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Old 12-07-2004, 03:22 PM   #1
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LFS Advice vs. Web Forums

I scope out messageboards a whole bunch, and also spend a good deal of time hanging around in various fish stores in my area. At this point, I really think that people get much better information online than going to an average LFS. At a LFS, most of the ones I have been to give out the same information and methods to pretty much everyone. They each have a certain way of doing things that works for them and their tanks. For example, I see the same LFS reccomending the same snails to people in totally different situations because those are the snails they keep stocked and use in their tanks. Maybe not every need a tank full of Turbo Snails?

Keep in mind that a LFS can get away with a lot we might not be able to, because they spend all week with the tanks. There is often not a frequent exchange of information, just the LFS giving advice to customers, then the customer can do what they want with the advice. I have tried having discussions with LFS about new concepts and products, and usually get smacked down. I asked about Oceanic Salt last week, and Instant Ocean came up because I use some of that. I was informed point blank that, "Instant Ocean salt causes algae, buy Tropic Marin". Sure it does, just ask thousand of people that use IO without and issue...

Also, a lot of LFS owners and employees are simply not always searching for more informaiton regarding what they are doing. They know enough to get by and be consistent, but it can take a while to get them on new ideas. There is one LFS up here where the owner is great, and will listen to anything a customer has to say and consider it. That is a minority.

Now, online forums like this one get a huge variety of people from different areas, with different tanks, and different methods of keeping those tanks. There is a free exchange of information between posters, the information gets retained for later searching, and people online are generally open minded. Also, no one posting online has a financial stake on what you do. The LFS stays around because they make money off people like you and me. Posters online will give their opinion without a financial consideration in their head. You will find that most people online DO agree on most basic concepts and conform to a "right way" of doing things. If someone does give out really bad advice, there will quickly be people to counter it and explain why. Literally hundreds of people and thousands of post can take place before an messageboard settles down on a "right way" for that group of people. Also when dealing with complicated systems like reefs, it is critical to exchange ideas with others who have tried and failed, and tried and succeeded. Everyone learns from everyone else, and can report back right away after trying new things. Without this messageboard, my tank would very likely have had a lot more problems than if I listened to one particular LFS.

If you want into four different fish shops and ask the same question, you are usually going to get for different answers. Ask that question online, and you will typically get a collection of answers that are all quite similar because they all worked together to discuss the hobby.

Now, I know there are LFS owners and employees that are just as commited to learning as people here, and I applaud those people and their efforts.

Then it comes down to who do you trust. A LFS owner trying to make money off you, or the combined thoughts and ideas of hundreds of tank owners?

//Update: I should also add that I have gotten a lot of good info locally and do find them to be a valuable resource. However when a situation arises and the local places do not agree or give me question information, I go straight to the net.
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Old 12-07-2004, 03:29 PM   #2
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I put much more stock in the advice given by my friends here at AA. I am fortunate in the fact that I have a very good LFS right by me. They almos always give good advice and even have a Marine Biologist on staff. However, 1000 heads are better then one. I do not look to this forum to correct bad LFS advice, rather, I come here to get more options and opinions. There are some LFS around here that do not have a clue what they are doing. Identify them early and just stay away.
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Old 12-07-2004, 03:42 PM   #3
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Luckily, we have three good stores in the southern part of Maine with good staff (Port City Reef, Atlantis, and Aquatic Concepts). I would not say they agree with each other on much though, and each has their own quirks.

One of those three places tried smacking me down by saying that I was causing algae by using Instant Ocean. Another one told me not to worry about curing new LR even though it smelled like death, and another one encourages people with no reef experience to buy 7g tank as a starter and swears it is easy.
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2x Sunburst Platys (2M, 2F) // 3x Neon Tetras (?) // 2x Cherry Barbs (1M, 1F) // 2x YoYo Loaches (?) // 1x Bushy Nose Pleco (M) // 1x Clown Pleco (?) //

*15H marine*
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Old 12-07-2004, 03:56 PM   #4
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hmm call me crazy.....but didn't munsterkins just basically discuss this topic.....you post in his.....then copy his idea......or i guess im just crazy....i love fish baby
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Old 12-07-2004, 03:57 PM   #5
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Ya we have a number of stores in our area. There is a local chain that I wouldn't buy a snail from. Their stock looks like crap and they have made it obvious to me that they are after the buck and could care less about education.
We have 1 that is excellent and gives advise similar to what I get here and another 2 that are decent.
This still is the best place to come for experienced advice. We all run into many of the same dilemmas and can share our experiences and resolution of problems with one another. To me that is how solid standards can be put in place for such a volatile hobby.
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Old 12-07-2004, 04:00 PM   #6
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hmm call me crazy.....but didn't munsterkins just basically discuss this topic.....you post in his.....then copy his idea......or i guess im just crazy....i love fish baby
Um...OK and the point is??
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Old 12-07-2004, 04:00 PM   #7
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hmm call me crazy.....but didn't munsterkins just basically discuss this topic.....you post in his.....then copy his idea......or i guess im just crazy....i love fish baby
Similar, but not the same. Munsterkins is a lot about his tank and situation in particular. I actually had this post typed up in there, and moved it to its own thread since I felt it was different enough to warrant a new thread. Also, I wanted to focus on the LFS vs Internet aspect of this.
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*15H marine*
-30# Live Rock
-Mixed Snails (Nassarius // Cerith // Astrea // Black Turbo // Mexican Turbo)
-8x Blue Leg Hermit Crabs // 1x Banded Serpent Star // 1x Cleaner Shrimp
-1x Royal Gramma // 1x Percula Clownfish
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Old 12-07-2004, 04:09 PM   #8
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Yes Smastic, What is your point...besides you "love fish baby"? If you do not have anything constructive to contribute, please do not bother posting.
By the way...Welcome to AA!!!
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Old 12-07-2004, 04:09 PM   #9
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The two LFSs that I call home are decent because at each store there is someone who is a frequent on Reefcentral.com, which is usually where I go for most of my reef needs. I trust both of those guys because I know they know what they're doing and are connected to the vast web of reefkeepers around the world. They're both very active in our local "scene" with our swaps and stuff. It's handy!

But I agree. I come to AA to ask opinions and see what many others are doing, not just one guy at one store. And it's easier than driving around to each store and asking for an hour about stuff. Especially about products and livestock because then I feel beholden to the store to buy something.

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Old 12-07-2004, 04:14 PM   #10
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This site has been invaluable to me. Even though I have been a marine hobbyist for many years, technology changes as well different things such as substrate, wet/dry systems, etc. Before I buy anything, I always refer to this site first since there are so many knowledgeable people here that are always willing to help. I think this is a great site!

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Old 12-07-2004, 07:25 PM   #11
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I tend to use AA as a reference to judge some of the LFS in my area. It has really helped to identify which ones are the better stores based on comparing their information to what I found at AA. The ones that were on par with AA have proven to be the best ones as well in terms of knowledge and livestock quality.

It was invaluable to have the info of AA when making the move from freshwater to saltwater. There is also a big difference in the quality of the stores I find for FW or SW and you need to considier them for each area of aquarium I find not just in general. Some are great for FW, but seem to only dabble in SW or vise versa. Luckily we have a great selected of LFS here and there are some very good ones. Wouldn't have been able to know without trial and error which were best though with AA, thanks!!!
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Old 12-07-2004, 08:14 PM   #12
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I may sound like a broken record (record...what's that?) but it was due to bad advice I recieved from a LFS (chain BTW) which resulted in my finding AA. Think about it, I had a major problem with my tank and the LFS just didn't sound confident in what was being said. Presto...search net for info...find AA...problems being solved by members who take the time to follow my updates. Oh, since I recieved invaluable info from these knowledgeable members, I made a conscious decision to become an active participant and provide insight into "How to avoid an Aquarium nightmare of biblical proportions". Just imagine hearing the following from a LFS: "Buy set-up, add water, decorations, start filter...come back in 6 days for fish...don't add all at once...add @ 3/4 every three days until you reach your limit" Fish died?...here's credit...replace them...etc....etc..."
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Old 12-07-2004, 08:30 PM   #13
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Ill be honest I havent read all the responses here so if I say the same thing im sorry.

This is how I look at it.

In general the LFS has the potental to benifit from any advice given to a potental customer. Be it good advice (in the customers favor over the long run) or poor advice (in the stores favor over the short run). Most stores will not discourage a customer from spending money in the store. This makes the advice they give somewhat of a double edged sword. Never know if its profit driven advice or honest advice.

Now web based forums like ours and other discussion style websites have very little to gain from the advice we give. If we give bad advice the person will just leave and find someplace else they trust. If we give good advice then they will stay. Sure we have the potental to benifit from banner ad clicks or donations but overall websites do not derive the bulk of their cash inflow from the members directly. So its in our benifit to give you helpful advice to keep you comming back so its in our interest to give you long term advice vs a short term solution.
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Old 12-07-2004, 09:39 PM   #14
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Well said FF. I very rarely even talk to my lfs anymore. I have gotten bad advice most of the time(or advice that was just way too expensive to carry out) I do most of my research online or at the library and have had great success. If you do find an lfs that is honest and trustworthy then that is a great thing, unfortunately that doesn't happen very often. They are in the business to make money so that is where most of there advice lies. I dig this site and have gotten good advice from everyone so why would I change where I get my info from?
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Old 12-07-2004, 09:43 PM   #15
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Working in a LFS i find that the people who have been in the business for excess of 20 30 years are the hardest to change in ideas. I've worked at a few different ones including a retail chain. The chains really are after your buck and i don't blame anyone for staying away. I can tell you honestly, aside from someone who is in the hobby seriously, those people don't care. The LFS's that i have worked for all have different ways, some are extremely picky and make huge profits off of tricking customers into buying water monthly which is ok for R.O. but for regular unfiltered fresh its insane. I send many a customer to this website so that they can not only get my ideas and thoughts but those of many others. I think anyone who would base a decision on the sole advice of one salesperson is looking for trouble. My LFS is pretty concerned with making a good buck, but i never force a customer into a sale. I guess in an ideal world people would research things and ask questions in forums before even going into the LFS. I warn every new employee about B.S. 'ing a customer because some really do know what they are talking about and it's the most embarrassing thing to get caught. If you don't know ask and if the customer is at all unsure, have them research it. It is after all a hobby, though some do not view it as that.
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Old 12-07-2004, 09:50 PM   #16
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Working in a LFS i find that the people who have been in the business for excess of 20 30 years are the hardest to change in ideas.
This is so true. My father setup a freshwater 55g last year, with knowledge he learned in the 70s and 80s when he used to be a fish breeder and sell to the local stores. He was an old school UGF + never change the water type of guy. Unfortunately the LFS he goes to is still living in the past as well and will sell any fish to anyone without hesitation, then reccomend you stick a UGF in that tank if you do not already have one. His 55g tank turned into the death tank before he came around. It took me MONTHS to finally get him to use the Python I bought for him. He just was not interested in doing a water change no matter what. When he finally used it, he was like, 'Wow, this works really good, thanks for getting it for me!" Now he is turning into someone who does a regular water change and thinks UGFs are junk...
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2x Sunburst Platys (2M, 2F) // 3x Neon Tetras (?) // 2x Cherry Barbs (1M, 1F) // 2x YoYo Loaches (?) // 1x Bushy Nose Pleco (M) // 1x Clown Pleco (?) //

*15H marine*
-30# Live Rock
-Mixed Snails (Nassarius // Cerith // Astrea // Black Turbo // Mexican Turbo)
-8x Blue Leg Hermit Crabs // 1x Banded Serpent Star // 1x Cleaner Shrimp
-1x Royal Gramma // 1x Percula Clownfish
-2x Mushroom Leather // Metallic Green Star Polyps // Pulsing Xenia // Striped Xenia // Blue Mushroom
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Old 12-07-2004, 09:57 PM   #17
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This site has also been very useful to me. Im just starting out and my tank is only 4 months old. I already know some things my local lfs didnt even know! Thanks AA!
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Old 02-25-2005, 09:27 PM   #18
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I have visited all three of the LFSs you mentioned when I last visited maine( as I do often ), and I agree with you in that they all fine stores and are each of different mindsets, but I think you may have mis understood one of them. The LFS I think you are talking about that (quote)" encourages people with no reef experience to buy a 7g tank and swears it is easy" does tell customers that reef keeping is easy, but does not push any specific size tank, only has said that it can be done in as small as a 7g. I say this only because I set up my new SW tank from her store and she said much the same thing to me.
By the way, I agree with you in that there is alot of useful info on the net, especially this site, and I as well come online when I cant get straight answers. Another store you might wanna take a look at could be little shop of pets here in NH.
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Old 02-25-2005, 10:47 PM   #19
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Trust the web. Remember the web is not trying to sell fish they are trying to help you while LFS just want your money.
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Old 02-26-2005, 10:59 PM   #20
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Im sorry but I beg to differ with PumaKrieg on their opion that you can trust only the web when buying fish and getting fish keeping advice. Mabye that is how it is where they live, but I think you can trust LFSs as much as you can trust the net, if not moreso because you get to personally hear opinons. People on the web are just as interested in selling fish as stores are, and the LFSs must enjoy the hobby at least a little to own a shop dedicated to it. I admit that unfortunatly many FSs do not keep up on info or keep fair/reasonable prices, but there are also many LFSs that do do these things and are successful at fish keeping and trustworthy storekeepers. Obviously LFS keepers want money, but isint that the point of owning a store? Unless you are being ripped off I dont see a problem with LFS keepers wanting,and needing money; its their job as well as their hobby.
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