Although this should be obvious to those who have been in the aquarium hobby for a little bit of time, sometimes we need little reminders, other than bad experiences. However, some of this should be obvious to those just getting started also.
Buying Fish and Other Livestock
Fish bought through chain stores, even some pet shop chain stores, may not be the fish you may wish to risk putting in your aquarium. Most fish, unless they were purchased by your local pet shop directly from a quality professional and experienced breeder (very doubtful for some chain stores), usually have been shipped many times in a brief period of time.
This is stressful for the fish, their resistance diminishes, they've gone through several climate/water changes, they aren't the best quality (hardy) to begin with unfortunately, and as the result many times it is more than likely they'll get disease and/or die. And remember, if one fish has a disease in the aquarium, then it is prudent to assume that all of the fish have it, even if they are yet to start presenting symptoms.
Worse yet, diminished, poor quality and diseased fish most likely will infect all of your fish and your entire aquarium, when you get them home. Massive fish loss is something many have experienced as a result of this. This is the single biggest reason many people do not continue on in the tropical fish hobby and feel they are doomed to always be failures at raising a tank full of beautiful fish.
Therefore, fish raised in aquariums by experienced breeders and who are fed quality fish foods from birth/hatching are by far healthier, than those raised in large commercial ponds and fed cheap dry dog food. Albeit this doesn't mean there aren't some fish farms, who are as conscientious as any true hobbyist with fish in a 10 gallon aquarium.
This is why we have carefully selected professional breeders as members and feel confident of the high quality and general health of their fish. These breeders take pride in the quality of their fish, they've hand-raised them up from babies, and they are by far more knowledgeable about them and fish keeping generally. They generally will give you the best customer service and will answer your questions in a friendly, helpful and honest way. Many times these breeders have more years of experiencing raising and breeding fish, going back long before many chain store employees were even born, meaning no disrespect to the limited experienced youngsters who are still learning and trying.
If you've ever bought fish from a professional breeder, then you already know there is no comparison between these experts (with many years of experience) and the minimum wage employees of chain stores, with little or no experience. Also many times, depending upon species and rarity, you may actually buy the fish for less money directly from the breeder, because the pet shops, certainly the chain stores, mark these fish up to cover the number they lose to shipping shock, disease, improper care, and then to also still try to make a profit.
However, this isn't to say that you shouldn't buy fish from a locally owned pet shop. A local pet shop that is privately owned, with emphasis who buys from private professional breeders, has been in business for many years, and the owner has many years of experience and knowledge as a hobbyist themselves; are those where you will most likely find quality fish, many times which have been purchased from professional breeders and other private hobbyists.
Ask your local and privately owned pet shop if they buy fish from experienced hobbyists. Those who do and who have relationships with professional breeders and and distributors through Aquarium-Club.org, are those pet shops who will eagerly confirm this and what species they usually get locally and then talk enthusiastically about the breeders, the access to great fish that they have, and then how to best care for and breed the fish.
Buying Fish, Supplies and Dry Goods On-line
Here your selection criteria can be as complex or as critical as with choosing a local source for your fish/livestock, because many times you can get the exact same products from several sources, however, the two remaining considerations (price & customer service) do remain and they are important fundamentals. Some supplies distributors can save you up to 50% or more on retail for the exact same products and their prices are usually this low, however if you get excellent customer service and support, this may be worth paying a slightly higher price and do factor S/H.
Caution should also be exercised, when buying fish and products on-line from those that have a geocities or other free web site. If a breeder cannot afford to pay for the hosting of a professional web site, chances are this is because they do not have many customers and they do not sell a lot of fish. Likewise if a breeder's e-mail address is an @hotmail.com or an @yahoo.com, or similar free e-mail service, here again this may not be the professional breeder or quality fish they are suggesting in their photos. Likewise, you don't know the true identity of someone with @hotmail.com and similar addresses.
You have far greater assurances by purchasing fish from a breeder, pet shop or distributor that has their own dot-com domain name, it is hosted on their own server, and an e-mail address that is related to this domain name. This is why all of the breeders who sell their fish directly through Aquarium-Club also have @Aquarium-Club.org e-mail addresses.
At Aquarium-Club, we only affiliate with those breeders, pet shops and distributors who provide the selection of the reputable name brand products at great prices, and the highest customer service to help you select the appropriate products and to immediately handle any questions or problems with your order. We likewise stand behind these products, pet shop/distributors and of course you; to make sure that you get the best possible customer service anywhere. Our breeders, pet shops and distributors, just like our professional breeder members and ourselves, are tropical fish hobbyists first and foremost. It isn't difficult to tell the difference between these suppliers and those stores that have absentee owners or are part of a large chain, where corporate profits and policies are more important than your customer service and happiness with your hobby.
We truly hope, because we strive to give you access to the best fish, supplies, breeders, pet shops and distributors available to make your on-line purchases, that you find our members and services to be the best anywhere. We do this, not only because we are also hobbyist ourselves and we know how we feel about the quality of fish and the customer service we receive, but we do this also because as our visitors, members and fellow hobbyists; you are our friends.
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