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blink 10-16-2012 03:42 AM

Help plan my vacation please
Hello Californios,

I've just gotten married and the honeymoon is a nice long road trip with stops in Vegas (several days), San Diego (1-2 days), Los Angeles (several days), San Francisco (1-3 days) and possibly Sacramento if the Fiancee finds anything she really wants to do/see there.

We've got a list about a mile long for non-fish activities but since we are both into fishkeeping we GOTTA stop at some of the nicer California LFS.

After perusing a few threads I've compiled a list (also about a mile long) of places but I don't know where is worth spending our somewhat limited shopping time.
I'd really appreciate opinions and advice on which shops are the cream of the crop.

And with no further ado, here is the list:
Los Angeles
Fumi's which is on W. Pico near Crenshaw Blvd
Neptune's Reef in Torrance
Hacienda aquatics
Onanda on Santa Monica and Fuller
Ven-Mar Tropical Fish 12807 Venice Blvd Mar Vista
Allan's Aquarium 846 Lincoln Blvd Venice
Apex Aquarium 4338 Sepulveda Blvd Culver City
The Aquarium 5403 Sepulveda Blvd Culver City
Jim's Exotic Fish 630 N. Sepulveda Blvd El Segundo
L.A. Aquarium 11662 W. Pico Blvd W Los Angeles
Tokyo Aquarium 4600 W. Adams Blvd Los Angeles
Aquarium Center 14256 Ventura Blvd Sherman Oaks
Underwater Depot 13708 Ventura Blvd Sherman Oaks
West Coast Aquarium 7252 Reseda Blvd Reseda
Strictly Fish in Lakewood
Mark's Tropical Fish 12063 Ventura Pl Studio City
Pasadena Tropical Fish on 2982 E. Colorado Blvd
Aquatic Fantasy in Redondo Beach

San Diego
Tong's (Magnolia & 405)
Tong's Tropical Fish - 15250 E. Whittier Blvd
Strictly Fish (Cerritos? & 605)
Pettown (Irvine?)
Discount Tropical Fish on La Habra Blvd in La Habra
West Coast Tropical Fish (Buena park)
Fountain's La Mesa, 7575 University
Pet Kingdom - Lighting and substrate
Aquatic Warehouse - driftwood, SAE, filter parts

San Francisco
6th avenue aquarium on clement
Ocean aquarium in the tenderloin/civic center
Lucky ocean aquarium on balboa
Neptune aquatics in milpitas
Aqua forest in japantown (Definite visit unless recommended against)
Aquarium Concepts in Dublin
Connies in Castro Valley
Ultimate Aquarium in San Mateo
Albany Aquarium in the east bay
Aqua Traders near San Bruno (open to public friday to sunday?)
Aquatic Central over on Ocean Ave
Dolphin Pet Village in Campbell
Aquatic Lifeforms on S. Mary Ave. in Sunnyvale

PlantedRich 10-16-2012 04:25 PM

Maybe you can cut the clutter a bit by telling what you are interested in seeing??

Some like large stores with wide stock, others may like shops who stock a lot of nice lighting, etc. Some will just like a shop because the clerk smiles at them!

KFryman 10-16-2012 04:38 PM

I would recommend both AFA and Neptunes since they are both for plants, and Neptunes has saltwater as well (mainly corals) but they have really awesome display tanks. Dolphin pet village is more of a petstore so it isn't as awe inspiring. But AFA and Neptune are awesome since they have really nice display tanks. Aquasoil is cheap at AFA, so if you want any it is like $30 for a 9L bag of the new Amazonian.

Not sure for SoCal as I'm in the Bay Area.

Twotoo 10-16-2012 05:47 PM

Have a list to go off of now:)

++Neptune aquatics in milpitas
Great plant selection overall, display tanks, reasonably priced, and corals
+Albany Aquarium in the east bay
They QT before they sell and it's reflected in their prices so keep that in mind
Their plants are specifically labeled with what they dose

Dolphin Pet Village in campbell
Plecos and nerites, though plants...go to above
They have displays of diff. fluorites
Aquatic Lifeforms on S. Mary Ave. in Sunnyvale
If u go to dolphin u might as well stop by if u want, if u have time

While in Las Vegas, I have to recommend the Shark Tank in Mandalay Bay. Touristy, yes, for sure. Go in and first take 2-3 reg pics then one where there's a shark to your top right.
Small, def. compared to Monterey Bay Aquarium(check that out too, their outer bay exhibit, sometimes have a great white shark(confirm on website), and sea otters). It's like a 20-30min walk thru easily if it isn't too crowded and you don't stand and gawk. Wear comfy shoes tho bc it's a walk just thru Mandalay to their aquarium.
BUT 1) arapaimas, yes S
2) large pacus, red tail sharks, and freshwater rays
3) piranha riparian
45678910) sawsharks:icon_eek:
There's more, but that's what I liked most. And the Komodo dragon.
Also, go when the suns out bc they use/go by natural lighting and they don't seem to clean the glass very much so weird stuff on the glass at kid level, raised kid level by the end of the day
And, of course, Congratulations

johnson18 10-16-2012 05:51 PM

I know it's not a aquarium shop but the Monterey Bay Aquarium is amazing! I could easily(and have a time or two) spends days in that place!

Kathyy 10-16-2012 06:13 PM

Not fresh water and nothing to buy for a fresh water tank but if you are going that way Santa Cruz has the Monarch butterflies roosting for the winter at Natural Bridges and Natural Bridges is very close to Long Marine Lab which is not large or expensive and is quite nice to visit.

My favorite LFS is TAT in Ventura off the 101. DH likes to eat at the Japanese market next door and I sneak over to look at the fish and multiple tanks of plants for sale and planted tanks in there.

blink 10-16-2012 06:35 PM

Good point plantedrich, im mostly looking for nice display tanks, good plant selection/health and dry good selection because bringing back livestock is harder and i suspect requires import permits.

Thanks for the responses so far :)

Gooberfish 10-16-2012 09:12 PM

In Regards to the SF Bay Area:

6th ave: Kind of a thrifty place. Great asian food nearby. I love Clemment Street. I recommend eating at King of Thai Noodle on the next block across the street.

Aqua Forest: Definitely go there but not on Tuesdays because they're closed on Tuesdays. Wed-Sun are the best days (IMO) GREAT seafood place up the street from it. Woodhouse Fish Co. What better way to complete looking at fish than eating some. I had an orgasmic crab melt though.

Aquarium Concepts: Gets better each time I've gone in, but I still think their Saltwater>Freshwater. Worth visiting.

Connies: It's on the way to Aquarium Concepts. Also steadily improving. Go browse the pond section in the back parking lot area. Best in the bay area.

Aqua Traders: Pretty sketchy. If there's one you could skip, you won't miss out on this place they're website is far more impressive. It's in a warehouse-type building, not much of a LFS feel.

Albany Aquarium: Very good store. The guy there, Evan, is the most personable LFS dude I've encountered. Pretty knowledgeable too. Livestock is expensive but looks very healthy (not that you'd be buying fish & shrimp on your honeymoon)

Aquatic Central: I've been in there about 3 or 4 times, hasn't impressed me yet. It's been quite a few months since I last walked in, but go in with low expectations. I just buy excel and that stuff.

Let us know how your experiences were. I've never been to the LFS in the south bay (Sunnyvale, Milpitas etc.)

mb165 10-17-2012 02:37 AM

Nature Aquarium in Santa Monica is nice.

Also, I wouldn't waste your time going to Sacramento.

blink 10-17-2012 04:28 AM

Thanks for the responses so far, it's nice to have this first hand local knowledge.

I'll definitely post plenty and I'm sure after we return home I'll be remembering the better ones fondly.... Our closest ADA dealer is 2.5 hours away lol

KFryman 10-17-2012 06:52 AM

I have two nearby that sell ADA, Neptune and AFA. Though Neptunes Aquasoil is more expensive than AFA's since they buy Aquasoil from AFA. They also have lots of wood and rocks.

I know there are some people in Sac, but havent heard of any cool stores there. Monterey Bay Aquarium is really cool. They replicate natural environments, like the kelp forest is actually replicated from the forest that is literally outside the aquarium building. Really cool place to see saltwater fish, just no freshwater besides a small thing for trout.

Jonnywhoop 10-18-2012 12:59 AM

Monterey Bay Aquarium
San Francisco Academy of Sciences

Not fish stores, but you will. you will. !@#$ your pants :)

KFryman 10-18-2012 04:09 AM

Academy Sciences! Totally forgot it! This place is awesome! They have tons of animals and they have a simulated rain forest in a big sphere. Including fish at the bottom where there is a pond, and there are tanks below as well. Really awesome.

kuni 10-18-2012 07:25 AM


Originally Posted by mb165 (Post 2046069)
Nature Aquarium in Santa Monica is nice.

Also, I wouldn't waste your time going to Sacramento.

Excluding wholesalers, I prefer Sac to LA and the Bay Area. It's easier to get to the stores, and they have WAY more square footage and better prices. Jo Jo stacks up well against most other stores in the nation, and Exotic has the tank space of a wholesaler...except that you can buy directly from them.

I second the recommendation for Nature Aquarium in Santa Monica. My favorite of the LA stores.

etane 10-18-2012 07:19 PM

I second Nature Aquarium. The store is beautiful. Most tanks are beautifully scaped. They buy their tanks and stuff from AFA as far as I know. It's in Santa Monica near 3rd street Promenade if you so choose to visit. I bought both my 60H and 60P from Toru.

I'd add Seaside Tropical Fish in Huntington Beach. Despite their name, I'd say their specialty is marine fish that takes up 3/4 of the store. The store is very pretty. It's also close to HB downtown if you choose to visit.

Most of the other stores on your list that I can recognize is not worth seeing in my opinion such as 405 and Tongs. Nice stores but pretty generic and not worth the drive. But, that's me. Oh, and they are in OC not SD.

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