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Old 02-24-2007, 08:43 AM   #1
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I've had enough of the tube plants!

This is ridiculous! I understand that most LFS sell non-aquatic plants (mine doesn't ), but the tube plant thing is out of hand. They are $9-12 each. They are packaged packaged under the Top Fin brand, clearly intended to be sold to aquarium owners and not terrarium owners, where they are better suited. There is nothing on the tube to indicate it is a non-aquatic and has only a limited life span underwater. They are labeled "Snail Free!" which attracts new plant keepers who are afraid of snail explosions. To top it off, my petsmart removed their planted tank display, so your only option is buying the tube plants. This is a scam! And it sets new people up for failure.

I'm tired of it. I'm going to write and call the corporate office, and get something organized.

The sad thing is, my petsmart used to have a wonderful, healthy plant selection.
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I just want my planted tanks to be perfect. Is that so much to ask?

55g: (Mostly) African riverine species: Alestes Chaperi, breeding pair of Kribs, and rhino pleco
30g: Newly established reef tank
10g: Planted but fishless
5g: Unplanted with various snail species
2.5g: Heavily planted with betta.
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Old 02-24-2007, 08:54 AM   #2
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Until recently, I had never heard of this tube plant thing. I agree that it is unconscionable that folks are being mislead in acquiring a taste for Live plants via this method.
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Old 02-24-2007, 09:02 AM   #3
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Re: I've had enough of the tube plants!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosaic
I'm tired of it. I'm going to write and call the corporate office, and get something organized.
I think that most of us will support you 100% on this. Good for you to stick up for the "less knowledgeable" plant keepers. Hopefully all goes well, hope you can get your point across to them.

My favorite chain fish store just got taken over by PetSmart, and my LFS has a wonderful plant section, all tropica plants, all under 5 dollars except for a few.

They say that they arent making any changes... they are only bringing in a few top fin products to sell along side the hagen products, hopefully that doesnt mean the tube plants too. If it does I might just be doing the same thing as you
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Old 02-24-2007, 10:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jchillin
Until recently, I had never heard of this tube plant thing. I agree that it is unconscionable that folks are being mislead in acquiring a taste for Live plants via this method.
Unconscionable. I like that word. Mind if I use it in my letter? I'm also looking for a good synonym for "fraud".

Today I'm going to several PetsMarts to check out the displays, get prices and species names, and talk to managers.

If anyone wants to share their experiences, either here or by pm, it would be appreciated.
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I just want my planted tanks to be perfect. Is that so much to ask?

55g: (Mostly) African riverine species: Alestes Chaperi, breeding pair of Kribs, and rhino pleco
30g: Newly established reef tank
10g: Planted but fishless
5g: Unplanted with various snail species
2.5g: Heavily planted with betta.
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Old 02-24-2007, 10:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosaic
I'm also looking for a good synonym for "fraud".
Deception, deceit, misrepresentation, cheat, hoodwinking, flimflam, scam (you get the idea).

Go right ahead and use it...with my compliments.
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Old 02-24-2007, 11:38 AM   #6
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By tube plants I'm assuming you're talking abou the plants that come in a plastic tube with their roots encased in some sort of a foam substance?
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Old 02-24-2007, 11:51 AM   #7
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they come in a substance called plant gel. It is a hydroponic gel crystal that expands and holds large amounts of water. made of Sodium polyacrylate
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Old 02-24-2007, 12:09 PM   #8
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Here's my letter. I'm not sure if I should mention AA or not; I don't want to get AA in trouble, so I'll re-write it if necessary.

"To whom it may concern:

I am a regular member of a very active Internet fish keeping forum with over 13,000 members called AquariumAdvice. There are a number of members who keep heavily planted aquariums, including myself. Recently, there have been a number of members new to keeping aquarium plants who are dismayed that the pre-packaged Top Fin plants they bought are dying. Unfortunately, the plants they bought are non-aquatic plants that may linger for a time underwater, but will eventually rot. I am writing on behalf of the new plant keepers, as well as the more experienced members who patiently explain to them that their plants have died through no fault of their own.

I understand that many fish stores offer non-aquatic plant species. However, PetsMartsí sale of the Top Fin pre-packaged plants is absolutely unconscionable, for the following reasons:
--The plant packages are an outrageous $9 - $12 each.
--The plants are packaged under the Top Fin brand and sold in the aquarium department, clearly intended to be sold to aquarium owners.
--The plants are labeled ďSnail Free!Ē which attracts new, inexperienced plant keepers who are afraid of snail population explosions.
--There is no indication on the packaging or point of purchase displays that the plants are terrestrial and not aquatic.
--The old aquatic plant display tanks have been removed, so the only live plant option is the prepackaged plants.

Not providing an alternative to the expensive non-aquatic plants only just sets up inexperienced plant keepers for a costly failure. Sadly, experiences with the Top Fin plants may discourage people from venturing further in planted aquariums, which provide healthier homes for fish and can become a very rewarding area of fish keeping.

Surely, you must be aware that the plants are terrestrial and not aquatic species, as the plants are packaged without water. In my mind, promoting these plants as appropriate for aquariums when they are clearly not is defrauding the customer. Please bring back the old display cases of true aquatic plants (which were always clean and healthy in my local store, # 1048, and did not need to be replaced). Ideally, I would like to see all non-aquatics plants removed from sale in the aquarium department. If they are offered, it should be in the reptile and amphibian department, where they can make an appropriate dťcor for a terrarium. In any case, the plants should be clearly labeled as non-aquatics with a note that they can survive underwater only temporarily.

I am a long time fish keeper of ten years, and I started with PetsMart. I have five freshwater aquariums (all planted) and a saltwater aquarium. I also have two dogs, a cat, two guinea pigs, and a rabbit. I have taken my own dog through both your basic and advanced training classes, and a foster dog through the basic class as well. As you can imagine, I have spent a lot of time and money with you in the past. However, such a clear disregard for the customer in this area shakes my trust in your stores. I now wonder whether I too am being scammed in an area of pet keeping I am less experienced in. I am no longer eager to spend money at PetsMart, and will be buying my pet supplies elsewhere, until I see evidence that PetsMart cares about its customers and their pet keeping success.

Sincerely,
Rachel Crowley"
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I just want my planted tanks to be perfect. Is that so much to ask?

55g: (Mostly) African riverine species: Alestes Chaperi, breeding pair of Kribs, and rhino pleco
30g: Newly established reef tank
10g: Planted but fishless
5g: Unplanted with various snail species
2.5g: Heavily planted with betta.
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Old 02-24-2007, 12:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Here's my letter. I'm not sure if I should mention AA or not; I don't want to get AA in trouble, so I'll re-write it if necessary.
You may as well leave it out as it has no bearing legally. You could simply say that you belong to several "Aquatic Plant Associations" instead.

Nice letter, well written.
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Old 02-24-2007, 12:28 PM   #10
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This is a good letter. I was lead astray in the beginning by terrestrial plants that were lumped into the same tank with aquatic plants....fully submerged mind you at the petsmart in Missoula (never mind I had to drive 100 miles just to GET there and could not return them easily). The biggest problem was NO ONE who worked there could tell me what the plants were, what light they needed etc, nothing was labeled well and staff was not educated. I ended up only buying ones in pots so that they had a little label on them I could later look up....turned out that most of the plants I purchased had to be returned.....another 100 mile one way trip and I was NOT happy! Another died in the 1 week it took me to get more light on the tank.....it was a bit discouragin to say the least until I started getting and trading plants from the fine folks at AA.

I found that sending a letter to their corporate office via the internet produces a VERY fast phone call from the store manager with apologies. Just an apology but he promised that if I would just not involve corporate next time they will do EVERYTHING they could to make me happy.

So definitely send it to corporate!
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Old 02-24-2007, 01:54 PM   #11
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PetCo tricked me! Although the plants seem to be doing really well.

My favorite word to use is "unprofessional" when writing letters like these. Big companies hate that.
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Old 02-24-2007, 04:24 PM   #12
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I'm a little confused. I confess I'm a noob at keeping aquatic plants, but if my memory serves me correctly those plants are usually labeled as Amazon sword, Java fern, etc... I know for a fact that these are aquatic plants as I keep them myself. Am I mistaken about the labeling, or is the labeling misleading?
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:17 PM   #13
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Please bear in mind, that while a good many of the plants sold in those tubes are terrestrial plants, some of them will do fine in an aquarium. Further just because the plants are being grown in a hydroponic gel with their leaves exposed to the air does not automatically mean that they aren't suitable for the aquarium. In truth only a very small number of the plants that we grow in our aquariums are true aquatics most of the rest are marginal or bog plants. These grow on the edges of water bodies and can both grow successfully above and below the waterline. On of the best ways to get many of our aquarium plants to flower, is by growing them emersed (above water aka hydroponically). Crypts are an excellant example of this as most are nearly impossible to flower submersed but produce stunning flowers when grown properly emersed. This of course makes it much harder for someone new to aquarium plants to know the difference between plants suitable for the aquarium and those that are not.
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Old 02-24-2007, 06:24 PM   #14
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Theotheragentm - Details about your plants please!

hulkamaniac - You are correct about the swords. From what I have seen, though, this is the only plant that has even a remote chance of long term survival. There is something called a "Peacock Fern" but no Java fern that I've seen. Additionally, a lot of the plants look surprisingly similar to plants we do keep, but are infact different genuses (geni?). It's not a matter of mislabeling the plants themselves, but rather that they are being marketed to fishkeepers as suitable for the aquarium, and inexperienced hobbyists are paying an outrageous price for the priviledge of inevitable failure.

Purrbox - Like I mentioned, the only one I saw that was a suitable aquarium plant genus were the Echinodorus.

I am aware of the issue of emersed and marginal plants. I considered mentioning something along the lines of, if the reason the planted tank display was removed and replaced by the packaged plants is because the employees were absolutely clueless about maintaining the plants, then perhaps Petsmart can maintain suitable species in an emersed setup. However, I thought maybe that would complicate my point and I was trying to keep the letter to a single page length. But again, these plants offered are not emersed forms.
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I just want my planted tanks to be perfect. Is that so much to ask?

55g: (Mostly) African riverine species: Alestes Chaperi, breeding pair of Kribs, and rhino pleco
30g: Newly established reef tank
10g: Planted but fishless
5g: Unplanted with various snail species
2.5g: Heavily planted with betta.
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Old 02-24-2007, 06:34 PM   #15
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im a beginer i got a few plants at lfs and alot from sparky and a few snails to. i saw the tubes didnt like the look of them at all
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Old 02-24-2007, 09:08 PM   #16
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I can understand the desire to keep the letter short and to the point. I just wanted to point out some issues that really didn't seem to be covered well. Some minor wording changes could address this issue and perhaps strengthen your point.

ie
Instead of:
--There is no indication on the packaging or point of purchase displays that the plants are terrestrial and not aquatic.
This might be more accurate:
--There is no indication on the packaging or point of purchase displays which plants are terrestrial and not aquatic.

As always, it's up to you whether or not you want to deal with this in your letter or not.
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Old 02-24-2007, 09:12 PM   #17
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That's a good point.

Before sending it I do plan to double check the species being offered and do some research about their respective lifespans underwater.
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I just want my planted tanks to be perfect. Is that so much to ask?

55g: (Mostly) African riverine species: Alestes Chaperi, breeding pair of Kribs, and rhino pleco
30g: Newly established reef tank
10g: Planted but fishless
5g: Unplanted with various snail species
2.5g: Heavily planted with betta.
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Old 02-24-2007, 09:30 PM   #18
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Just a couple more comments:

1. One of the terrestrials they are selling and which I bought before I figured it out was Kyoto Grass. It might be worthwhile to name a few specific bad plants that they are selling.

2. If you don't think it's going too far, you might want to use some words that imply you're representing all 13,000 of us. Like instead of "I understand that many fish stores offer", you might say "We understand..." It'll have a lot more power if they believe your letter carries the weight of more than one person they can dismiss as nonrepresentative of their clientŤle.
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Old 02-25-2007, 11:19 AM   #19
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I'd suggest you also point out that by setting customers up for failure they set themselves up for failure also. If the customers fail, they may give up fish keeping altogether.
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Old 02-25-2007, 02:48 PM   #20
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I also hate the tube plants. Of the 3 Petsmart stores close to my house, 2 of them have retained the plant tanks while the closest has gone to tubes only. Over the past several months I have seen the tube-store start to bring in plants like anacharis and place them right in the fish tanks, perhaps realizing that it is harder to sell the tubes.

While I think the tube plants are rubbish, many of the plants they sell in the tanks are also non-aquatic and most of their swords are grown emersed. Unfortunately this is not just a Petsmart or Petco thing. I have seen terrestrial plants sold in independent stores as well, actually purchased from aquatic plant wholesalers (Florida Aquatic Nurseries and Siam Flora are two suppliers that I have identified), for the planted aquarium hobby. In some cases (for sure with Florida Aquatic Nurseries) the plants are marked "terrestrial". Siam Flora does not provide this indicator. Regardless, a plant novice would probably not understand what this means, since the plants are still sold fully submerged in a demo tank at the LFS.

I think my point is two fold: Good job making a fuss with the tube plants at PetsMart. Realize though that the problem is most likely much larger than the buyers/retailers. I believe they are quite possibly being misinformed from the wholesalers.... Top Fin obviously being one of them.

To really fix this problem, I believe the buying agents for the LFS need a better education on FW aquatic plants, and the wholesalers should be held responsible for their part and required to identify their terrestrial plants along with aquatic plants that were grown emersed for sale with plain english descriptions to the buyers and ultimately the buying public as to what these types of plants and methods of growth mean, etc.
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