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We all know hat feeling when you walk into your favourite local fish store. That sense of wonder and excitement at what you might find. The buzz you have when you have previously ordered in something special and you have had the call to say it's arrived. I remember the excitement when I was young and my dad would take me to the fish stores in Edinburgh. Would run ahead desperate to see the big oscars.
When I was first starting out, I often relied 100% on the advice the guys would give me. Sometimes I would crack up when I wanted the yellow lab malawis to go in with my kribensis and they refused to sell me any. Later on in life I respected these guys for refusing a sale for the benefit of the fish.
Back then we didn't have the Internet and fish keeping was very much an 'in person' hobby. We had fish clubs with regular meetings and auctions etc, special events and speakers and so on. This was the backbone of the hobby. Without these dedicated hobbyists along with the hard working fish store owners, we would never have the healthy network of breeders within the uk that we have today.
So much has changed over the last 15 years. We now have instant access to almost any species in the world, delivered to your door within days. We can purchase any piece of equipment and follow instructions to build anything from sumps to custom automatic top up systems. We don't have to travel to fish stores at the weekend for new fish, we don't even need to wait till the monthly club meeting to share our breeding successes. We can do all this on Facebook.
Don't get me wrong, I Think the Internet does have benefits to the hobby. There are some really exotic fish that we can obtain now which allows us to try our hand at any fish we want. However, the downside to this I believe is that a lot of beginners that want a go at a specialist fish can do so without any good solid advice. Online retailers cannot gauge the buyers experience or knowledge prior to selling the fish so he can they have fishes interests at heart? This is something that a good fish store champions well. If a sales person refuses a sale based on the benefit of the fish then they will always have my respect all day long.
Unfortunately due to "progress" we are loosing these real treasures of the hobby. We are slowly giving way to convenience over quality and care. Now I personally don't see anything wrong with fish keepers selling fish to each other. Neither is it wrong to seek advice from fellow hobbyists.
Local fish stores can and often do order in specialist equipment for customers. Good stores have access to a vast network of suppliers and will happily use it to help source almost anything you need.
Its time to get to know your fish store again. Get on first name terms with the staff, call ahead and make sure the kettles on for your arrival. We need them as much as they need us.
I know this is an old post but i feel its even more relative to our group today than ever.
thanks for reading
Bye for now