Read This Post Before Getting Fish

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AC Members
Jun 15, 2005
Spokane, WA, USA
I completely agree with the main point. I constantly see this situation on many forums where people buy fish knowing full well it will get too big with the 100% intention of just swapping it for a smaller one when it does.

It also should be noted that the comment of "My fish looks completely healthy" is irrelivent. There are situations such as stunting where you can't physically "see" the problems it's causing. Also there is a fact that unless you put the same fish side by side, one in correct conditions and one not, you really won't be able to recognize behavioral issues. Unless you have previous experience with that fish being kept properly and you know how they are supposed to act.

I agree in small portion about the emotional attachment to fish. However, this is probably due to the amount of people keeping fish improperly. When fish are kept in proper conditions I feel they are much more apt to show personality. My fish will swim towards the glass and show off when I'm in front of the tank watching them. My bettas will swim right into my hand when I'm in the tank. I could literally just scoop them out with my hand. You can teach them to feed out of your hand. They have just as much personality as many other pets when kept in proper conditions.

I also think research is a must at all times. But you only know that AFTER you've screwed up so many times that you go looking for reasons why. I do have to place a decent amount of blame on the pet stores. Even for people willing to learn. I tried a couple years ago to get into fishkeeping. Went to several stores before buying anything. Asked many questions to various workers through various stores. Got the same BS answers from all of them, was never told jack about cycling or anything like that. I'm sitting there thinking I've done research, asked around multiple places, and because they want to sell me fish they all either lie or have no clue what they are talking about. So I got a tank full of fish that died and it discouraged me from getting into the hobby until about 6 months ago. I finally thought I would search the internet since I never really was able to keep fish alive previously. My eyes were opened no doubt. NONE of this information was provided ever by an employee. Even when they partially know what they are talking about they only know half the answer. It's crazy.

Sorry for the long post. Some venting, some reinforcement of the major issues in the fishkeeping industry.

That's my 2c,


Best Invention EVER!
Apr 16, 2002
Barrie, ON. Canada
There might be dangerous bacteria on it that can harm humans.
Yep, its called samonella.....
Perhaps a little off topic, but in reality most of the LFS store employees are kids...There job is to sell, not do your research for you....Harsh but true...Speaking of research, i buzzed by a big box pet store one day to grab some doggie treats...As usual, i had to peruse the fish area...There was a young girl working, maybe 17 and she looked really distressed...I asked her if she was ok and she said no...She showed me her hand that was swelled up like a balloon...She claimed that a fish pricked her with its spines...Apparently it was dead(ish) and she was removing it...I asked to see it, and lo and behold it was a juvenile Lion fish...This kid had no idea what she was dealing with and the store manager was just as clueless...Not knowing if juveniles are as potent as adults, I got on the line to poison contol...Also no help...Ended up calling one of my fish gurus, and he suggested an antihistamine and a phone call to the Toronto Zoo if things got worse...I actually came back an hour later and she was much better...Scary situation though..A friend of mine ended up in the hospital for 2 days when his Lion go thim...I guess the moral of this story is, do your own research and know what you are doing...You cant depend on the LFS to have all the necessary info...


AC Members
Oct 24, 2005
Finally, someone has spoken out about fish kept in poor conditions...!!!

I would also like to agree that people need to research their needs before purchasing...Everyone is inclined to make impulse buys but at least they should seek sound advice on what they need to fufill the requirements of housing the fish correctly when doing so.

I'm afraid that I have to say that alot of the blame lies with the people who sell the fish in the first place, many do not have enough knowledge about what they are selling and are unable to give adequate advice. Goodness knows I'm new to fish keeping and even though I did ask advice when purchasing I didn't really get any!!! Fortunately I had the common sense to ask what size the fish grow etc and use my brain to recognize that a tank a bit big for the fish is ten times better than one too small.

I sincerely hope that people will heed the sound advice given on this thread and consider that these animals are living and breathing and deserve the right to a comfortable environment.

How would a person like it if they were forced to live in a closet for the rest of his/her life? They wouldn't and it wouldn't be humane and even thought of!

Thanks again for bringing the issue to the surface, I think it will make a very big difference


AC Members
Jan 17, 2005
Roanoke, VA
Great post, the problem we have around here is the LFS will tell you what you want to hear just so they get the sale. I was there last night when a buddy of mine came in to buy a new fish, he has a 25 gallon which is already way overstocked, I told him this but he wouldn't listen to me, he listened to the pet store clerk (private chain). He ended up walking out with 2 irridescant sharks (sp?). I told him they get massive but the clerk disagreed with me. I could tell he was lying and just wanted the sell. So my perspective, at least around here, is that many times customers are mislead into making their purchase as well.


Da Man
Nov 29, 2005
This is a great thread since it raises a critically important point: do proper and adequate research before buying fish you intend to keep since they deserve good and healthy living conditions as much as any other animal people keep as pets.

One thing this thread is missing, IMO, is tips on how to do what is suggested. After reading this thread, I understand that I must do research before I buy but now I'm 'lost' as to how to do that research. Should I go to Petco and buy the first book on fish keeping I see? Should I use Google? How can I know what information is reliable, accurate, and correct and how can I find that information?

I've been keeping fish for about 20 years now, off and on, and after not having any fish for about 4 years now I'm interested in learning what is current in the hobby and use that information to setup a couple of aquariums I have.

So, now that we agree that we shouldn't purposely purchase fish we don't intend to keep for the long haul, what are the best methods and avenues to do the kind of research we feel is important?



AC Members
tomdkat said:
So, now that we agree that we shouldn't purposely purchase fish we don't intend to keep for the long haul, what are the best methods and avenues to do the kind of research we feel is important?
I am not sure how everyone else goes about it, but the way I started was by going to the Species Profiles. I found the fish I like and picked out the size tank I would need/ could afford. Once I decided on the main fish I like, I figured out what would go with them. For the most part, the profiles have great info on them, including temperament, whether they like to be alone or in schools, min tank size, pH and the like. From there I searched the forums to see if I could find any experiences that would relate to what I wanted to do. This includes the fish I would like, the filter, substrate, setting up the tank (cycling) and anything else I think about. After that if I have any confusion, or questions not answered I start a new thread.

While I have been doing all this I go to the stores and see what my fish choices are, if I have to order them, or if they are seasonal. I also am price checking tanks, filters, heaters and substrate on these visits.
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AC Members
Jul 5, 2005
this is a good post and will save the money you invest in your pets. proper research will lead to a well-stocked and happy aquarium which will be pleasing to you. gsk has a very good point. fish are still animals even if they are 1.99 a cardinal tetra. good and informative post for the general fishkeeper!


Registered Member
Jun 25, 2006
I have to say I totally agree!

I've done some horrible things to fish in the past through being misinformed by pet shops etc. I've recognised lots of mistakes I've made, but at least I can say I've not made the same mistakes after reading about them.

I've found that my LFSs -and- my PetMarts or whatever they are will lie or not tell you the whole truth... "Bettas Don't need heating if they're kept in a warm room" "Bettas are fine in small hex's because they're from Puddles in Thailand" well, perhaps so, but in Tasmania, Australia, rooms just never -stay- that warm short of being climate controlled. "you only need to feed Bettas once every few days" we found "oh, feed them at -least- once a day". My research method has become thus: find yourself a feature fish, a fish you love and adore, and plan your tank around it. Discus are a prime example. (although I've made mistakes there too, my LFS didn't tell me to feed them small amounts frequently, and as a result mine is badly stunted, the poor thing)

so pick your central fish and then check what its needs and likes are, then find others that fit that criteria. Just don't overstock your tank.


Stupid Fish Store Guy
Aug 9, 2006
sky.eyes.woman said:
I need to print this thread out and hand it out to the clueless ones and the uncaring ones I have to sell fish to everyday. Maybe some of them would think more before buying fish...maybe. Don't get too mad at the fish store people though, my store I am not allowed to refuse a sale to someone even if I know they are going to kill their fish. Believe me, I want to cuss someone out every single day for it. It's a good reason to put some pressure on the company to stop selling 'goldfish bowls' and the like, and to disallow the sale of new tanks and fish on the same day, etc.

At my store, we highly recommend that they let their tank "set-up" for 5-7 days before getting fish. To most, this isn't a problem, to some... they want their fish, and they want them now! We can't refuse to sell them the fish the same day as the tank, but we CAN and DO refuse to give them a warranty on the fish that were purchased the same day.

I work at a local, non-franchized, privately owned fish store. Haven't been there but about 3+ months, and unfortunately, I know more about a lot of the pets we carry than the rest due to me actually doing a little... you know, research.

Unfortunatley, that hasn't kept me from making mistakes myself. I have recently aqquired a 55 gallon tank, and hastily bought fish for it. Now, I did let my tank set-up for almost 2 weeks, repeatidly testing the pH, water hardness, making sure the heater was set appropriately to the location of the tank in my house (my living room which tends to be a bit warmer than the rest of my house during the evening sun), etc... It was my initial choice in fish that I am regretting now.

My wife wanted to start with 2 snails (Gary, and Larry)... she loves Spongebob. Since then, I got 2 small angelfish (which I love), 2 rainbow sharks (one is albino, for a yin-yang type theme), 2 tiger barbs (which I am regretting a bit due to them nipping on the angels) and a green spotted puffer... of which i recently found out it's favorite food is shellfish. My wife keeps telling me the puffer is "stalking" gary or larry (I can't tell the 2 snails apart =/ ). All my fish are small at the moment since I just recently got this set-up. The tigers are about 1-2" long, the sharks about the same... the angels a tad bit bigger (due to the fins) and the puffer is about the size of a quarter.

I'm hoping the angelfish will outgrow the tiger barbs to keep from getting picked on too much, and I am hoping my boss will let me exchange the puffer (have only had him 2 days now).

Wish me luck, and I'm glad i stumbled upon this site (thanks to google) when I was researching some electric catfish that I wanted, but know I could never manage to maintain, by coming here and reading all the wonderful info posted.
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I like fish with tarter sauce
Jan 20, 2006
Champaign, Illinois
mr_bentley78 said:
My wife keeps telling me the puffer is "stalking" gary or larry (I can't tell the 2 snails apart =/ ). All my fish are small at the moment since I just recently got this set-up. The tigers are about 1-2" long, the sharks about the same... the angels a tad bit bigger (due to the fins) and the puffer is about the size of a quarter.
Puffers love snails, they are often a primary part of their diet so indeed you wife is probably right in thinking the puffer is stalking your snails. Also, green spotted puffers are brackish, not fresh water, (check out this site ) so it’s a good idea to exchange it for something more suitable to your tank.

Quick Q; did you cycle your tank before you added your fish or are you doing a fish-cycle?