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GARF vs Inland Aquatics vs IPSF


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#1
kgoldy

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For those looking to set up a Deep Sand Bed where true LIVESAND is vitally important- There seems to be only three online options.

Indo-Pacific Sea Farms

Inland Aquatics

GARF


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-

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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.


#2
kgoldy

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The "G" in GARF must stand for GARBAGE.

I finally got an order to go through... Pics will come later. I ordered this-

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Ordered Friday July 9th using PayPal... tried calling two listed numbers on the site multiple times on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to ensure that I got "Garf Lots-o-Life mud" instead of Grunge. Left messages, got no response. Tried e-mailing all listed email addresses on the Garf site, and the e-mail address that Pay-Pal listed, and got no response. The Pay-Pal email apparently failed delivery through gmail, which I thought to be pretty unusual.

On Friday July 16th, I received via USPS a Large Flat Rate shipping box, packed to the brim and very, very foul smelling. I opened it up to find a small ice pack half the size of a deck of cards, and four rancid bags of "grunge" and "bugs".

I got three bags, 8, 5 and 6 pounds of what looked to me to be exactly the same stuff. Knowing that this stuff cooked in the mail and there was no chance I would stick it in my tank, I dumped it out on a cookie tray to inspect what was inside. No signs of life whatsoever. I did however find A LOT of dog hair, a marble, a ziptie, and something I think might be a crayon...

In the "bag o bugs" there was a bunch of dead baby bristleworms (with 2 possible survivors), and some random macro growing with a little bit of chaeto. The water was yellow-grey and putrid with a small melting starfish in it. After isolating the bristleworms and putting them in fresh saltwater from my system to see if any came back to life... I dumped everything right into the toilet.

I've heard the complaints about Grunge not being white and attractive... But I didn't really care about aesthetics for a fuge. But every bit of my dealings with GARF has been disappointing.

#3
xerophyte_nyc

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I ordered a bunch of stuff from IPSF, their packaging is great and everything arrived fresh and healthy. They do seem a but pricey but they do offer a quality product in my experience.

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#4
kgoldy

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Took a while, but finally found the cable to hook up the camera. Pics are pretty self explanatory. Paypal got me a full refund.


Box was warm to the touch when I got it. Awesome. I hear reef animals really like being baked for a few days in a box.

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Garbage bag. Should have had a tag with the word "HINT" on it.

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This was an ice pack at some point... I'm sure failing to insulate anything in any way at all extended the shelf life of this package by two and a half minutes.

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Bag-o-dead-bugs

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Size comparison- No, the coin was not in the bag. Everything else was though...

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Edited by kgoldy, 02 September 2011 - 09:11 PM.


#5
eksblenny

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Very informational. Love that last pic, sums up your review nicely.

Edited by eksblenny, 04 September 2011 - 02:47 AM.


#6
Cloudburst2000

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Yeah, I am interested in Inland Aquatics because I have a gift cert for them that I won at a local frag swap. And I agree, their website is a pain in the rear. I would drive but it's four hours away. I might visit if I am around Indianapolis. The gift cert does not expire.

#7
metrokat

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Waswas about to order a bag o' bugs from GARF. I won't now.

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#8
jersey

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Waswas about to order a bag o' bugs from GARF. I won't now.


I too ordered from GARF and luckily I got mine during a mild spell this summer.

If you check out my thread, you can see the pics of my order.

I wouldn't order again. The bag o bugs did add some life to the tank, but nothing as advertised.. In fact, the cheato I got from you has added 2000% more pods then theirs did. I put your stuff in a 10 gallon with dry rock, and 1 part live sand from my smashed tank and 3 parts dry sand (trying to seed) and I can see bugs swimming around from across the room. The tank was set up as a grow out for macro / aptasia feeding ground for peppermints. It's very basic with some dry rock. Serves it's purpose.

Anyway, The diversity pack I ordered was pretty disappointing. I was hoping for some nice Coraline (as they advertise) to seed my tank with different kinds and colors.. dead macro, some bugs, and a decent piece of live rock with something growing on it.

I have been debating on doing an order from IPSF but I believe they are based in Hawaii, and shipping from there to jersey has me worried.. May wait until stable weather just to be safe and give it a sample order.

So, in summery, Garf not worth the time.. BTW, Leroy passed away earlier this year.. His wife is running it now. They where VERY innovative in the early days and invented many things that we still use today as common practice. but I think they haven't updated their site since then. They could do so much better if they hired a web designer to get that site in shape. Still won't help the product though.

#9
Weetabix7

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Very interesting and informative thread.
I appreciate it, cause this is the kind of stuff I am actually interested in.

#10
JamieSheffield

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Not exactly the same thing, but I order the Rock Pool Bottom Crude from Premium Aquatics, and was quite impressed with the quantity and variety of microbeasties apparent in the stuff...I've ordered a few pounds to mix in with the sand for each of my new tanks, and have been happy with the shipments each time.

http://premiumaquati...es/L-CRUDE.html

It's literally crud from the bottom of their live rock tanks, scooped up and shipped to you, but it's got tons of biomass mixed in with the rock nuggets and sand...it's $1.49/pound!

Jamie

#11
jersey

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Not exactly the same thing, but I order the Rock Pool Bottom Crude from Premium Aquatics, and was quite impressed with the quantity and variety of microbeasties apparent in the stuff...I've ordered a few pounds to mix in with the sand for each of my new tanks, and have been happy with the shipments each time.

http://premiumaquati...es/L-CRUDE.html

It's literally crud from the bottom of their live rock tanks, scooped up and shipped to you, but it's got tons of biomass mixed in with the rock nuggets and sand...it's $1.49/pound!

Jamie



I'm going to have to grab some of that. Thanks for posting the info.

#12
kgoldy

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Ah man... I ordered from IPSF and never updated this thread with it. Damn...

Lemme do some digging in my 90 thread and see what I've got. I think Kat was at my house when I got that package, back when my thumb was all chopped up from the tablesaw accident. Feb of this year I think...

#13
Weetabix7

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Ah man... I ordered from IPSF and never updated this thread with it. Damn...

Lemme do some digging in my 90 thread and see what I've got. I think Kat was at my house when I got that package, back when my thumb was all chopped up from the tablesaw accident. Feb of this year I think...


Yeah, I'd be interested to hear.
I've considered ordering from them before.

#14
Cloudburst2000

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I'd be interested to hear also as I have been considering ordering from them. Bit pricey though so would like to know if they are worth that kind of money.

#15
enigma70x7

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I have a order from ipsf scheduled for delivery on the 30th. I'll snap some pics and post a review then.

#16
Cloudburst2000

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I have a order from ipsf scheduled for delivery on the 30th. I'll snap some pics and post a review then.


Cool! Can't wait to hear your verdict. I do like that they free shipping when you order the package but price is still pretty steep. Don't want to order and it turn out to be junk.

#17
fwadiver

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eagerly waiting a report on IPSF

#18
kgoldy

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My order from IPSF was so long ago, and I didn't properly document it... so I'll pass off the baton to the next reviewer. Let us know how it goes, enigma!

#19
enigma70x7

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My IPFS review can be found here http://www.nano-reef...howtopic=315599

#20
jersey

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So, for those like me who wanted diversity in their coraline, I would like to update this a bit. I realize it is an old thread, but I really think it has worthwhile info for people like us who seem to obsess over the micro pets we have as much as the big ones.. lol

 

So, I can't say for sure that it was from garf, but I have had some great growth of green, lighter purple, blues, and yellowish coralline.. Not an explosion, but it's there and spreading.. I never saw a couple of these colors on any frags.. especially the burgundy red stuff that has spotted up a few rocks, my clams shell in one spot about half the size of a dime, and my entire power-head.. it's really cool looking and seems to foreclosure under my LED moonlights.

 

Now, on another note, I ordered a bunch of plant life from gulf coast ecosystems and I added on 5 of their coraline clusters.. If you want to add coralline to your tank if you used dry rock, or want some lighter shades of pink stuff, grab a couple of these...

 

What I did was put 1 "whole" one in my both of my tanks, and crushed up the other two in my hand and spread it around the tank and rocks.. I set up a 20 gallon macro tank a few months back and already have heavy spotting on the back glass and the filter stems.. Now It is the same color as the stuff I got from them, but I also use a biocube skimmer that I had on my main tank before I got the HOB bakpak skimmer. It had some spots of coraline on it and is now pretty well coated on the inner part. It is possible that it came from that, but it happened just a month after adding these clusters.. so I think it's highly likely that they came from that. \\

 

This is what the clusters they sell look like. They are even pretty attractive sitting on your rocks or sandbed.

 

http://www.saltcorne...?CritterID=2116



#21
lagunastudio

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I'm guessing you placed your GARF order in July? It's difficult to order livestock online during the hottest month of the year, most of the LFS around me have smaller selections in July / Aug. And from the tone of your reviews I'm assuming you probably didn't ship over night. Can't really put it on GARF, best not order livestock in the month of July, it's hot outside.


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#22
rO.oster

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good info in this thread, micro fauna FTW!

#23
tigrtraps

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I'm guessing you placed your GARF order in July? It's difficult to order livestock online during the hottest month of the year, most of the LFS around me have smaller selections in July / Aug. And from the tone of your reviews I'm assuming you probably didn't ship over night. Can't really put it on GARF, best not order livestock in the month of July, it's hot outside.

 

+1. We ask a lot out of the stores that supply us. Lower prices, free shipping, free extras! Can't put 100% of the responsibility on them.



#24
Rollermonkey

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ZOMBIE Bump.

 

IIRC, Garf is based in Idaho... I wonder if A: they're still in business (hot damn that website is an eyesore) and B: The proximity to me here in WA should make shipping delays less likely...

 

I dunno. I'm going all or nearly all base rock on the new tank, so I need microfauna and none of the LFS seem to grok selling LS of the critter-filled variety. 



#25
SantaMonica

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As for ordering in summer, remember that a lot of reef life in inter-tidal, and bakes on the rocks when the tide is out; so some organisms can do ok.

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