Absolutely Fish was voted retailer of the year by two different trade publications. We were also awarded “Best Educated Staff”, “Best Live Animal Care”, and notably one of only two MAC certified retailers in the US. Most recently, we were honored as one of America’s Coolest Pet Stores by Pets Plus… As proud as we are of these attributions, I’m not so sure we should be considered “the best”.

                A great fish store can have many qualities. The discretion is completely up to any aquarists as to their interests when judging “the best”.

For Example:

                At Aquatic’s Experience 2017, I had a great conversation with Roger, the owner of Fish Gallery; “one of the best designed shops in Texas.” We discussed the challenges of meeting the ever-demanding needs of hobbyists. Roger built a beautiful shop with exhibit-style displays. Yet still, there are little emphasis on marine fish, fragments, or reef aquaria. What one shop does well with, the same shop may be missing in other interests. In other words; magnificent exhibits can be breathtaking, although rare marine fish may be what another fancies. outstanding education

Another Example:

                Pet World in Rochester, NY will stock any and all staple dry goods needed for any aquaria. Kind of like an aquatics superstore. Add in over 50 years of experience, an incredibly experienced store manager ( Steve ), one can only imagine its destination qualities. Fish Gallery and Pet World both have amazing store presentations and for different reasons can easily be in a conversation about America’s Greatest.

So who’s The Best?

                One shop I like to call; “The lil’ gem of Boston” is a savvy little shop called Lovely Pets. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s All Fish. Steve the owner has designed a unique shop diversifying in marine and freshwater tropicals of specialty nature. Arowanas, Flowerhorns, reef-fish, fragments, and of course “an amazing goldfish collection”. This store really says: “Bigger is not always better”.

                If you’re a tropical fish collector with a pond and koi love? Eddie’s Aquarium in Albany is your place. They’ll satisfy your reef and planted aquaria urges while whisking you away to a garden-pond department that will delight your appetite. Locally to us  is a wonderful shop, The Fish Hut. Their forte would be African Rift-Lake Cichlids. Rich the owner has done a fantastic job with diversity, appearance, and guidance. I know a lot of our customers who go there and enjoy their services as well.

It’s all about your particular taste…

Probably one of the most impressive freshwater collections in the US would be Wet Spot Tropicals of Portland Oregon. They parallel with us in many ways. As well, like us, they’ve been nationally awarded for their accomplishments. I have to say; “I am jealous of their freshwater/plant diversity”. What we at Absolutely Fish have in Marine; Wet Spot more than makes up for it in Freshwater Tropicals.

                If I had to vote on one of America’s Coolest Fish Stores, It would be Inland Aquatics of Terre Haute, Indiana. Built amongst an old prison on the Wabash River, this shop emulated more of a mad-scientist lab. It was absolutely one of the craziest, most fascinating places I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. They were using Amish-design gravity fill systems. Coffin size acrylic tanks over 9 feet high to breed Centropyge Angel species. They designed and built massive turf scrubbers for algae control. Truly innovative and completely unique. Sad to say, they are no longer open.  Not because of business but personal. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to know the owner and visit before they closed.

And for some shops, it’s not what they sell, it’s what they stand for.

                I’ve always been proud of our compelling purpose, mission, and vision. The relevance we have in people’s lives. The services we provide our community, and our stewardship programs globally.

                There are shops that above all else, just always do the right thing for the animal’s well-being. And while there are many, two that stand out to me are B&B Pet Shop of Mobile, Alabama and Preuss Pets in Lansing, Michigan.

                B&B Pet Shop has mastered the retail friendly atmosphere. With over 25 years of experience, they’ve built a beautiful store designed to service. Bill is a professional and a true industry leader. They take animal welfare seriously with premiere life-support.

                If there is any shop of which parallels us most in ideology, it would be Preuss Pets of Lansing, Michigan. They are the other MAC certified shop and what I like to call; “our sister store”. They would get my vote as the best! Rick and his staff are knowledgeable, educational, and serviceable. The shop is gorgeous with a huge diversity of tropicals, both freshwater and marine. They have one of the strongest breeding programs in the country and a giant pond-patio section. Like Bill, Rick is an industry leader as well as community leader. There’s no shop better than Preuss Pets at community service. I truly look up to Rick as to what a Pet Store owner should be. mac certified article

                I am honored by the awards we won, I am thankful for the recognition, but most of all I am grateful for customer compliments. I’ll never think we’re the best because there are a lot of shops who do outstanding work! Visit one the next time you’re traveling. Just “google” the area or better yet, ask me; “I know one in every city!”.

                Please comment here and tell me your favorite shop. Thank you and I hope to see you soon.