My Experience Buying from Live Aquaria

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Apr 2, 2002
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I have the soccer game on and most tank lights are still off, so I have not checked today. There id a good reason for doing the [plop and drop with FW fish at least. I have the prefect paper for you on moving zebra danios from hard to soft water and what acclimation really is.


Craig, P.M., Wood, C.M. and McClelland, G.B., 2007. Gill membrane remodeling with soft-water acclimation in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Physiological genomics, 30(1), pp.53-60.

(I am only quoting the first paragraph of the Abstract. I will post the link to the full Absrtract and paper. I have underlined key text)

Abstract

Little is known regarding the ionoregulatory abilities of zebrafish exposed to soft water despite the popularity of this model organism for physiology and aquatic toxicology. We examined genomic and nongenomic changes to gills of zebrafish as they were progressively acclimated from moderately hard freshwater to typical soft water over 7 days and held in soft water for another 7 days. Gills were sampled daily and mRNA expression levels of gill Na+-K+-ATPase (NKA) α1a subunit, epithelium calcium channel (ECaC), carbonic anhydrase-1 and 2 (CA-1, CA-2), Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE-2), V-type proton (H+)-ATPase, and copper transport protein (CTR-1) were quantified by real-time PCR. Changes in enzyme activities of gill NKA were determined and protein levels of NKA and ECaC were quantified by Western blotting. Levels of mRNA for ECaC increased fourfold after day 6, with an associated increase in ECaC protein levels after 1 wk in soft water. CA-1 and CA-2 exhibited a 1.5- and 6-fold increase in gene expression on days 6 and 5, respectively. Likewise, there was a fivefold increase in NHE-2 expression after day 6. Surprisingly, CTR-1 mRNA showed a large transient increase (over threefold) on day 6, while H+-ATPase mRNA did not change. These data demonstrate a high degree of phenotypic plasticity in zebrafish gills exposed to an ion-poor environment. This not only enhances our understanding of ionoregulatory processes in fish but also highlights the need for proper experimental design for studies involving preacclimation to soft water (e.g., metal toxicity).
full paper: https://journals.physiology.org/doi...jkey=0e0761615a8a2d19ae1330103710509d7e03eadb

The point here is that if conditions are such that actual needed changes in the biochemical values inside the fish to adapt to the new parameters will take a week or two. So what do we think happens in a 15 minute or even a few hour acclimarion will do?

Moreover, in many fish studies the fist step is to acclimate the fish to the lab water. This may be done for as much as several weeks. Why would science wait several weeks were it nit the needed time for true acclimation? Understand that this form of acclimation is often done over days gradually when it is needed,

Finally, there is other biochemistry at work in fish transport. The first part of this happens before the fish are shipped. Fo all byt the very smallest/youngest fish to be shipped it is important to do a purge. This involves not feed for a day or two befoore shipping whihc allows the fish too get a lot of the poop out of its system before being shipped. This also minimizes how much poop still might get produced in transit. This reduce the ammonia that such poop can create.

A great ammonia creater is every time the fish exhales. This is how most ammonia isi excrreted. So all during the trip ammonia is bring created in the bag water. Fortunately, when the fish "exhales" it also releases CO2 into the water. This acts to lower the pH. The lower the pH, the less toxic any ammonia in the water becomes. So, as the fish travels these two things tend to balance out.

The longer the bags are in transit, the more ammonia is made and the lower the pH and the fish stay mostly safe. But what Happens when we open the bag? Gas exchange- oxygen goes in and co2 comes out. And as that Co2 comes out the pH of the bag water rises and turns non-toxic ammonia toxic. This is not theory, this is scientific fact. The longer the fish are in transit, the more important it is to get then out of the bag water ASAP after it is opened. Hence plop and drop.

I was taught by a friend who imported and bought wholesale and resold online to plop and drop. This person was osing up to 25% of imports when she was acclimating them. She was told to stop it. Her loss rate dropped to close to 5% when this was done.

Finally, there is a reason I have preferred to buy imprted or wholesale with the help of friends. I got the new red lines because I am down to 4. Mine are 5 inches and old and I have been gradually losing them. My last batch was acquired as imports and from the wild. Rhe buy was 50 at 2 inches and I took 35. I paid about the same price as I did for the recently purchased 6. But the risk of importing was they came with a few having columnaris. I treated the group and lost only one.

Here is the conundrum when buying fish. We want to pay as little for any fish as we can but we also want to get them in the best condition possible. Too cheap and you will likely lose some or all. Too expensive and healthy may mean you cannot afford them or at least not as many as you may want. Because of what I built up to doing in the hobby. Most of the fish I have purchased in the past 12-15 years have been very expensive- $100s/fish. When doing this DOAs are no fun.

Going back to my recent purchase which is the subject of this thread. I only spent a little over $200 which is not all that much relative to what I normally spend. Plus I pay for new fish from selling fish I have had born in my tanks. So while I am unhappy o have lost any of the order, financially speaking it is not a big concern. Bear in mind I am 74 and a lifetime of working etc. mean I can afford these things. When I got my first tank $5 was a lot to spend for a fish for me.

So I lost at least 4 more shrimp and 1 espei, I will not put in a claim for a refund. Taking pics of the fish and submitting the claim was more of a PITA than the $16 I would get back. I do not use a smart phone so for me it has to be done with my digicam, moved to the PC and then I have to spend time tilling out the claim form. I would rather have the time than that amount of money. I am pretty sure I would get the refund had I submitted.

Part of this whole process was driven by curiosity. I have heard aboue Live Aquaria fish on sites and I also met the WetSpot folks at a weekend fish even in 2003. Their prices are higher but their shipping may be better. I do have a local fish store whose fish I will risj skipping Q on depending into which pf my tanks they are going. They have a superb selection of fish in excellent shape. But the prices they xcharge reflect that fact. They actually are now selling a few fish on Aquabid and the prices are too high.

The shop is House of Fins in Greenwich, CT. Here is one listing they have on Aquabid. Leopard frog pleco (P. compta). The fish is listed at $220 and shipping at $70. Shop around and you will find more like 3-4 of them delivered for that price. Wet Spot even offers them them for $85-$100 based on size.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Game over and lights on in the tank. 4 more dead amanos and I am sure there are more I cannot find unless I pull the tank apart. This brings the losses to 21/54 amanos confirmed dead and 1 espei.

I can say that the remaining fish seem to be in good shape. They are active and eating. I was suspicious about the one espei that died the fist night as it did not hang with the other three much and was also hanging near the surface a lot. I would be surprised if I lost any more fish and also if i end up with many more than a dozen amanos.

My advice is one should not buy from Live Aquaria unless they guarantee you in an email or text in advance that your fish and or inverts will be packed in a styro box. Otherwise i would look to another seller for sure.
 

Rbishop

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Nice post TTA! Informative without flaming. Much appreciated.
 

fishorama

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Sorry 2tank. I was cooking dinner while posting, never good. I know we've done the TDS vs plop & drop thing many times. I'm very sorry I went there...again.

It sounds like your Live Aquaria experience was a bit mixed so far, with a supervisor's better input, but with first line workers a bit rude too. I hope your fish & shrimp continue to do well. I often have a lot of patience when I feel the need to "climb the ladder" or am PO'd enough to go there...1 of the retirement/patience issues of aging? Maybe...

How are your fish & shrimp doing tonight? Fingers crossed!
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Lights are not on yet. I did find another dead shrimp last night bringing the total to 21/54. But I was able to spot 5 live shrimp at least. However, one of the harlies was acting a bit off hanging at the surface. I fed daphnia/cylops/rotifers last night and some stayed floating. So the fish may have been surfing the surface for food, but it didn't appear that way. When the lights come on I will check bot thank.

I also sent an email to Live Aquaria with the further info on deaths but did not put in a claim. I also let them know I had documented everything on two sites and I quoted the recommendation I made in my last post. I did not want to put the entire order into the tanks it was to be in ultimately. So I used a planed cycled 29 gal to Q all but the harlies. With them I took a risk. I put them into a going planted tank which only held 6 or 7 sterbae cory and a number of bigger amano shrimp. If this risk was a bad decision I was prepared to lose the sterbaes if that was to happen. But I was not prepared to risk the other tanks as they held a lot more fish.

I shot pics of the new fish in both tanks as well as a few shrimp. they are in the camera and I will try to post them in the next few days.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Lights are on and two harlies are gone. I spotted an amano eating the remains of the front of one's head. Amanos and assassin snails dine on the small dead fish.

As I said above, of the 4 species I bought, only the red line barbs can handle temps as cold as the bags got. I just checked the 29. All six red lines alive and fine and the 3 espei still seem fine. I did not find more dead shrimp but on the other hand I could only spot 5, all on the 30 ppi Poret cube dining. That may be all of the 64 which lived.

All of this because they did not use a styro- that has killed a lot of shrimp and fish in my order. I should consider myself lucky that anything beyond the red lines is alive.
 
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fishorama

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Ugh! How's it going today? More losses or not? I absolutely hate looking hard for survivors, but even more for remains.

I think both of us don't care as much about the $$ losses as the avoidable loss of animals & the continuing anxiety & stress. New fish etc, should be a happy occaision or at most minor worries & some water changes...not a death count for days.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Just checked the tanks. No more fish losses: redlines = 6, harlies = 4 and espei = 3. I could only spot a single amano. That does not mean there are not any more but yesterday i was able to count six in view.

Here was the email I sent on Dec. 3 after I had sent a claim for the 13 DOA amanos but had yet to lose any fish:

Hi-

I am sending this information re the above order so you are aware of it.

The box was not a styro but some sort of thin silver material. The bag water was under 60F when I opened the box less than 5 minutes after it arrived. There were 13 dead amanos and I submitted a claim for them.

However, since then I have found another 6 dead amanos and I expect to find many more. I blame the already dead fish and inverts as well as any more shrimp I can find dead to be due to the packing.

I will not bother making a further claim as I see little point in spending time on that. What I have done is post details of this experience on two different fish forums where I am a member and have been for many years. I am nearing the end of my years of keeping fish and I bought what I did for mu display tanks. The majority of my tanks are for breeding B&W Hypancistrus from the Volta Grande of the Rio Xingu (zebras, L236, super white L236 and L173). However, most of the world knows me as twotankamin. I have posted everywhere since about 2001 using that name.

I ship fish and have since about 2003. I lose very few. You folks probably ship more fish in a week than I have done since I started, But I am a good shipper and I sell healthy quality fish I breed. So I am not unexperienced in this. I have kept 20+ tanks for the past 15+ years.

On both forums I have been honest about my experiences with you folks. I did not blame the quality of the fish or shrimp, but I did fault the shipping. Here is the final post and suggest suggestion that appears in both of the above forum threads:

4 more dead amanos and I am sure there are more I cannot find unless I pull the tank apart. This brings the losses to 21/54 amanos confirmed dead and 1/4 espei.

I can say that the remaining fish seem to be in good shape. They are active and eating. I was suspicious about the one espei that died the first night as it did not hang with the other three much and was also hanging near the surface a lot. I would be surprised if I lost any more fish and also if I end up with many more than a dozen amanos.

My advice is one should not buy from Live Aquaria unless they guarantee you in an email or text in advance that your fish and or inverts will be packed in a styro box. Otherwise I would look to another seller for sure.
And then I found more dead fish and sent this on Dec 4:

Overnight I lost 2 harlequin rasboras. One was at the surface at lights out and another looked a bit flakey. I am continuing to update both threads.

Lights are on and two harlies are gone. I spotted an amano eating the remains of the front of one's head. Amanos and assassin snails dine on the small dead fish.

As I said above, of the 4 species I bought, only the red line barbs can handle temps as cold as the bags got. I just checked the 29. All six red lines alive and fine and the 3 espei still seem fine. I did not find more dead shrimp but on the other hand I could only spot 5, all on the 30 ppi Poret cube dining. That may be all of the 64 which lived.

All of this because they did not use a styro- that has killed a lot of shrimp and fish in my order. I should consider myself lucky that anything beyond the red lines is alive.

There is not much more to say. I have received a bag of 95 zebra plecos shipped first from Germany to CA and then reshipped to me. Yes all in one huge bag. I lost a grand total of 4. 3 were DOA and one more died soon after. The last time I bought amanos I got 100 imported. I picked them up at the trans-shipper. I lost 0.


Chris L.
I took pics and submitted a claim for the 13 amanos. As I note in my emails it was not worth my time to submit further claims. Removing the dead bodies I could find is a PITA, taking pics is work as well since I use a digicam, upload to my PC via USB cable, edit as needed and then save and maybe upload to my photo site.

What I learned for all of this is it makes more sense for me to shop at the few fish stores which actually have healthy stock abd ti pay more for this.

I often will sometimes offer a potential buyer my Satisfaction Guarantee on top of the Live Arrival Guarantee.

Satisfaction Guarantee: When your fish arrive if you are unhappy with them for any reason what-so-ever, you may return them for full credit. The returned fish must be returned alive and in a similar condition to how they arrived to you. If they come back alive and OK, I will refund 100% of your cost for the fish, I will refund the original shipping cost and I will also cover the cost to return them. You have no risk.

Why would i be so crazy as to offer the above? Well the main reason is I sell healthy quality fish. As a rasult nobody has returned fish so far. Next, because I sell such expensive, fish buyers often want to see pictures of the actual fish before they agree to purchase. But This means I have to pull the fish, get decent pics of them all which I have to edit and send. The I have to segregate those fish so I can send those exact fish to the buyer if they approve and pay. This is a lot of work for me and sometimes I prefer not needing to have to do it. So I cam up with the guarantee as a way to avoid it. I do not offer this to many buyers but I do offer it to some.

As for Live Aquaria, I personally will never buy from them again. But then I am close to leaving the hobby and am not buying much any more. I did want to bulk up the stocking in a couple of my display type tanks. These means buying only a few fish. I had no reason for getting box lots when all I needed was a few fish and shrimp.

But I have a problem paying retail especially if I need a lot of fish. I know what fish actually cost from their point of origin or from wholesalers. Many of the tetras and other small popular fish are priced in cents when imported. But one takes the risk that they may come in bad or sick etc. This can happen. Also, not many folks cannot or do not want to buy 100 tetras or 50 red line barbs etc. And even when one does, they still need a lot of contacts and paperwork. One cannot simply start buying that way.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Thought I would make one last (I think) report. Yesterday I could only spot one amano in the tank and today it was 0. But it is filled with plants wood and rocks, so I cannot see everywhere. So it is still possible there are shrimp alive in the tank. I will come back and report sgrimp sightings. So if I do not post such it means either are none or I am dead :p

On the other side of this coin, all 6 red lines and the 4 Harlequin and 3 Espei rasboras are all looking OK and are active in their repective tanks.

Based on the temperature of the water in the bag I checked, the only thing in that box that should be alive are the red kines. I firmly belive those fis and maye shrip that are alive were because I got them out of the bags and into warmer water within less than 10 minutes of opening the box. I did no acclimation. Opening the bags also requires the fish be removed right away as you have to cut the bags very short to get them open. The fact that paper labels were stuck to the outer bag was another reason not to float them had I been foolish enough to do so under the circumstances.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Wow- working in the Q tank and looking really hard. There are 3 live shrimp! They are all almost at the surface sitting on different leaves of the long leaf Hygro. plants. So, at least 3/54 are offically accepted by me as delivered as promised. 21/54 can be confimed as DOA or dead w/i 24 hours.
 
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