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Fishy Practices All Around

, , , , | Right | November 25, 2021

At a specialty mom-and-pop aquarium shop, we had a repeat customer who kept killing the fish he bought for his tank. His tank was always overcrowded and never fully cycled. For those that don’t know what cycled means, it’s basically when the tank chemistry has gone enough time to grow enough nitrifying bacteria. This bacteria transforms ammonia to nitrite — both lethal in any quantity — and nitrite into nitrate — lethal only in high quantities and removed via routine partial water changes.

I was the store’s freshwater chemistry and illness specialist on top of an animal rights supporter. I always emphasized the healthiest fish and hardiest species, especially when dealing with new hobbyists or fish parents. It gives them the best chance to keep the fish alive and enjoy their new family members.

My staff and I had this conversation with this repeat customer multiple times.

Customer: “You sold me fish and they died! I want a refund!”

Me: “Sir, you need to wait for your tank to cycle, and you need fewer fish in your tank. Bad water quality voids our return policy.”

Customer: “No, you keep selling me sick fish to begin with!”

Me: “Sir, I always help you pick out healthy fish.”

Instead of banning this customer from buying fish until his tank got better — my personal recommendation — the owners had the attitude that if customers keep buying, they don’t care. They enabled this dude.

What was their solution? I was the only person who could help pick out this guy’s fish. It was still always, “They were sick at purchase,” and, “They’re just fish,” after telling this guy time and time again to wait for the water to get better and keep a lower number of fish.