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Old 01-04-2010, 03:48 PM   #31
hbosman
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Steve,

Are there stocking levels improving any?
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:22 PM   #32
6t5Goat
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I just stopped by here today..

Got some bad news.. Gloria is no longer working there!

FWIW.. The plant selection looked good..
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:36 AM   #33
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theyve been a little low the couple times ive been in there the past month. beats petsmart and petco though. i want to check out House of Tropicals in glen burnie
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:46 AM   #34
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House of Tropicals is my LFS of choice. They have a fantastic selection, everything has always looked healthy when I've been there, and their prices are more often than not quite reasonable. Of course, you should know how much things should cost and do a little research before you buy. They usually have some oddball species and fun stuff to look at too. Definitely worth checking out, in my opinion.
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:08 AM   #35
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thats what ive heard. ill have to check them out , if it ever stops snowing.
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Old 03-27-2010, 04:20 AM   #36
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In order of preference: Aquarium Depot, Exotic Aquatic, House of Tropicals.

Aquarium Depot:
Pros:
  • The employees are very knowledgeable and attentive to your conversation. I was asked multiple times if I needed assistance by other employees.
  • Fish selection is great.
  • What I really liked was the very detailed labeling they have on their tanks for plants and fish regarding max sizes, breeding habits, schooling size recommendations.
  • They have a knack for plants, an entire isle is dedicated to it in their fish room.
  • The planted tanks they have are worth a visit alone.
  • Fish are lively and healthy, I rarely see sick fish here. (I would like to ask about their QT process on my next visit, just out of curiosity.)

Cons:
  • Here was the first time I seen "Tattooed Mollies". It's disgusting and I wish they would not support such practices that are harmful to fish. They were tattooed with stripes, hearts, and the word "love".

Exotic Aquatics:
Pros:
  • Clean store. It shows by the way they stock isles, to the aquariums. Very tidy.
  • Plenty of room in fish isles, so you aren't squeezing by other people in the store.
  • Although I'm not a marine guy, their saltwater collection looks to be the best I have seen.
  • Seems to be hit or miss as far as knowledgeable employees.
  • Large selection of foods.

Cons:
  • Parking can be a pain sometimes because it shares a lot with major retailers.
  • Unless you hunt down help you are usually on your own.
  • Limited selection of fish tanks for sale (maybe they are ordered when you buy? I don't know, didn't ask)

House of Tropicals:
Pros:
  • Large selection of marine & fw fish.
  • Brackish section is nice.
  • The girls running the register are always nice and welcoming.
  • I enjoy "Tiny Tawanda" a True Giant Gourami as soon as you enter the store. SHES HUGE!! Hold your finger against the glass, she will kiss it.

Cons:
  • The staff in the fish dept. are of no help. You better do all your research and know exactly what you are looking for. I have only encountered 1 person I can trust for information and he is usually not working, maybe a part timer.
  • There is always dead fish in the tanks, I usually see one guy holding a net and that's all he does is constantly collect corpses.
  • Again, don't ask questions. You would be better off asking the 8 year old child buying his first fish about your inquiries regarding fish.
  • The isles are a disaster, especially the area for lighting. It really shows the laziness of the employees.
  • You will have to break up the employees pow-wows when you are ready to buy a fish. They are usually holding vulgar discussions among each other rather then helping customers.
  • You will feel rushed when they are helping you. "What else?" "Is that it"
  • Plants are horrible, they are stuffed down on the floor tanks with insignificant lighting. They should just remove all plants from their store. Even the plants in the display tank are "ehhh".
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Old 04-08-2010, 12:33 PM   #37
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Just to add to what Baltimoreguy said about House of Tropicals they have seriously overpriced shrimp. Their Amano shrimp were 10$ each and no discount for buying in bulk. Upon returning these overly priced shrimp I told the manager I was better off buying from members of the planted tank forum!
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Old 04-20-2010, 03:25 PM   #38
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I stopped by Aquarium Depot for some plants on 4.18.10 and had quite a pleasant experience. It was my first time in the store so I wandered around the equipment side for 30 minutes. They had a nice selection of tanks and tank equipment. Much better than Petsmart or Petco. Two sales people were working the floor so I didn't have to wait to be helped. I don't know a whole lot about ferts, but they did seem to have a full line of Seachem products including Excel which i can't find at Petco or Petsmart. Saw some other brands of ferts as well. All kinds of rocks, a large variety of substrates, and driftwood were present.

The Fish Room blew me away with at least 250 tanks of FW and Marine fish. The info cards on every tank was extremely detailed and clear. Not once did I feel the need to pull out my iPhone and Google a species like I have to do constantly in Petco/Petsmart. According to Tom, my sales guy, the tanks were low in stock, but IMO there was still a huge variety of healthy looking fish in all of the FW tanks. I might have seen maybe one dead fish in a tank. Everything else was immaculate. The plant aisle was humongous for someone who is used to one measly plant tank in Petco/Petsmart. I'd estimate there are at least 40 tanks with plants in them? I went specifically looking for low light plants and was ready to buy whatever they had in stock. To my surprise I was actually able to choose from a fairly wide variety of low light plants. Tom was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. We talked for over an hour. He walked me through every plant option and help me put together a nice plant package for my low tech 55 gallon tank. I spent about $20 on plants and was able to get some rotala indica, crypt spirallis, java moss, water sprite, bacopa caroluniana, sublata, dwarf lilly, assorted small crypts, and some anubias nana. I also picked up two Sterbai corydoras to go with my emerald corydoras.

All in all it was a great shopping experience for a newb to the planted tank world. I asked Tom a million questions and he was able to answer them. I even asked him stuff I knew the answers to from reading this forum and he was right on the money. Needless to say I will be visiting Aquarium Depot again. If it weren't an hour away I'd be there even more.

All of the staff seemed knowledgeable, but ask for Tom! He's a great guy and knows his stuff.

Last edited by tuffgong; 05-26-2010 at 04:22 AM..
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Old 05-24-2010, 01:13 AM   #39
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Wow, great thread- exactly what I was hoping to find. I drive past Aquarium Depot on my way to and back from work every day- had no idea it was there! Then again, I'm just now getting back into keeping aquariums, and planted aquariums are completely new to me. I'll have to make a stop there, and check out these other LFS's too. I've been doing all of my shopping for my new tank at Petsmart

Granted, I think I have my nano close to how I want it, although I could use some moss. I'm hoping to start a larger tank later this year though, so knowing that there are some good local places should help me get that started a lot easier. Thanks for the info!
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Old 06-03-2010, 02:50 AM   #40
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I stopped by Aquarium Depot today. It was a mixed experience (maybe I was expecting too much,) however the selection alone definitely puts it above the local Petsmarts/Petcos.

The good:

- lots of different sizes of tanks and matching stands on display. It was nice to actually see some of these in person, since I'm shopping for a new tank...
- what looked like a good selection of lights (at least to my noob eyes,) as well as filters and other equipment.
- Seachem products! I'll definitely buy these from them at the very least once I get my bigger tank going.
- Awesome selection of fish that looked healthy. No dead ones to be seen. The cichlid selection was particularly impressive.

The bad:

- tank decor like rocks, driftwood etc was pretty lacking and disorganized. It looks like they may just have not restocked for a while.
- Not all of the tanks were labeled well, and they could have been organized better. It felt like some of the sections of fish (tropicals, cichlids, marine) were kind of jumbled together and could be confusing for the inexperienced.
- the plant tanks were hit or miss. Some looked good, some looked terrible. Some were fairly empty too, so I may have just been looking at old stock.


Overall I'd say that it was pretty good, although I was specifically hoping to buy some moss (they did have christmas and java, but neither looked very healthy,) and perhaps some rock/driftwood (limited, as I said, and all the driftwood I saw just looked like grapevine,) so I left empty-handed. That being said, I will probably return sometime soon to get a couple of the Panda Cories that I saw, I think they would go well in my nano tank! It seems like the employees were a mix of those knowledgable and those who were just there for a job, but that sort of thing doesn't bother me. I'm not the type who insists on a ton of assistance when I'm at a store.

As for prices, they seemed a little on the high side compared to the petsmart/petcos I've been in lately, but I guess that is to be expected for a small store vs. chain. That being said, it was still informative to see pretty much everything that I would need to setup another tank all in one location, even if it did make me realize that it's probably going to cost more than I expected if I want to buy everything new (probably going to start seeing what sorts of deals I can get on used stuff.)
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Old 11-28-2010, 05:20 AM   #41
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if aquarium depot is the best fw store on the east coast we are in trouble..
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:06 PM   #42
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It's definitely not what it used to be. I have to say that I am disappointed every time I go there.
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:21 PM   #43
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C'mon guys. It's not that bad. I was there about 3 weeks ago on a whim and they had 5 zebra Oto's for $15 a piece. They guy even held them for me just in case I could make it back through there the next day. I've seen some fairly decent fish in there that I have not seen at any other LFS and I've been to most of them in the area.
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Old 12-01-2010, 03:46 AM   #44
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whenever i go there they never have ottos and they don't keep fw bulbs in stock.

i will say i am glad to have it near me because it beats petco/smart but if you don't know what you want or what the right buy is for a pt, you are in trouble. I guess that can be said whenever you buy something though...

Last edited by wakewalking; 12-16-2010 at 05:44 AM..
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Old 01-15-2011, 05:56 PM   #45
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Im square in the middle of House of Tropicals, and Aquarium Depot. I usually pick aquarium depot, because of their plant selections, although in the past year its becoming more and more of a gamble as to their stock. When it gets down to it, Aquarium Depot is near the new Sonic. Which is delicious. Therefore, even if im disappointed by the store selection, at least I can be satisfied with a breakfeast burrito, and loaded tater tots
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