LFS Review - Aqua Traders (SF Bay)

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Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Bay Area, CA

LFS Review - Aqua Traders (SF Bay)

Post by PASoracco » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:17 pm

I've driven by this place for years, and heard rumors about them being the main supplier for a bunch of the smaller LFS in the bay, but I had never been to this shop before today. It is a dingy warehouse right off San Bruno Ave in SB, by the SF airport. they are only open from 11am-6pm on Friday-Sunday. Friday at opening is a free for all for the best live stock with the priority going to shop owners and customers they know will buy in the largest bulk. Saturday is kind of a "leftovers" day, and Sunday they lower prices after all of the deceased fish from the past few days are removed and they try to clear out their stock.

the front of the store is tanks and other hardware, nearly all of it cheap Odyssey crap which all seems to be design rip offs of other manufacturers; their newest canister looks exactly like a fx5. While they cost about a third of the price of the real products they're imitation, I would still buy with major caution. They also have great prices on things I would consider buying there; food, filter media, tubing and plumbing supplies, etc.

The entire back of the warehouse is rows and rows of livestock tanks, salt and freshwater, completely unlabeled and unsorted. The room is quite humid and smelly, there are tons of sick and dead fish in the tanks, and lots of fish are housed with the absolute wrong tankmates. They also stock dyed fish (painted cats, blue oscars, dayglo tetras, blue modestas etc) modified fish (heart shaped chiclids, angels with their top fin lopped off) and some serious odd balls I rarely see in the bay area (tons of arrowana, small gars, rock fish, veiltails, elephant noses, large silver dollars and balas, etc).

You grab a bucket from a stack, and a net from a dirty wet pile, and go pick out your own fish from the tanks. The only person who knows what the fish are, and what exactly they all cost works at the front desk; or at least the only person who knew what was going on AND spoke english (all of the staff was cheery and as helpful as they could be). You either need to know exactly what fish you are asking the price for, or bring it to the counter and find out. I ended up getting 6 odd-ball clowns, 1.5"-2" TL for $4.50 each, bagged with pure O2 at the counter. They are still small, but none of them have any black on their pelvic fins and look relatively healthy. I got two with 4 bars, one missing his center bar, a puzzle piece, and a couple other cuties; all together a great deal. Thread with pics here.

In short, this place had a good staff, amazing prices, and the widest selection of fish I have seen anywhere in the bay area (a couple shops in sacramento still put it to shame). However, they stock modified and dyed fish, and take abysmal care of their fish. I wouldn't even think of buying fish from Aqua Traders unless you have a quarantine ready to go for the fish at home and live somewhere in the area.

check out their deals on equipment online at aquatraders.com. I would still go into the store to buy though because they have a wider selection, in store deals every week, and I have heard bad things about their online customer service.
Just call me Pierce :)
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