Old Orchard is amazing. I've heard mixed reviews, but I've had nothing but good luck with them. The employees definitely know their stuff, and if you know what you're looking for, they'll have you in and out quickly (unless you want to stay and chat like I do). The planted tanks are GORGEOUS. Vibrant colors, and insane growth. They've got 4 or 5 truly dedicated planted tanks, 2 of which they're inclined to sell from. The others are more of display tanks, but they will sell from them if you ask. They've got some 20-ish gallon tanks in the back with some naja grass and anacharis too, but those aren't well lit or anything. They get new shipments of plants on Tuesdays I believe. That's when they have the largest selection of plants (including some rare ones), but even on a Monday night, they've got a nice variety. Their fish are really healthy and vibrant too.
Just saying that's my favorite thing about Illinois
Don't leave with out hitting Portillos for a real Chicago Italian beef
As far as old orchard aquarium, I think you guys are nuts for plugging those guys. What type of a-hole would tell you they have a species of fish when they really don't just to get you in the store. I drove an hour to figure out they lie. Equipment is double and triple normal prices and their plants suck. Your out of your head if you think those are nice tanks.
While I am going waaaay off topic here, if you are a music fan at all, Chicago has a fantastic music scene. I highly recommend checking out Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday while you are here. He has has a Monday night residency there for a few years now. Best $10/$15 bucks you will spend while you are here
True... so heres how it looks right now.. I land at 8am.. I don't think I'll have a rental car so I'm not sure if I can make it to the meet. I need to looks at public transit options.
Landing at 8am at either Airport, collecting your luggage even with a ride waiting from someone that knows their way around would be cutting it close. These events have an insane door crowd, complete fish nerd pandemonium.