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Don't trust fish store employees too much...

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elephantnose3334

Fishaholic
Joined
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Hi @Essjay,

Why is the golden rule of fishkeeping: Never trust a fish store worker or fish store on what they say or do; important to you in the forum? How long have you implemented the rule in TFF? I'm only a teenager, still learning. I'm always planning on what to do next for the wellbeing of my existing fish. I will remember to follow the golden rule of fishkeeping for now on. Does this rule apply to all fish stores around the world?

Edit: Thanks @WhistlingBadger for changing the old title to a more interesting title. The original one was bland.
 
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I'm not @Essjay , but I think I can start the answer.

It isn't a 'rule', but a guideline. Many aquarium store workers are just honest people doing an honest job they may have just started. There is a strong chance they know less than you do. Today, they sell fish, tomorrow they sell shoes.
Everywhere in the world, the business has to survive. The goal is to empty tanks so they can refill, and keep selling fish. You want two fish that will kill each other? Sure. The person helping you may not even know, and the manager who does know has sales quotas to meet. They work on the assumption you may not be a return customer, and they have nothing to lose.

So it's not the fish store workers who are not trustworthy - it's their advice based on their training. There are exceptions, and you may find them.

I worked in an old fashioned store in another era, in a neighbourhood. If I gave bad advice, I was corrected. That store survived on a loyal clientele, very differently from the stores we now drive to. But I have met store personnel I trust, and whose knowledge is shared openly and honestly. Many will still give the customer what he/she wants though, with no questions. It isn't their disaster, but spending too much time helping can be a disaster if the boss fires them for it..

So, go to a store. Take your phone. Google the species you like. Don't ask. Then, if that isn't enough,go home and continue your research. If there are still questions when you go back, ask the clerk. Maybe, if you are lucky, an informed question will get a good answer. That's how you build relationships with sellers, with mutual respect. If they know anything, don't waste their time and they won't waste yours.
Go in, ask uninformed questions and in any retail situation, the staff will see you as lazy and uninteresting and sell you what they want to get rid of. You have to be an active learner and prepare yourself.
 
I'm not @Essjay , but I think I can start the answer.

It isn't a 'rule', but a guideline. Many aquarium store workers are just honest people doing an honest job they may have just started. There is a strong chance they know less than you do. Today, they sell fish, tomorrow they sell shoes.
Everywhere in the world, the business has to survive. The goal is to empty tanks so they can refill, and keep selling fish. You want two fish that will kill each other? Sure. The person helping you may not even know, and the manager who does know has sales quotas to meet. They work on the assumption you may not be a return customer, and they have nothing to lose.

So it's not the fish store workers who are not trustworthy - it's their advice based on their training. There are exceptions, and you may find them.

I worked in an old fashioned store in another era, in a neighbourhood. If I gave bad advice, I was corrected. That store survived on a loyal clientele, very differently from the stores we now drive to. But I have met store personnel I trust, and whose knowledge is shared openly and honestly. Many will still give the customer what he/she wants though, with no questions. It isn't their disaster, but spending too much time helping can be a disaster if the boss fires them for it..

So, go to a store. Take your phone. Google the species you like. Don't ask. Then, if that isn't enough,go home and continue your research. If there are still questions when you go back, ask the clerk. Maybe, if you are lucky, an informed question will get a good answer. That's how you build relationships with sellers, with mutual respect. If they know anything, don't waste their time and they won't waste yours.
Go in, ask uninformed questions and in any retail situation, the staff will see you as lazy and uninteresting and sell you what they want to get rid of. You have to be an active learner and prepare yourself.
I remember now. The staff at Vebas might actually like me because I know more than the other workers in the store. Not all fish stores are that way though. This is interesting that you worked in an old fashioned store in your neighbourhood. That's what I'm trying to do: be an active learner.
 
A thought for the day, @elephantnose3334 . When you mention Vebas, people like me are tens of thousands of km away, have never been to Perth and may not have a clue what a Vebas is. It's like if I ask you what is better, Aquarium du Nord or Maison du Poisson? How can you possibly know (they're both good, by the way!). We are all over the world, and while I would love to visit most of the places people talk about, I haven't.
You should step back and give us context. It's why people will say 'my local fish store' instead of naming it.

I could say that was a mess of a snowstorm yesterday and I hope it didn't cause you problems, but somehow, I think we're in different places and that wouldn't get an answer.;)
 
A thought for the day, @elephantnose3334 . When you mention Vebas, people like me are tens of thousands of km away, have never been to Perth and may not have a clue what a Vebas is. It's like if I ask you what is better, Aquarium du Nord or Maison du Poisson? How can you possibly know (they're both good, by the way!). We are all over the world, and while I would love to visit most of the places people talk about, I haven't.
You should step back and give us context. It's why people will say 'my local fish store' instead of naming it.

I could say that was a mess of a snowstorm yesterday and I hope it didn't cause you problems, but somehow, I think we're in different places and that wouldn't get an answer.;)
Oh, right. That's what my LFS is called. I know this place very well. Vebas Aquariums have been longer than Aquotix, which is in Canning Vale. Vebas does have saltwater fish and freshwater fish. Just giving you an insight on what Vebas is. Aquarium du Nord would be better though. But I have to tell you @GaryE, that's where I had work experience for a day.
 
Gary has replied here; I have replied in the PM you sent :)
Oh okay. I was asking other questions for the golden rule of fishkeeping. I saw some comments of yours referring to the golden rule of fishkeeping, including the one that was on one of my posts.
 
Calling this "the golden rule" is a bit of a joke, EN. :lol: If we honestly had to come with a golden rule of fish keeping, it would probably be something like, "Do your research and give the fish what they want." But certainly, part of that is not trusting fish store employees. Those of us who have been around for a long time have seen this come up SO many times, it has become a bit of a mantra.
Question: "Why aren't my bala shark and my red-tail shark getting along in my 10 gallon tank? The pet store guy said they would be OK."
Answer: "Don't trust the fish store guy. Do your own research."

We have seen so many variations on this conversation, it really has become something of a golden rule. :)
 
Not without verification, but generally.

You can trust those who tells you everything you don't want to hear.

This aquarium is too small.
Don't put these together.
These should be quarantined before introduction.
Your water is too hard / soft for these.
Your tank is already overstocked.
Your nitrates are too high.
Your lightning is on too long.
Your overfeeding.
You have too much water circulation.
You shouldn't use a bubbler with these.

They will also insist on "YOU" documenting your project and do research on what you are going to host, how to do it and the required parameters and material you need to achieve your goal.
 
In the older days of fish chats I knew a few fish keepers down under. I was always imprssed by how they had overcome, legally, some of yor most restrivie imporation laws to acquire fish. his involved finding breeders there.

I can only speak for places in the States. I do not know how available some of what I discus are I australia. But I would imagine some of them are in some form.

As for the advice you don't want to hear, never forget that stores exist to sell stuff and not to turn away sales, This applies even if it is live fish related. Your best weapon is to do some independent research before you buy.

I set up my first tank in Jan 2001. Today I am about to retire having bred rare plecos and sold them to fish keepers across the country. I have worked with people who imported and gotten fish that way. I have bought fish at my club's auction at the end of each month's meeting. I have bought most of my fish shipped in and almost never from stores.

I do not trust the fish departments of larger pet stores. I might trust some dedicated fish stores, but very few. There is one about 30 minutes from me. Their prices are pretty high and their fish are pretty healthy and the knowledge of any employee is quite high. I would trade some of my fish to them for store credit to spend at their retail price. I know that to get a job there you are required to pass a rather intensive written test on an assortment of fish and related matters from meds to plants. Back when the less pricey tetras at a pet store sold for $2.50 or so, theirs sold for $4.50.

Next, there are younger hobbyists who would be in the age range that PetCo and PetSmart hire who also happen to be a serious fish keepers and who have more motivation to work in these places in the fish dept. than most. So you can occasionally bump into such a person. but do not hold your breath....

Two of the best sources for information are a local fish club and most weekend fish events. Most of these are sponsored and run by fish clubs because the members are working for free. The other thing is over the years of attending such weekend event I have met and talked with people like Ingo Seidel, Hass-Georg Evers, Leandro Sousa, Julian Dignall aka Jools of Planetcatfish, Rachel O'Leary, Barbie Fiorentino, Stephan Tanner, Shane Linder and the list goes on. I never imagined some of these folks would bother to talk to me. I have learned things from every one of them I might never have known otherwise. (My apologies whomever this old brain may be forgetting to name here.) I am not including any of the folks with whom I have only chatted or exchanged Emails with but have never met.

My point is, all one has to have is the curiosity to want to know the most accurate answer to our fish related questions. The challenge then becomes learning where and how to find that information. The odds are, when looking online, one will find more poor information than good. I am considered, in some circles, to be a respected breeder of a narrow group of B&W Hypancistrus plecos. However, I could not come close to passing the test to work in the fish pet store I mentioned above.

Here is the best advice I can give you. Join a local fish club if you can. Learn about any fish events you can attend that might be in any way of interest. All of us were beginners at some point.

Online here is a little headstart with 2 good sites. I hope others can add a few more for you.

You can get a head start on fish species info, go here https://seriouslyfish.com/
For catfish, go here https://www.planetcatfish.com/index.php
 
This is as already mentioned a theme that occurs over and over again. But yes, the majority of fish stores globally lack relevant knowledge. Same goes for relevant wholesalers. They work with a lot of generalizations that they had to know by heart. Same goes for selling other animals at stores. This is why I never take information from relevant stores for granted. Especially, when they call themselves specialists or specialized in fish. For most of the time it turns out that they're still lacking proper knowledge.

One of my things I like to do is to visit stores that don't know me and hear what kind of nonsense comes out of their mouths. And I will never interrupt them during the conversation. Once they're done, I love to tell them their mistakes. I'm always curious for their reactions.

As already mentioned, do your own research before adopting any kind of animal.
 
In reality... ( I was going to say "at the end of the day" ;) ) with any hobby you get into, often the "enthusiasts" know more than the people working at the shops that support that hobby... and not that I am, but assuming many of the "experts" here, don't have the time, or the shop couldn't afford to pay their pay scale, so you get some of the most knowledgeable advice here, for free, or you get sales peoples advice with less "experience", often working in those shops to get a discount to help feed their hobby... then within most hobbies, there are different schools of thought... so even if you are talking to an experienced person at a fish shop, they might not like the fish that interest you, or the way your tank is set up... plus there are "shop people" that just want your money... it doesn't really matter if you are talking motorcycles or fish...
 
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