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Rate your LFS in the Bay area!


SSMangrove

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Here is just a forum for everyone to post their experiences with the following bay area stores and how they suit their nano needs:

 

6th Avenue Aquarium - San Francisco

All About Fish - Pleasant Hill

Concord Aquarium - Concord

The Aquarium - Concord

Aquarium Solutions - Blackhawk

Aquatic Reflections - Hayward

Tropical Paradise - San Leandro

 

Be sure to post your experience with the livestock appearance, survival rate, store quality, staff helpfulness, and prices (low, medium, high, astronomical). This should be interesting!

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Tropical Paradise-Great store. A lot of healthy livestock, good selection.

 

Aquatic Gallery-Nice selection of corals, Dr Le is a very nice guy and is super helpful. They are a little pricey though.

 

Aquarium Concepts-Decent selection. Great place for dry goods.

 

Atlantis Aquarium- Good place, decent selection. They are making a lot of improvements to the store, and the selection is growing.

 

 

Mermaid-So so. Really expensive on some items, great prices on others (the recently had blue legs for 99 cents).

 

Only other place I've been to is All About Fish. They seemed good, only purchased rock from them.

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SSMangrove,

 

As mentioned by Trmiv, you skipped some of the best LFSs in the SF bay area:

 

- Aquatic Gallery in Milpitas (*)

- Aquarium Concepts in Hayward

- Atlantis Aquarium in Fremont (if I remember correctly)

- And a plug for a friend of mine: Tubs in Milpitas (*).

 

(*) favorites.

 

The ones in Concord/Pleasant Hill/Pleasanton really don't measure up to the others mentioned.

 

Eddie at TP is still a gool guy even though he's more 'big time' now.

 

6th avenue and fish123 (or fishabc) in San Bruno do not have very good reputations for selling clean fish. Occationally, you get some some coral/clam deals.

 

Fish4You in Foster City/San Mateo is also in the latter category.

 

Plankton

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nobody mentioned the octops' garden in berkeley... its sort of expensive but they have quality stuff. Not much in the sps category but they have some awesome softies and lps... you should check them out

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Tropical paradise has got me down.. Everything in their tanks is marked NFS (NOT FOR SALE). Its just a big tease to potential shoppers. I dont like being lied to about the rarity of any corals (since when is digitata rare?). Would like to own their display tank by their desk though.

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Many of TP's NFS are grow out corals to make frags and sell. I remember asking how much a 2x2" frag of some orange cap was and eddie was all $65, blew my mind. That means my 4x4" piece is $260 Where do I cash out? What I like about TP compared to others are they're frag selection. No other place in the Bay can you find such a large selection of frags.

 

6th Ave is the shizzle if you got a med tank. I personally would never buy a fish there anymore without expecting it to possibly die. I imagine a LFS in Tokyo to look something like 6th ave. Crazy music, crazy displays, and tons of rare creatures.

 

The Aquarium (Concord) rocks if you got the cash to back up your urge to splurge. You have to be choose your sales person wisely if you want to be told the correct information. Everythings expensive but they have a large selection of healthy SW fish. I will buy a fish at the Aquarium, but I will buy all hardgoods at another store, online, or make it at home depot. The only sales people I trust because I work there are Nick, Bob, and Todd. Can you guess which one I am? Everone else is a newbie or FW specialists.

 

Now that I'm going to school in So-Cal, its all about Jeff's Exotic Fish! That place kicks ass!

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  • 1 month later...

6th Avenue Aquarium - San Francisco : Are you kidding me?

 

Aquarium Concepts - Hayward: Great fish selection, but I haven't been able to find any outstanding coral. Still very worth checking out

 

 

Tropical Paradise - San Leandro: The best place in the bay for coral and frags. Pretty damn expensive though

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I've been going to Lucky Goldfish for as long as I can remember to get everything from stuff for birds to lizards. Pretty much all of the equipment for my 55G and livestock is from there and I am picking up a Nanocube DX there in two days. It gets pretty busy during peak times, but they get a lot of things that I rarely see in other places. Ask for Hunter there if he isn't busy because I've known him for years and if anyone knows fishtanks, its him. Plus they have one of the nicest SPS display tanks I have ever seen (and I have been to the Waikiki Aquairum numerous times).

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I just went to lucky goldfish today, after I found out they were right down the street from my new job.

 

Pretty nice place. It's a pet store, not just a fish place, so they don't have quite the selection as places like Tropical Paradise. What they do have is nice, and very well taken care of. They have a good selection of fish, again very well taken care of. They have a beautiful display, which they will frag from for you. I'm pretty sure they carry mangroves too, which isn't something many LFS around carry.

 

Overall, pretty nice place. The selection is somewhat small, but high quality. I'm not sure on prices, because nothing was listed.

 

I didn't see the live rock though, not sure where they had it. If you plan on taking BART there for something heavy like live rock, bring a dolly! It's a pretty healthy walk from the 19th St station, I'd hate to have to lug a box of rocks that far.

 

Sidenote, if you are into freshwater plant tanks, stop by this place. They have some gorgeous display plant tanks there, and a nice selection of plants.

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They have a ton of LR in the back, you just have to ask. Also the prices are good too (compared to what I have seen online) and I have had a high survival rate on some harder to keep fish (this includes anthias 2/2, a copperband 1/2, and a mandarin 1/1).

 

Keep in mind that they also have some really nice pieces of coral in a different section (that you need to ask about) and that they sometimes special order stuff if you are a good customer. Plus the mangroves are available for sure.

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This message is for B16A2NR, or Todd, for all those who actually care "which of the three" he is. Todd, There are a couple of things I would like to address in this post. First of all, I really can't believe how you could diss the store you spent years working at, knowing fully well how many potential customers you have just lost for those of us still working here. Also, I think it was very WEAK of you to diss me and the others who work here by calling us "newbies" or "freshwater experts." Do I even need to explain how spineless it was of you to retreat down to SoCal BEFORE you dissed us? ALSO, you KNOW that we have sufficient justification for our prices, and you KNOW that our store is one of the BEST ones around, no matter what you post. I'm not mad at you, Todd, but am rather extremely dissapointed at your judgement and know that I have lost much, if not all respect for you. How DARE you put us down, how DARE you bruise the store's reputation, and how DARE you condescend to the staff's knowledge level when YOU filled YOUR reef tank with freshwater (Yes, I heard about that, Todd) and especially waiting to diss us untill you're out of our reach. I feel sorry for you. I really do. Because I can PROMISE you that Peggy will see your post. And if by some chance you ARE re-hired, know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Just because you kissed Bob and Nick's butts, that doesn't assure you a friendly working environment when and if you return. Again Todd, I am really sorry about this because you and I were cool, and know that it pains me to be so mean to you in this post. You know me well enough to know that I am not a mean person. However, I love my job and the people I work with, so I can't let you diss my co-workers like that.

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Nobody mentioned Nippon Goldfish in S.F. ?!

 

When I first moved out here I was impressed- nice selection, mostly healthy fish, some decent small displays. Haven't been in the retail market recently- I get stuff wholesale, but last couple of times I went to Nippon it was disappointing. They did have lots of farmed sps frags though...

 

6th avenue is the most irresponsible aquarium store I have ever been in- bar none. I'd be really hard pressed to give them my business knowing how hard many retailers are trying to get the saltwater hobby to be environmentally responsible and follow reasonable standards and ethics.

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All About Fish is my current favorite, I have had only good experience with them before, and have never been misinformed. Brian is a friend of my Father, and he is VERY helpful. Their selection is very good, and everything looks healthy.

 

The Aquarium is second, kinda pricey, but only quality. The only thing I find lacking in their selection is their LR (Hint Hint), but even what LR they get is GREAT, my most prized piece is some of their Fiji that is covered in Feather dusters( the big kind, not the tinies), and which at first purchase, was also covered in some kind of encrusting SPS (didn't survive my cycling though).

 

Concord Aquarium is okay, but I haven't been there for 8-9 months. Last time, they had Albino Ornate Bichirs (Polypteris ornatipinnis) which I seriously would (and should) have killed for!

 

Although not on the list, Oceans Mysteries in Brentwood is okay, but their LR selection is slim, and so are their corals.

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Originally posted by theANEMONEA

ALSO, you KNOW that we have sufficient justification for our prices, and you KNOW that our store is one of the BEST ones around

 

 

what makes your store so expensive then?? i would love to figure that one out! lol. i never can figure out why someone would want to pay 30 bucks for a tiny ass piece of xenia or a 20polyp frag of parazoanthus. PLEASEEEEEE make me understand how prices could be that high for common, run-of-the-mill corals! oh, and how can you say that your store one of the best around? have you been to every fish store in the bay area? the fact that your store never has coral that looks downtrodden(which i commend you for!) doesn't necessarily make it the best, ya know? if you want to see fantastic stores, with great quality coral, rare pieces, frags(!!!) and fair customer service, check out tropical paradise and aquatic gallery............ oh, and, 6th avenue out in sf, they're just fantastic! j/k :D

 

edit: i forgot about the drygoods!!! holy crap, man! 150 bucks for a 96w powerquad?! i almost fainted! lol. ok, now please let me know why things are soooo expensive! thanks!!!

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Yoshiod and others,

 

You may or may not realize that we have tons of overhead. If you take a look at most other LFS' they dont have 3,000 gallons of DISPLAY ONLY TANKS which consist of 2 1,100 gallon display tanks running halides or 110w vho's throughout the entire freshwater, saltwater, reef, africans and goldfish sections. We also have several 6 ft tall protein skimmers with elaborate filtration which costs quite a bit to drive on a monthly basis. With over 19 employees (a lot for a fish store) and the pay that they recieve rewarding their knowledge in fresh and saltwater excellence is not cheap. Our employees are stable, partly due to benefits that we receive for being the best. Things cost money and its gotta come from somewhere!

 

Also I would like to address high livestock prices. We deal directly with suppliers that sell EXCLUSIVELY to us. Nobody else gets to buy from them. This insures top quality livestock (by livestock i mean fish) and of course, you get what you pay for. I dont need to explain supply and demand to you, thats highschool stuff. Sure you can find a clownfish at 6th avenue for what... $5.00. You might get lucky and keep it for a few years, or you might lose it immediately. Its a gamble when dealing with a wholesale-to-the-public store. What you are paying for when you buy products at our store is our service to you, our quality products and livestock, and you are supporting an informative store that gets only the best. Not to say that other stores aren't informative though. For those of you complaining about a certain livestock that we dont have, keep in mind, we mainly do freshwater!!! We have 149 some odd freshwater tanks to about 50 saltwater tanks. We have ONE aisle dedicated to SW needs. The Aquarium is a general term, meaning a wide variety of aquarium stuff. If we had yoshiod was looking for we would be called The FRAG FIESTA, or The NANO EMPORIUM.

 

If you choose not to support our store thats fine. If we lose all our customers, the store will simply go under, and you will have another two bit aquarium store with faded blue paint that catches on fire from time to time, isnt air conditioned for your comfort, and has only about 50% of their tanks lit.

 

Basically, when you spend money at our store, that buys you good service, a great product or animal, a friendly shopping atmosphere that is well lit, a full time maintenance crew to keep the tanks you are buying out of spotless, and you are buying our store more time in running. After working there for 4 years i have a good idea of what it takes financially to run a clean store of this size.

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Word to SSMangrove. Everything is true. I once went to All about Fish and I told them my tank specs, and they 1.) told me that a gorgonian was easy, 2.) said that Goniopora is an encrusting polyp formation, 3.) a cleaner shrimp would get along just fine with a coral banded shrimp, and that 4.) their acro and monti frags are 40 bucks becuase they're on reef plugs! okay, let me break it down for you, Yoshiod 9. Read and re-read everything SS said. And if you really like 6th ave...Stick with Bettas. WORD TO THE AQ!!

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so the fact that you guys have large display systems and a bunch of employees is reason for the store to charge ridiculous prices? overhead is understandable, but no one said that your store needs to have two hella large ass "display only" tanks! lol. if that would help bring costs down, by all means, rip those damn tanks out! lol. :D

 

 

no offense to anyone at the aquarium, but it really seems like you are full of yourselves from the words of ssmangrove... "Our employees are stable, partly due to benefits that we receive for being the best." what exactly qualifies you to make the statment that you and the employees of your store are, in fact, the best?

 

add to that the fact that not only at all about fish, can you receive incorrect information, but i have received false info from your store as well on numerous occassions (goniapora is one of those corals that is really rare and is quite easy to take care of...that was told to my gf about 2 months ago!) so it's not like you cannot get falsified info at any/every fish store. the 'help' from most lfs i take as guidlines usually...if i want a coral that i have no idea about i will go home and go online and research it.

 

by asking for "great quality coral, rare pieces, frags(!!!) and fair customer service" is a means for your store to be renamed to "The FRAG FIESTA, or The NANO EMPORIUM"?? i don't think that you took my comments in a very constructive manner. i wasn't bashing your store by any means. i just think that if you were to look at this from the pov of someone who knows about corals(median costs by manner of comparison to other stores...plus the fact that BROWN small zoo colonies shouldn't cost 50 dollars...lol) and doesn't really care if you buy "exclusively" from certain "suppliers" you would realize where i am coming from. the coral you get is still not as great, for lack of a better word, and the fish are still fish(both just with a huge markup). i am not a stupid person, i know that aquacultured corals/fish cost much more than wild caught, but just because you buy exclusively doesn't justify the cost of certain items(yes, i know your overhead is high, but does your store reaalllllly need the large display tanks??...probably not, its like buying a ferrari just because you can afford one...it isn't necessary, but it's nicer than a chrysler).... know what i mean?

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Im not the owner of the store therefore I did not decide to put the display tanks up. And i am sorry if being confident about my stores service to you offends you, but I take pride in working where I do, so does everyone. I can comfortably say that we have the best work atmosphere.

 

QUOTE FROM YOU: if i want a coral that i have no idea about i will go home and go online and research it.

 

Good for you, I hope you realize that information is never stable, especially on the internet and most advice given is based on personal experiences or what we have been instructed to say. Not about the goniopora, but you have to realize that some people have luck with certain things. I could go on all day about how easy it is to keep acro, but you might disagree based on your personal experience.

 

You may not care if we buy exclusively, but regardless, our markup is all the same, therefore if we buy at a more expensive source, we charge more, which gets higher quality livestock. Maybe you should actually buy and sell fish from suppliers before you go shooting your mouth on topics you dont know about. More on this later.

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wow, you should really be careful how you represent your store, ya know? i didn't come on to attack you or anything, but i simply wanted to know why prices are so high and what justifies the markups that you have. there was no need to get upset about my questions, you didn't have to answer them if you didn't want to. i didn't really go "shooting [my] mouth off", as you stated, i questioned the validity of your statements and asked you to look at the situation from another point of view. Obviously i don't know about "buying and selling fish from suppliers" which is why i am curious as to why things are so expensive in your store. it's not that i was trying to be a smart ass, i just want to know why stores in general(yours was just the only one with someone willing to reply to the questions! :D) have the markups they do.

 

thanks for any more clarification and sorry for any hurt feelings!

 

oh, and maybe it would help to let the public know that you buy from suppliers that way they don't think you're just jacking the prices up on stuff because you can, ya know? :D lol. that's what i thought happened, but now i know!

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As well as SSMangrove, i am also proud to say that i am as well an employee at The Aquarium, SSMangrove and I are 2 of the most Knowlegeble regular employees at the Aquarium and i can back up SSMangroves words. Most of us at The Aquarium are into reefs/nano-reefs ( personally i have a 55G reef, 10 gallon reef, 7 gallon reefinprogress and a 10 gallon rubbermaid tub/proptank) , and hence, we browse the pages of Nano-Reef even if we do not post regularily. While we are all still learning new things, we have been taught by who i am confident about calling the best around; Bob Hartline, who has been in this buisness for longer than i have been alive. One reason we are so cocky about our quality and justified of our prices is because, frankly, we can back it up. Very rarely, when we do make a mistake, we are sure to make sure the customer is always right, and we correct our mistake, however small or costly it would be to the store. Thats one thing i personally have pride for, our customer service. And those "costly" display tanks, in a buisness you have to show your product, and what better way in an Aquarium to do so than to make big display tanks? Their a pain to mantain too btw if anyone cares :P . And Todd, ur worthless for tryin to burn bridges there buddy, just shows how little respect you have for anyone else, and how little loyalty you have to The Aquarium. The Anemonea is fully justified in saying everything he has, and im backing him up fully. In fact when i read his post, i was even more P***** off than him, but im not gonna let this personal issue spread to this forum, but i just had to join my fellow employees and discredit his slander on The Aquarium. If you want your 3 minutes back... too bad:) Anyone has anything to comment on this, can do so by Msging me at Dal2kvvisp. l8terz

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