When you walk into a your local fish store, how do you judge they are a good place to shop?

Utar

I think this is more for the experienced fish keeper, rather than those who are new to the hobby. Because experience will tell a person if the people working in a lfs know what they are talking about.

With my experience in fish keeping I can take one look around, ask a few questions and decide if I want to shop there or not. Case in point two Petco stores.

One I walked in the people looked young, very young and the fish selection was very low, and not in the best of care. I didn't even ask a question because it was apparent to me these people where clueless.

The second Petco was completely different, the female manager was very professional, the tanks where very clean with a great selection of fish. She even had the stock and the tanks separated out by temperature compatibility. In this store I got the fish I wanted and they where in great health. She not only answered my questions, but asked me questions, and was excited when I showed her a picture of my 55g aquarium on my cell phone. We talked for awhile about our fish keeping, she had a few tanks setup at home. I ended up buying more in this store then I had originally came in for.
 

PaprikaFish

I think a good question for basically any store (regardless of whether or not you are a beginner) is "How many comet goldfish can I fit into the 5 gallon I set up last night?" If they say, "Oh, about 4 would be good..." then turn around and RUN!!
 
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Ghelfaire

You can also tell by how liked they are by the community. That's for smaller non big companies not like Petco or Petsmart.
 
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SouthAmericanCichlids

With my experience in fish keeping I can take one look around, ask a few questions and decide if I want to shop there or not.
Me: I don't really like this fish store
Me living in the middle of no where: Welp I guess I'll have to live with it.
 
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SM1199

Call me crazy, but I don't tell by how clean the tanks are. A brand new store with people who don't know what they're doing can have spotless tanks, while some 30+ year old LFSs can have grimey aquariums but amazing knowledge and care of their stock. A little algae on the glass won't hurt anything.

You might think I'm even more crazy when I say this but same with the health of the fish - I don't judge on that alone. Sometimes they get a bad batch and that's not their fault. The better test of the quality is if the people know the fish are sick. If I point at a tank and say "Are those fish for sale?" and they say "Yeah, sure" then I'm running. If they say "No, they're sick and we're quarantining/medicating the tank" then that gives me a better impression.

Huge minus points if there are dead fish milling about. One dead tetra in a 55 gallon tank of 100 of them, that's inevitable. Half of your stock died in the 12 hours after shipment, I get that. But if you leave half-shredded bodies stuck to the filter intake and getting blown through the live fish, I'm running.

A big plus if I see someone doing water changes or taking genuine interest and care in feeding the fish. One time I got to watch an LFS guy feed some super rare black tangs and the joy on his face just made my day. Even bigger plus if fish are stocked compatibly. Can hold a conversation about their passion for mystery snails? I'm sold.

My favorite one was when I was at an LFS in Connecticut. I told the guy (same one who fed the black tangs) I was just looking because there's no way I'm fitting a sixth tank into my one bedroom apartment. He said "Are you kidding? I've got twelve tanks in my one bedroom apartment, and three of those are over 100 gallon saltwater tanks! You can find the space!" One of my favorite places to go now. I stop there every now and then during my 400 mile hike up to Maine.
 
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