Questions to assess the knowledge of the Shopkeeper?

Brendanpat

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When I bought my first aquarium in my lfs , he told me to just fill it up and let it run for about 2 days then it's ready for fish. I'm still not sure if he doesn't know anything about cycling the tank or if he does know ,but he just allows you to go on the journey and learn for yourself and keep coming back for more fish when they start going sideways! I also heard him give the same advice to another couple of newbies one day I was in ...
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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When I bought my first aquarium in my lfs , he told me to just fill it up and let it run for about 2 days then it's ready for fish. I'm still not sure if he doesn't know anything about cycling the tank or if he does know ,but he just allows you to go on the journey and learn for yourself and keep coming back for more fish when they start going sideways! I also heard him give the same advice to another couple of newbies one day I was in ...
This is why this post was created. ;)
 

wasmewasntit

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It is the same story with medications and additives though, not just with the initial purchases of the aquarium, equipment and fish. Some...sadly becoming the majority, it seems...only see making that sale as the priority and not the welfare of the animals or the ability & sanity of the fishkeeper
 

Colin_T

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First thing I do when I used to enter an LFS is quietly wander around the aquariums, just having a looksy.
I do that too :)

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.
Ah the mobile phone. I see people everywhere looking at the screen. I watch the news and they show rows of people waiting to get a covid test or jab and 99% of them are staring down at their feet, I mean phone.

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.
You would have walked out of my shop after that because I have no idea what it is. :)
 

Essjay

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In the UK, anyone wanting to sell animals of various types needs to have a licence from the local authority. The premises are inspected before a licence is issued and spot checks can be done at any time. This is to ensure that the animals in the shop are being properly cared for (and to make sure that any puppies or kittens being sold have been bred by the licence holder)
 

seangee

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When buying anything from an organisation whose mission is to sell you stuff the principle of caveat emptor always applies. I would not trust a car (or any other) salesman who tells me his product is the best on the market and that I would be making a mistake by buying elsewhere.

So I do my own research. I only ask questions to assess knowledge when asking for advice. As long as their stock is healthy and the tanks are well maintained I would not walk out of a store just because the assistant I am speaking to has less knowledge than me - or even no knowledge. I would never have got my first job, or survived in it, if I was expected to be an expert from day 1, and students are entitled to weekend jobs too.
 

Circus

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I usually ask what hardness and ph the fish are currently in (the good shops know their own, and most have a list or memorized which tanks are kept for which specific species). One shop had their fish from one side to the other, soft water, middling, hard, African cichlid hard, saltwater.
I have had a couple of new hires give me a wide eyed look and fetch someone who can answer. And one who just shrugged and asked "so do you want the fish or no?" It was a hard no at that point.
 

wasmewasntit

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For those fishy keepers in the US, this might be a good read...it does apply to fish.

Here in the UK there are strict licensing laws regarding the sale of livestock in shops along with local authority licensing there are regular inspection visits to ensure that all animals are being kept in proper conditions and are sold in the correct way.

The US seems to handle this on a State to State basis, not as the country as a whole. Alot of people actually do not realise that legislation exists or where to find out if your State has any legislation regarding the sale & welfare of anmals in pet shops.

This is an interesting read regarding the sale of pets at petstores


To find out if your State has legislation in place to ensure welfare standards of livestock on sale in shops (chainstores, auctions or smaller) your initial stop will be here where you can find out exactly what your State is demanding of their livestock sellers & breeders.


I always urge anyone who has seen or been sold livestock that is sickly or dies within the DOA policy and the seller is dismissive or tries to blame it on excuses or your bad husbandry, get in touch with your local authority's animal welfare department and report it. By reporting it there is a good chance that animals in that store will be inspected within 24 to 48 hours, recommendations made to improve facilities and conditions within a period of time, "drop in" inspections, fines and in some cases where conditions are not improved, legal action taken against that shop which can end in a heavy fine and future monitoring or an all out ban or even jail time if the evidence is sufficient to warrant that.

If you walk into a shop or an auction and you see dead or dying fish (or any livestock) please report it to the authorities, don't turn a blind eye. These animals deserve to be kept properly and humanely whether a fish or any other animal.
 

Colin_T

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I usually ask what hardness and ph the fish are currently in (the good shops know their own, and most have a list or memorized which tanks are kept for which specific species). One shop had their fish from one side to the other, soft water, middling, hard, African cichlid hard, saltwater.
Most of the shops I have worked at had a similar scenario. One bank of tanks would be soft water for tetras, barbs, rasboras and angelfish. Another row/ bank would be livebearers, another with Rift Lake cichlids, and if they carried salt water, that would be another row/ bank. Each bank had a set pH and GH and we told customers to try and stay within one bank and to match their water.
 

WhistlingBadger

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I've enjoyed reading this thread, both the laughs and the serious ideas. I will only add this bit of advice: Be kind. As @seangee and @Naterjm pointed out, sometimes people get a job in a fish shop because they need a job, not because they're experts. That's not ideal, but it's probably OK, and it probably isn't their fault.

Pet store employees have their entry level too. When I started out as a roofer, my boss sent me down the ladders to get "the blue skyhook" out of the truck. I looked for it for half an hour. I knew nothing. :lol: I learned a lot and worked hard, but I never became an expert. It was a summer job.

So, do your own research. Ask the questions, but don't get too upset if they don't know. When you find someone who does know something (as happened to me at a Petco last spring), it's such a nice surprise! :) You might just make a friend if you aren't careful.
 

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