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Old 04-22-2006, 01:40 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by iderbus
my problem is that i would like to get a female german ram, but the pet store only caries males off all the species they have. i went to House of Tropicals, and they carry Bolivian rams. When i went to the store in Randlstown, well lets just say i wont be going back. Does any one know of any LFS that i have missed that might carry them?
THANKS SO MUCH!!!!!!
Hi iderbus, I just came back from Tropical Fish World and they have a tank full of GBRs. The price is a bit steep at $16.99, but they give quantity price breaks. Eg they sell SAEs @$3.99 each, but I bought 4 @$10.99+tax. I don't know how to sex GBRs, but thought you might be interested.

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Old 06-09-2006, 10:22 PM   #42
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Quick review of my experiance at Baltimore Area stores. This is from a FW/Planted POV.

PetSmart on 40- About what you would expect from a chain store. It's quick and easy for me to get to for minor items. Don't spend much money here.

Aquarium Center- Great place to wander through. The fish room was messy (Some water on the floor, mostly), which bothered my wife, but seems to have a good selection. The fish seemed, for the most part, healthy, and what wasn't healthy was marked. I didn't get a chance to look through the supplies section, but it was huge. I bought livestock there, and everything has lived so far. I want to revist the supplies section when I don't have kids with me to help pick out fish.

Neptune's Den- As has been mentioned, unless it's very local, skip it. I was so very excited when I saw how big it was, but over 2/3rds of it is devoted to dogs, cats, etc. It was the only fish store I checked out the livestock on that had dead fish in the tank. SW Coral tank looked pretty.

Exotic Aquatics- Highly recommend. I picked up 4 S.A.E.'s there (I'm 95% sure they are really SAE's) for $7.50. Price on what I was looking at where very reasonable. Freshwater selection was good. I didn't go down the saltwater aisle, but the selection looked smaller. To be fair, the only one I've seen locally with a bigger SW Selection was Aquarium Center. Supplies were good, but Aquarium Centers seemed larger. Prices were good on supplies. Staff seemed knowledgable. When I asked about the SAE's, the guy knew the correct latin name for them, although I asked about SAE's and the tank was marked Siamese Flying Fox. He even correctly guessed from this I had a planted tank, and suggested CO2, something I know I want... some other paycheck.

House of Pets- This might not be local for you, I run up to Aberdeen once a day. If it's not, don't make the trip. I didn't check the fish out, but the live plants were wilted and torn up. Supplies seemed old, generally overpriced, and selection was meager.

Conclusion so far- If I'm looking for something specific, Exotic Aquatics or Aquarium Center, and if I don't find it, check the other one.

I plan on making trips to other stores in the near future. From this thread, House of Tropicals and Tropical Fish World sound like they need a visit. Any other suggestions for a FW/Plant store?
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:28 PM   #43
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Quick review of my experiance at Baltimore Area stores. This is from a FW/Planted POV.

PetSmart on 40- About what you would expect from a chain store. It's quick and easy for me to get to for minor items. Don't spend much money here.

Aquarium Center- Great place to wander through. The fish room was messy (Some water on the floor, mostly), which bothered my wife, but seems to have a good selection. The fish seemed, for the most part, healthy, and what wasn't healthy was marked. I didn't get a chance to look through the supplies section, but it was huge. I bought livestock there, and everything has lived so far. I want to revist the supplies section when I don't have kids with me to help pick out fish.
Live plant selection was great- Lots of tanks of plants. On the bad side, the labels for the plants were all wrong. On the plus side, when I mentioned what I was looking for and that the tank labeled with that didn't have any in it, the guy knew exactly where it was, and said they were reshuffling tanks at time.

Neptune's Den- As has been mentioned, unless it's very local, skip it. I was so very excited when I saw how big it was, but over 2/3rds of it is devoted to dogs, cats, etc. It was the only fish store I checked out the livestock on that had dead fish in the tank. SW Coral tank looked pretty.

Exotic Aquatics- Highly recommend. I picked up 4 S.A.E.'s there (I'm 95% sure they are really SAE's) for $7.50. Price on what I was looking at where very reasonable. Freshwater selection was good. I didn't go down the saltwater aisle, but the selection looked smaller. To be fair, the only one I've seen locally with a bigger SW Selection was Aquarium Center. Supplies were good, but Aquarium Centers seemed larger. Prices were good on supplies. Staff seemed knowledgable. When I asked about the SAE's, the guy knew the correct latin name for them, although I asked about SAE's and the tank was marked Siamese Flying Fox. He even correctly guessed from this I had a planted tank, and suggested CO2, something I know I want... some other paycheck.

House of Pets- This might not be local for you, I run up to Aberdeen every day. If it's not, don't make the trip. I didn't check the fish out, but the live plants were wilted and torn up. Supplies seemed old, generally overpriced, and selection was meager.

Conclusion so far- If I'm looking for something specific, Exotic Aquatics or Aquarium Center, and if I don't find it, check the other one.

I plan on making trips to other stores in the near future. From this thread, House of Tropicals and Tropical Fish World sound like they need a visit. Any other suggestions for a FW/Plant store?
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:30 AM   #44
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Nice reviews, Mark. Just a word of caution. If you ever get a sw tank, do NOT go to Aquarium Center. Exotic's is the bomb of sw livestock.

If you ever make it to Frederick, Lilyponds Water Garden in Buckeystown off of Rt. 85 I've heard is an awesome store. Never been myself.
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:21 PM   #45
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I've been to Lilyponds. They are awesome if your looking for pond plants, comets, koi, snails, tads and anything else pond related but that's it. I was at Aquarium Center this weekend. I seen they are rearranging everything but I'm not really sure what they are trying to accomplish. Moving pond plants where the coral tanks were. It was weird, I ended up having words with one of the employees, and left. Even the dry goods section was slimly stocked. I sure hope bare bones drygood selection is temporary.
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Old 06-13-2006, 02:28 PM   #46
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macman7010,
Where do you live in MD?

I'm in Charles town....
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Old 06-19-2006, 10:57 PM   #47
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Visited House of Tropics a few times.

They seemed to have a large selection of a wide variety of items, but not much in depth for any particular area- The freshwater equipment turns out to be a single aisle. Although I quite enjoyed looking through there, my wife would hate it- It made Aquarium Center's fish area look clean, although I didn't see any water on the floor or leaks- Just seems that no one tidies up the shelves or displays at the end of the day. Makes me wonder what fish care they might skimp on.

Prices varied on the few items I checked from very reasonable to slightly high- I probably wouldn't make any big ticket purchases from there, but they seemed OK with most items.

They appeared to have the largest selection of tanks, hoods, stands, and especially lights I've seen. However, most of the lights had no price tag, and the few I did check seemed a bit high to me. I could very well be wrong, I haven't done serious shopping for PC lights, much less a hood with 4 PC Bulbs- those might indeed run $400+. I saw a twin bulb NO Fluscent Perfecto-Strip for (I think) $114, which was about twice the price of the single light version at PetSmart. The lack of price tags on product or shelves bothers me a bit.

The fish selection is very varied, but you'll probably have to ask for help locating anything you can't immediately recognize on sight. The signs are handwritten, not very well, and small. I saw empty, labeled tanks, and full, unlabeled tanks, in addition to mislabeled tanks. These weren't mislabeled as in a mistaken identification of fish- They were not even close. I suspect that the signs aren't always updated when they receive a new shipment. I counted 3 dead fish floating in the tanks, but to be fair 2 of them were in Betta Bowls and one was a goldfish.

The plant selection was similiar- First of all, it was unlabeled. Most of the plants seemed to be in the pond section- And I'm not talking about pond plants. They weren't even grouped together in the pond section, but instead were scatted about the tanks, generally unlabeled except with a scrawled "Anacharis" on a few tanks, some of which contained other plants, some of which contained only fish.

Some other plants were mixed in with the freshwater fish- Little potted plants with a plastic tab in them saying what they were and approximately how much light, about how big they grow- You've probably seen them. These plants had no prices, and appeared to have just been dropping into random fish tanks- It's not a good sign to see high light and low light plants dumped into the same tank, on their sides, and half dead. I did, however, see some that appeared to be doing well.

I come off sounding really harsh about this store- I don't mean to, I actually quite liked it. It has the appearence of someone who did it as a hobby and that grew into a store. While 3 dead fish in Neptune's Den scared me off their livestock, ND had like 20 or 30 tanks. This place had a lot more- I can almost understand missing a dead goldfish or some betta's for a bit. For buying plants, I'd have to know exactly what I wanted, and I might go to this place and see if I could find one that looked healthy, but could see myself buying from here- I'm not sure I'd go to this place without knowing what I wanted, and the right price for it.
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Old 06-27-2006, 12:34 PM   #48
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To finish up my reviews of Baltimore Area Fish stores, I visited Aquarium Center a second time, with no kids.

The Dry Goods selection was varied, and excellent. They were the only store to offer a Co2 Injection System (Although Exotic Aquatics solds a DIY-style kit). The items I used for price comparison were all cheaper at AC then any other store- For example, the AP Freshwater Master Kit was 30+ at House of Tropics, 24 bucks at Exotic, and 21 bucks at AC. Similiar price differences for Laterite, filter cartridges, and ferts. The one item that AC "failed" was the Magnum 350 Pro filter, which I couldn't find on the shelves. Another example was a Dual-Bulb NO Flor. Light Strip, 74 bucks at AC Versus 114 at HoT.
Large selection of Tanks, Lights, Filters (With the exception of the Magnum Line), etc.

Revisited the fish and plant section. Simply put, the selection and presentation of Aquarium Center blows away even Exotic Aquatics. The plants look healthier, and AC has several times as many varieties. However, I do also have a very minor issue here.

The plants were labeled with the correct name, as near as I could ID them. But, the information on the cards was different then some of the other info I've read on specific plants. For example, Anacharis was marked "Bright Light Only". I strongly disagree, both on experiance and from what others mention. Algae Balls, with which I have no experiance but understand to require medium to bright light, were marked low, medium, or high light.

Combine this with the misidentification of the Siamese/Chinese Algae Eater I noticed last time, and I wouldn't place my trust in those cards 100%. This isn't a problem for me, as I generally know what I want and what it looks like before I go to the store.

The Fish Room renovation procedes, but is not complete. The plant section was in disarray last time I was there, but has been straightened up, and receives top marks, excepting the possible card problems. I noticed no water on the floor the last visit, but it's probably not still up to my wife's expectations- The acoustic tile in the roof is old and discolored, etc. To me, that's something to be expected in a fish room, but if you want a fish room that looks like a grocery store, this may not be it.

In the half hour or so I was there(Fish Room and dry goods), I was offered help no less then 4 times.

Again, this is from the perspective of a Freshwater, Planted Tank- SW people may find a different experiance.

For me, the rating of Baltimore Fish Stores has become,

1st Place, Aquarium Center, for widest plant and fish selection, best all-around dry goods, and cheapest dry good prices.

Close 2nd (And maybe tied for first on buying fish, mainly due to the knowledgable employees) is Exotic Aquatics.

Distant 3rd (Although they had the best selection of replacement filter parts) is House of Tropics.

All stores visited were mentioned. Tropical Fish World has been eliminated as being too distant for me, Congressional Aqaurium I didn't even look for based on others bad reviews.
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Old 07-03-2006, 04:34 PM   #49
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Great review, Mark. I'm glad to see that AC has improved. I'll have to give them another visit soon.
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Old 08-22-2006, 11:25 PM   #50
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Just got back from a trip up to Glen Burnie and House of Tropicals. Used Mapquest to navigate from Bowie up to Glen Burnie. Directions were spot on, a rare feat for Mapquest when dealing with Glen Burnie.

Went up to check out House of Tropicals based upon the overall good reports from the form. It is a definite change from the “Big Box” retailers such as PetSmart and Petco. It appears to me that the store has expanded at least once since it opened. First thing I noticed was how humid it was in there. With over a hundred tanks, I guess it is expected, but I would be running a de-humidifier to help keep the moisture level down.

We traveled (we being myself, and my 11 and 8 year old daughters) the aisles, working our way towards the tank storage, thru the fresh water tanks, salt water tanks, and back toward to reptile room before hitting up the accessories aisles.

The Good: Lots of everything to choose from. Healthy fish as far as I could tell, and we were there at feeding time (black worms anyone?). The offer live food for sale (I have not seen anyone doing that since the store in Crofton closed in the very early 90’s). Live brine shrimp are available as well as black worms. Bulk, non-fillable filter media for Penguin and Whisper filters. Saw a LARGE selection of filter parts behind the counter. They had most of the species I was fond of when I started the hobby in ’90 such as Hatchet fish, red tail sharks, the guppies, and various mollies and tetras. Additionally, they also stocked the Spira media talked about on the forum.

The Bad: The tanks for sale were not displayed in an inviting way to allow the prospective buyer to image how it could look in their home. Some of the tanks were up on stands and had pricing, but at least half were not. Hex tanks, corner tanks, half-rounds, the only thing no on display were bow fronts. Great selection, poor presentation. Also, the live plants were all over the place. This is something new I plan on tackling with my restart, live plants. The Petco in Annapolis (Festival at Riva) had a nice plant tank, and I am interested in the live bamboo they had a few weeks ago.

Was not able to compare prices since I am only getting back into the hobby after a 9-year break. We are restarting a 5-gallon acrylic bow front, a 10-gallon and a 29-gallon.

One nice thing they offered was a small self-contained setup for salt water. They had one set-up with live rock and invertebrates as a mini reef. Looks like it has been running a while, and needed a small amount of TLC to have it at 100%.

Of the stores I have visited as part of my tank re-start include PetSmart in Bowie, Petco in Bowie and Annapolis. Will try the shops in Gaithersburg and Rockville as well as Ft. Washington over the next few weeks.

Will have to return again.
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Old 08-24-2006, 04:31 PM   #51
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Nice review, ace2u!

Since you travel the baltimore area, check out Exotic Aquatics. I think they are on the opposite side of Baltimore than House of Tropicals (not 100% sure) but it's well worth the drive. I was amazed at that place.

http://www.exoticaquatics.com/location.htm
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Old 08-24-2006, 05:28 PM   #52
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WECLOME TO AA!!

and welcome back to the addiction! Great review!
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Old 08-24-2006, 10:05 PM   #53
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Thanks guys...

Thanks for the welcome. Yeah, I am jumping back into the addiction, er, hobby again. Already looking to add an additional tank under the 29 on the stand (just need to measure to see if a 29 will fit, or if I will need to use a 20L).

The first new thing I have learned from the forums here is about the Bio-Spira product. I am looking to stock the 29 this weekend (red-tail black shark, hatchets x5, and some other interesting species yet to be decided on). Then to start with the live plants. I am shopping for a python at the moment and looking for the best price online (and I MAY try the PetSmart maneuver). I am using various Whisper 1 or 2 filters on the various tanks (2 Whisper 2’s on the 29 and a whisper 1 on the 10 and 5). I keep a spare Whisper 1 on-hand in case I need to add additional filtration or ammonia removal.

Anyway, I am here for the long haul…

Ace
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