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Re: Fish store review

> Recently I rambled about a few fish store thoughts. At least two people
> responded with a comment about small local fish stores being better to
> support then the big pet store discount chains. This is convential "wisdom"
> which I often hear but is it good advice?

In general, yes.  As you found, occasionally one location of a chain store
will surprise you.  

> knowledge. What this store has is an interest in learning (one particular
> staff member).

I've encountered this at some of the chain stores here in the US.  And 
unfortunately, that staff member ends up being moved to the dog food 
department, or some other place in the store, and someone who knows 
nothing about fish or plants starts working in the fish area.   Another 
problem is that the chain stores often don't pay very much, so they can't
hang onto the really good people.

> shopping experience. The knowledge of the staff in this store was quite
> impressive. This was the only store which even mentioned the use of C02

Sounds like this is a more concentrated effort, but again, managers of
these stores tend to move around from location to location.  If that
manager goes somewhere else, the new manager could likely come in and 
decide that all those live plants are a waste of time and money.  

In the smaller local fish stores, there are good ones, and there are
bad ones, and most of the time, it's pretty constant.   

I know one local store that stocks CO2 equipment, and all sorts of
lighting equipment, and flourite, and laterite, but they get the 
crappiest plants, in bad condition, with no lighting over the tanks
holding the plants.  They had a long-time employee who was very into
planted tanks, but they wouldn't let him run the plant stuff the way
it should be.  I believe he has since quit, and I don't go to the
store anymore. 

At another local store, Neptunes, they don't keep CO2 equipment and
lighting in stock, but they can get it, at reasonable prices.  Their
plant selection is very good, with lots of nice Crypts, Apons, and
other plants that I don't often see at the chain stores.  They also
have several local plant people (including myself) that they get
plants from, in exchange for store credit.   Their employees have
been there for a long time, and are very happy to work there.  It
really shows.  I went in on Christmas eve, and chatted with the
employees for about an hour about all sorts of fish things when
they weren't helping other customers, and they even called me over
when a customer asked about a plant that I had just brought in.  
Another thing that a local store like Neptunes can do is hold some
fish for you.  I had my eye on a nice pair of Irian Red rainbows, but 
didn't have my quarentine tank available (was treating a sick fish).
Rather than buy the fish and add it right to my show tank, I just asked
them to hold the fish for me.  There are little yellow post-it notes on
several tanks around the store reserving fish.  That wouldn't really work
at the chain-stores.  There are just too many customers, and too many
employees to be able to manage it.

I know that not everyone is lucky enough to find a really great local
fish store, but if you've got one, it makes the hobby much more
enjoyable.   At the same time, I've learned which of the chain stores
in the area aren't too bad, so I have a place to buy things if Neptunes
is already closed.   

For anyone in the Denver area, if you haven't checked out Neptunes,
do so.  You can email me for their phone number or address.

Chuck Gadd