Things Fish Stores Employees Should Know

Mike
  • #1
HI FishLore Friends -

As an article idea for the next issue of the FishLore magazine we're interested in hearing your stories/ideas/thoughts/suggestions on what fish store / pet store employees should know about fish keeping in order to help their customers. They are after all selling live animals and (I think) should know at least the basics. What do you all think about this?

Post in this thread what you wish they would have told you, what you think they should know about fish keeping, etc. in order to answer customer questions.

We'll leave this thread running for a couple of weeks and then make an article of sorts out of it for the next magazine issue. Who knows, maybe we can pass it on to stores as recommened reading for new fish store employees.

Thanks,
Mike
 
Peterpiper
  • #2
It would be nice if the LFS had a leaflet stand next to each aquarium with a discription of the fish and it requirments, ie food, water parameters, companion fish etc. and if you took home a fish, you were given a leaflet.
Nothing over the top just some of the basic's.
 
jsalemi
  • #3
LFS employees should know three very basic facts:

1) whether a particular species is good for community tanks
2) how big the fish in question will ultimately get
3) how many should be kept together in a tank (solo fish? school? etc)

That alone will give them enough info to ask intelligent questions of their customers to steer them towards the right fish for their home tanks. And one more thing they should know to really give good advice:

4) does the species in question have any special needs (soft water, salt in the tank, etc.)
 
fishgirl
  • #4
it would be nice if they could tell how to sex the most popular fishes that they sell.
More that once I have had to tell they how to sex Danios...Cherry Red Shrimp...even Platies.
 
COBettaCouple
  • #5
I wish they'd told me that Cycle was expensive water and how to properly cycle a tank.. and that a tank should be cycled before adding fish.
 
armadillo
  • #6
Or bettas! I've had one sell me a female when she thought it was a male. She sold it to me for hte price of a female, though, as I told her I'd be very surprised if it was a male.
it would be nice if they could tell how to sex the most popular fishes that they sell.
More that once I have had to tell they how to sex Danios...Cherry Red Shrimp...even Platies.

Three huge things they need to know about are:
- adult size of fish they sell
- overstocking
- compatibility (in terms of temper). surprisingly, they tend to be good at compatibility in terms of chemistry.
 
Sabi
  • #7
They should also know
-That dead fish should be taken out immediately.
-Have as much info as possible on the fish they are selling.
 
manjil
  • #8
The fishstore should atleast know how to cycle tank.
My lfs told me to keep fish after 24 hrs of setting tank when I first started fish keeping.
And the lfs should atleast have the water testing kit. In my country I couldn't find the water testing kits.
 
Tom
  • #9
When I started out, teh people at the LFS told me to start off small with a few fish and slowly add some more. They also wouldn't let me take home anyfish until there was no ammonia in the tank, which I figure is really great. IMO, the stores should put in marker on the tank, how to tell teh difference between the male and female livebearers. They could even put the adult size of the fish just above teh price of the fish. Another store also puts little colored stickers on the 'price tags' for each fish which tell if the fish is a community, semi-aggressive, really aggressive, or cold water fish.
Tom
 
jsalemi
  • #10
For all its faults, Petsmart does put a lot of this info on the tags by the tanks, along with a picture of the fish. Too bad most of the employees there can't seem to read, because I've heard them give entirely different info than what's on the tag that's right in front of them.
 
Mike
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
All great recommendations thus far - keep them coming and I'll compile them into an article. Thanks
 
MagpieTear
  • #12
First, this is not your typical sales position. You are selling live animals to impressionable young kids and to (overly) passionate adults. These are not socks and kitchen utensils, they are living things that someone will become attached to. Be as passionate about your merchandise as your customers.

Second, Never be afraid to admit you don't know. One of your coworkers will. Find them, ask, and get back to the customer in a timely fashion. If you do that, you just earned your boss a repeat customer. That makes the boss happy. Happy bosses tend to reward you.

Third, Don't be afraid to start the customer off small if they're new, even if you're one of those poor commissioned salespeople. If they're going to fall out of love with the hobby, they won't be unhappy about only loosing a small amount of money, and therefore less likely to badmouth you and your boss. (see the Happy Boss comment above.) If they do love the hobby and learn about it, they'll see that you treated them right and will ask for you by name each upgrade. (again with the happy boss comment, and a plus if you're commissioned) You and boss will get a rep for treating folks right.

Fourth, Learn who the regular customers are. Good Chance they know more than you and your coworkers. Chat it up with them. They'll shed more information unconsciously than you will have time to absorb. They'll see an eager to learn newb in the store and probably become your customer. They'll usually offer assistance to newb customers if you get stumped if they see your trying. Use them to your advantage, and thank them for their help with "unadvertised specials." Don't tell anyone though or boss won't be happy.

It all boils down to the Golden Rule and (un)Common Sense.
 
Gozer_1
  • #13
Fourth, Learn who the regular customers are. Good Chance they know more than you and your coworkers. Chat it up with them. They'll shed more information unconsciously than you will have time to absorb. They'll see an eager to learn newb in the store and probably become your customer. They'll usually offer assistance to newb customers if you get stumped if they see your trying. Use them to your advantage, and thank them for their help with "unadvertised specials." Don't tell anyone though or boss won't be happy.

Customer to the rescue. I like to intervene on the Walmart fish people. lol

Me to Customer1- "Hmm you know, that fish is gonna get REAL big"
Walmart guy- "Well, they grow to the size of their tank"
Me- "They just die before they get full size because the tank can't sustain them."
Customer1 to Me- "Well what would you suggest?"
Ding! Success!

Personally I think LFSs need to know that there is a website where they could find just about anything they'd need to know. Even if they didn't I'm sure the nice folks at the Fishlore.com forum would be more than willing to help them find it. ;D Yup, that's what I truly think. LFS owners need to join Fishlore
 
Allie
  • #14
Customer to the rescue. I like to intervene on the Walmart fish people. lol

Me to Customer1- "Hmm you know, that fish is gonna get REAL big"
Walmart guy- "Well, they grow to the size of their tank"
Me- "They just die before they get full size because the tank can't sustain them."
Customer1 to Me- "Well what would you suggest?"
Ding! Success!

Personally I think LFSs need to know that there is a website where they could find just about anything they'd need to know. Even if they didn't I'm sure the nice folks at the Fishlore.com forum would be more than willing to help them find it. ;D Yup, that's what I truly think. LFS owners need to join Fishlore
One day at our lfs a lady was asking about the african cichlids...of course my 2 cents had to be said. The fish room guy just walked away & said she sounds like she knows more than I do. I spent about 10-15 minutes helping this lady figure out which cichlids could go with which.
 
Gozer_1
  • #15
One day at our lfs a lady was asking about the african cichlids...of course my 2 cents had to be said. The fish room guy just walked away & said she sounds like she knows more than I do. I spent about 10-15 minutes helping this lady figure out which cichlids could go with which.

Good choice by the fish room guy. He should have stuck around and learned something though.
 
Coryd55
  • #16
My first fish ever, a goldfish, died 2 days after I got him. I was so excited I gave him a name and everything. They didn't tell me to cycle the tank so I think that's what got him. Poor guy....
 
0morrokh
  • #17
I think the biggest thing that most fish store employees can't seem to understand is how big of tanks different fish need. I've seen Gups being sold for 1gal bowls, Goldies for 5gals (or bowls), Bettas for tiny jars, really big fish for 10gals........

Another thing they usually get wrong is how many of the species to get. Most stores will tell you you only have to have 3 of a shoaling species.

And of course cycling. We all know how well most employees understand that process....

I guess another thing would be a general knowledge about equipment. I've gone into stores looking for pretty basic equipment, such as a sponge filter, and when I ask if they have it I just get blank faces (or something completely different like sponge filter media from a canister).

And of course diseases. Too many stores have sick fish all over the place and don't even treat them. I've stopped shopping at most of the stores in my area because their fish are never healthy. And customers usually don't get good advice if they come in with a question about sick fish.

That's all I can think of for now...
 
Barbrella
  • #18
Pet store employees should know what species of fish you ask for, without you having to lead them over and point it out.

They should know how to catch fish without smashing them against the tank walls.

There should not be dead and dying fish lying on the FLOOR!
 
COBettaCouple
  • #19
lol, yea - that would be nice. Then we wouldn't need to bag our fish ourselves.

Pet store employees should know what species of fish you ask for, without you having to lead them over and point it out.

They should know how to catch fish without smashing them against the tank walls.

There should not be dead and dying fish lying on the FLOOR!
 
armadillo
  • #20
Oh, and they should know how to euthanase a fish humanely. Most will freeze them.

And it would be nice to have a suggestion box in the stores for customers to say what information they would have liked, or what equipment.
 
0morrokh
  • #21
Oh, and they should know how to euthanase a fish humanely. Most will freeze them.

And it would be nice to have a suggestion box in the stores for customers to say what information they would have liked, or what equipment.

Good ideas. I shudder to think how most places euthanize their fish. Although on second thought, most of them probably never do. Hence all the dead fish in their tanks.
 
COBettaCouple
  • #22
yea, i'm guessing that many of the big chain stores flush sick fish if they don't just let them die in the tanks. It would be good if they knew to remove dead fish too - we often see fuzzy fish in tanks.
 
Rbacchiega
  • #23
Being a former employee of a major LFS here, I can honestly say that that didn't go on in my store. I was fish manager and we did hourly dead runs, we had weekly "quizes" on new animals coming in and I would write a lot of tidbits on the tanks in terms of final size, water requirements, compatable species etc. Infact, up until the time I left the store, I had people who would drive in from out of town to come in on days that I was in. The city manager even had me set up his tank for him (a nice 240 gallon frontosa tank). I know its sad, but because a lot of us were on the commission, you'd have a lot of people selling whatever they could otherwise, not a word of a lie, you would get "written up" and risked losing your job.

So now you run into the problem of inconsistant retailers who don't care about long term customers, just about the quick sale. I was written up numerous times because I would take "too long" making a sale. We were told what products to push, because Hagen was the majority supplier (and still is) for that chain. So if I"m telling someone the proper way to cycle a tank through, why it'd be better to have live plants, yadda yadda....my boss at the time was writing my dismissal slip....It wasn't until the head hauncho stepped in that my job was saved....

So I guess after all the long winded , the responsiblity for proper fish care should really be held on three parts. One, the lfs chain, which will probably never happen because they need to make a profit, Two the actual fish employees who need to be responsible enough to do the extra work to learn about the fish and the products that they are selling, and Three, on us as consumers because, lets face it....ninety percent of the time we keep going back to the stores, be it from lack of any other resource or just because they have the most selection.

done and done.
 
COBettaCouple
  • #24
that's why about 90-95% of our "fish budget" is spent online. if a chain would adopt a policy like that, they'd gain our business. That's what I wish the big shots at the top of the chains would understand.
 
manjil
  • #25
The lfs should atleast know the symptoms of different disease.
 
Angel man
  • #26
I was out raged when I walked into Walmart the fish graveyard of the world! When I saw columbian sharks for sale. I thought "Hopefully the correct info is on its tag because it is a brackish fish. That means it lives in freskwater until adult hood then it needs salt water! IT read exactly this on the tag "A great freshwater fish for a 20-38 allon tank, it is not aggresive and is best kept in shoals." And that made me tick! Where in **** did they get that information they certainly didn't go on fishlore. But lickily I don't have to put up with there BS because I have the best local pet store in my are. They have wonderful staff who are experieced and are veryyyy picky on who they hire! They won't let you buy any animal unless you have the proper setup. That is why I still am going to their store!
 
Allie
  • #27
I was out raged when I walked into Walmart the fish graveyard of the world! When I saw columbian sharks for sale. I thought "Hopefully the correct info is on its tag because it is a brackish fish. That means it lives in freskwater until adult hood then it needs salt water! IT read exactly this on the tag "A great freshwater fish for a 20-38 allon tank, it is not aggresive and is best kept in shoals." And that made me tick! Where in **** did they get that information they certainly didn't go on fishlore. But lickily I don't have to put up with there BS because I have the best local pet store in my are. They have wonderful staff who are experieced and are veryyyy picky on who they hire! They won't let you buy any animal unless you have the proper setup. That is why I still am going to their store!
Columbian sharks get huge. Stupid, stupid Walmart!!!
 
COBettaCouple
  • #28
that's wally-world for you -- today we saw a tank of red belly pacu with a label saying they grow to 10", nothing about the tank size or number of pacu needed.
 
Kevin
  • #29
hey guys...since I might be getting a job at a petco or lps, I decided to read every post here...hopefully I will be able to influenece my coworkers and have people come see me just to talk about fish or ask me a difficult question that they trust I will give them a truthful response!
thanks guys!

I think everyone covered my major concerns

mike, maybe, since fishlore is partnering with petsmart for the fish/aquarium of the month, you could send this to a high-ranking person in that chain...who could send the article to employees across the country to read and memorize
 
Drea
  • #30
they should know to add stress coat to the take home bag, and just how many fish should go home in the bag.
 
COBettaCouple
  • #31
lol, i'm happy when they manage to get the fish IN the bag rather than on the floor or in the sink or on the counter...

they should know to add stress coat to the take home bag, and just how many fish should go home in the bag.
 
armadillo
  • #32
Good point, that!
they should know to add stress coat to the take home bag, and just how many fish should go home in the bag.
 
armadillo
  • #33
They should know to ask people if they have bottom dwellers before giving them medication with copper in it.
 
0morrokh
  • #34
lol, i'm happy when they manage to get the fish IN the bag rather than on the floor or in the sink or on the counter...

Hmm, that may be asking a little too much of them. I'm just happy if they can get the fish out of the tank at all, especially if they actually happen to get the fish you want.

I thought of another thing, they should be able to sex their fish (I don't remember if someone else said that already). I get really irritated when I say "I want that female Platy" and they catch me a random male.
 
COBettaCouple
  • #35
lol.. true.. when we were about a week into fish keeping, we went in for some female platys and they didn't have a clue how to tell which ones were female so we had to tell them.. I think an employee at a pet store should know more than someone who was 1 week into the hobby.

I thought of another thing, they should be able to sex their fish (I don't remember if someone else said that already). I get really irritated when I say "I want that female Platy" and they catch me a random male.
 
armadillo
  • #36
Yep, that's how I ended up with my livebearer tank out of whack. I wanted to buy 2 new females to have a ratio of 1 male to 3 females, but instead I ended up with 2 males and 2 females...
Hmm, that may be asking a little too much of them. I'm just happy if they can get the fish out of the tank at all, especially if they actually happen to get the fish you want.

I thought of another thing, they should be able to sex their fish (I don't remember if someone else said that already). I get really irritated when I say "I want that female Platy" and they catch me a random male.
 
Mike
  • Thread Starter
  • #37
First - thanks for all the ideas and suggestions. I've compiled them into the article here: Things Fish Store Employees Should Know

I've included a link in the article that points back to this post if anyone reading it wants to continue the discussion. I hope I paraphrased your ideas and thoughts accurately in the article and hopefully this will help a fish store somewhere.

Thanks,
Mike
 
0morrokh
  • #38
Are we going to do anything with the article? I wonder if there's any way we could send it to places like Petsmart/Petco, like a "we are concerned customers and here's how you could improve your fish area" kind of thing? (they probably wouldn't read it, but worth a try I suppose)
 
MagpieTear
  • #39
My guess is to be the most effective, print out copies for your next trip to the LFS. Give copies to managers, let them know that paying, repeat customers want to see our finny friends treated better. And we want to give good word of mouth in these days of doom and gloom. End it on a positive note.
 
swords3711
  • #40
They should learn how to catch fish quicker and get rid of the dead fish quicker.
 

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