PetSmart - Fish

Guide to Buying
Saltwater Fish

Saltwater Aquarium

Buying saltwater fish for your newly set up aquarium can be quite exciting.

Starting with a healthy saltwater fish means a much better chance of maintaining a saltwater aquarium of happy and healthy fishes.

Fish carry so many pathogens - organisms that cause diseases, which it only takes a period of stress to give the pathogens a foothold and make them sick.

Here are some helpful guidelines on making sure that buying saltwater fish can be a breeze.

Saltwater fishes and invertebrates in a dealer’s store come from the wild (with a very few exceptions).Saltwater fishes and invertebrates in a dealer’s store come from the wild (with a very few exceptions).

If the costs sound so surprising, keep in mind all the costs involve in the process of catching them, freight, and holding them at the wholesalers/importers.

Also the saltwater fish had been through a very stressful time. So remember this when buying saltwater fish.

Finding a Dealer

Use the two to three weeks you have, while your aquarium is still in cycle to visit aquarium stores in your area.

Talk to the salesperson that is knowledgeable on the subject.

This may be really difficult if the store is busy.

But try! Most of the aquatic dealers are pretty small, one-man operations. They won’t usually ask for payment for their advice.

Your chosen dealer should be committed to selling healthy saltwater fish and invertebrates. Look for a specialist aquarium store and not just a pet store with just an aquarium or two at the back of their store.

It should be clean with a good selection of livestock and equipments. The supplier should also be prepared to tell you the name of his suppliers. Once you have found a dealer, stick with him.

Buying Saltwater Fish that are Healthy

Butterfly Fish

It pays to be a very good observer when you plan to buy saltwater fish. Don’t get the first fish you see just because it is on your list. Be Patient!

Always check for any dead or dying fish in the aquarium.

Even if the fish you spotted and want looks healthy, if one or more of the fish in the same aquarium is about to die or worst, dead – walk away! There is a problem in that aquarium.

Make sure that all the fishes in the aquarium are swimming around and behaving normally.

NEVER buy saltwater fish without first doing a research about it. You will need to know what is “normal” about that fish you want.

For example some fish swims in a strange way and others like to hide most of the time.

If you’re not sure what they’re normal behavior is, walk away and do some research!

Finally, it’s important to know if the fish is eating and what is it feeding on.

Simply ask the dealer if the fish is feeding and then you can decide whether you trust the dealer and buy saltwater fish.

During this situation, you can ask the dealer to feed the fish. If it consume a large amount of food, you will probably be impressed enough to buy it.

But once you bought it and it is placed into the bag, it is most likely to excrete its food into the bag, polluting the water and probably killing itself.


Know the feeding status before you buy saltwater fish. Then you can make and informed decision if you would like to get it or not.

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