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Old 02-22-2012, 02:11 AM   #1
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Chain pet stores

I am working on master's in biology, and to do simple work with most animals I have to detail what I am going to do without causing harm. Stores such as wal-mart, petsmart, and petco seem to overcrowd and overfeed fish. How is this not inhumane.
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:20 AM   #2
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All stores "overcrowd" even the best LFS will have more fish in a tank than they should because A they are juveniles and/or B because they will only be in there for a short time. It's not like those 80 tetras will live their whole life in that 30 gallon tank.

I think your "over feeding" theory is off as well, I don think they are being overfed. What it really boils down to is potentially bad/sickly stock that isn't cared for very well because of the lack of knowledge of the employees and the type of filtration they use. All those tanks are connected so if one fish is sick the rest get sick.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:18 AM   #3
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Hello! I'm a big chain pet store employee, so I'd like to offer a bit of info.

As far as overcrowding goes, YES....they are. As the previous poster pointed out, it's expected they wont stay long. Also, visit the store and stand in front of the tanks....you should hear mechanical humming behind them. At least in our store, we have two giant filter pumps behind the tanks that cycle 4 times as much water as we actually have, to keep the overcrowded tanks oxygenated and as clean as possible...it also takes LOTS of maintenance work, so the fishes quality of life depends entirely on the "culture" of the store - does the manager insist on quality care, are the tanks regularly tested, do they make sure they have enough employees on hand to clean the tanks, take time feeding properly, isolate sick fish, monitor the aggressive fish and address problems etc? It all depends on the quality of the store.

As far as abuse goes, in MY PERSONAL experience, it comes from outside forces in the store: the breeders, distributors, and the customers, unfortunately.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:33 PM   #4
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I work for an import/wholsale supplier and we supply one chain company here in the Uk.

As CPryor says, store management is important. The problem, in my experience, is that there are few people with good enough knowledge and/or experience from which to employ and the stores, certainly in the UK pay low wages. Many shop staff may be hobbyists with some general knowledge, but poor understanding of the aquatic environment. Many staff have low end qualifications in petcare where they may have done just one module on fish care.

At the end of the day, fish can be maintained in very high densities for the short term as long as water quality is optimum. So is it inhumane when water is well filtered and fish are well fed. On the subject of overfeeding.... I would suggest most stores actually feed less than the fish need for normal growth, but, again, they really just need to maintain the fish as, hopefully, the stock is sold quite quickly.

I disagree with the term 'abuse' being aimed at breeders and suppliers.... it is not in breeders and suppliers commercial interest to supply poor quality stock, so they should.be looking after their fish to the best standards. How many multi store retailers ensure the correct water paramaters for each species of fish they stock...... non of the ones with large centralised systems, I would suggest.

As consumers, all hobbyists must take some responsibility for the huge numbers of fish supplied worldwide every year - and those that unfortunately don't make it, for it is a supply and demand industry the same as any other.
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Old 04-07-2014, 09:22 PM   #5
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Chain pet stores

Well, I have experienced good and bad big chain stores, example, there is a Petco in my area of central NJ that yes tanks are overcrowded, this is the norm for any fish store since it's a temporary arrangement but their maintenance when it comes to the overall fish keeping is far beyond or equal to he best LFS I have been to. They also have a very knowledgable staff as well which is rare for these stores.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pip walters View Post
I work for an import/wholsale supplier and we supply one chain company here in the Uk.

At the end of the day, fish can be maintained in very high densities for the short term as long as water quality is optimum. So is it inhumane when water is well filtered and fish are well fed. On the subject of overfeeding.... I would suggest most stores actually feed less than the fish need for normal growth, but, again, they really just need to maintain the fish as, hopefully, the stock is sold quite quickly.

I disagree with the term 'abuse' being aimed at breeders and suppliers.... it is not in breeders and suppliers commercial interest to supply poor quality stock, so they should.be looking after their fish to the best standards. How many multi store retailers ensure the correct water paramaters for each species of fish they stock...... non of the ones with large centralised systems, I would suggest.
Very good points. At my store, we have 2 systems... goldfish, and tropical fish. This means the tropical fish, livebearers, and the cichlids share a system - certainly not ideal, but we do keep limestone in their tanks to alter the PH a bit, and salt in the livebearers. The training modules are laughable! I'm pretty sure I got the job at my store because two of the interview questions were "what can I put in my new 5 gal. tank?" and "what kind of leash should I get for my new husky puppy?" I answered the first with "betta", after determining it had a heater, and the second with "i'm really not sure, let's go find the dog trainer" It was good to know it was best to give actual advice and admit it when you had no idea.

I added emphasis to the comment on abuse in distributors and breeders, because yes, it's very much anecdotal, and a matter of opinion. For example, our fish shipment last week came in two hours late because the driver overslept; the fish came in over 10 degrees F. from their normal shipping temp. Most died, even after we dumped stress coat and meds into the tanks...so sad. And the breeders....well, we often get fish and lizards with some sort of genetic conditions that end up killing them. As in all things, I'm sure it's a matter of management and culture in the company. I'm floored because like you said, it's in their interest to provide quality....not sure what's going on. I suppose I should blame the company I work for: that kind of behavior should not be tolerated if contracts are to continue.

Thanks for your input - good food for thought.
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:28 AM   #7
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My lfs is a bigger chain here in quebec canada and is great, sure they overstock a bit, but as stated above there are reasons for that.. It has individual filtration for all the tanks (except saltwater is one system) that is rocking (the manager explained it all to me).. They control ph for cichlids for example and other parameters.. They really take good care of the fish and try to inform people as much as possible when they buy.. Each time I go there is an employee cleaning the tanks... I think it's all in the management and company values, because I went to another store of the same chain and it was the same! I wouldn't put all the big chains in the same pot but I would definitely do research before spending at a chain pet store (for fish, I never ever would buy any other animal at a pet shop)
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Old 04-08-2014, 05:37 PM   #8
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I have been lucky to have now seen each link in the chain I suppose. I worked in pet and aquatic retail, then went into fish farming (carp, koi, goldfish etc) and now I work for the importer as I mentioned. As such, I have seen, heard and read about the the good and the bad for the last thirty-odd years and seen many changes in the hobby too. All interesting stuff!

I went back to college as a mature student and it was there I encountered students that were to be the next generation of chain pet store employees. We called them bunny hugger..... I will say no more, lol
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