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Old 06-28-2011, 10:10 AM   #1
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How do you judge an LFS?

Hi everyone,

I'm currently fishless cycling but I'm trying to think ahead to where I'll get my fish when/if the time comes. How do you judge a trustworthy LFS? I don't want to spend all this time cycling my tank just to introduce diseases from a substandard LFS.

I live in a small state (er, the smallest lol) so I don't have a large number of options for LFS. I have visited 5 so far, and here are my findings:

Place 1: Local LFS, non-chain store. They had about 10 FW tanks and they seem to QT their fish (some were marked not for sale yet). Most of their fish looked good and the tanks were clear, I didn't notice any obvious diseases or issues. However in one tank there was a dead fish being eaten by others (it had a large hole in its gut) and the worker didn't seem too concerned with removing it or perhaps didn't know about it (he was busy feeding the corals). In two other tanks, it seemed like there were dead fish too, but it could be the fish were just not moving. One was a large catfish of some sort just laying at the bottom, other fish were bumping it with their noses and it wasn't moving. In another tank a group of fish (again maybe smaller catfish, couldn't tell) was lodged under a cave, I saw one that looked upside down but it was hard to tell. So at least 1 dead fish, possibly more.

Place 2: Local LFS, non-chain store. This one was obvious as a bad store. One whole tank had ich and I didn't see anything about it being in QT or not for sale. A whole tank of angels were in the top corner, not moving and gasping. Other fish were gasping too and the worker was giving horrid advice to a mother and her kids about goldfish. So I've ruled that one out (pretty obvious lol)

Place 3: Local LFS, non-chain store. The fish looked OK, didn't see any obvious sign of disease, but the tanks were a bit murky for the most part, I felt they could have been clearer. The owner told me my tank wouldn't cycle fishless and to buy a few "insignificant fish" to put in there to cycle it.

Place 4: PetSmart. Their tanks on the whole look good. I did spot a dead fish in one once (and told the worker who didn't' seem to care) but for the amount of tanks they have they look good and didn't see any noticeable sign of disease.

Place 5: PetCo. This one is a new one near me which opened up not long ago. Their tanks looked very good and the worker even shook his head when I talked to him about the advice PetSmart gave me. They don't seem to have a large selection though. I went to another PetCo near where I worked and they have more tanks and they look OK but I can't tell for sure.

So....how do you know (or do you ever) whether the fish you are buying are safe? Place 3 is the only one so far that has one of the fish I definitely want (Galaxy Rasbora) but not sure I would feel comfortable buying their fish given what I saw.

And then there are members here who sell fish who have gotten great reviews. Again though they may not have the fish I want to get. There's also buying online from a large company but I'm not sure I would trust them either if I can't see what I'm getting and can't read other's reviews on them.

So...any advice on what to do? Is there a way to be sure? Or is it just a gamble? Should I set up a QT tank and do that to be 100% safe?

Sorry if this is a dumb question, I'm just concerned about introducing nasties.
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Old 06-28-2011, 10:28 AM   #2
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Last statement was the best - a quarantine tank of your own is the only safeguard. Paid for this mistake with Ich out break when I was using 10 gal quarantine for another purpose and skipped this step. LOL - do not skip quarantine stage. Cost effective over the long run and frustrating when you have a situation you know you could have avoided. Bought a fish from a local fish store (Which I still support) and contaminated a 37 gal aquarium with Ich from a single fish purpose. Had to move the entire tank population to quarantine and do aggressive water changes ad substrate cleaning in 37 gal tank to rid myself of the problem. Could easily have been avoided by quarantine procedure. Point is - you never really can tell if your individual purchase will have a problem or not. If I can not quarantine new fish - I do not purchase.
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Old 06-28-2011, 10:52 AM   #3
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Common sense and luck are your only friends if a QT is not an option.

First, as you said, buying from a reputable seller like other AA members (Severum Mama and HN1 are my pet store) is always your best bet. If a lfs or chain is your only option, try to visit them over a period of time so you can get a feel for the well being and the care they show their fish. If you have a lfs that actually QT's their fish that's great, but chances are they're not QT'ing them for a long enough period to guarantee anything. A lfs near me has tanks with QT stickers on them, but they're only quarantined when they arrive sick...not as a general rule.

There's different views on initially stocking your tank. Some people QT, but I believe most view an unstocked, empty tank as a quarantine tank in itself. I'm also not sure many of us have the patience to cycle your main tank, then set up a second tank and keep your new fish in there for 2-3 weeks. Also, unless you took the time to fishless cycle a second tank...you'll basically be doing a fish-in cycle for 14-21 days defeating the purpose of cycling your main tank.

Personally, I stocked my DT initially...but now that I have residents in there, all new fish get a 2-3 week private vacation in their own tank before meeting the others. Unless it comes from Severum Mama...her fish get acclimated and go right on into the tank, bag water and all
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Old 06-28-2011, 10:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by libraygirl View Post
Hi everyone,


Place 1: Local LFS, non-chain store. They had about 10 FW tanks and they seem to QT their fish (some were marked not for sale yet). Most of their fish looked good and the tanks were clear, I didn't notice any obvious diseases or issues. However in one tank there was a dead fish being eaten by others (it had a large hole in its gut) and the worker didn't seem too concerned with removing it or perhaps didn't know about it (he was busy feeding the corals). In two other tanks, it seemed like there were dead fish too, but it could be the fish were just not moving. One was a large catfish of some sort just laying at the bottom, other fish were bumping it with their noses and it wasn't moving. In another tank a group of fish (again maybe smaller catfish, couldn't tell) was lodged under a cave, I saw one that looked upside down but it was hard to tell. So at least 1 dead fish, possibly more.

Place 5: PetCo. This one is a new one near me which opened up not long ago. Their tanks looked very good and the worker even shook his head when I talked to him about the advice PetSmart gave me. They don't seem to have a large selection though. I went to another PetCo near where I worked and they have more tanks and they look OK but I can't tell for sure.

Or is it just a gamble? Should I set up a QT tank and do that to be 100% safe?
Looks like your've done your homework on this one!

I'd say Place 1 and Place 5 are your better options based on your descriptions for fish and set up a QT tank. That is really the main way of ensuring your putting good stock in your main tank.

Good luck!
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:11 AM   #5
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I agree that the 1st & 5th places sound like your best choice and as far as a QT right now, don't worry since your freshly cycled tank will be just like a QT. As you add fish down the road, a QT is a good idea. Just have a backup filter (running on your DT) ready to instant cycle a QT when you need it.
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:34 AM   #6
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My wife doubted the power of the qt. Disease hasn't been a problem but the pond snails we got in it sold her. Ironically she kind of likes them so we left them be, but still.. Heh
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:08 PM   #7
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every place has pro's and cons...Some people buy fish Online from SUCH AND SUCH who is only a HUGE name big seller of Ultra clean never diseased fish..blah blah..Did you see the guppy mill that fish came out of .....NO ...Enough said...Petsmart did get me once..I bought some plants that had snail eggs in them...needless to say that went well...I have a blood parrot I bought at walmart...just be careful and look at the fish you are buying not all employees know much more than to feed the fish..I live in SC. our local petco will let the tanks get horribly dirty...Those tanks use a "community" filter system which you can tell from the tanks must be clogged and over worked. Petsmart Petco where ever I would just keep the fish QT for a few days......I have been lucky and ever introduced ICH into my tank or any disease, and as I say I have fish from petsmart petco and walmart..yes..I know...and I know the whole Blood Parrot stigma but I really like mine..He almost seems to know me..He follows me and just watches me constantly as though he knows me...Maybe he knows I always feed him? who knows but they are odd personality fish...point is..Either hope in luck or try the QT.
I will say our local petsmart does seem to have cleaner and healthier fish than our petco..
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:20 PM   #8
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Thanks for the insights so far, very helpful!

So....either QT first or take a chance lol Given my tank is empty yes it could be the QT if something happens but my luck I'd get some horrid disease and I'd ned to sterlize everything. lol I do have two filters on my DT, so I could I guess get a small setup for a QT but yeah it would be hard cycling all this time and then not having the fish go into the DT.

I'd like to buy from Severum Mama, just for the feedback she gets.....but I'd need to only stock my tank from her list, which means at least one of the fish I really want aren't options and neither would be the ADFs that I'm seriously considering (although I've only seen them in two places so far: PetSmart - saw them once and they were gone the next day, haven't seen them since, and Place #3 on my list).

Do people generally pick whatever fish they want for their tanks and then find sources to buy them from, or if you have a trusted source do you base your stocking on what the LFS has?

So, I still have no idea. Luckily I probably have a lot of time to think about it since I still don't have nitrItes after two weeks lol
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by libraygirl
Thanks for the insights so far, very helpful!

So....either QT first or take a chance lol Given my tank is empty yes it could be the QT if something happens but my luck I'd get some horrid disease and I'd ned to sterlize everything. lol I do have two filters on my DT, so I could I guess get a small setup for a QT but yeah it would be hard cycling all this time and then not having the fish go into the DT.

I'd like to buy from Severum Mama, just for the feedback she gets.....but I'd need to only stock my tank from her list, which means at least one of the fish I really want aren't options and neither would be the ADFs that I'm seriously considering (although I've only seen them in two places so far: PetSmart - saw them once and they were gone the next day, haven't seen them since, and Place #3 on my list).

Do people generally pick whatever fish they want for their tanks and then find sources to buy them from, or if you have a trusted source do you base your stocking on what the LFS has?

So, I still have no idea. Luckily I probably have a lot of time to think about it since I still don't have nitrItes after two weeks lol
More important that your livestock will get along with each other - I rarely special order fish (though strangely I will plants). I usually stick to species in my dealers tank. If you need something particular - I ask if dealer can stock for me and at what price - then compare online. Some local dealers get their stock from local breeders and may simply have limited stock.
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Old 06-28-2011, 05:11 PM   #10
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id say either #1 or #5
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