

Heros severus

Petco and Petsmart get their fish from the same place. The base stock is pretty much the same. Now, fish care can vary wildly from location to location. Go check out the stores, if the fish look healthy, I don't see any reason not to buy them.
 

WynterRose

The petsmart near me is really great. They take really good care of their fish, even the feeder fish. They hire knowledgeable staff who I can trust to give me correct information, and the fish show bright colors and are friendly and active. I came to the store once right when they were releasing their new fish into the tanks. They are careful not to overstock the tanks and make sure the fish are healthy and not stressed. The fish even eat out of your hand and tries to cuddle with the hand even if they are an aggressive species. The only problem with new fish was one bag of fish died due to shipping stress; which was out of their control. I went to the cichlids and the ages of the fish varies but all of them are incredibly friendly towards other fish and people. It is hard for them to keep fish in stock, especially with angelfish because the quality of fish is very desirable. I get most of my fish there, unless they don't have a fish I want then I go to a lfs that does. Overall, my petsmart is perfect and they even make sure the betas are comfortable. They are the exact opposite of Walmart and their fish.
 

Brandon Bennett

My Petsmart is hit and miss and it depends wholeheartedly on the type of fish you're buying from them. Case in Point: I have 10 Columbian Tetra's all bought from Petsmart. They are some of the healthiest fish I've ever seen and a couple of them are pushing three inches, far beyond the 2 to 2 1/2" max.

I have very healthy Harlequins too.

My Red Glass Barbs, however, are a different story. Two fish have block heads, one has an extended (almost protruding lower lip), while the others actually look like a Barb. One is undoubtedly much older than the others.

The Guppies are not bred well at our Petsmart and I won't buy them. Petsmart even admits that they're not bred well. They die easily, many have unexplained neurological issues, etc.

Their Chiclids for the most part look amazing!
 

cigritfish

I just went to petsmart and petco this morning here in concord, new hampshire and I noticed that the petsmart had better betta conditions than petco. petco betta containers were all clouded and I didnt see many of the bettas moving.
 

TJBender

It varies by store. I have several great Petcos nearby. I hate that the one nearest my house has a small aquatics department, because the aquatics specialist there is outstanding. On the other hand, I have one great Petsmart nearby, and several terrible ones with filthy tanks, dead fish and aquatics specialists who know very little about aquatics.

The best advice I can give is to go to a few stores near you--any within reasonable driving range--and check them out yourself. Look at the condition of the tanks. Are they clean? Or is the water full of feces and debris, maybe even discolored? If the water is clean and lacks dead fish, try and find the aquatics specialist/aquatics manager. The golden question for me is, "How many goldfish can I fit in a five-gallon tank?". If the answer is anything other than "none", I would leave. It's a harsh standard given how much pressure these guys are under to move livestock and tanks, but each one of the stores around me that I consider to be a good place to buy fish has an aquatics specialist or manager who answers that question in that way. The outstanding Petco nearby has even used a fluorescent ink pen to trace out an 8" long line directly on the fancy goldfish tank with a note that says, "Your goldfish will grow to be at least this long." How much effect does it have? Well, it's probably not doing much to move the bigger tank, but it's almost certainly making some parents walk out without buying a 2-gallon tank and a goldfish for their kids.
I respect that.
 

Klue

I would not buy any fish from the petco or petsmart near my house. Their fish keeping is subpar at best. It definitely depends on who is caring for the fish. Dead fish in tank, tanks dirty, or cloudy water and I walk out.
 

Mamajin

If the condition of the tanks are good and the fish appear to be healthy then generally speaking it's probably a decent store. However, it's good to keep in mind that most of these stores have a high turnover rate. All of the stores in my area get new stock for the tanks on Thursdays (it may vary in other areas), and sometimes illnesses will not show up right away. Due to that I always assume that the fish are sick with something, so I always put new fish in a quarantine tank for 30 days and treat prophylactically before they ever step fin into my main displays.

There's only one store where if I buy fish I still QT but do not medicate unless I see illness. Ocean Design Aquarium. Tony is one amazing guy, and I wish his store was closer to me than it is. Otherwise Id not buy from anyone but him. I special ordered some fish from him once and he wouldn't allow me to come get them until he QTed them first lol. No other store near me does that.
 

Guppy2000

I just visited a petsmart today in Pickering Ontario, and I left in a matter of five minutes. All of the fish looked sick and dull, I saw PLATIES mixed with GOLDFISH!! As soon as I saw that I left.
Wouldn't buy fish from petsmart if I were you.
( this is my opinion )
 

VWTDI02

I think everyone is pretty much stating the same thing. It is based on individual store and their employees. Some are good while others are not. It would be inappropriate to say all are good or all are bad because it varies so much from store to store.

With any store, look for signs of problems, do your own research, and quarantine your fish. If you do those three things you shouldn't have any problems.
 

Heros severus

I just visited a petsmart today in Pickering Ontario, and I left in a matter of five minutes. All of the fish looked sick and dull, I saw PLATIES mixed with GOLDFISH!! As soon as I saw that I left.
Wouldn't buy fish from petsmart if I were you.
( this is my opinion )

Like we've already stated many times, each store is different. They all have different staff and run their aquariums differently. Just because one store has issues does not mean that every store does.
 

jlallard

I have a petco and a petsmart in my area, I've gotten all of my fish from Petco. The staff are really knowledgeable and friendly and I've only every seen 1 dead fish in my many visits there. I will NEVER buy fish from my petsmart, while they are pretty good with their fish I find them to be very "matter of fact" and almost "know it all" ish. I've seen several dead fish at petsmart, but I guess it really depends on the store and ownership.
 

endlercollector

Even where there are competent employees, I've seen things to downhill due to procedures mandated by people who know nothing about animals and are trying to improve profits. It's been sad watching people I know give up and go along with the insanity because they're not given any say.

Example, Petco fish guy I've known and asked for advice over the past 7 years was cleaning out the salt water tanks a couple of weeks ago.

Fish guy: We have an algae problem in these tanks.
Me: Is it the lighting?
FG: Yeah, but we can't change them.
Me: Most of the plants in the tubes are for terrariums. They're going to die in fish tanks.
FG: Yeah, the labels don't say anything. It's kind of ridiculous.
Me: Oh, wow, you have banana plants in the plant tank!
FG: Yeah, I want to get some, but they don't have a lot of leaves because the goldfish eat them. Well, they're koi actually.
Me: Oh, yeah...
FG: Yeah, it doesn't make a Iot of sense.
 

Brandon Bennett

I think something must be said about where some of these fish are coming from. The store only has them for a short while. As I said in my previous post, depending on the species, there are in many cases something inherently wrong with the quality of fish, either bad breeding, fish kept in small overcrowded reservoirs for too long, or they've simply been around for too long. By the time they find themselves in a nice comfy home, they're already past half their life expectancy or their growth has already been stunted from being in too much confinement.
 

Diodehead

It definitely varies from location to location. I'm just getting back into the hobby after a hiatus. Where I live, PetSmart was my go to place back in the day and PetCo was sub par. Visited both places today and the reverse held true.

Was actually at PetSmart this afternoon to buy a Chinese Algae Eater. I turned my attention away as my wife and kids picked one out. While at the register to pay for it, I looked into the bag and noticed a red spot on it's back where it had just been nicked. My wife shared that the associate was very rough removing it from the tank. I promptly returned the fish the aquatic department and shared the info with a different associate.

We then went to PetCo ad purchased the CAE there. Noticed a significant difference in the quality of the tanks and fish at PetCo when comparing them within a half hour of one another. Will need to weigh future purchases carefully.
 

ryanr

Hi,
All y'all might want to have a read of Makena's article

It gives a great insight into the operations of Petsmart
 

FishayFishay

Wow lots of opinions! The article though was great! Answered a lot of questions!
 

Mommabear

I have like 2 or 3 of each store in my area. I only goto one Petsmart, and I only work with one clerk. She's always honest with me on the fish, their time at the store and the supplier.
 

Scoutsfish

I agree, its all on the individual store and who is working there at the time. The other day while at petco I asked how often they cleaned their tanks. "Oh, our filtration is so strong we only ever have to scrub them but never really change the water." While this answer is not very good, I have seen an employee vacumme out their tanks once but Ihave no clue how often that is. The same guy once told a lady she could not get goldfish because her tank was too small and instead suggested 2 guppies.. atleast he knows something..

I'm pleased with my petsmart, especially since the manager knows aboutfish. This one lady had a 1 gallon tank in her basket and said she wanted to buy a fish. One of the employees told her she needed to set the tank up before buying anything. Their fish are generally healthy and the tanks are usually pretty clean. I just wish the store was closer to me...
 

DeathFromNH

Well I just recently started this hobby and have a co and smart both within 5 mins of my house in manchester nh. I found that the people in co in my area tend to be better and more knowledgeable thus far, plus they give you 30 days on your fish compared to the 14 smart gives....
Both places are clean to my standards never seen dead fish at either and all tanks are kept very clean. Never once heard the people at smart talk about their own tanks but have from everyone at co. Smart also sells NO live plants at all.... BOOOOOO. Co stocks a large variety of salt and fresh, the smart near me has no salt,not that it matters to me but might to some. Though I have gotten, and I'm not sure if it was just for a sale or not, bad advise from both at different times. Smart stocks a larger variety of freshwater fish but CO will order you anything you can find a supplier for(doesn't mean they will care for it properly). So really it's all up to you but for me currently as nice as the smart store is I mostly go to co because of what I noticed right away the staff just seem to like, care about, and know more (overall) about their fish.... And that's based on many trips to both stores and meeting many of the staff. Plus co has TWICE the warranty on the fish thy are selling to me.... That means a lot to me plus shows they stand behind their stock. And after reading this thread if they are getting fish from the same place I'm going with the guys that extend the warranty makes me think they take better care of the fish.
 

Ziabis

OMG Petsmart.... I will never go there ever again. I was just there last night with my girlfriend. I was hoping to buy some fish and was browsing the other tanks and came across the feeder goldfish tank. 25% were dead or floating/sick and the rest were gulping for oxygen at the tiny flow of water that was coming out the outflow pipe. Tank was disgusting and it could be possible that if you feed sick and dying fish to your other fish, it could be possible that they could get sick.

But what disgusted me the most was, if they can't even take care of feeder goldfish, how the heck can they take care of all the other fish. I walked out.
 

Makena95'GT

OMG Petsmart.... I will never go there ever again. I was just there last night with my girlfriend. I was hoping to buy some fish and was browsing the other tanks and came across the feeder goldfish tank. 25% were dead or floating/sick and the rest were gulping for oxygen at the tiny flow of water that was coming out the outflow pipe. Tank was disgusting and it could be possible that if you feed sick and dying fish to your other fish, it could be possible that they could get sick.

But what disgusted me the most was, if they can't even take care of feeder goldfish, how the heck can they take care of all the other fish. I walked out.

The feeders are actually a LOT harder to maintain than the main system. Whoever was in Pet Care should have pulled those dead fish. -.- It looks really bad if customers see a dead fish, or multiple dead fish
 

gilpi

I don't think one store any is better than the other and I can't say where they get the fish from, I think it has to do more with the employees in the stores and how they take care of their fish. The Petco near near me has a very good knowledgable staff, their fish maintenance is far beyond any other big store chain I have ever seen and I would go as far as saying better than many LFS.
That being said, it doesn't change where the fish came from and what diseases they could be carrying.
 

Sayba

We don't have pet co or petsmart here, but there is a pet shop I go to called Two By Two when I'm in the area and the quality of their fish is horrible. I saw a beautiful orange and brown stripey fish that was COVERED in ich, a fancy goldfish tank that was cramped full of fish all different sizes and most of them looked half dead already. One tank had a dead placo in and when I told the staff about it he got it out but them I heard him mumble to his friend "It's only a little fish anyway, not gonna hurt".
 

Guppy2000

Like we've already stated many times, each store is different. They all have different staff and run their aquariums differently. Just because one store has issues does not mean that every store does.

Heros Severus is right. Other petsmarts may be different, it depends on the staff that takes care of the fish.
What I posted was just from my experience.
 

Brandon Bennett

Just visited our local Pets mart today and I must say their fish are looking a-lot better. They have a good variety of Barbs and they're all very healthy. Their livebearers still look funky and their Bleeding Heart Tetra's are always a mess, fungus and tail rot.

It would be nice to see them carry more variety.
 

ClassicRockGuy

We (wife/I) bought our aquarium, the décor/live plants and fish food at Petsmart.........no problems. Because of a better selection of male betta's, bought ours at Petco.......no problem. Bought our Ghost Shrimp at Petsmart as well.
 

mbfish00

As many of other have said here, it depends on the store. My Petco has lots of tanks under "observation" for sick fish, so at least they are quarantining them. If there is a dead fish floating in any of the tanks, it's a a pretty clear sign to not buy, but sometimes you have to observe more carefully.
 

ralph113

it jsut really depends on the employees. some are just lazy as and doesn't know what theyre doing
 

Crazycatfishlady

the petco closest to me is OK with their fish, However the one 5 miles from me is GREAT! you can tell the staff really cares
 

aHumanBeing

Petco and Petsmart can be just as good if not better than small fish stores. It really depends on the quality of the employees. I just bought two Ryukin Goldfish from Petsmart and they're still in a quarantine tank. But they are doing great and looked better than the fish at my LFS. Remember when you go to the store just to check with the employee if they are the normal fish person. Occasionally you'll just get a cashier who is trying to help out. Petstores are really at the mercy of their stock providers, and then consider that the fish could be fine at the farm. Then they can be handled horribly by the shipper and thus arrive stressed and sick.

Also Petsmart has an awesome selection of decorations most of the time. Petco tends to have their livestock in smaller tanks vs Petsmart at least in Northern VA. I guess it really depends on your area but from what I've gathered they both use a mostly automated fish maintenance system. If you are making a choice from their stock then remember to look at all the other tanks. Since most of the fish share a water system then they could all be exposed to the ICH 5 tanks down.

Quarantine quarantine quarantine.
 

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