Questions to assess the knowledge of the Shopkeeper?

JemZ

Fish Crazy
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
355
Reaction score
221
Location
Florida
I've added a couple of things here. One more thing. Select your fish yourself, say "I want that fish there". Not I want one of those. If they chase the fish around the tank say " No thanks I will Leave it" .
I have been known to say I would like 6 of those or 10 of those and then say "I will catch them it's fine". Especially if you have seen the shop person chasing fish around a tank for the customer before you.

Have they been willing to let you catch the fish? I've never tried that.
 

Naterjm

Fishaholic
Tank of the Month!
Joined
Oct 29, 2020
Messages
565
Reaction score
591
Location
Canada
Let’s also not forget the main topic of the original post, was questions to assess the knowledge of the staff.

not everyone is as experienced in fish keeping, so this topic may be more helpful for new fish keepers getting into the hobby and being equipped to go and handle a conversation at a store without having to pick up their phone for google answers.

there’s no substitute for having done research ahead of time, but there’s certainly room for going and talking shop with some locals, especially if you can judge their relative expertise and engage in open debate then formulate your own opinions.

I feel like that is a model that is missing from society in general. Not everything it right and wrong, sometimes there is middle ground to be found.
 

itiwhetu

Naturally First
Pet of the Month!
Joined
Apr 29, 2012
Messages
8,825
Reaction score
6,592
Location
Hokitika, New Zealand
Have they been willing to let you catch the fish? I've never tried that.
I have never been turned down, I make it quite clear that I know what I'm doing and I know which fish I want. I also explain it will be easier that way.
 

JemZ

Fish Crazy
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
355
Reaction score
221
Location
Florida
Let’s also not forget the main topic of the original post, was questions to assess the knowledge of the staff.

not everyone is as experienced in fish keeping, so this topic may be more helpful for new fish keepers getting into the hobby and being equipped to go and handle a conversation at a store without having to pick up their phone for google answers.

there’s no substitute for having done research ahead of time, but there’s certainly room for going and talking shop with some locals, especially if you can judge their relative expertise and engage in open debate then formulate your own opinions.

I feel like that is a model that is missing from society in general. Not everything it right and wrong, sometimes there is middle ground to be found.
Agree, me and itiwhetu got a bit off topic 🙂

I love what you are saying here, and in most cases (as it is in life in general) the best results come from moderation: be well-read on the fish you are going to buy, and then the worker can serve as a supplemental source of info if you feel they are knowledgeable.
 

Colin_T

Fish Guru
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
36,203
Reaction score
20,669
Location
Perth, WA
Usually if they are knowledgeable, they will ask you questions. (Like how big of tank do you have, what’s already in there, etc)
I fully agree with this.

-----------
When I was working in the shop and a customer came over asking to get fish, I would ask them questions.
What sort of fish did you want?
How big is the tank?
How long has the tank been set up for?

Depending on the response to those questions, I would either get them the fish or ask if they knew about the filter/ nitrogen cycle. If they didn't know about the cycle and the tank was still new, I would ask them to bring in a glass full of tank water so I could test it. Then go from there.

As a pet shop worker, these are things I asked the customers and is the opposite of what this thread is about. But as @PheonixKingZ said, a good staff member will ask the customer questions to find out what they have, and to make sure what they want to get is compatible with their current set up.
 

Naterjm

Fishaholic
Tank of the Month!
Joined
Oct 29, 2020
Messages
565
Reaction score
591
Location
Canada
That’s exactly it. This forum and others like it, plus the numerous other resources available online, be it YouTube, or species profiles Wikipedia type stuff, should serve as guidelines.

it’s unreasonable to think that every LFS store employee, be it mom and pop or big box store, is going to be like @Colin_T and be able to rhyme off every possible condition your fish is going to go through off the cuff.

I think in general, there is an impatience present. That impatience seems to be a stratosphere between newbie and when you know enough to know. Once you know enough, the is a bias that some of us, not everyone, but some of us experienced keepers cross over to this sort of “I know all of this stuff about keeping fish, and why don’t you, you should do more research, I’m mightier than thou.” Again, I’m not saying everyone, but you can’t deny that sort of attitude is out there.

there seems to be a somewhat elitism that develops with some people who ask why why don’t people just do ‘X’ etc.

let us not forget that before the advent of the internet, most of this information was only available in print form and not every Tom Dick and Harry had a say. It was outdated, and opinions or arguments were rarely a thing.

I think this is as good a time as any to remind each other, this should be recognized and appreciated as a forum and platform for open debate, questions, and exploration of knowledge, experience and opinion.

social media has united and divided us enough, and without naming names, I’ve seen quite a bit of rhetoric that seems to demean some new people asking questions that by all rights they need answers to.

clean your own room, and remember, someone else told you to clean your room first, before you start telling someone to clean theirs.

be good to one another out there.

Ps, my little rant aside, there is totally room for discussing the practices for fish vendors, big or small, I’m not trying to diminish that at all, but I would like to push for a less foot down approach, in favour of a more educated and reason based approach.

sorry, got off topic again…
 

itiwhetu

Naturally First
Pet of the Month!
Joined
Apr 29, 2012
Messages
8,825
Reaction score
6,592
Location
Hokitika, New Zealand
That’s exactly it. This forum and others like it, plus the numerous other resources available online, be it YouTube, or species profiles Wikipedia type stuff, should serve as guidelines.

it’s unreasonable to think that every LFS store employee, be it mom and pop or big box store, is going to be like @Colin_T and be able to rhyme off every possible condition your fish is going to go through off the cuff.

I think in general, there is an impatience present. That impatience seems to be a stratosphere between newbie and when you know enough to know. Once you know enough, the is a bias that some of us, not everyone, but some of us experienced keepers cross over to this sort of “I know all of this stuff about keeping fish, and why don’t you, you should do more research, I’m mightier than thou.” Again, I’m not saying everyone, but you can’t deny that sort of attitude is out there.

there seems to be a somewhat elitism that develops with some people who ask why why don’t people just do ‘X’ etc.

let us not forget that before the advent of the internet, most of this information was only available in print form and not every Tom Dick and Harry had a say. It was outdated, and opinions or arguments were rarely a thing.

I think this is as good a time as any to remind each other, this should be recognized and appreciated as a forum and platform for open debate, questions, and exploration of knowledge, experience and opinion.

social media has united and divided us enough, and without naming names, I’ve seen quite a bit of rhetoric that seems to demean some new people asking questions that by all rights they need answers to.

clean your own room, and remember, someone else told you to clean your room first, before you start telling someone to clean theirs.

be good to one another out there.

Ps, my little rant aside, there is totally room for discussing the practices for fish vendors, big or small, I’m not trying to diminish that at all, but I would like to push for a less foot down approach, in favour of a more educated and reason based approach.

sorry, got off topic again…
Great rant considering you have just told me off for not sticking to the topic
 

wasmewasntit

Fish Aficionado
Joined
Aug 21, 2021
Messages
3,086
Reaction score
4,135
Location
Wherever
First thing I do when I used to enter an LFS is quietly wander around the aquariums, just having a looksy.

If an employee comes up to me and asks "Can I help you?" then that is good, shows a bit of interest...if employees stay at the till playing with their phone or biting their nails, thats not good.

I then ask to see the shop's local authority issued licence to trade livestock and their most recent inspection report.

If that is met with, "Absolutely, no problem" then that is good.
If that is met with "EH?" and a shake of the head, I thank them very much and walk out the door.

Only after that part has been completed positively I will then discuss fish species......"I have an aquarium of (size), set up a couple days ago (test to see if they understand the cycle) and I am looking to get (species of fish too large for aquarium)...does that sound like it will be OK?"

If they fail that test, I would leave with a polite "Thank you for your assistance, I shall give it some thought", if they discuss the cycle and the fish being too large then we are on the right track.
 

FishHobby99

Fish Gatherer
Joined
Aug 15, 2021
Messages
2,469
Reaction score
71
Location
USA
Time and time again we hear of inaccurate, misleading and sometimes downright cruel advice being given by those who work in fish shops. This misinformation is usually given to people relatively new to the hobby, who then appear in here, trying desperately to resolve an emergency that should never have happened in the first place.
That said, it would be wrong to tar all fish shop staff with the same brush, suggesting that they're all evil, with only profit and the exploitation of customers in their minds.
Some staff can be really knowledgeable and helpful, not only answering questions asked of them, but also being able to ask the right questions of the potential customer.

So how can we tell them apart?

I believe I know enough about the hobby to distinguish between genuine new info and total bull. I'm also blessed with an ability to ask pertinent questions, especially when face to face. When talking to staff, I know what to ask in order to suss out their credibility and am well capable of recognising when someone is being evasive, or defensive. (Running for the Manager is always a good clue :D ).

So what questions could someone new to the hobby ask, in order to know whether or not the shop will be good to buy fish from, or not?

My favourite opening is "Do you keep fish yourself?"
If the answer's a yes, then I find that they'll be quite happy to talk about their tanks, (just as we do in here). Keeping their own fish does not necessarily ean that they know what they're doing, but if they can tell me about their sensible stocking levels, fish types, water pH and hardness, I'm encouraged. I'm even happier if they show enthusiasm for the hobby, right there and then.

Another basic question is to ask them to describe to me this Nitrogen Cycle thing I keep on hearing about.
Some haven't got a clue. Some obviously know off by heart, having learned it in a Training Module, but then struggle when presented with questions about possible issues. Those who really know their stuff aren't phased by any of these questions and can even give reasoned arguments for different cycling methods.

My third question revolves around stocking levels, fish sizes and compatability, including minimum numbers of particular fish to group together, for them to thrive. Some appear to have learned the 1"per Gallon Rule, without understanding it, or being able to grasp it's inadequacies/limitations. Others have said that I could have four tetras in my tank and that that would be fine, without telling me that the tetra in question needs to be in a group of at least six.

A final indicator of a knowledgeable fishkeeper would be their readiness to talk fish until the cows came home.

So what questions could/should you ask?
Obviously, you'd need to know the answers yourselves, to see whether or not the staff do know what they're talking about, but if you know what you're going to ask, you could easily have done your homework beforehand.

It might even be useful to compile a crib sheet, so new fishkeepers can properly check out the knowledge and awareness of their local fish sellers.
Nice post, Bruce. I found both family owned shops in town are ran by knowledgeable folks who have owned fish for decades. Seriously doubt they‘d otherwise be in the business. We have a nice FW and a SW shop. The ones that don’t know Jack are some at the local big box stores. Many college kids working part time. A sharp kid at Petco.
 

DoubleDutch

Fish Gatherer
Joined
May 7, 2013
Messages
2,425
Reaction score
2,010
Location
NL
"Can I get a tank and the fish at the same time". I've several times bitten my tongue of when in certain LfS. Good news is that they stopped selling livestock last year.
Never ever bought anything.
 
OP
OP
Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

Fish Aficionado
Joined
Jul 1, 2021
Messages
3,559
Reaction score
3,173
Location
Cleator Moor, Cumbria
That’s exactly it. This forum and others like it, plus the numerous other resources available online, be it YouTube, or species profiles Wikipedia type stuff, should serve as guidelines.

it’s unreasonable to think that every LFS store employee, be it mom and pop or big box store, is going to be like @Colin_T and be able to rhyme off every possible condition your fish is going to go through off the cuff.

I think in general, there is an impatience present. That impatience seems to be a stratosphere between newbie and when you know enough to know. Once you know enough, the is a bias that some of us, not everyone, but some of us experienced keepers cross over to this sort of “I know all of this stuff about keeping fish, and why don’t you, you should do more research, I’m mightier than thou.” Again, I’m not saying everyone, but you can’t deny that sort of attitude is out there.

there seems to be a somewhat elitism that develops with some people who ask why why don’t people just do ‘X’ etc.

let us not forget that before the advent of the internet, most of this information was only available in print form and not every Tom Dick and Harry had a say. It was outdated, and opinions or arguments were rarely a thing.

I think this is as good a time as any to remind each other, this should be recognized and appreciated as a forum and platform for open debate, questions, and exploration of knowledge, experience and opinion.

social media has united and divided us enough, and without naming names, I’ve seen quite a bit of rhetoric that seems to demean some new people asking questions that by all rights they need answers to.

clean your own room, and remember, someone else told you to clean your room first, before you start telling someone to clean theirs.

be good to one another out there.

Ps, my little rant aside, there is totally room for discussing the practices for fish vendors, big or small, I’m not trying to diminish that at all, but I would like to push for a less foot down approach, in favour of a more educated and reason based approach.

sorry, got off topic again…
All I was after was a short list of relatively simple questions that a newbie could know the answers to and the shop staff should know the answes to.
Armed with such a list, said newbie should be confident in assessing the credibility of the store they're visiting.
One chap I spoke to couldn't answer a relatively basic question, BUT he immediately went around the store to get the answer from a resident expert and paid attention when it was given. We then spent a most pleasant half hour talking fish.

In another life I was involved in compiling a similar tool for carers who were looking at homes for their loved one, facilitating them making an informed decision.

Such a tool had to take into account, completely, the person asking the questions.
 

Most reactions

trending

Staff online

Members online

Top