Questions to assess the knowledge of the Shopkeeper?

Naterjm

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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.

Hahahaha, I love practical jokes on the new guys.

the boss man signing hourly pay cheques doesn’t usually….
About 2 months ago we sent one of our guys outside in the rain because the electrician was dropping off the “long stand”

45 minutes later, he came inside. But he got his long stand… don’t want to get off topic here however it’s another illustration of how “green” people can be at their new jobs. Can’t learn it in a day…
 

itiwhetu

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Hahahaha, I love practical jokes on the new guys.

the boss man signing hourly pay cheques doesn’t usually….
About 2 months ago we sent one of our guys outside in the rain because the electrician was dropping off the “long stand”

45 minutes later, he came inside. But he got his long stand… don’t want to get off topic here however it’s another illustration of how “green” people can be at their new jobs. Can’t learn it in a day…
As a Bread Baker we used to send the apprentices down to the boiler house and get them to ask one of the Engineers for 2 buckets of steam.
 

Naughts

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In Maidenhead Aquatics, a loud woman and her boy came in. She put her whole (unwashed) arm in a tank, picked up a pipe and shook out a 18" knife fish and asked the boy if he wanted it. Either the shop worker was used to her, or, I believe, he was too intimidated to challenge her. She was about 5'1", he was a man-mountain at about 6'6"!
 

itiwhetu

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In Maidenhead Aquatics, a loud woman and her boy came in. She put her whole (unwashed) arm in a tank, picked up a pipe and shook out a 2' arowana and asked the boy if he wanted it. Either the shop worker was used to her, or, I believe, he was too intimidated to challenge her. She was about 5'1", he was a man-mountain at about 6'6"!
What was a 2' Arowana doing in a pipe??
 

itiwhetu

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In Maidenhead Aquatics, a loud woman and her boy came in. She put her whole (unwashed) arm in a tank, picked up a pipe and shook out a 18" knife fish and asked the boy if he wanted it. Either the shop worker was used to her, or, I believe, he was too intimidated to challenge her. She was about 5'1", he was a man-mountain at about 6'6"!
That is just rude. Before I catch my own fish I always have a conversation about it with the shop assistant.
 

Naughts

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Ha ha ,not into monster fish, as you can tell :rolleyes:
 

BJBart

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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.
I lucked out. I was in PetSmart ( oh no) on a Sunday morning. I got to talking to an associate by the fish. She would tell me she'd be right back and go help someone. She'd come back and we'd continue our conversation. At one point she asked if I was going to buy something then. I told her no I was cycling my new tank with no fish. We talked some more and she said when I was ready to come back and they'd test the water for me. Come to find out she was home on school break. She was a Jr at Missouri State and just finished her externship, waiting to start back to school. Her field Tropical Fish. Her externship was in South America in the Amazon River Basin. Learned alot from just talking with her.
 

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