Hot Tips: Tips on Livestock and Hardware Purchasing

A selection of useful tidbits of information and tricks for the marine aquarist submitted by Advanced Aquarist’s readership. Readers are encouraged to post them to our Hot Tips sticky in the General Reefkeeping Discussion forum or send their tips to for possible publication. This month’s Hot Tip theme is “Tips for on growing or making your own tank food.”


Hot Tips: Tips on Livestock and Hardware Purchases

If you can, get to know your LFS to the point where you can get your fish directly when they come in from the wholeseller, right out of the bag. Often times, the fish at this point are very healthy even with the shipping. Usually, its after being in the LFS system for even just a day that they get exposed to parasites, diseases, and stressful conditions that they werent before. Many LFS’s maintain poor water quality in comparison to where they get their fish from. As a side benefit, getting to know the LFS like this often results in discounts on the fish as well because they know the fish will not take up room in their display space, or sit around long enough to get sick or die. Its icing on the cake for them, so the incentive is for them to make their markup minimal.

That being said, these days, the more reputable online sellers are actually great places to get live fish and inverts from, even in comparison to LFS’s. The lack of being able to see exactly what you are getting isnt so bad anymore… many places post exact pictures of what you are buying (or will send you one via email which is a great thing to do), so you dont have to wait and see.


Other than that, always use a Credit Card for online/shipped purchases. This way, if the service from where you buy doesnt take care of broken goods or lost items… your credit card company can. Oh, and JOIN A LOCAL CLUB! Being part of a club grants you access to an infinite number of ways to get your livestock and equipment cheaper.

Submitted by: wetworx101

For equipment that is not emergency I like to mail order. You can get better prices even considering shipping.

Heavy stuff like salt I buy local. Once shipping is thrown in it is not that much cheaper to mail order.

Fish I like to buy at the LFS. I have yet to get to the point where I can buy a fish with out first looking at it, watching it swim, eat, etc.

Corals I like to buy from other local hobbiest. If that does not work out I hit the LFS. This is because I only buy one or two at a time. If Iwas going to buy lots I would mail order.

Snails I like to get in bult from mail order places if I can pool an order with others. f not I get them a few at a time as needed from the LFS.

Submitted by: Wazzel


I purchase most of my dry goods online simply because of the price differential. I understand brick and mortars have higher overhead, and I totally sympathize with their need to stay profitable. But the price difference is usually too much for me to ignore. I will patronize LFS for drygoods that aren’t much more expensive or if I’m in a hurry.

I buy my livestock from both LFS and online. I prefer to buy what I can inspect in person, but the online marketplace provides a wider selection then any LFS can provide.

Submitted by: Len

I generally buy my dry goods online because even though I live in an area that has lots of LFS, the LFS don’t seem to stock much of what I want to buy. So, instead of driving to multiple stores hoping they have what I am looking for, I am more likely to go online and order everything from one place and have it delivered to my door. I do buy frozen food at the LFS.

I try not to buy much livestock at all anymore, preferring to trade livestock with other hobbyists.

Submitted by: Thales

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