I just about HAVE to shop online. Here in Wichita Falls, TX there are only two marine fish stores: a local pet store 11 miles out of town called Natures Half Acre, and PetCo. The selections at both are limited (about 10 different types of fish at each place), which I can understand from the LFS
, but I would expect the "big box" chain to be better stocked.
The metal building, bare cement floor and poor lighting (one should never light the display area with old actinic bulbs) of the LFS
scared my wife. The reeeeeeally young man working the register was friendly enough, and said they could order "whatever I wanted" from their supplier (who I assume to be liveaquaria.com) but not very knowledgeable.
The chain store was clean, well lit, and had a knowledgeable person working the fish department. At least that is what the other employees of the store told me. Unfortunately, she decided I was unworthy of her expertise, and wouldn't answer my questions about their water parameters (I wanted to match them to reduce the stress on the fish) or their livestock.
Neither place has refractometers, power compact lighting retrofit kits, or anything by AquaC or CPR Aquatics. I ended up getting sand, salt, a hydrometer, test kit, and tank decorations from the chain store. :|
It's Captivereefs and Premiumaquatics for my business from now on.