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How to Choose a Local Fish Store

Lion-FishWalking into any fish store is a magical journey in of itself. The air smells of salt, fish, and coral. You can hear the relaxing sounds of the water lapping up against the glass and bubbling inside the magnificent glowing aquariums. You can see fluorescent fish swimming through the enchanting waters underneath the ultraviolet lights. This is what we love about the experience of walking into a fish store. An important factor when finding a local shop is understanding their experience and customer service. Large chain stores paint an amazing picture of having an abundance of fish, but sadly, they have very little equipment for the serious hobbyist. Do not fret though, Local fish stores provide the hobbyist to get quality products and marine creatures without having to go online and risk the equipment not working. Choosing the correct local fish store can be kind of tricky because every fish store has its own equipment selections, knowledge, and services they can provide to the hobbyist. When trying to pick the one that fits you, there are a few things to keep in mind so that you can have your perfect supplier.

Knowledge Shopping

Going to a local fish store that has no knowledge in what you may need or want is not an ideal situation for anyone, even for the seasoned hobbyist. Having a great sense of community is important, also knowing that they are a reliable resource of knowledge. When you’re able to talk to your fish store salesman and get all your questions answered and more without having to pay a dime, then you know you’ve struck gold.

Shopping for the Ideal Equipment

If you’re serious about the hobby, then you have quickly realized that big retail pet stores do not carry all the equipment and supplies you may need. You will not find all the latest pumps, protein skimmers, and light modules. The best places to be able to find the gear that you need is in the local marine shops that are located near you. A good local fish store will test out this new and latest gear, to the point where they can demonstrate it and explain what the pros and cons of them are. You should feel like they know the gear before you buy it, just because it’s from the top of the line marine equipment company doesn’t mean it’s the best. The last thing you want is to be in a scenario where the fish store stocks only one brand and swears by it but hasn’t heard or tested out anything outside of that. Take a look at their tanks, is the glass clean? Are the gravel and base clean and free of debris in the corners? Does the water seem to look as if it has the proper movement?

Fish and Coral Supplies

Big retail pet stores don’t carry a huge variety of exotic fish. Here’s the kicker, they carry only what they know will sell. If you want to get a hold of high-quality livestock, then you’re better off going online. This means though that the fish and coral are susceptible to dying in the shipping process. You will find that buying fish locally is the best process and also the fastest. You can buy your fish or coral and get it acclimating by the end of the day. But, importantly is to observe what their variety is, do they have exotic fish and coral? And if they do, is it often that they have them? You can tell when a store puts in the passion to provide people with the most beautiful fish and coral.

In the end, it’s what mostly works for you. Not every fish store will work for everyone, if you’re new to the hobby you will need a very knowledgeable store that will inform you of all the ins and outs of it. If you’re a serious hobbyist, you need a store that carries the latest equipment and the hard-to-find fish and coral. I have found my place at OCD Reefs here in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their staff is the best of the best, and I find myself a part of an amazing community and friends with some of the most amazing marine aquarists.