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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are LFS Dead?

So I am back in the Raleigh, NC area again... this may be part of the problem... But there is not a single LFS here that is worth a their weight in food flakes. This seems at least true for support of freshwater. Here is my latest experience...

I went in to check out a what Africans they have. They do have a decent amount and for the most part most fish looked healthy. Good initial signs....
They had of course the obligatory mixed Africans which is exactly what they are and about 10 very small sections for Africans way to small for even try maybe a 2-4 gallon space (they did have a lot of water flow). Initially I was impressed until I took a closer look. All of their haps were between 1-1.5 inches and they were all colored up. Fuscos, Steveni Taiwan reef, Livingstoni. Tiny little guys.. Here is where I lost my faith....

I asked wow these little guys are all colored up. Do you always have these guys colored up...The employees response.... Why yes once they hit 1 1/2 inches they start showing colors..

I respond , ' I have never seen these guys colored up so small'

Employees response 'Its our water, we have a very high pH usually 8.4 sometimes up as high as 8.6.. They wont color up without that'

I look puzzled 'Oh do you buffer your water?' (meanwhile our pH in the area is usually 7.3-7.6)

Without hesitation "We don't have to its the crushed coral in the substrate"

I take a good look at the brown substrate with a puzzled look. Thinking to myself no way... I just saw her pour a large bucket of RO water right in the sump. The same water they used across all their tanks... I then ask, "if you don't mind me asking where do you obtain your stock from, these guys seemed like they may have been treated with hormones"

Employees response "Oh we would never buy from a place that does that. We buy everything from Segrest"

At that point I smiled :) and said oh neat. Well you have some colorful fish.

Back in the day I used to be able to go to various LFS back when I lived in florida and had access to all sorts of great quality fish. The stores were always super fairly priced. Offered fish from farms, local breeders, and a few even did imports. Do they still exist??? It seems that we just don't have that anymore in NC.
 

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I would say 3 things:
1-I was never overly impressed with the LFS staff...maybe the owner if he was "into" Africans, but not most of the employees
2-Florida probably WAS more of a culture for Africans than Raleigh.
3-True that more/more LFS are going out of business. I always shop online.
 

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We have two LFS's near me. One is a mom and pop operation (brian's) where mom and pop are always there, Brian the owner is the one who helps with questions, he seems knowledgeable, but busy so you can't really chat with him too long because he doesn't have too much help.

The other LFS, I remember going in the first time and was talking to some guy that really had his stuff together, knew everything, so I assume he's the owner. Everytime since I meet a kid who is simply into fish.

I go to Brians now only.
 

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LFSs are certainly hurting. There are a few left in the vicinity of Washington, DC, where I live, but many have closed in the last few years.

You're probably better getting fish from folks in the Raleigh Aquarium Society, which seems to be pretty active and have some strong breeders.
 

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There is 1 by me that I really enjoy going to and the staff is always great. They are opened pretty limited hours though. I think they run a good shop from an outsider looking in though. Their prices are on par with online. I've noticed some things they are a lot cheaper on and some things way more expensive on. I've gotten all my females online as the females they have were priced the same as the males. Half of my male peacocks, all my plecos and half of my catfish were from this store. I hope they stay in business as I really enjoy going there.
 

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You can't make money being an LFS. After the rent and other costs are paid for, there just isn't much left. If you hire help, there is no way you can pay them enough to get qualified staff. You need to take who you can get. So it's no surprise that most folks in fish stores can't tell the head and tail of a fish apart. If you are lucky, the owner is a hobbyist who has made the bad choice to turn his hobby into a profession. If you chance into him at a good time, you will get some quality advice, but as others have said, he is probably super busy. Not just in the store but he probably maintains tanks in doctor's offices and the like on the side.

You can't beat up LFS for it, but it is an unfortunate situation. Unless you are sentimentally attached to supporting LFS in your area, you are probably better of getting fish from local hobby breeders, for example via local fish clubs, and ordering supplies online. Sad but true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Agree with the posts. Unfortunately my area has a major drought for cichlids. 5 hours north DC is packed but just doesnt make it down here.
 

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I do a lot of traveling in about 200 mile radius of my home. There about 5 cities I get in with population of over 75,000 people. One city has no lfs all company stores. Of the other 4 cities they all have one lfs. Two of those are real good ones ok another is run by people that should be working some were else. I try and buy all my livestock from lfs. But it's real hard to buy dry goods from them because the prices are some times double what I can get them on the web. A lot of these store owners are friends now and for the most part there advise is right on. I have been to many company stores were employees were hire one day and serving the customer the same day. It's just sad that they are all going away.
 

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I read Practical Fishkeeping, a UK magazine. The UK seems to have an abundance of LFS. They have shops specializing in shrimp, discus and catfish. I have no LFS in my area, and I live in the northern suburbs of NYC.
 
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