So you want to purchase some aquarium equipment, livestock or general consumables (food, buffers, filter materials, etc) and you’ve managed to find an aquarium store (or a few) that you’d like to visit which is fantastic…but what things should you consider when shopping at a local aquarium store? We’ve come up with a list of 5 really important considerations when choosing where to spend your hard earned money, with considerations of both quality of purchased items and the shopping experience.
- Staff Helpful and Knowledgeable: You should receive knowledgeable advice when you ask staff for help. More importantly, that advice should be given sincerely and preferably with a smile regardless of your level of experience and understanding. Staff should at least attempt to catch your chosen fish, not randomly selecting the easiest to catch. Advice should be given about suitability to your tank and tank mates if your provide such information and any general help should be provided. If the staffer doesn’t know the answer, they should find someone who does know or at least be honest with you and tell you they aren’t full bottle on the topic. Nothing is worse than the staff member making something up or giving bad advice as the results can be catastrophic to your tank and livestock.
- Healthy Livestock: Fish, plants, corals and other livestock should all appear healthy and well cared for. In reality, livestock does die in all local aquarium stores, it’s how that is managed is what is important. Ideally the dead specimen should be removed immediately and if required, remediation of the cause completed. If the store leaves dead or dying fish in their tanks for long periods, it’s probably wise to shop elsewhere. Tanks with visible disease should be off-limits to customers while being treated/quarantined. If a store is willing to sell you diseased or medicated fish, run for the hills.
- Good Range of Products and Livestock: It’s important that the aquarium stores have a good range of products and livestock. Of particular importance would be test kits, supplements, medications and food, but also spare parts and replacement items in times of emergency. A good range of livestock is more about ensuring your enjoyment of the hobby doesn’t stagnate with the same old…same old. It’s nice to see new fish, corals, plants and other livestock when you visit the local store.
Next time you’re considering trying a new store or even just visiting your existing local aquarium store, consider the three tips above and decide if the shop is right for you!