finding the right store for your marine stock:
Choosing the right place to buy your marine stock from is one of the most important choices in setting up a new tank and keeping a established one healthy. We have heard to many customers say they cant keep marine fish when in fact it was poor stock and poor service from their suppliers that was the cause. Here are some tips on what to avoid and what to look for in a retail store:
Don't be put off by weather the store is a small local or a large chain store. Some small local shops are hidden gems with knowledge and a level of customer service rarely seen in large stores. There are also some fantastic large stores out there with a huge range of stock and choice so be open to a range of retail options.
Don't buy online unless you really know the store. Some online only shops are great but many appear very professional but behind the scenes are poorly run with poor stock. If you do buy online try and choose a place that has a bricks and mortar store as these will be easier to check reviews and see any photos of the stores to give you an impression of how they run their business.
when visiting a store if you notice lots of dead stock its best avoided. All stores of course have problems from time to time but if you have walked into a shop in the afternoon and you notice multiple dead fish or corals that have not been removed, it shows the store has little care for its stock or the impression it makes on its customers. so you know whatever they sell will most probably be less than ideal.
The same goes for shops where you can hardly see into the tank because the glass has not been cleaned for so long. Algae dose not always mean the water or stock is bad and all shops and reef systems get algae, but again a poorly presented shop usually means they cant be bothered to do all the maintenance they should be doing.
find a shop that wants your custom. shops should be happy when a customer walks in, customers keep us in the jobs we enjoy doing. Don't waste your time and money on unhelpful or rude stores, you want a store you can feel comfortable contacting if problems occur or for advice. This is something at the heart of our business model Sussex corals is here to help the whole reef keeping community from beginner to advanced.
Shops should never be funny about showing you their RO water readings and should know roughly what their system is running at. And should have no problem telling you what salt they use and what they keep their salt vats at. If a shop gets very defensive about showing any water or discussing any water quality issues chances are they are not keeping up with maintenance on their RO units. Don't settle for bad quality RO water because its near by, bad RO can ruin a perfectly good reef tank and cause algae and nutrient issues. Our RO system usually runs on 0 TDS. Never accept 'salt water' that comes in the form of chucking salt in a barrel of RO and shaking it this is not mixed salt water. We always mix our saltwater properly and regularly check it with calibrated refractometers. We also encourage all customers to check all salt water purchased from our store as accidents can happen due to faulty equipment or just a human error. We will happily check any RO or salt water if a customer feels there may be an issue and will happily show customers the results, it helps us when we are alerted to any potential issues as well.
The most important tip we can give you is always do research on a species before buying it. Dont just rely on one shops opinion. it is often the case in the marine hobby that there is no definitive answer to a question, its often opinion and personal experience. Try to find the most consistent answers and go for the average, if lots of people tell you a fish will nip at your corals and one shop says no it should be fine i would go with the majority to be safe.
good marine shops should:
have healthy, disease free fish.
some form of quarantine or at least let the fish settle for a week before selling them.
friendly, knowledgeable staff.
Good quality RO and salt water.
have clean presentable looking aquariums.
so wherever you choose to buy your marine products make sure its a professional one, it could save you allot of time and money by simply starting out with a good shop.