One of the most common questions that all new aquarium owners ask is “where is the best place to buy aquarium supplies?” With the vast numbers of aquarium supplies retailers, both online and offline, its easy to see why so many starter owners feel confused. Every retailer has its advantages and disadvantages, and often different retailers are better to get particular aquarium supplies from than others.
Buying your aquarium supplies online is a popular option, and more and more people are doing so. Often, its cheaper to buy things online, and much more convenient – you can order your aquarium supplies from home or the office, and have them delivered often the next day. I’ve even had snails for my tank delivered by post before after purchasing them online, saving me both time and money.
At the same time however, buying online does have its disadvantages – by buying online, you do not have as much control over what you get – you might find gravel online that you think looks great, only to find it gets delivered and looks nasty, gives off lots of dye in the water, and generally is not usable! Also, you often cant get the advice online that many starter aquarium owners need when buying their first set of aquarium supplies.
LOCAL FISH STORES
Local fish and pet stores can vary greatly. I have a pet store nearby that is really disappointing when it comes to aquarium supplies, and yet another one that is part of a garden center that is absolutely amazing, and I will often rather drive out there than buy aquarium supplies online!
One of the major advantages of going to a good local fish store is that they will often be very knowledgeable, and be able to offer you great advice, which can be invaluable when you are starting out. They will know which filters work with which tanks or aquariums, what food is best for a particular breed of fish, and anything else you could possibly need to ask.
On the flip side however, they will often be more expensive than their online counterparts, and may not stock the range of aquarium supplies that an online retailer can.
DIRECT FROM THE AQUARIUM MANUFACTURER
Buying aquarium supplies from the manufacturer is often a sure-fire way of making sure the supplies you buy are a perfect fit for your aquarium. The quality will also often be better than many ‘compatible’ brands. However, at the same time, you must expect to pay a premium for the official aquarium supplies. Often a better option is to find an online retailer or fish store near you that stocks the official aquarium supplies, as they will be able to buy in bulk, and therefore it will often work out cheaper.
As for most things in life, there is never a definitive answer to many questions – buying online will (almost) always be cheaper than going to a store, however, while paying a little more, you will most likely get better advice from the people running the store, who will almost certainly be fish keepers themselves. Whatever you choose, it’s always advisable to shop around for your aquarium supplies, and find the best retailer with the most experience at the best price.