Indo-Pacific Sea Farms
I've been asking around on this site who's better for a year, and barely got any responses... So I started by comparing each website.
As far as the videos and statements on the website, GARF acts like everything they do is is groundbreaking... and it's done in a way where a skeptical New Yorker like me kind of has to laugh. Both the other websites seem to be the same, but it's not done in such a goofy, back-woods kind of way, if you know what I mean. GARF website is constantly being updated... by someone with a 15 year old computer. But you can tell someone is at least paying attention to it.
Inland Aquatics seems to have the greatest diversity of critters you can order, but navigating the website can be frustrating. Apparently they have a new and old website, which kind of clash in terms of pricing, their links are inconstant, etc.
IPSF has the most modern, up-to-date website, which I expect lures most people who are comparing the two to purchase from them. I dug up their youtube videos (pretty sure they're actively updating) and the facility seems pretty legit. The guys narrating the videos are completely dorky, and are really into their worms and stuff- which I consider a good thing if I'm looking to buy oddball niche stuff. The only issue I found with them is it's not clear how much LIVESAND/LIVEMUD you get in terms of poundage when you order. When I compare to the other websites- I expect you might get a pound or two... But I never called or emailed to verify.
I ended up figuring I would try all three over the course of a year since refreshing your sandbed is supposedly essential for a DSB- and figured I would do a thorough review at the end. I'll give you my findings so far-
I started with GARF because I figured in terms of poundage, they were far cheaper than the competitors. Tried to order through e-mail, and got a response saying to call them. Called them, spoke to Leroy for like 20 minutes on the phone (really nice guy) and he threw in a bunch of free stuff for me- mud, sand, rubble. I ordered the mid-sized GARF Refugium package. ...Waited a week, nothing showed up. Called them back, Leroy said he was having health problems so things got messed up at the facility, and he said he would personally pack up another package following day and ship it himself. ....Waited a week, nothing ever showed up. Sent a few emails, never got a response, checked my credit card statement, saw there was nothing on there, so I figured it was time to move on.
Next I ordered from Inland Aquatics. Ordered-
The box came with everything inside practically frozen. At first I was freaking out because I spent so much money and find nothing moving in the box... But after floating the bags for an hour, I noticed a ton of pods moving, so I decided to dump everything in. TONS of life. My refugium had more pods in it after a few months than any I had ever heard of. Clouds of little things swimming away in there. Lots in the display too. Worms gradually became apparent all throughout my sandbeds over the next few weeks. I was very, very happy. Then I checked my credit card statement... $63 in shipping had been added without my consent. I was figuring by price of what I was buying, that like every other reefing place, I was getting free shipping. (To put this in context, I paid less for 75 lbs of rock, with free shipping, from Bulk Reef Supply). The guy I called at Inland Aquatics tried to put it on me saying the TOTAL on the invoice was actually a SUB-TOTAL, and that the actual price was calculated after the box was done being packed up... (without letting the customer sign off on it?!?!) so I filed a Credit Card dispute, got my money back, and never heard from them again. Months later- I have two fat and healthy mandarins who have never eaten frozen/prepared foods as far as I can tell- so I guess that's what I really paid for... Although it looks like my refugium could use some recharging of pods because there's been a significant drop-off.
IPSF is the only thing I haven't had ANY experience with yet... But I probably will eventually, then I'll update.
I'm giving GARF another chance since I know medical issues complicated the first try, and will do a thorough review when that happens.
If anyone has suggestions on where else to get LIVESAND on-line, feel free to leave comments.
Edited by kgoldy, 10 July 2011 - 06:06 AM.