Salty Q&A: Highly Rated LFS Falls Short

Caribbean Chris and I get lots of excellent, thought-provoking questions from Saltwater Smarts visitors that we believe might be of general interest to other salties out there. So we thought it would be worthwhile to begin posting some of them here in Q&A format. Of course, you’re always welcome to join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comment section below or sending us your question.Question I was visiting an LFS in another part of the country while on a business trip. The store is highly rated on various social media sites, and I was impressed by the diversity and apparent health of the livestock in the first 10 or so display tanks that I viewed. Then, in the course of viewing the next 10 tanks, I saw three tanks that had at least one livestock specimen dead or clearly diseased in the tank (with other, apparently healthy livestock still in the tank). As a newbie, should this be a huge red flag for me that a store like this is not a great source of healthy fish?” – submitted by Robert Bruce Answer Thanks so much for your question, Robert. I think the situation you observed may be a red flag, which is why I list “healthy livestock” among my “Eight Traits of a Good LFS.” As I see it, the apparent health/physical condition of specimens offered for sale says a lot about a dealer’s level of concern not only for the well-being of the livestock, but also for customers’ future success.

Some Subtle Signs that a Fish is Sick

I’ve kept multiple copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) in my reef over the yearsMost marine aquarium hobbyists learn quickly to identify common warning signs of ill health in fish—white spots, excessive mucus production, bulging eyes, frayed fins, etc. But sometimes ailing fish exhibit much more subtle symptoms that are evident only to someone with powers of observation honed by many decades of experience. In the following excerpt from his book The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist: A 60-Year History of Fishkeeping, hobby pioneer Paul “Paul B” Baldassano demonstrates how things with fish aren’t always what they seem:A copperband conundrum Recently, I was in a large LFS in New York. My mother-in-law is in a nursing home nearby, so I go there often. This store is very old, and I even helped start their saltwater tanks in the early 70s. They had a tank of about five copperband butterflies, and they were kind of cheap—like $20.00, which is a great price for copperbands.