Aquaforest for plant/ADA stuff - must see. GREAT selection of superb/rare plants. Also, it's across the street from the Japantown center.
Ocean Aquarium for rare fish - another must see. Ocean is a hole in the wall type of place (aka "fire trap") but the fish are wonderful. Just have Justin show you around and point out all the incredible stuff he has. Discount for cash. Ocean is located in an alley (cedar street) between Van Ness and Polk.
Aquaforest for high tech stuff, ie ADA stuff, CO2, etc., lots of nice planted display tanks.
Ocean for the same plants under low tech environment, how plants can be grown with 2wpg of 3500k screw on compact fluorescent lights. And he has 30+ tanks for prove his point. hence the pleasant surprise.
If you want nasty surprise, go to 6th Avenue aquarium on Clement.
Albany is about 30 minutes outside the city, in the east bay.
In fact, I may have to take a trip to S.F. soon as I've only been to aquaforest once (GREAT store) and never been to Ocean that I can remember.
Yeah, 6th Ave isn't great. I wouldn't make a special trip for it, but might check it out if I'm nearby. Nippon was cool though, if you wanted basic equipment and fish, plants. Nice big, two story store. Too bad it went out of business.
Also, if you're ever in Santa Rosa (a little over an hour North of S.F. on Hwy 101), check out Ceasar's Tropical Fish....it's a pretty cool store. Not much in the way of plants either, but they have some cool display tanks and a nice selection of fresh, saltwater and inverts (not sure about fw shrimp though). Prices aren't too bad either.
Thanks for the suggestions, I went to both Ocean and Aqua Forest. As a hobbiest, I enjoyed both. As a retailer and service company owner, I believe Aqua Forest will inspire more people into the hobby. It was very clean and organized. George was very friendly and helpful. His store more closely matches what I'm trying to do. Ocean Aquarium was like walking into someone's basement fishroom. It was dirty and unorganized and not inspiring to new hobbiests. But I loved his fish. He had lots of fish that would work well in planted tanks and he was also developing some of his own guppy strains. His prices were a bit high by Michigan standards, but I never fault anyone for that. If I lived in SF I would frequent both places.