Retirement and forum shutdown (17 Jan 2022)


John Howell who has managed the forum for years is getting on and wishes to retire from the role of managing it.
Over the years, he has managed the forum through good days and bad days and he has always been fair.
He has managed to bring his passion for fish keeping to the forum and keep it going for so long.

I wish to thank John for his hard work in keeping the forum going.

With John wishing to "retire" from the role of managing the forum and the forum receiving very little traffic, I think we must agree that forum has come to a natural conclusion and it's time to put it to rest.

I am proposing that the forum be made read-only from March 2022 onwards and that no new users or content be created. The website is still registered for several more years, so the content will still be accessible but no new topics or replies will be allowed.

If there is interest from the ITFS or other fish keeping clubs, we may redirect traffic to them or to a Facebook group but will not actively manage it.

I'd like to thank everyone over the years who helped with forum, posted a reply, started a new topic, ask a question and helped a newbie in fish keeping. And thank you to the sponsors who helped us along the away. Hopefully it made the hobby stronger.

I'd especially like to thank John Howell and Valerie Rousseau for all of their contributions, without them the forum would have never been has successful.

Thank you
Darragh Sherwin

Does anyone buy Tropical fish in shops any more.....?

08 Nov 2016 12:48 #1 by ipcompto (Ian Compton)
Hello guys how are you all doing.

Just a thought but has everyone given up shopping in shops anymore?

Most of the independents have now closed bar my self and Seahorse...........chain stores etc in my opinion are a cancer to the hobby, skimming it not promoting it......

Facebook....adverts....donedeal is this the reality?

This is the new hobby?

Just a thought i think Aquatics in Ireland is looking shaky at best a big wholesaler in Dublin went bust recently and i know for sure a whole lot of stores are in trouble just talking to the trade suppliers....

look at this forum for instance where is the interest gone.....the internet will kill everything off nobody goes out any more....what about the joys of poking around looking at new fish species for example.......

And please no tirades about pricing taking into consideration nearly a quarter of the price is more government revenue there is noting shops can do about that.....

Hopefully this topic will give you a chance to voice your opinions.....we need to be constructive about this before there are only garden centres left employing kids to sell crap.......which i am sure many of you do not approve of....

Well anyway have a nice day hope your all keeping well......

Have a nice day....


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08 Nov 2016 13:28 #2 by Dihanio (Paulie Hanlon)
Personally, I prefer looking in shops, like you say, to see and learn about new species. I prefer to ask an assistant about their experiences on keeping said fish and any quirks they might have, or are they compatible with what I already keep.

In saying that, if I see someone on the forum selling something I'd like to keep, I'm going to take advantage.

I see people of adverts and facebook hoovering up fish at an extremely low price and selling them on for profit and that annoys me no end. I also see there, people keeping fish that shouldn't be kept together, whether they know that or not is a different story, for another day but fear of being told they're doing something wrong might scare people away from shops (Granted, they need to be told)

I haven't been out to Aquatic Village for months, not because I didn't receive the best of service, but because I live in Clondalkin and the lads in Seahorse and Gav in Newlands look after me as well as you guys have in the past.

I suppose, that doesn't answer your question too much, cos I see your point but from my own end, I'll keep buying in shops, cos I know what I'm getting. Quality fish, service, expertise and advice whenever I need it.

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08 Nov 2016 15:12 #3 by Jonlate (Jon Late)
Interesting seeing this from the supppliers point of view.

When it comes to dry goods, food, water care, maintance stuff, pumps, heaters etc. I think most people are shopping online, as you said, adverts and donedeal.
With companies such as parcel motel, Anpost new parcel thing, postage cost are so much lower than they ever used to be, from both the uk or further. Of course this helps Amazon, eBay etc.
After all, people think, a pump is a pump, seahorse sell the same one as Amazon does, aquatic village sells the same food this shop in the uk, and I don't need to leave the house, it comes to me.
Yes, I fall into this category. Sorry?

But......live things, fish, corals, invertebrates, shops win hands down.
To have the choice of variety is great.
To see a tank full of fish and being able chose out all them, the one you want, is great.
To see a tank of coral and saying 'I want that one please' then that's a nice feeling.

And I understand that the losses on fish are greater than the losses of food, after all food doesn't die! Thinking about it, the peceived extra cost on dry goods has to offsets some of those fish losses, and making sure the ones we do buy are healthy and will live.
But do I, think about that when I see something cheap on the internet? Sadly no. I just see that it's cheaper.

What I then expect is you, the local supplier, still to be there when I want to buy a new fish or want advice on a fish I want to buy.

It's true, that hardly seems fair.

So, what's the answer?
Yes I do buy fish from shops. I know what they are, that they are healthy, and there is a good choice. I will always (mostly) buy fish from a shop.
Do I buy dry goods from shops? Not as much as you would like me to.
Will I buy corals from a shop? Yes and no. If I see a nice one then yes I will, regardless of price. The shop is easier to find and open.
Yet if there is also very cheap ones on adverts, donedeal, etc. then that may win me over. The down side, there is often a lot of travel and can only be picked up at certain times.

So unless they are very local, it would have been cheaper to buy them in the shop.

This is just my view and how I feel, and so hope it helps you Ian to understand the customer more.

Now I very carefully push the "submit" button and retire back to google!

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08 Nov 2016 16:29 #4 by robert (robert carter)
Hi Ian , certainly a tricky issue , i fall into the scene where i buy about 50% of my dry goods on line , the medications i tend to buy in shops as its so often information and advise i am looking for . As for fish these either come from forum members or shops as its quality i am looking for , and maybe something a little different . I have often popped into you when i was passing even it it was only for a chat (still waiting on the coffee ). Overall i think that the hobby is getting less popular , you only have to look at the adds to see the amount of tanks that are for sale . Finnally i think people think fishkeeping is a cheap hobby ,well as we all no its not ,and the cost are ongoing . Robert

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08 Nov 2016 16:38 #5 by robert (robert carter)
As of now there are 324 fish tanks for sale on done deal so as i said in my post ,reckon the hobby is becomming less popular

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09 Nov 2016 11:19 #6 by wildlifebiology93 (Sean O'Sullivan)
Hey Ian.
I for one am guilty of embracing the online shopping trend when it comes to purchasing equipment and fish for my tanks.
In my neck of the woods I have only two options, a chain store pet shop and a small locally owned pet store.
Out of principle I will not shop in the chain store for a few reasons.
I used try to buy as much as I could for my hobby in the locally owned shop but prices kept rising and my income started shrinking so it got to the stage where something had to give and I began shopping online.
This was not to save a few euros ,the savings on purchases have been up to 60 percent at times from the LFS selling price's.
Regarding my buying of fish online, my reasons for going this route is the fact that the people I have bought from have similar interests to my own and could provide me a detailed history of the fish.This was something I never experienced in any of my LFS.
I have never visited your establishment but intend to do so in the near future.
The fish keepers in Dublin have a few options open to them when they are in the market for stuff and there are a few good shops within a stone throw of them which they are lucky to have.
This is not the case for me.If I manage to get the opportunity to travel to Dublin it takes weeks of planning due to my personal circumstances.
I try to find out in advance if the shops have what I am after through phone calls,emails or Facebook but it frustrating when you contact a store through any of the above methods and your calls are not returned or messages do not receive a reply.
I have had one experience when I was assured over the phone that the item I was looking for was in stock only to make my way to Dublin to find out that it had not been in stock for a while.
I do think that people should try and spend as much as they can locally in local owned shops to keep the hobby alive and well at a local level but that sometimes proves easier to say then do.
I dont think interest is waning in the hobby.I think the lack of activity on the forum could be put down to the teething problems the site suffered due to the recent upgrades but it seems that the gremlins have been sorted out and the forum has seemed to be a lot more stable in the past few weeks.
You would know better then me if the interest was declining in the hobby due to the level of your sales in your shop.The question you asked initially and the answers provided by the forum members would help provide an insight into whether this is true...
Are people losing interest in the hobby or are people doing most of their spending online and not in the lfs which would give the impression of a decline in interest in the hobby?

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09 Nov 2016 11:25 #7 by Bill (Bill Hunter)
Personally, I would much prefer to buy my fish from a shop. However, I seldom do.
Firstly, my lfs stocks nice healthy fish but never the types that I want. As it is actually a general pet shop that is understandable, so I buy occasional things, accessories etc., that catch my eye at the time; I'm often in that pet shop for items for my other animals.
On occasions I will journey to Dublin to look for fish that I want. But that causes problems. I'm disabled so rely on my wife being able to take me to Dublin and as she works that means it happens seldom, but I'm grateful. It's more than an hour to drive and this is where the real frustration sets in. We organise a trip to Dublin with 5 kids in tow only to find that the shop being visited doesn't have the fish in stock that was stated on their website. In fact they still, today, list fish on their websites that they haven't had in stock since at least last March! In my opinion, the website should be treated as a shop window. You wouldn't put something in your shop window with a price on it then tell the customer you don't sell it or have it in stock. Now your answer to that could be; why not get in touch before traveling? Well that doesn't work either. I've emailed what sort of fish I'm looking for, I've emailed asking if a particular fish can be ordered in, but the result is, no reply, not even an acknowledgement.
I think an increased amount of people will buy their fish from the UK - with Parcel Wizard and Parcel Motel etc. it is fast enough - simply because that is where the fish are. How this will change after Brexit I've no idea. There are two groups of people that buy fish. One is the person that wants a piece of furniture that is different, colourful and alive. The other is the breeder that builds a fish room or fish shed and specialises in keeping and breeding a particular type. Unless you breed Guppies, Platys, Cichlids you can't buy what you need/want. Just bread-and-butter fish. As an example take Bettas. I know of and talk with at least 5 people who are breeders of Betta and Gourami but we have to buy our fish from the UK because Aquarist shops here just won't stock them, it's the same with all anabantoids. In the 60s and 70s you got fighters in various colours, the colours were relatively few. The variety of finnage was few, that's all changed. We have not only a bigger variety of colour and fins but a relatively huge number of species, yet they can't be bought here.
Not to single you out but as an example. You Have a section for "Bettas" alone, but when the page is opened it's just a few colourful fighters! Gourami; you have 12 Gourami, 4 are varieties of Dwarf Gourami and two are varieties of three-spot Gourami none of them are the pure species.
I often hear about how important it is to support local business etc and not have them closing down. I totally agree with it. But I also strongly agree with local business supporting their customers. Sadly this doesn't happen any more. For people to come into and stay in the hobby it needs to be a two-way street. Breeders sometimes need to sell excess stock to shops. But what the shops offer is, quite frankly, an insult. I've bought fish from a shop and paid £20 for a pair, taken a load of youngsters back to exchange for credit or cash and been offered £1 per fish then seen those same fish priced in the shop at £20 per pair! Considering that those fish got to the shop with free shipping and no VAT etc. etc. it's a bit of a liberty. If the customer can't get a wee bit of sensible return for his excess stock then they soon leave the hobby.
IMPORTANT point. The paragraph regarding buying and selling fish at retailers is not aimed at Aquatic Village, I have never offered them fish for sale, my experiences are built on other shops. Perhaps Aquatic Village offers it's customers a reasonable payment.
Sorry for going on a bit, but that is the reason I seldom buy from Aquarist shops.
I'd like to see the shops work more with the breeder then that way the price of fish can drop and more people will buy them. Fish keeping is quite a small community in Ireland but I'm quite sure that local shops could buy a good selection of fish from local breeders and not have to ship so much of their stock in from overseas.

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10 Nov 2016 11:39 #8 by JohnH (John)
A most valid question, Ian - plus some interesting responses.
I guess that - in trying to look at it dispassionately - it's a hard question to find a reasonable solution to.
People do buy livestock online, I grant you - some to merely save money off sites like donedeal and adverts.ie, but others to get specific fish species, often unobtainable in this country.
But...I think there are unanswered questions to be addressed for the latter group.
So far no retailer has tried to explain that to get a pair (for instance) of 'non-run-of-the-mill' fish, their supplier(s) generally insist upon a minimum order quantity of 10 fish (often more) and - even then quite often what turns up aren't five (or ten) pairs, but whatever ends up in the bag.
So, I could - for instance - order two pairs of Bettas, the retailer has to buy 20, for which there would be very little interest in the remainder. It's plain to see the reluctance on behalf of the seller (which I, personally, understand).
On top of which are the dreaded rent and rates, electricity costs - not to mention VAT.
On the subject of VAT, many (if not most) of those people who sell surplus fish and plants on the afore-mentioned trading sites do not pay any sort of revenue on their sales.
In the present (recovering???) financial climate Fishkeeping is still not to the fore of most people's minds, would that it could be so. I'm old enough to remember an earlier recession (when I lived in England) and the hobby took a long while to get back on its feet then and I fear the same might well happen this time around.
So, fair play to you Ian, and the other retail outlets, for successfully keeping your heads above the proverbial waterline (terrible pun, sorry).

I write this, not with my Forum Administrator's hat on - but as just plain old JohnH (Forum member).


N. Tipp

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl - year after year.

ITFS member.

It's a long way to Tipperary.

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10 Nov 2016 18:29 #9 by Bill (Bill Hunter)
I think I probably agree with the majority of what you say, John. I fully understand the buying in of specialised fish and the accompanying difficulties and problems - my wife had a pet shop which she had to give up in order to be my carer, although it was just the bread-and-butter fish - But lets look again at that fish scenario. A few people on here are aware that if I'm looking for a fish species the first thing I do is contact everyone I know who has an interest in that type of fish to find out if they would like to share the purchase of them. So if a batch of 20 fish have to be bought if I want to buy Betta coccina, then twenty fish can easily be purchased among 4 or 5 people. I don't know any breeder that would purchase less than two pairs. I would never expect a shop to buy in 20 fish so I alone could buy a couple of pair, it doesn't make economic sense. As for the unbalanced sex mix, we all know that it happens, sometimes, and we accept that, but I don't think it really happens that often. All that aside, my main grievance is this. I wrote an email asking a shop if they could get me some Parosphromenus. No reply, not even an acknowledgement of my request. Is there really any reason that I should patronise that shop? It is today's equivalent of walking into a shop and asking for a pair of guppies or something and the shop owner turns his back on you and ignores you. VAT, electricity, rent and rates etc. really is no excuse, every business has that. I'm not grumbling the cost of fish, but it's a case of setting the price for fish and keeping it realistic, especially when dealing with breeders.
There are lots of serious breeders on this forum of one sort or another and probably more who just like to have a nice tank. I would much rather support a shop that supports their customers.
What do I mean? well, how about the shops work with us? Lets say I buy a pair of Betta from a shop for €20.00 or so and eventually I breed them. I might have a batch of 30 or 40 youngsters for sale. I contact the fish shop and ask if they want to buy them so they offer me €1.00 per fish! OK that's fine, I've got €30 or €40 either in my pocket or as credit (personally I'd prefer credit :) ). But it galls me to then see my fish for sale at €20.00 a mark-up of 2,000%. I'd rather give them away to people. The shop always argues, "but I've got overheads, feeding them, heating them, electric for the shop, rent, rates etc.". Well the news is, my mortgage isn't free, neither is my electric or feeding of the fish. I'm not looking to make money and a living from it, it's my hobby, but like every hobby it costs money and we need to subsidise it these days. So to be honest, I'd rather the shop paid me €1 for the fish and sold them at €10.00 that way something magical can happen. The shop ends up with a mark-up of 1,000% and sells fish cheaper to other customers and therefore the shop gets a reputation for being reasonably priced. More people come into the hobby. More sales.
As it stands, I'm guilty of damaging aquarium shops business because if people know that they can get their fish from me for a couple of euro or in most cases free, where are they going to spend their money.
Can we work together? After all, I've got to buy my food and equipment from somewhere. Remember, breeders are always going to be spending a lot more than they get back in credit/cash, we don't really want to make a profit.
There is always going to be a need for shops to import fish from mainland Europe, Asia and the Americas, but I fail to see why shops can't recognise that there is a ready supply of some fish here in Ireland, not a lot, but enough to keep some overheads and costs down. Over the coming months I could supply a shop with youngsters of 6 different species of fish and I'm only just starting up again the last 6 months, with only 10 of my 30 tanks in use. I'm only 1 person. There is many more out there that could supply much more than me. Surely if we have to support local, then shops should support local.
I suppose it could all be summarised as:

Answer emails.
Keep websites updated, if it's too much work, close them.
Respond to customers.
Work with your customers.
Give them a reason to call in.


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10 Nov 2016 20:10 #10 by robert (robert carter)
Hi all , very valid points raised here , it seems many bussinesses just dont answer phones or emails , i run my own company and ALWAYS answer the phone or at least ring back , ok some of the calls and emails i am not interested in getting envolved with , but the next time they call or email in may be a job i am interested in . Have just resently parted company with the motor factors i have been dealing with for years because they just dont seem to be interested in answering the phone . Now on a fishy topic as most of you are aware i asked four diffent companies to quote me to supply me a 4ft tank with sump and cabinet ,expected to pay 1200 euro only two replied and to date 6months later still no reply from the others . So in a nutshell were am i going for my next tank, back to the company that built the first one . If a supplier cant help you he should at least answer your comunication . Sorry to go on about this but it really annoys me .

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10 Nov 2016 21:47 #11 by hammie (Neil Hammerton)
Mostly..... on the whole, I buy fish from shops, but only use certain shops!
I don't shop for fish in places I've had issues with unhealthy specimens in the past and chain stores should be banned from selling fish full stop!

I haven't bought any fish at all in the past 8 months (how the fuk I've managed....... I don't know)
My fish food comes from 1 independent shop in carlow cause he does live food flake food and frozen food all at reasonable prices!
I know for a fact that one chain store was offered by an independent store to train their staff how to look after the tanks and fish....... the stupid cut (notice the missing letter) from the chain store instead of accepting and saying thanks very much..... told the i dependant store that his staff knew enough and no I don't need your help!!!!!! Ian this chain store is 1 of your favourites and mine too and we have often discussed them!!!!!!!!

I really do despair when I see the independents suffering

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10 Nov 2016 22:07 #12 by hammie (Neil Hammerton)
Let's take a moment to look at prices tho
I know how pricing works in my business,
Cost = Hourly wage plus overheads plus prsi etc
Small business has no chance to compete against big business when it comes to price, yes a larger business has more overheads, but they can divide that overhead over more sales staff! Therefore each sales member has a lower percentage to again to cover their own cost!

Take business x who have 20 staff....
These 20 staff are split over 2 buildings with insurance, bills etc etc etc etc to pay I want to get this company to do my job
So how is my bill worked out?
From their building to mine is 1hr drive, my job is booked in working time 5am -5pm taking 3 people!
So I pay for: crew x 14hrs plus overheads plus profit plus tax and all government bullsh1t levies

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