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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just like anyone who has a passion about something, I want to share what I know and love about fish with other people. Especially when they're standing in PetSmart talking about doing something with their tank that I know is a bad idea. It's particularly frustrating because I feel like if I don't say something, then the suffering of their fish is partly my fault. But I always struggle with what to say.

In general, people dislike unsolicited advice. It's easy to sound like a know-it-all or a snob. Even if they are interested, they may not have a whole lot of time to listen or may not remember much of what you tell them. And oftentimes people just want a fish tank, not a time- and wallet-consuming hobby.

How do you talk to others about fish and planted tanks without being annoying?
 

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I do work at a pet store so I have a good 'in' but when I'm looking at fish elsewhere if I see someone looking at, say, goldfish (which get enormous) I'll say something like 'oh my gosh those goldfish are so cute! I wish my tank was big enough for them! But I only have a ten gallon set up right now and I'd need at least 40 gallons for just a couple of those guys. And I really can't afford a new canister filter. I guess I'll have to stick with tiny fish. Did you see the red mouse platys? They look almost like goldfish but they'd be happier in my tank.' At that point, I find that a lot of people ask me questions. Plants are harder, but I'll do similar things. 'Oh man did you see that X plant? I wish I could afford the lighting it needs to grow!'
 

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Even about 50% of those who do ask you are really looking for a co-signer to their
way or their equipment.
But like stated above...I do see their more likely to evaluate the info if I make it apply
to my tank. That way they don't have room for thinking it's a doubt about them or their
equipment. Then they can evaluate the info alone instead of it applying personally.
 

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I only offer my thought's when they are asked for such as question's posted here.
My baby sister has several tanks and is alway's stopping by to get shrimp's.fish,or plant's from my tank's after her's die .
She hardly ever ask's for advice,and I don't offer it.
When she does ask, I try and describe my own past failures and what I learned from them .
 

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Tiny Plants, that's an awesome piece of advice cause lately I've gotten to the point where I just sigh and shake my head at the stuff I see. I'll try this approach and see how it goes.
It's worth noting that I am a tiny female that looks way younger than I am. I'm not sure that it would work as well from a great big burly guy unless he was careful about phrasing and enthusiasm. I can get away with enthusing over OH MY GOD CUTE like a tiny cheerleader.
I only offer my thought's when they are asked for such as question's posted here.
My baby sister has several tanks and is alway's stopping by to get shrimp's.fish,or plant's from my tank's after her's die .
She hardly ever ask's for advice,and I don't offer it.
When she does ask, I try and describe my own past failures and what I learned from them .
If she keeps killing stuff, I wouldn't let her take from my tank anymore.
 

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It's worth noting that I am a tiny female that looks way younger than I am. I'm not sure that it would work as well from a great big burly guy unless he was careful about phrasing and enthusiasm. I can get away with enthusing over OH MY GOD CUTE like a tiny cheerleader.


If she keeps killing stuff, I wouldn't let her take from my tank anymore.

Awww, I couldn't say no to baby sister,she appear's to be learning like I did,the hard way.
 

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It may hurt but I don't get involved. I have given advise before and people have done the opposite what I have said. I hate to see pets suffer but some people just won't listen or don't care.
 

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It's worth noting that I am a tiny female that looks way younger than I am. I'm not sure that it would work as well from a great big burly guy unless he was careful about phrasing and enthusiasm. I can get away with enthusing over OH MY GOD CUTE like a tiny cheerleader.
Great big burly guy??? surely you jest. lololol

My day-to-day job requires that i speak to many ppl and over the years, I believe I've gotten good at tempering my speech as well as my body language.

Off on a tangent here but what I dislike most are the LFS owners and sales persons who know better but will say anything to close a sale.
 

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Great big burly guy??? surely you jest. lololol

My day-to-day job requires that i speak to many ppl and over the years, I believe I've gotten good at tempering my speech as well as my body language.
I'm not sure what you look like, but I just wanted to say that for the sake of anyone who might be less initiated.
 

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If it affects your consciousness that much, it's better to get it off your chest rather than daunt on it and feel like you should have said something. The people might appreciate the advise or not head your advice, either way you are not in the wrong and at least you tried.
If they seem to not like having you talk to them, maybe just give them some space and don't stand over their shoulder inspecting what they are looking at, just to make them feel more at ease and you were just trying to help/offer advice rather than nosing into their business.

My LFS's usually have responsible salesmen/women and I've overheard some situations, one that comes to mind is a couple wanted to buy a young Oscar to keep in their 20 gallon, the employee informed them and refused to sell, then they asked about getting a comet goldfish for the 20G, but the employee refused to sell to them and the couple walked out. Glad the LFS turned them down, but shame that the couple might go to Petco or Petsmart to get the fish anyways. There was another instance where a lady wanted to get Denison barbs and rainbows for her 20 gallon TALL, no sale on that one either. I (not a fish store employee) have notice people showing interest in some fish and if I see them questioning to themselves about it, I mention the most need to know facts such as how big they get or if they are aggressive, etc...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Off on a tangent here but what I dislike most are the LFS owners and sales persons who know better but will say anything to close a sale.
YES. And ignorant employees. Very frustrating.

What prompted me to make this thread was an experience I had this week at Petsmart. I wanted to get some ghost shrimp, but they said they hadn't got any in. I asked if they had any nerites, they said they were out. Then one said they weren't sure about the nerites because they couldn't tell them apart from the apple snails. Then the other said you could tell them apart by the point on their shells. I remember telling him that a few months ago.

To double check, I went over to the invert tank. On first glance I saw four baby (less than 1/2") ghost shrimp and probably five olive nerites.

Me: Hey, look you guys have baby shrimp!
Employee: Baby shrimp? We only carry ghost shrimp.
Me: Yeah, there are baby ghost shrimp.
Employee: Where?
Me: See, right on top of that group of snails. Look at 'em, they're so tiny!
Employee: Oh, yeah, now I see. I wonder how that happened. We haven't had shrimp in for weeks.
Me: Well, shrimp carry eggs, but the babies hatch into miniature adults. If you had a female with eggs and they hatched, as long as there weren't any fish in the tank, then they would survive.
Employee: Huh.
Me: How much would four of them cost me?
Employee: *Points to price tag* They're 49 cents each.
Me: Full price, huh? Okay. (In the past this store has given away fry for free or a discount.)

After she netted out the shrimp, I pointed to the nerites.

Me: See those greenish snails there? And that one right there? I think those are nerites. *I point at the apple snails* See how these ones have stripes pointing towards the body? And these green ones only have streaks across the shell? I think that's another way you can tell them apart.
Employee: Oh. Well, to me, they're all just snails.
Me: Nerite snails are the best for eating algae. And they're great because they don't reproduce in freshwater so they won't take over your tank.
Employee: We haven't had an issue with the other snails breeding.
Me: Mystery snails lay their eggs above the waterline, so they're easy to control. But pond snails, ramshorns, and trumpet snails will completely overrun the tank.
Employee: Really? Wow.
Since this store has had a snail problem for years, I started to think she was just humoring me. So I wrapped it up and left. Afterwards I wondered if I sounded like a know-it-all. And thus, this thread.
 

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I don't think pet store employees care one way or the other if someone shares info, unless they are in a bad mood. Or bad people. I remember working at the pet store, people looved sharing their stories and info and I usually humored them if they were very passionate.

Sometimes for like 20 minutes. I didn't mind. 20 minutes is almost half an hour! I get paid to listen to people talk about pets.

What I don't like is pet store employees acting out of line. Like one time my family went to get a balloon molly because we love them and the young man at the fish dep. was trying to school us on why we shouldn't get one because "they only will live 2 weeks from being so deformed!"
My kids are very happy watching "Terntantor" the extra large female balloon molly we brought home that day 6 months ago.
I only wished I got the very pretty male harlequin balloon molly...

And that I told the manager...
I can see how some people don't like balloon mollies, but don't work at a pet store that sells them?
 

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Try being a teenager and getting people to listen, I see people buying goldfish and a bowl for their kids, i walk up to them and tell them about nitrogen cycles and how a bigger tank is better, i simplify it alot, but about half of the time people will make the right call and opt for a real tank and tetras, the other half i get people who look at me like i am crazy. I have been to stores where people try to sell you stuff, and stores where they actually tell you not to buy because they dont have alot, or the fish aren't healthy. Even one guy who i knew worked on commission quietly told me that their angelfish arent too healthy and to come back in a month or 2 after they sort out the issues. I try to let people know about things and some ignore me, i also have a baby sister like @roadmaster does and she has 5 goldfish in a 10 gallon, she does one water change every 3 months and I keep trying to convince her to get rid of them. My mom actually tells her to ignore me and she thinks i am insane for keeping my tank so clean. I talked to my sister and now she wants to do a shrimp tank, i told her that i could keep it clean for her and she was up for it, so my sister is one of those people that can be convinced if you just explain. In my experience, people will listen to you if you explain it to them politely and are patient, remember that they dont know any of this, so you cant act like a know it all.
 

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We have one decent LFS and a big box chain where the employees are complete dimwits. Very low quality fish, infested plants and a few salt tanks that are on permanent quarantine.
Sometimes I overhear complete bogus information...sometimes I remain silent and sometimes I completely butt in and try to keep the customer from getting hosed.
 

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I actually work for a big box pet store and I try and point people in the right direction with their fish tank and set them up to succeed with it and I enjoy doing that. A lot of them always want to cram as many fish as they can in a 10g but I usually discourage that idea with telling them that it cant be done without fish loss and that it requires more work (this actually changes their mind). Instead, I recommend a more realistic stock and point them towards a shoal of platies, or a few guppies. If I feel the fish,or with any animal, will end up in bad hands I always refuse the sale. However, you would be amazed how many customers that I tried helping refuse my advice and demand that they want 10 feeder comets in a 5 gallon tank. I actually remember one time I was working I had this young couple wanting to buy a 10 gallon starter kit. I was helping them along and I come to find out that they want to put goldfish in it. I tell them nicely that goldfish get big and require at least a 30g for two fancies with good filtration. I try to point them towards smaller tropical fish since they didnt want the 30g. Well I let them think it over and I noticed a guy, that I just bagged fish for, runs down the aisle they were in and I overheard him telling them I was wrong and that they can easily put two goldfish in a 10g no problem. This really ticked me off because everything I overheard was complete garbage and falsehood. I went back to the couple after the guy left and had to go back over everything and tell them that customer had no clue what he was doing.

I remember I was in a Petco once and overheard some really bad advice regarding those blue lobsters. The customer asked if he could put one of those lobsters in his community tank and the petco employee said, "Sure, he can live within your community tank". I should have told that customer that I witnessed one of those lobsters grab a black skirt tetra and tried eating it at a lfs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sorry, KundofoX, I wasn't trying to knock your profession. Knowledgeable employees are heavenly. I love running into someone who can teach me something or help me decide which product to get or at least relate when I talk about my tank. But I honestly can't remember meeting someone working at a store who knew that much. The most knowledgeable employees I've met knew only the basics - the nitrogen cycle, no goldfish in bowls, inch per gallon, plants need root tabs, etc. I haven't met anyone who knew anything about topics that I needed help with at the time.

Granted, I tend to research obsessively, so I end up needing help with obscure parts of the hobby. Once, after a particularly intense night of research, I went to Petsmart and asked for a fish by its species name. They just looked at me. It took me a minute to remember the common name. I was like, "Oh, right, I'm not on the internet anymore. What do normal people call this fish?" :hihi: :help:
 
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