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Where to buy freshwater fish?

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Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by Shy2 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:36 am

In my city we have two chain pet stores, and they have the same fish.  There is one independent store, but I can't bring myself to buy anything there.  He has a large selection, but the tanks are disgusting, the store smells really really bad the second you open the door, and it is dirty inside.  The one time I was in there, there must have been at least 50 dead fish stuck to the filter tube in one of his tanks.  Very popular store, I guess because he has some variety, but I hate walking in the front door, the smell is so bad.

Where do I go to find unique fish?  Is there a place to order live fish online?

We had a fish auction here about a month ago, and there were some really interesting fish there, but I wasn't ready to purchase many.  I did buy some Spotted Danios and LOVE them.  Would like to find something interesting like this to add to my tank.

Thanks for any suggestions.
Sherry

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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by GaryE on Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:24 am

The first thing you have to do is identify your region to us. I understand people are reticent about giving too much info to total strangers, but Canada is a huge place and how much people can help out is often dependent on geography. Depending where you are, 'free fish' could be really free, or cost you $35 in postage...

In general, the best place to get fish is clubs. If there are auctions where you are, that means there is a club, and if there is a club, there are monthly get togethers. That's where the healthy fish are.

Increasingly as the shift to Corporations continues, we will have fewer and fewer choices - the corporate chains I see in the US are perfectly interchangeable - whether it's PetCo or Pet Quarters, the fish are identical and there is no local choice in purchasing. We are not yet that bad in Canada, but I expect it's coming.

If we don't build our own networks, we will have next to no choices. Online shopping is great, but expensive because of shipping and postage rates. Unless you have that increasingly rare indepenedent fish store, or local chain with quality stock, buying at clubs is really the only way to get healthy, different fish.
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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by l_l_l on Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:01 am

I agree with Gary,
I always try to buy off locals before going to chains.
You can also search on facebook, there might be an aquamarket available near you!

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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by Shy2 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:20 pm

GaryE wrote:The first thing you have to do is identify your region to us. I understand people are reticent about giving too much info to total strangers, but Canada is a huge place and how much people can help out is often dependent on geography. Depending where you are, 'free fish' could be really free, or cost you $35 in postage...

Sorry about that, I should have mentioned that I am in Brantford, Ontario (home of Alexander Graham Bell, and Wayne Gretzky).  About an hour West of Toronto, or an hour East of London.  About 30 minutes West of Hamilton.

I will have to check out the local fish club and see what they offer.  I just happened to stumble upon their auction a few weeks ago, and forgot to ask if they would be having more in the future.

Thanks for your help.

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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by Starfish on Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:39 pm

I like to visit Big Al's Aquarium Store whenever I manage to get down near the city. There are several around southern Ontario and I suppose would be considered a chain store. However, I find them much better than Petsmart (for fish) or (Heaven forbid !!!) a Walmart Evil or Very Mad . I prefer the one in Newmarket. It is clean, the staff are knowledgeable and helpful. If you are buying a single fish that needs a school, they will make sure you already have some, or that you have a tank big enough for a fish that will grow large. They will also take back any fish that have out-grown your tank.  They will not sell new arrivals until the fish are well acclimated and settled at the store, There are Big Al's in Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Mississauga and Brampton. I have been to the one in London, but did not like it nearly as much as the one in Newmarket. However, that was a few years ago and it was under renovations and I have not been back since so it may have improved.

There is another aquarium store in Kitchener/Waterloo called Aquariums by Design. It is pretty good too. Not as much choice as Big Al's but has some interesting selections you may not find in chain stores.

Not sure what chain stores you have there that you are talking about, but hope this helps.
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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by Shy2 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:04 pm

Thanks Starfish, I work about 20 minutes from Hamilton, and have heard of Big Al's before. I will definitely have to check them out.

We have a PetSmart, Paulmac, and Pet Crazy in Brantford. Pet Crazy has really nice clean tanks, love this store, and it will probably be my "go to" store, but was hoping to find something a little different.

Riding weather is fast approaching for our motorcycle, so maybe hubby and I will have to do some road tripping for fish. I should be able to fit a bag of fish in the saddle bags easily enough.

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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by Biulu on Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:21 pm

There are also several aquarium clubs in your area: the Kitchener/Waterloo Aquarium Society (KWAS) and the Hamilton and District Aquarium Society come to mind.

Both run fora so you can also inquire there for fish.
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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by Sbenson11 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:27 pm

I think it's a good thing that I don't live in GTA or near any major city for that matter. I would be flat broke in no time. Smile

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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by Biulu on Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:51 pm

Sbenson11 wrote:I think it's a good thing that I don't live in GTA or near any major city for that matter. I would be flat broke in no time. Smile

Steve

But maybe then you wouldn't have thought about importing your own koi as you would have been satisfied with what you could get locally...
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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by Sbenson11 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:11 am

Biulu wrote:
Sbenson11 wrote:I think it's a good thing that I don't live in GTA or near any major city for that matter. I would be flat broke in no time. Smile

Steve

But maybe then you wouldn't have thought about importing your own koi as you would have been satisfied with what you could get locally...

For most fish probably,

However after getting my hands on some real Japanese Koi there is no comparison to domestic varieties. If there were someone in Canada breading Koi from true Japanese blood lines I would have a look. However I have not found anyone who is. Everything I have come across is just mixed breeds of whatever. As I am finding out it takes a lot of space to keep different types separate and give them enough room to grow and breed. I am headed down that road and not turning back. Smile

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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by sucker4plecos on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:00 am

Not all chain stores are alike when it comes to the fish hobby. Some, such as PetSmart have a very cookie cutter approach to stock. They have one supplier to choose from for their fish and every store has to order the same species so there is no selection. Big Al's is a chain, but each store does their own stock ordering. You can walk into 10 stores and find the same bread and butter fish but also find fish that the other 9 stores might not have. There is also a choice of many suppliers that each store can choose from and each store has developed their own favourites that they will order more heavily from so there should always be a little different "flavor" at each store.

This is also somewhat true of fish clubs. It will be somewhat based on the local water conditions as the K-W area is wonderful if you want to keep and breed African cichlids but a true challenge if you like South American fish as the pH is normally 8.0-8.2 with up to 600 ppm for mineral hardness. Hamilton has more neutral conditions as does Toronto. Out West in many BC areas, the water can be very soft and people can keep SA fish quite easily and Rift Lake cichlids are rare.
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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by GaryE on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:36 am

I wouldn't consider Big Al's as a traditional chain. To me, if the word "pet" appears at the start of the name, I run. In Montreal, Big Al's evolved into Aquatica, a very good store. Plus we have a local chain, Nature, which is very good.

It's the stores that mimic Walmart that worry me - everything is the same and diversity is crushed in those ones.
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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by ksimdjembe on Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:32 am

I'd encourage a trip to both Finatic's store (mississauga?) or Menagerie pet store (south of bloor, Toronto). Both very good, and not chains. And relatively speaking close.
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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by alexmtl on Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:37 am

I love walking into aquarium stores where there are nice displays, a technical area for pumps and saltwater parts and a food section. I can spend hours looking at the hardware alone. My time does not permit me to do so, so I resort to online sites. I generally purchase where there is an advantage in selection (ie what I want) and price, though I am willing to pay a premium for what I need. I agree with Gary's "rule" as a good indicator of what you will find in the store. If it says "pet" then it is a mass market store for general purpose purchases, and I do look at these stores for low price hardware that are commodities. I have in my mind different segments : pet = general low cost hardware; fish or aquarium = specialty where I am willing to pay a premium; and online = targeted search for specific items not found.

For freshwater fish, most people will find the local pet store a great and convenient place. Even the big chains have something to offer for those who want an easy to care for choice. Hobbyists in forums are generally much more attuned to expert requirements, so many will prefer specialty stores and aquarium clubs for their fish. We have excellent aquarium stores here in Montreal, and sometimes there will be rare finds. The owners at one store are very interested in getting truly unique species, however people will need to pay the premium, which means that there needs to be a group vs individual buyers, which does not happen often.

There are a very special group of aquarium hobbyist who are online purchasers, either through auctions or websites. If you want something truly unique, "rare" and uncommon then the online option is an excellent one but, there are regulations and high shipping costs.

Aquarium clubs make unique fish available to many. So I tend to think that aquarium clubs is an excellent beginning if you are willing to put in the time, patience and investment in seeking out and joining these groups.

Choose your fish, then determine the avenue. In general, we have excellent avenues which are accessible to us all today, vs decades ago. We are fortunate to have these choices.
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Re: Where to buy freshwater fish?

Post by guppyguy on Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:21 pm

ksimdjembe wrote:I'd encourage a trip to both Finatic's store (mississauga?) or Menagerie pet store (south of bloor, Toronto). Both very good, and not chains. And relatively speaking close.

Both those stores are amazing. I made a trip at the beginning of March with some friends there. A 4 hour trip but well worth it.

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