Shopping at the big box stores

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by James95, Jul 22, 2015.

  1. James95Well Known MemberMember

    Hi Everyone,

    While life has gotten hectic and I haven't been active on Fishlore, I still have my tanks and fish. They're all doing swimmingly. Hoping to see some familiar faces around here. It's been a while!

    What brings me back here is unfortunate. My absolute favorite family run LFS went out of business recently. It's discouraging to say the least. I had been going there since I started keeping fish over 10 years ago as a kid. A sign of the times I guess! It was one of two LFS's within reasonable driving distance. The second LFS caters mostly to marine aquarium keepers so their selection of freshwater fish and supplies is abysmal and overpriced to say the least.

    So I've started doing something I never thought I would: shopping at the big box stores. So far my local Petco seems to take better care of their fish than Petsmart or Wal-Mart. From what I've read these places vary store to store in their expertise and attention to caring for livestock.

    I haven't purchased any livestock as of yet. I need a few more tropicals for a small community tank... As of right now I have a single Neon Tetra living in a 10g tank. Everyone else has slowly died off from old age. He needs some buddies!

    This is where I was hoping you would all chime in. Do you have any tips, advice, or experiences you would be willing to share related to shopping at the big box stores? Like I said, this is all foreign to me. I've been spoiled :)

    Thank you all!

  2. JeffKWell Known MemberMember

    "Play dumb" and talk to the employees (see if they know what they're talking about). Observe fish that you're interested in carefully. Watch how they swim, look, act, etc. If I see any dead fish in the tank containing the fish I'm considering, I do not buy.

  3. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    honestly, using dead fish in the tank isn't a good way to see if the fish also in the tank or surrounding tanks are healthy. big store fish die every day. just because one died recently or missed the pull doesn't mean all are tainted.
    that being said, big store fish are often infested with ich or some other disease. they normally run on sumps, too, so if one has ich, the surrounding tanks all have it too. the return policy is probably good though, so i would just invest in a quarantine.

  4. KarenLMWell Known MemberMember

    My first piece of advice is to not start with Neon Tetras from the big stores. They are very sensitive to begin with - I have had poor luck with them from 3 different LFS.

    If your neon is the same age as the rest were (in his golden years), you may want to consider a different species for your tank.

    You will want to check the stores' return policy for fish that don't make it. Around my area, one store has a 24 hour guarantee and another has a 7 day one.
  5. James95Well Known MemberMember

    Thank you everyone! The fact that everything runs on a single filter system still scares me a lot! I was never a big quarantiner but I think that's about to change!
    Thank you for that! Yes, I had a school of 6 that were all purchased at the same time. This little guy has been hanging on and is still healthy. He's been alone for around 3 months now.

    That thought did cross my mind about choosing a different species. Maybe some guppies would be nice :)

    I wonder if the big box neons are farm raised or wild caught? I would think farm raised with the quantity needed for all national stores. These neons that I had for close to 7 years were wild caught.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2015
  6. KarenLMWell Known MemberMember

    It's very hard to find wild caught ones now.
  7. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    well its not every tank on one filter. for instance, my store has six sump tanks. the feeders and koi/goldfish tank sets (theres 6 on each) both have their own sump. then the remaining 48 or so tanks are split with each sump being for 12 tanks each. so water quality can differ between sumps.
  8. James95Well Known MemberMember

    Gotcha. This is all still a little unnerving to me. My old LFS used sponge filters for their 20 gallon tanks and anything bigger (they had 55s and 120s) were on canister filters. All new fish got a routine 3 day quarantine... All the tanks had tags for when the fish arrived and where from. Much easier to judge whether or not you're going to be bringing disease home with you :(

    So Petco runs probably 6 tanks on one filter sump?
  9. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    depends on the petco. i would say 12 per sump just to be safe. my store is really small so i think 6 per sump is weird. if they have saltwater fish, then you can trust whoever is running aquatics actually knows what they're doing.
  10. James95Well Known MemberMember

    That's a good sign! The Petco I've been going to has a marine section, probably one section of tanks.
  11. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    then you probably have a good aquatics specialist working there. you should find out who it is, meet with them, see what kind of fish they have etc.
  12. James95Well Known MemberMember

    Also, I read some of the reviews for my particular Petco on yelp and the like. There were a lot of one star reviews with comments like "they wanted to sell me a 29g tank for my 2¢ goldfish" or "they refused to sell me the fish I wanted". Ironically enough these reviews are a good sign to anyone who knows anything about keeping fish.
  13. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    the best way to know is from your own experience. definitely go and see what you think.
  14. BDpupsWell Known MemberMember

    I don't buy much from big box stores. And never fish. If you must, have a quarantine tank for the new ones. I would keep them in QT for 6 weeks before adding them to a tank with fish you don't want to lose. The only reason I don't buy fish from them is they don't carry what I want, and will not order in.

    So this is what I do. Buy them online. You may pay more with shipping, but you can get them from reputable sellers. And this time of year you should not have to pay for next day air. Priority mail would be fine. Only problem is not everyone will ship them this way.

    With you being on the East Coast, I would look at ThatPetPlace.  
    They have a good selection, and shipping shouldn't be that much for you. I have bought from them with no problems.

    By the way, love your angel. It's beautiful!
  15. James95Well Known MemberMember

    I hadn't even considered buying online... that's a great idea! I'll have to look into that. Thank you, that angel actually lives with my parents fish now in a community tank. He was getting a bit beat up living with my two blood parrots and other big fish. Lol

    Thanks again everyone!
  16. GeoffWell Known MemberMember

    What part of Jersey are you in? There's a great store in Clifton. That's where I get my fish. They know their stuff. It's called Absolutely Fish.
  17. James95Well Known MemberMember

    I'm in the Watchung/Mountainside area. There's a few stores around here but they all focus on marine fish. And yes! I've been to Absolutely fish... but the ride up from where I live is gamble depending on the time and day of the week. Don't always have the time to make the trek being I work 60 hours a week :/
  18. GeoffWell Known MemberMember

    I usually go on Saturdays and traffic is usually ok. I live in PA and work at Picatinny Arsenal and I'd never go there after work because going 80 west from Clifton would be a nightmare. So going on weekends is a much safer bet.
  19. James95Well Known MemberMember

    Yeah driving that way from here weekdays is a no go either way... which is when I have my days off. Figures! I'm a restaurant host so my hours are basically the opposite of the normal world. :giggle:
  20. JimWell Known MemberMember

    I have a Petco and a Petsmart fifteen minutes east of me and the same 15 minutes west. The east Petco has the cleanest tanks and largest, usually 40 to 50, selection of Bettas. The west Petco is lowest on the list for "clean" fish. Both Petsmarts use a single filter for all the tanks while the Petcos have a filter for a bank of tanks. Then there is the, IMO, extremely overpriced privately owned tropical fish store that I have been in twice - first and last!

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