12:50 AM

Local Aquarium Stores for Information and Advice

I have read many blogs, forum posts (including Yahoo answers), and infomercial articles that trash local fish (pet) stores as a source of Aquarium information and help. This in my opinion is unfair as there are many dedicated stores and employees who love the hobby and really want to see the best for your aquarium (or pond).
Even stores such as PetsMart or PetsCo which are often noted for poor quality advice often will have an employee who really knows his or hers 'stuff' (although these good employees will often not stay long). This said, if you have recieved good service and advice, your local aquarium store is worth supporting over the large chains (especially Walmart)

One should ask around when seeking a good store, get to know the owners and/or the employees. Also keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes and just because you may have gotten one bad fish or some bad advice does not mean you should right off that particular store.

You want to look for a store that is open minded and not dogmatic on everything they say, always open to new ideas. Also be careful of stores that may push only one manufacturer's line of product rather than carrying the best of all manufacturers. This of coarse does not prove a bad store either as they may have purchasing restrictions or other factors that go into this. However I have personally tried to resist purchasing an entire manufacturers line just to get better discounts (many companies from Hagen to Tetra offer these discounts either direct or through distributors such as Central Garden and Pet). I mentioned Hagen and Tetra as two expamples of companies that make some good products (more so Hagen), but also some 'dogs' too.

I personally have never tried to be everything to everyone in my previous LFS and Aquarium Maintenance company or my current Online Aquarium Products store, I have always tried to sell what I personally use and believe in and have often suggested DIY filters, lighting and similar. In my Aquarium & pond resource article I often make many suggestions such as for marine applications of products or methods of I have nothing to sell. There are many good LFS that are just the same and will honestly tell you when they cannot help your and send you in the right direction to those who can.

Many larger metropolitan areas have many good stores to choose from, while unfortunately many smaller communities (such as Grants Pass where I now live) often may have just one or two stores and in my community they are both very poor Aquarium stores with poor advice and out of date low quality supplies.
Back in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County (where I was in business for 28 years) there are more choices (such as Pasadena Tropical Fish). I am sure many other larger communities are the same and maybe some smaller ones where the 'old boy network' is not quite so strong have excellent Aquarium Stores as well.

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