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Thread: LFS In Chicago Area -- Updated Feb 13, '12 Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-30-2015 09:41 PM
CaptinYesterday Old town aquarium in Chicago get's their plants on Thursday's and puts them out on Fridays. They also get rare freshwater fish and the guys/gals working on weekends are very knowledgeable. If your looking for something specific you can call and ask them about it and someone will be able to tell you whats up.

Also "New Fish" on 1100 block of Milwaukee Ave has a 75g tank that is usually packed with plants and they usually have 3 or 4 different types of moss. Their hours are very limited during the week and probably not worth going out of your way to explore.

Finally I've got some criniums from Oak Park Natural Fish and Pet and have seen some unique plants/fish, but probably not worth going out of your way explore.
12-06-2014 01:37 AM
DirtDevilDTOM yup, they love to sell non-aquatic plants as aquatic. Then you come back and tell them and they will act as if they knew the whole time. If I want a new plant, I can go check out what they have on a Friday (they get shipments Thursday) and come back Saturday after doing some research. Again, I live right next door so it isn't inconvenient to do this.

Yup, the waiting game with young ones only works for so long. Glad they have "Jack" the catfish and the kois at the front to keep them busy. That just leaves a bored wife... lol
12-05-2014 02:39 AM
Steve0 AA is my 7-eleven for plants. Most of the fish are decent same goes with the plants. Some of the staff there are clueless when it comes to plants and their care. If I'm not sure I just google them, makes it much easier. I feel ya on the waiting game. Try waiting with a 3yr old, 7 month old and a wife!
12-04-2014 08:28 PM
DirtDevilDTOM I recently ran into a place called "Aqua Visions" in Lake Barrington, just off 14.

28144 W. Industrial Ave. Suite #112-114
Lake Barrington, IL 60010

It is a family owned shop and has a great selection of very healthy fresh and saltwater fish. Owner is really friendly and knowledgeable and prices are reasonable. He had a pretty good selection of driftwood and rocks as well.

When I was there, he was just starting to set up a few planted tanks but I haven't been out that way in a while so I don't know how much he has expanded it since then.

I am literally right next door to Aquarium Adventure, so I end up getting a lot of my plants from there for convenience sake. It's hit or miss there as far as helpful service - 70% of the time you feel like a commodity waiting in line for someone who is clueless to help you. There are a few people though who know their stuff that make up for it.

Bump: Oh, and if saltwater is your thing - there is another place in Schaumburg called "Advanced Aquatics" that has a bunch of corals, fish and tanks. I'm not up on the SW stuff so I am not sure how their prices are.

879 S Roselle Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60193
04-13-2014 07:27 PM
Coldwater King You know what I take back what i said about Aquarium Adventure, my algae problem originated from getting a plants from them! Stay away from the store unless you want a wicked algae problem!!!
01-09-2014 02:02 AM
Culprit Beyond the Reef is a saltwater only store.
Nice store but pricey.
01-07-2014 02:24 PM
Coldwater King The aquarium adventure in Bolingbrook is a decent store, not nearly as bad as you guys say the other one is.
01-07-2014 01:08 PM
Razorworm anyone been to Beyond the reef? Its just west of the Hoffman Estates AA.
01-06-2014 07:42 AM
MichaelMcG Has anybody been to Gills N Thrills in Lockport? From reading about them on the web they seem to focus alot on reptiles and such but of course I'm more interested in freshwater fish/plants.
01-05-2014 03:13 PM
Caconym Does anyone know of any local stores carrying decent cory habrosus? Last time I was at Aquarium Adventure I noticed they had habrosus, but it was mislabeled as hastatus. Does AA have good fish?

We recently rejoined the hobby after a few decades off, and while the tank was cycling I had time to check out lots of local shops. Here are my thoughts.

Golden Aquarium. My fav. When shopping filters I called around and they had the best price on Eheim classics. When I went in a few weeks later, the owner-without me bugging him-took a eheim apart and showed me a bunch of tricks on how to set it up and maintain it. Then he put it away and let me get on with looking around with no sales pressure. They have nice stock, and we have had 100% success with fish and plants there. The store is smallish, and about 30% salt, but what they do have tends to be healthy.

Fish Planet. The nicest stock I've seen around, and a very knowledagable owner. Quite far from home, but I look for opportunites to make the trip convenient!

Old Town Aquarium. Very cool shop, very high quality stock. It seems expensive, and we jokingly call it the "hipsterquarium" as the staff tends to have a bit of attitude, but they're knowledgeable and nice enough once you get to chatting . Parking is the biggest pain, although if you're buying $20 or more you can park at Pipers Alley and get your ticket validated.

Living Sea. Great shop, lots of tanks. They never have what we're looking for, which is probably bad timing on our part as they seem to have everything else!

New Fish. Small shop, clean, prices seem good but we had bad luck with the fishes we bought there, loses a lot of cories( 4/5) and a few neons (3/10). Would be hesitant to go there again, but it's very convenient and the staff friendly so who knows.

Old Orchard. Back when we had bettas, we went through a string of deaths before figuring out it was the tin of food they'd sold us, open, as it was the last one they had. I went in again to look around and found the store to look great with a good selction of fish and a huge stock of tanks and equipment, but they're obnoxiously high pressure and were pushing me to buy fish even though I was in the first week of a fishless cycle. Would not use.

Aquarium Adventure. Had about 5 minutes to run through here once before a meeting in the burbs. Seems like a huge stock and is nearly Shedd-like in it's displays. Am planning on heading back if they still have the cories we like. What have others found in terms of stock quality here?
12-17-2013 04:18 PM
Caconym Just thought I could chime in with some newbie takes on the local shops. I just got back into the hobby after decades away, and while setting up the tank I drove around and visited pretty much every shop I could.

Golden Aquarium: My favorite shop. Started going there because we called around pricing Ehein filters, and they had the lowest price (tied with Tropiquatics) When I went in to buy, the owner took a ton of his time to show me how to assemble the filter, valuable tricks for making it more efficient and really went above and beyond, even though I hadn't even said I was going to purchase. We've had great success with their fish, plants and gear. First stop for everything.

Fish Planet: I really like this shop, just wish it was closer to Chicago. Probably the cleanest shop, laid out well and the owner seems like a great guy. I once saw a dead fish in a tank and he was on it in a flash without me saying anything. They have lovely stock, and the plants rotate through quickly. It is more expensive that other shops for stock, but the quality and health make that worth it.

Old Town Aquarium: Probably the nicest looking shop around, they have very healthy stock and you can tell they take great care of the fish. We jokingly call it the hipsterquarium, as they have a bit of attitude, but I'd credit that to the obnoxious neighborhood they work in every day. The prices are higher, and parking a pain (however you can park in the theater lot on North and validate with $20 purchase) but overall a very good shop.

New Fish: A nice smaller shop, they tend to be heavy on saltwater, but do have some nice fresh as well. We got fish with ich there, so I don't think the stock was as good, but it seems like they keep things very clean otherwise. Prices seem good.

Living Sea: Very cool store, but I haven't purchased stock there since they always seem to have everything but the one oddball fish or plant I'm looking for.

Old Orchard: Was hesitant to go back there after a bad experience years ago (we had a string of Bettas die, and it took a lot of trial and error before we realized it was from the food we purchased from them, which they sold to us as an open jar at a discount as it was the last one left. ) They have a great selection of tanks and everything else, but I always feel like they're giving me advice thats heavy on on the upsell/buy now, to the point of not wanting to be in the store. I don't really like this place, and they seem expensive as well.

Tropiquatics: I was there once early on, and recall it being a very nice store, and the phone service was great, however they're a bit too far for me to have a complete picture.

Ocean Design: Super friendly people, and they seemed to have all the stock I was after as far as fish. Heading back there when it's time to buy Rams, as they had the nicest group I've ever seen.

Hope this helps someone, I had a slow fall and really enjoyed kicking around shops while our tank cycled. Wish I could get something everywhere I go!
04-17-2013 02:52 AM
Phantomic Just like some other members were saying, i like Tropi-Quatics in Lombard. They have a decent selection of FW fish and a great selection of Saltwater ( I think they do, im not a saltwater expert). The plant selection is ok with a limited selection. The best part about this store are the extremely friendly staff! I always look forward to talking to the staff there about anything related to fish, and i learn quite a bit from them also as they are very knowledgeable people and know just about everything. Definitely a place to check out!

My other favorite LFS is Oak Park Natural Pet And Fish in Oak Park. The selection of fish are great in both FW and SW and its a great place to find some unusual fish. The plant selection is decent, but the plants are very healthy. The best part about this store is are the prices. I got two pearl gouramis there for $2.90 each with %20 off, so $2.70 per fish, and for a grand total of $5.40 cents for two pearl gouramis! You're lucky to find pearl's for less than $10 each at a store! The only downside to this store is the customer service. While they know what they are doing, service is slow with limited staff on hand and you usually have to wait a while before getting the fish or plants that you need, but the great selection and prices makes up for it in no time! Another great place to check out!
04-01-2013 11:30 AM
WheeledGoat yeppers, and 40% (or 50%?) off anything alive (fish, plants) - but only on the "aquarium adventure" side - no discount whatsoever on other pet stuff.
03-31-2013 06:48 PM
Originally Posted by WheeledGoat View Post
If you're planning a puchase from there, email me and I'll give you my phone number - that's all you need to claim the membership discount.
thanks, i may just have to take you up on that offer. i believe that it also gives you 10% on equipment as well?
03-27-2013 05:38 PM
WheeledGoat I saw it mentioned once in this thread, but figured I'd throw in my $0.02:

Tropi-Quatics in Lombard
Nothing over-the-top here, but a solid store. Employees are definitely hobby-grade and are happy to engage in conversation. Sloan is their resident planted-tank expert and chatted with me for some time and gave some solid advice. They're pretty much 50-50 salt and fresh. Livestock selection isn't huge, but looks healthy and tanks are well maintained. According to the employees, plant turnover is pretty quick, though the selection was somewhat sparse when I was there - they said a shipment was coming tomorrow. I did buy 3 plants though and all are doing great. I'd give them a B+ on supplies / equipment. They even have some used tanks/hoods/stands for pretty reasonable prices. Prices overall are good - a few dollars more than online but they don't gouge you like Aquarium Adventure.

BTW, regarding Aquarium Adventure - I frequent both Bollingbrook and Hoffman Estates locations. I usually just go with a cup of coffee in hand and stroll around and stare at the great fishie selection. Rarely do I actually buy from there because of their inflated prices. They remind me of REI - you pay to sign up for their membership to get "discounted" prices, which actually just get you back down to MSRP. grrrr. I'm ashamed to say, though, that I did sign up for a lifetime membership when I first moved here (because I couldn't find any good LFS around). If you're planning a puchase from there, email me and I'll give you my phone number - that's all you need to claim the membership discount.
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