Buying African Cichlids from an online retailer has pros and cons. One of the advantages to buying from a local fish store is you see the fish with your own eyes before picking one out. The disadvantage is many stores buy fish in bulk from farms that breed mass quantities of fish without the degree of care that a local breeder would do. Furthermore, major aquarium retail chains stock fish that sell well, not necessarily what you want and often with inbred or poor genetic strains.
Before making a tropical fish purchase from an online retailer consider the criteria listed below:
Are the fish you will be receiving the same fish photographed on their website?
Some online African cichlid stores post pictures that are very different in size and color than the fish you will be receiving. A reputable retailer shows actual photographs of the fish for sale taken from their own tanks. “What you see is what you get” photos are time consuming and labor intensive so at a minimum you should only buy African cichlids with photos that are nearly identical to the real fish for sale. Do not be fooled by misleading stock photos.
Where do they get their livestock for sale?
The fish are either bred locally, wild caught, or purchased from a major distributor or fish farm. You don’t have to know their trade secrets, but you should be able to get an idea of how they obtain their livestock.
How do they ship African Cichlids?
Shipping fish is unlike taking a product from a shelf and mailing it. Call your retailer and ask them how they prepare their livestock for shipment. Fish should be double bagged in 2 mil bags with oxygen and an additive to slow metabolism and respiration. An ammonia detoxifier should also be added before packing everything into an insulated box.
What kind of dead on arrival guarantee is offered?
A reputable online cichlid breeder guarantees that your fish arrive alive and healthy. In the event fish are dead on arrival, they quickly replace it with shipping included at their expense. At a minimum, a cash refund should be offered.
Do they respond quickly to email or telephone inquires?
If they are difficult to reach before the sale, they may be impossible to reach when a problem arises. Reputable online tropical fish stores are focused on good customer service.
In conclusion, there are many advantages to buying African cichlids for sale online. You can find rare and exotic fish with genetic strains that are unavailable at your LFS, pricing is usually cheaper, the quality of fish from a breeder is almost always better, and fish that come from a reputable and ethical online dealer arrive healthy and disease free as described on their website. Finally, a live arrival guarantee is always included.
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