Why Buy From Us
Why should you buy from AquaticArts.com?
This is a long article, but I hope you read it! Choosing a supplier for your aquarium needs is a very important ethical decision. Your choice can negatively affect the environment, contribute to the suffering of aquatic animals, and even support companies who are involved with puppy and kitten mills! I'm not saying all pet stores/aquarium stores are bad, but let's be honest; a lot of them are. Even if you don't buy from us, we want you to be well informed and able to choose a supplier that actually cares about their livestock. Here are five things to ask yourself about your aquatics supplier, along with our own policy on the matter.
1. Does your supplier actually care about its animals?
An easy way to tell whether or not your supplier is ethical is to tell them you have an empty tank ask them for a single Zebra Danio - a fish that almost everyone carries. Like most Danios, Zebra Danios are a schooling fish that will be extremely stressed if not kept in a school of AT LEAST three fish, preferably six. If kept alone or in too small of a school, a Zebra Danio will lash out at tankmates out of stress and fear. I have never once encountered a pet store either online or in person that would refuse to sell you a single Zebra Danio, or any other schooling fish. You could say that the employee you talked to just didn't know Danios were a schooling fish, but my question is: why the heck would you hire someone to offer advice in an aquarium store that doesn't know anything about fish? Ignorance is no excuse; this is a business dealing with live animals and your staff must be both knowledgeable and ethical. A Zebra Danio may be a $2 fish, but that doesn't mean it feels any less stress and fear than a $100 Discus. Another one you can try: tell them you want a single Clown Loach for your 30 gallon aquarium. See if they tell you it needs to be in a group of 3 or more... or if they will actually disclose that a Clown Loach will grow over a foot long!
OUR POLICY: We will NOT sell you a schooling fish in any number less than the minimum number of fish required for their health and well-being. You will notice most of the social animals we keep are sold in groups, a practice that may be unique to Aquatic Arts™. We are upfront about the needs of all of our livestock, as we would rather you not purchase it if you can't provide a good home. Likewise, we won't sell you a fish that will grow too large for your aquarium. You may also notice we don't keep many species that grow very large. This is because very few aquarists are actually set up to care for a large fish properly. I know of several unscrupulous companies that sell Redtail Catfish and Pacu without even mentioning they can grow to over 3 feet long and will need a 1,000+ gallon tank to be comfortable. We would rather refuse to sell you an animal than send it to an environment in which it can't thrive, and we often do refuse to sell an animal to someone who we don't feel can care for it properly. We do not wholesale to any company that does not meet our ethical standards, including their holding facilities. I would much rather lose money than doom an animal to a hard life or an early death.
2. Do they back up their claims about high standards of care?
Watch out for this one, especially online. I know of a couple very large companies who claim they have veterinarian approved suppliers and holding facilities. I also know that they actually buy from the same suppliers we do! Just because a supplier says they had a veterinarian sign off on their operation doesn't mean they care about their livestock. Are we to automatically assume that their veterinarian is interested in quality of care rather than money? Is this veterinarian even knowledgeable about fish-keeping? What about their actual process, or holding facilities? Do they use suppliers that have high standards of care as well? Are the animals collected from the wild in an ethical manner?
OUR POLICY: While I could claim that our operation is “Veterinarian Approved” or run by a Master Aquarist and just hope that you trust me, I would rather let YOU approve our methods! You can read about our entire process on our “The Aquatic Arts™ Process” page (coming very soon!). We explain how we source, care for, and ship our animals in great detail - something you will rarely (if ever!) see an aquatics supplier do. We are proud of our commitment to quality care, and we are completely open about our methods. We go to great lengths to care for our livestock, and every holding tank is designed for the animals that inhabit it.
3. How are the animals housed?
This is something you can see for yourself in a local store. In the case of online stores, you will have to ask them if they do not provide this information. Don't trust a promise about high quality care if there is no information about how it is done. Things to watch out for include:
- Are incompatible fish housed together?
- Does everything run on the same water system, regardless of the individual animals' specific needs?
- Is all the water shared between systems, ensuring disease and parasites can spread to every tank?
- If all water is shared, is it always treated with harsh medications like copper to prevent outbreaks?
- Are scaleless fish kept on sharp gravel?
- Are schooling fish kept in large enough groups?
- Do you see a lot of dead fish floating around?
- Do fish show signs of stress such as fearful behavior, clamped fins, or scale/skin damage?
OUR POLICY: We go into more detail on this on our “The Aquatic Arts™ Process” page (Coming very soon!). In short, all of our animals are held in holding tanks designed for them specifically. EVERY tank is filtered individually by a massively oversized canister filter with UV Sterilization. Our setup cost us far more per gallon than a typical holding facility, and it is much more difficult to maintain since every tank must be maintained individually. In exchange for this cost in dollars and time, we have built one of the best holding facilities in the world. We can fine tune each and every tank to suit its inhabitants, because every tank is a closed system. The benefits of this type of system are huge in terms of the quality of housing we can offer our livestock. It allows us to buy large quantities of a species at great prices, since we know we can actually house them for even months at a time. In fact, some of our slower selling fish have been with us for over a year! Definitely a worthy tradeoff.
4. Does your supplier or their parent company sell puppies/kittens?
I don't think this is even something I should have to explain. There are far, far too many dogs and cats without a home that need someone like you to save them. While this is not strictly related to aquatics, it is something that we care very deeply about. If your aquatics supplier is in any way involved with the commercial sale of puppies or kittens, THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT ANIMALS! I have volunteered at several shelters, and it is utterly heartbreaking to see all of those innocent animals locked up with nobody to play with them. Many are doomed to die because of pet stores selling commercial puppies and kittens. There are many kind people working at these shelters, but they are underfunded, understaffed, and too small to take care of the millions of homeless animals in the United States. They don't want to euthanize these animals - they have to. Every time a pet store sells someone a puppy or kitten that was bred commercially (often called “puppy mills” or “kitten mills”), at least one dog or cat dies in a shelter. That is a horrifying reality to face, but it is a reality nonetheless. I am not trying to make you feel bad if you bought your last dog or cat from a store. A lot of people don't know how dire this situation has become. I'm just asking you to not make the same mistake again. You will be amazed at how grateful a shelter animal is when you adopt them. They are terribly starved for attention, and they will form a special bond with you that is unique to animals rescued from those terrible conditions.
OUR POLICY: One day, I hope to open a retail location for Aquatic Arts™. When that day comes, we will never, ever sell any puppy, kitten, dog, or cat. We will only help local shelters find homes for homeless pets. For now, in the spirit of helping these animals, Aquatic Arts™ offers $50 in store credit to anyone that can provide proof that they regularly volunteer at a shelter for homeless pets, or adopts a homeless pet from an animal shelter within 2 the weeks prior to placing your order. You can read more about this on our Special Offers page. And please, I am begging you - If you are ready to bring a dog or cat into your life as a faithful companion, please adopt one. You will literally be saving a life, and not just one. When you adopt an animal, that means the shelter has room to keep another one alive until they find a home!
5. Does your supplier sell corals taken from the wild?
There is nothing wrong with wild-caught aquatic animals. Most of them are incredibly abundant, and they have much better lives in a properly sized and maintained aquarium than they do in the wild. They can live lives free of stress, predators, and disease. However, this is not always the case. Our world's coral reefs are disappearing. This is not environmentalist BS - it is fact. Corals and reef-dwelling fish are disappearing at an alarming pace. In the last 40 years, half of the world's coral reefs have disappeared. Even so, most suppliers still actually carry corals taken from the wild! I urge you not to support any company that sells wild corals. There are too many farm-raised alternatives available, and it is inexcusable for commercial divers to continue destroying a precious and beautiful resource that may soon be gone from our world. A supplier may claim they do not sell any endangered corals from the wild. This is simply a lie - the very existence of wild corals is endangered. I know you can get some incredible corals from the wild, but it is our responsibility to save the world's reefs.
OUR POLICY: Right now we do not sell corals, but are in the process of setting up a coral system. Once we begin selling corals, you will be able to count on us to supply only farm-raised corals! I have always wanted to dive around a reef and see one in person. I may get the chance someday, but if I have children, they will most likely never have this chance. This saddens me greatly; there is perhaps nothing more beautiful in nature than a reef ecosystem. When you buy only farm-raised corals, you become part of the solution. If the farm-raised coral industry grows enough, it may one day save our coral reefs from destruction. You can also do your part (and make some money) by propagating the corals you already have and selling them to fellow hobbyists!