Working In an Aquatics Shop


Fish Herder
Feb 25, 2021
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It's been an awful long time since I last posted a proper thread here, I've been away both working and taking care of things at home.
Content warning for animal abuse and fish death to proceed.

After only a few months of working in an aquatics shop, I packed it in and resigned. A word of advice to anyone who hasn't yet professionally worked in the fishkeeping industry: don't. While I took issue with the company itself (which I won't name here), I can speak very little praise of the actual work you are tasked with in a fishkeeping or aquatics shop. The plague of ignorance and disregard in the industry isn't confined to one big brand name or select branches -- it afflicts the entire commercial side (and hobby side) of fishkeeping. I now know, which I did not before I began work in the business, that we all suffer from the fatal flaw of these companies not giving a single damn about what they're doing.

I was hired as a sales advisor, with the note that my duties would include maintenance. No problem there, but the upkeep of the livestock in fish shops is... Abysmal. There are few other words to describe it. There are worse places to work and I'm sure that the good old "back in my day" folks on this forum will be happy to remind me of that, but my experience with this industry was miserable and I truly wish I had known more about it before diving into it as my "dream job".

Every few days you oversee shipments of new fish. Half are dead, a quarter near-fatally ill and the other quarter a little off-looking. There are no quarantine periods, because they don't care about the health of the fish as long as they make a sale. You always hear on this forum about bad fish shop workers not knowing what they're doing, which isn't the case. We are specifically told to give this shite advice to you because it promotes a better sale than explaining the nitrate cycle and tank footprints and compatibility. Unless you are the manager or the owner of the branch, customers will not listen to you when you give your advice. You're encouraged to deal with this, as to not "patronise" the customers, and to deviate from the strict "wait a week, then test your water and you can put some fish in" is scoffed at.

Again, this isn't an issue exclusive to any one chain or branch; this plague of ignorance and disregard for the safety of the fish you're selling and the people you're selling them to damages the entire fishkeeping business. But why should you care? You barely make minimum wage to listen to kids scream about the fish they want and bang on the tank fronts, treating the shop like an aquarium exhibit while you explain to someone that a 30L BiOrb isn't appropriate for a common plec. Especially as a minor. As I was 16 and 17 when I worked there, I was paid half of the 25+ minimum wage (~Ā£4.55 an hour) for twice the work that I watched my adult colleagues put in.

I know that many of the younger people on this forum are particularly interested in entering this field of work, and my only advice to you is that you really shouldn't. Or, if you do, do as much research as you can and take experiences like mine into account. It isn't work for an animal lover. The time you spend with the animals does not make up for the cracked, sore hands; the disgusting upkeep of the fish in each and every shop; or the amount of dead fish you have to scoop up and euthanise for the most minor of injuries and afflictions.

Of course, that's just my opinion. Again, there are worse places to work I'm sure, but for those who are looking into working in the fishkeeping business, please take this warning with as much urgency as you can. It is emotionally straining and physically demanding. There is very little room for risk assessment and - as it is a customer service job - you are at the mercy of the customers at all times.

At some point, I may create a full length version of this, because I have a lot more to say. If I do end up formatting it into something like that, I'll add it to this thread sometime down the line.


Apr 2, 2021
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Poor you ā˜¹ what a horrible read...I'm ashamed to say I'm vastly ignorant about the goings on in our fish shops. I think it's important to know though so I'll be waiting for your next installments


Moderate Moderating Moderator
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Global Moderator
Jul 16, 2013
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Oxfordshire, UK
This is, as suspected, what I thought happens behind the scenes of most aquatic store.

I cannot say I am surprised sadly, itā€™s all about business, not personal as it is first and foremost a business so profits come first other wise there would be no business at all.

Meanwhile I do agree there is much room for improvements but do bear in mind this does happen not only in aquatic stores but in a lot of animal husbandry businesses too. I used to work in dog kennels before and some of the practices and seeing what some staff and certain owners do to the dogs in their care is sadly commonplace and there only so much you can do as an employee, you can try to raise awareness but more often than not those advice falls on deaf ears.

So try your best to raise more awareness and care for these animals, no matter what type of animal and the gears are slow to roll but hopefully they will grind and before too long we start to see improvements, baby steps rather than strides really.

Keep it up and donā€™t get too discouraged and keep fighting for these animals, and together we may get there yet one day ;)

Bruce Leyland-Jones

Fish Gatherer
Jul 1, 2021
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Cleator Moor, Cumbria
Totally sad and sadly understandable, especially when bean-counters and business people take on a business with profit as the only motivation.
I seriously think you should name and shame.
In the past few months, I've spent a lot of time with both the local Pets at Home staff and those at my nearest Maidenhead Aquatics, up in Carlisle. As a consequence, I'm aware of the poor and ignorant policies dictated by the Head Office of P@H and of the troubles the actual fishkeepers amongst the staff have in following those policies.
I think it worth noting that apparently almost all changes and positive developments, regarding fish welfare, have been imposed following customer we customers can make a difference, especially if we persist.


Fish Crazy
Dec 29, 2020
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Makakilo, Hawaii
Have you considered becoming a vet that specializes in treating fish? Vets with that expertise are sorely needed and you would be able to help fish rather than have to witness their improper treatment. You could even work for the government in the branch that handles the overseeing of fish importation and certification of local sites that farm fish and who knows what a difference you could make there.

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