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Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:06 am

I had that happen to me when I was 14 at Petco... So instead in the past 5 years, I've spent over $12,000 at a different store. But what do they care? They're a national corporation that can afford to lose a customer here and there. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FISH STORES! They are a dying breed, and we can't live without them. They are a source of knowledge and really cool stuff!! Infinitely better than petco or petsmart can ever be. That day when I was 14 was the day I stopped even going to those places to look at fish, and looking back, I'm happy about it, because I probably would have had a lot of tank crashes in the past few years from buying from them... Is it worth to pay a few extra pennies to go to an lfs and get some good advice along with your purchase?? You bet it is.

Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:32 am

Some local fish stores are the same way though. I know at the pet store I worked at starting at age 15, we didn't sell any land pets to people under 18. This was back in 93-98. Huge fish like oscars, arrowanas, ect and such were at our discression (sp.?). Mostly becuase the manager was tired of parents bring pets back including fish and yelling at us for selling to underage kiddies. Even though some of us knew what we were doing at that age, the majority don't.

Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:17 am


I work at PetSmart and we don't have any policy, or talk of any policy, about having to be 18 to buy fish. But state-by-state rules vary quite a bit, I'd imagine.

Even with the small animals like hamsters and such, the "minor" age is only 14.

That is strange. I do put my fish customers through a rigorous line of questions (and I will refuse service to them if they don't have the proper set-up/attitude), but never banned them based on age.

Chain stores are a drag, I know. It's very easy to lose sight of the health of the animal for the sake of the store, but my individual store is full of people who are genuine animal lovers and quite knowledgeable about the kiddos we keep. I would definitely prefer to score a job at a LFS, but this is good for now. Sorry you got jipped!

Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:06 pm

fishoverlivingspace wrote:I had that happen to me when I was 14 at Petco... So instead in the past 5 years, I've spent over $12,000 at a different store. But what do they care? They're a national corporation that can afford to lose a customer here and there.

That's not the way they think. They (corporate) think they're covering themselves from loss with these policies but not necessarily true. They want to act like they care long enough to let people think they care but not so long that they lose money cause of it.
I don't think you've ever seen a training video of what they think the average petsmart shopper is but believe me it's not a pretty picture. They're selling to and appeasing the "average petsmart shopper". While you and me think, they'll sell to a 25 year old idiot who wants to cram an oscar into a 20 gallon tank they won't sell to a 17 year old with a properly cycled 55 (not the magical 3 day cycling process pestmart recommends) who wants some yellow labs and red zebras - their "average shopper" thinks, they're trying to stop irresponsible kids from buying fish and possibly torturing and killing them.
It's been 3 years since I first heard PetSmart had a 18+ policy on buying fish and i don't know how old the policy actually is but I remember buying my first mbuna there when I was 14.
When I asked an employee about the policy at one particular store they said they were enforcing it because some local highschool kids had been buying feeders and letting them out into the shopping center fountains and the fish were dying.
I thought, "well that sucks", on both accounts.

Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:39 pm

Obviously I realize what the purpose for their policies is. However, in my situation, it turned out to be a major loss on their part. No one seems to be able to realize that age is rarely a measure of responsibility, but rather how long we've been in this world. On an average, maybe there is a correlation between age and responsibility, but this is just one of those things in which there are individuals that are very far away from the average, whether it be above or below. Also, its not only a question of responsibility, but knowledge, and there's plenty of smart, knowledgeable kids out there.

As one who really hates to see fish in an inhospitable environment, I can somewhat understand the reasons for this policy, and for me, it had never been too difficult just to come into the store with my mom or dad and get the fish with them, and it tended to work out just fine, since I needed them to give me a ride there anyway. However, the fact that all they go by is age is ridiculous. Many times at PetSmart, they won't question someone about the pet they are purchasing just because they are 18+, and therefore must have the "wisdom" to accommodate these fish. As an employee at an lfs, I tend to simply ask questions about their home aquariums in a non-accusatory manner regardless of age. If they speak with some know-how, then I don't see a need for quite so much questioning, and if they appear clueless, I avoid selling them anything live. That's how it should be.

Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:25 pm

I agree that going by age ONLY is wrong.

However, I do think younger buyers are typically less informed. This is my own experience working in a large-chain pet store. But it's also true that the majority of buyers - all ages - are uninformed, and I question that way before I even think about their age.

Like I said, Oklahoma PetSmarts don't have an age policy on fish. But even if we did, I tend to find ways around those things for people who have proper set-ups :thumb: And, like I said, I gladly refuse fish to people who dont. It's unfortunate, age discrimination, but it has it's reasons. Personally I wish they'd only go by experience and current set-up for the desired fish - but since we all know the corporate end isn't willing to put employees through the training of recognizing what is good and what isn't, the age limits are their way of minimizing animal abuse.

In OK, we actually go through very rigorous training. But I know it wasn't always that way. Apparently before they hired me, the store was aquired by new management that put into motion the months-long training program and employee requirements (must own pets and for a certain amount of time). All the employees had never really been trained or cared to be, so a lot of them ended up leaving. Now we have newer people with a lot more knowledge and a lot more passion for our animals and customers. It's probably a rare case, but we are surprising NOT your typical Petco/PetSmart.

Again, I'm sorry that you were turned away. I do wish they would have looked into your individual situation rather than just shooing you away because of your age. I have met some 40 year olds who are just as clueless as a 12 year old. Age shouldn't be the first concern.

Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:38 am

Perhaps a questionaire of some sort to gage to customers knowledge would be a good way to go . Maybe a 20 question quiz over things like tank maintenence , water parameters , general compatability , filtration, ect. Something to give both parties an idea as to whether or not a purchase is advisable irregardless of age . Knowledge is the key in this hobby ,not age.

Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:16 am

Unfortunately, I don't think corporate is willing to implement anything like that. It would take so much time and turn so many customers away.. you know?

But in a perfect world, yes.

We DO make them sign contracts promising to do certain things/buy certain things, but no one reads or enforces the fine print.

Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:31 pm

Im 16 and if they would have pulled that with me then I would have had a few strong words to say then told them I would go spend my money somewhere different!

And I like it when those idiots that work there tell somebody something like sure a 5gall is big enough for a 5" goldfish and I walk right behind them and tell the person otherwise!
The workers always look kind of p****d that they just lost a sale!

I never return to places like that because I been told I cant spend my money and feel disrespected!

Im 16 but I look like Im like 14 so people always treat me like I dont have a brain and IDK about you all but I dont like it! I like being treated like I know what I want and have only experienced actual respect at one LFS so I keep going back!

As I said it makes me feel Disrespected!

EDIT: I just read the one about the 'quiz' thing and again I would never go back. It would make me feel as though they suggested Im stupid when most adults that go in there are going to put zebras angels and neon tetras together! Again I would feel as though the staff think I dont know how to run my tanks!

It should be judged by knowledge!!! NOT AGE!!

Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:52 am

Our LFS policy had nothing to do with kids not knowing their stuff, after all I was 15 when I started in the fish room afterall.

It was becuase we were tired of parents bringing pets back and yelling at us for letting kids buy pets. Blaming us for their bad parenting. Unfortunately it happened enough that they just shut it down to all minors.

If they woulda told people it's becuase kiddies don't know their stuff I woulda walked! :lol:

Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:11 pm

Good point. how hard can it be for a kid to come in the store with their parents and pick it up on the weekend? I know what it was like... my parents didn't mind me having fish, but I didn't want them to know how much I was spending on them, so I went by myself, or had them drop me off and go shopping somewhere else, also because I tended to look around in there for a couple hours :lol: . It just sucks when you want to have a hobby of your own, but mommy and daddy have to tag along to make sure you don't get hurt when you're going to buy your fish. If I always went to a store with policies like that as a kid, I probably wouldn't have had nearly as many fish, because my parents would only bring me there every so often, because it wasn't something that they were interested in or eager to go do, although they did enjoy looking at them once I had them in the tanks :) .

Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:49 pm

My Mom hates it when I ask to go because I want to look around and talk to people and trade fish and get them to drop prices. The whole time shes walking behind me going "Can we go? Are you done yet? Why do we have to wait for help? That fish is pretty (a platy in a cichlid tank, ha, I can see it now)!" So one day I just told her to go shopping and she has never entered the store again!

I would hate if she would have to go with me!

My parents are the same way, hate the buying process, then sit there and watch them for hours! What the heck???!!!?!??!

Fri Apr 25, 2008 5:08 pm

My local petsmart is the same why. i just dont understand it because I talk to some of the employees and they do not have any idea what they are talking about. I have no experience with this policy at my lfs stores. I wish my parents would just drop me off. Man i cant wait untill I can drive! But I also agree it should be on knowledge. I dont know how you would go about determining someones knowledge however. But even some of the people at the largest lfs are idiots. I talked to a guy who didnt even know that there were gobies in lake tanganyika. Oh well, just deal with it I guess :roll:

Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:26 pm

:lol: its been so funny reaading this topic.. just for kicks i went with my friend who drives and i went to petco.. started to tell the guy if i can have some convicts.. ( was going to buy them for my friends new 45 gallon tank ) but i am 15 years old so he started to look at me wierd... when the manager started to talk to the guy and they finally came over and said " are your parents with you ?" man i just started to laugh.. i told them is it necessary for them to be here... they of course said that i need parents permission to buy a fish.. but my friend came and said that they were for him.. he is 20.. :lol: its funny i cant believe it they should be happy someone is actually trying to save their fish they are in a ugly 25 gallon all with algae like 50 plecos with 20 black convicts... and 3 feeders the size of a thumb... but i agree as "underaged" i cant buy a stinkin fish.. come on what has society come to.. first alcahol... then smoking.. now fish .. whats next.. cant buy candy without parents there? or cant go to the bathroom without being watched by an adult...

Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:38 pm

EDIT: I just read the one about the 'quiz' thing and again I would never go back. It would make me feel as though they suggested Im stupid when most adults that go in there are going to put zebras angels and neon tetras together! Again I would feel as though the staff think I dont know how to run my tanks!
The purpose of that quiz would be to alert an employee when they were dealing with someone that didn't know how to run their tanks, not the other way round. In any case it was simply a suggestion .
The fact that young hobbyists are being "carded" to buy fish is completely rediculous. All the more reason to support your LFS.
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