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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently bought 16 cardinals from petsmart. They looked pretty healthy and had survived in their tank for a week or two.

I brought them home to my 54 gallon and things initially looked good; i.e., by their schooling and swimming in the open they seemed to have acclimated. (On previous occasions poorly acclimated cards seemed to find a corner and hide on me.) Five days later 13 are dead and one more appears marked for death. The precursor to dying seems to be a disappearing caudal fin.

My tank recently cycled and has 0 ammonia and nitrites. It is heavily planted as well. While petsmart uses harder municipal water, mine is about 5 kh. Like I said, though, they seemed to do great initially.

The question is, then, should I go to liveaquaria for cardinals and expect better luck or would there be trouble within my tank? BTW, ottos and corys from petsmart are doing great and I know ottos can be pretty sensitive.

Thanks for your advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I know, I know. It's just that I live in the sticks. The closest decent lfs isn't very local...about 45 min away. And if they don't have it I need to travel about another hour....It stinks.
 

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Neon tetra are sensitive to sudden changes in water conditions. I don't keep cardinals, but I hear they're reputed to be even more sensitive. Loss of the caudal fin may be a symptom of opportunistic disease caused by stress.

Years ago when I was new to the hobby and had only a non-planted, non-salted tank, I found that neon tetra from PetCo had good survival rates, but neons from PetSmart tended to die.

Later I started adding salt, and the situation reversed - PetCo neons died, PetSmart neons survived.

I asked both stores about their water conditions, and found that my local PetSmart used salt, PetCo didn't. So, neons from the stores with water conditions most similar to mine did best.

Nowadays I use a slow drip acclimation method for neons, otos, and other fish known to be fragile, and saw improved survival regardless of source; but I still prefer to buy from stores with similar tank conditions when possible.

Consider also that transferring these fish to your tank is the second shock these fish receive - the first is shipping and transfer to the pet store's tank. Phone the store and ask when their current fish were received, and when the next shipment will be. Visit at least a few days (preferably a week) after they received the fish, but before the next shipment. Many of the weakest fish will have already died, or show visible signs of stress. Assuming they still have a good selection, you then pick from the healthiest.

As I said, I don't keep cardinals, so I don't know what optimal tank conditions are; but since sudden changes are probably more critical than static conditions, perhaps this info will help you make the most of your available options.
 

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Cardinals are a lot hardier than neons.

Neon tetra are sensitive to sudden changes in water conditions. I don't keep cardinals, but I hear they're reputed to be even more sensitive. Loss of the caudal fin may be a symptom of opportunistic disease caused by stress.

Years ago when I was new to the hobby and had only a non-planted, non-salted tank, I found that neon tetra from PetCo had good survival rates, but neons from PetSmart tended to die.

Later I started adding salt, and the situation reversed - PetCo neons died, PetSmart neons survived.

I asked both stores about their water conditions, and found that my local PetSmart used salt, PetCo didn't. So, neons from the stores with water conditions most similar to mine did best.

Nowadays I use a slow drip acclimation method for neons, otos, and other fish known to be fragile, and saw improved survival regardless of source; but I still prefer to buy from stores with similar tank conditions when possible.

Consider also that transferring these fish to your tank is the second shock these fish receive - the first is shipping and transfer to the pet store's tank. Phone the store and ask when their current fish were received, and when the next shipment will be. Visit at least a few days (preferably a week) after they received the fish, but before the next shipment. Many of the weakest fish will have already died, or show visible signs of stress. Assuming they still have a good selection, you then pick from the healthiest.

As I said, I don't keep cardinals, so I don't know what optimal tank conditions are; but since sudden changes are probably more critical than static conditions, perhaps this info will help you make the most of your available options.
 

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My Cardinals live in liquid rock water just fine. I do keep my tanks in the low 80s, however, which definitely helps keep them healthy. Temperature drops and ammonia spikes will weaken and kill them off very quickly. The secret is getting good stock, acclimate them slowly, and QT them for a minimum of 2 weeks (I do 4).

Look for fish that are plump (you should be able to see their bellies filled out underneath the red stripe), fins intact, eyes are clear, color is good, and no marks/spots/discolorations anywhere on their bodies. If mail ordering, get them only from a reputable source. I've never ordered from LiveAquaria, but I've heard they have a good rep, and the extra cost is often worth it to get healthy fish right up front, and have a guarantee for any losses.

I think you got bad stock, and I'd keep a VERY close eye on the rest of the fish in your tank since you didn't QT them first.
 

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Once you have a good LFS - be patient. Don't buy them as soon as they come in. Let them settle in the store for a while. I know they can get bought out - but it pays off in the long run to get fish that have had time to acclimate and settle in. Any that are going to drop due to the stresses of shipping, etc., will have all ready dropped. You'll have better luck in the end.

What I do is see what came in during the week on weekend #1, then on weekend #2 if they're still there and healthy, etc., that's when I would make a purchase.
 

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I know sometimes its hard to pass up a fish that you really want. But if there not looking good or you have some doubts about there quality, then you just have to bite the upper lip and walk away. I don't buy livestock from petsmart, petco etc and probably never will even though I feel bad for the fish. Although SOME of the specific stores of the chain do take some good care of the department. I would suggest trying to join a local fish society and buy from local breeders/wholesalers, they tend to know wth there doing. Maybe that would explain why I don't find the reason to QT, unless wild caught. I acclimate all my fish with drip (drip per second) method for about an hour or longer. The bag float is a joke if you ask me.

Then again, as soon as i see a fish not acting right, I turn it into to food. Unless it has some serious looking disease of the sort. The way the world turns.
 

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I think it's unfair to genarally write off all Petsmart/Petcos. It's a crap shoot. I generally have good experiences with the cardinals from one Petsmart that is really close to me. I think it's a combination of same water conditions and the employees at that store actually knowing what they are doing. On the opposite, I've had cardinals from LFS that drop like flies after a few days despite drip acclimation.

I've purchased fish from what are supposed to be reliable LFS that introduced bacterial infections. Again, on the other hand, I have never brought in any diseases from this one Petsmart...not even ich. All my rasboras and otos are currently from this Petsmart and I've had some for over a year now. It's a hobby of patience and trial and error.

If there are any issues (water quality or disease), my cardinals are the first to die regardless of the source and usually get pretty much wiped out.
 

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As rasetsu posted, it's a crap shoot. Not all PetSmartCo fish die, and not all LFS fish live. Heck, I get half my fish from WalMart! Your best bet is to have a temporary tank, salted (maybe even lightly medicated) and keep all your new fish in there for a week or two. It's the best way I've found to keep your new fish from infecting your existing tank.
 

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I geuss it kinda relies on the employees with the chain pet stores. They seem to allways hire some people who dont know their elbow from their..... well you know. Other times they have a solid crew of people who can keep constant healthy tanks.

As long as im not getting fish with illnesses, I will allways support the locally owned fish store. Plus they are willing to take in my extra fish and find me some rare ones if needed :)
 

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If you don't mind me asking. What's wrong with buying a fish in a chain petstore?
It's simple. People like to blame others for everything that goes wrong in their lives and since the chain stores sell the most fish it only makes sense that they are the blame for everything that goes wrong in our tanks. If a fish dies is "MUST" be the store's fault. Ignorance and/or lack of experience is "NEVER" the cause.
 

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Heck If you quarantine it really shouldn't matter where you get them. I bought my son 5 Columbian and 5 Red eyes from Walmart over a year ago. They are still healthy. Bought a couple of rams from the "best" LFS in my area and they died in 2 days. Got my money back went to a lesser know LFS and in 3 weeks time they are laying eggs. It just depends on how lazy the person in charge is.
 

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i think people tend to forget that some fish go through quite a journey before they make it to your lfs. some have to be collected, held, packaged, shipped to a transhipper, go through a wholesaler, transported to your lfs, etc. any number of factors during their journey can affect their survival. this is why you might have bad fish at your best store and good fish at places you felt are not well kept. i think people have good results with small lfs is because of the relationship you build with them. i know when i go into the store, the owner with either steer me away or give me a thumbs up on shipments of sensitive fish depending on how many losses he's seeing. they want your repeat business and the lively of the store depends on it. that kind of service is harder (but not impossible) to get at larger stores. personally, i love petsmart :proud: and that's generally where i purchase all my otos from. i've talked with quite a few reputable (and highly regarded) fish stores in the area, and they shy away from keeping otos because of the low price point and high mortality rates.
 

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It's simple. People like to blame others for everything that goes wrong in their lives and since the chain stores sell the most fish it only makes sense that they are the blame for everything that goes wrong in our tanks. If a fish dies is "MUST" be the store's fault. Ignorance and/or lack of experience is "NEVER" the cause.
not always bud.... we do have fair amount of blame, specially @ da beginning. but not when you know what u doin (general idea), and you've alreay keept same type of fish for years. Some of these pet shop and LFS are just really crap when comes to takin care of their fish. they buy cheap fish for over seas vendor by bulk, and trys to push them out da door soon as someone walks in. my LFS last Saturday, got her eyes lit up, when I went in to get a pair of Rams, and despite them having ich on them, she was telling me it's just the weather change and all they need is a heather on for a day or two... perhaps, buy they should treat/heal da fish before tryn selling them to their customers!
 

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Heck If you quarantine it really shouldn't matter where you get them. I bought my son 5 Columbian and 5 Red eyes from Walmart over a year ago. They are still healthy. Bought a couple of rams from the "best" LFS in my area and they died in 2 days. Got my money back went to a lesser know LFS and in 3 weeks time they are laying eggs. It just depends on how lazy the person in charge is.
agree... there're are no good or bad store by name/chain. unless, u got same guy runnin one place for a while, and u know their fish is good. it boils down to who's runnin da place, and how much he/she really cares for the fish they keeping/selling... most of us are too impatient to wait few weeks once new batch of fish comes in. that's da only way to find out if the fish are good or not, after that it's all up to u either they live or die. :icon_bigg
 

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I agree with you, HOWEVER i'm trying to say that most major pet retail stores hire kids who get minimum wage and don't do the right thing at the store and that is where lower quality animals come from... As a general rule though a decent LFS will hire people who are in the hobby...


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