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Hi All,
I live in Tustin, and have been wanting to do a planted aquarium for years, and now feel I have the time & resources to be successful. This will be my first 'serious' tank of any kind (not counting a couple of my kids' 5 gal guppy aquariums). I've read up a lot, and feel like I could manage it, especially with you all here for support.

Anyhow, I'm shopping for a tank/stand/canopy, and in the process am evaluating the LFSs in my area. I looking for a shop that actually carries some healthy plant specimens, maybe has a nice planted show tank, as evidence that the proprietor knows about plants and will be able to provide healthy specimens.

Here's a summary of the LFSs I've checked out:

Window To The Sea (Tustin)
Mainly salt water oriented, looks like they may -once- have had high ambitions of selling plants. The entire store was pretty unkempt, as were the tanks (fresh & salt). They actually had a stock tank for plants, each in a little pot, but the specimens looked pretty unhealthy, under the dim lighting. There were a few tanks packed with some kind of 'plant matter', labeled 'contents not for sale' - no worries there!

Coral And Fish Center (Santa Ana)
Very nice store. Big, clean, good looking tanks. Beautiful saltwater tanks & specimens. No plants to speak of. Very nice selection of tanks, talked a while with the salesman about possibilities for getting a custom stand made. This may be where I get my stand & tank.

Ocean Blue (Orange)
I had high hopes for this one - somebody said back in April that 'Brian seems quite interested in establishing the store as "the" LFS for planted tanks.' I guess they're just too busy with the salt trade. They had what looked intended to be a planted show tank, but it was pretty dreadful (overgrown, algae, sickly fish). If I hadn't seen pictures of what many here have acheived, this tank would have discouraged me for good.

PetSmart (Santa Ana)
Believe it or not, the healthiest plants I've seen! Paltry selection, of course, but they at least the were mostly green!

So, I'm re-evaluating whether to pursue a planted freshwater aquarium, or maybe just go saltwater, since there is so much retail support for it. I've read all the wonderful things folks say about All About Fish, Strictly Fish, and Neptune's, but that's a pretty long drive, round trip, even on the weekend. I want to spend my time on my hobby, not driving. Also, since it seems too difficult for the LFSs to do a planted show tank, perhaps it's too difficult for me?

Am I being too harsh on the LFSs I've visited? Am I making too big a deal out of finding a decent LFS for plants? Everyone driving to LA for plants & equipment, or ordering from the internet?

Cheers, and thanks for sharing any thoughts,
Dave
 

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Have you looked at the For Sale forums here & Swap n Shop forums at PT? You can find many many plants either from sellers, or from posting a WTB thread. =) That's where I've gotten every single plant I own.
 

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Don't give up hope yet!

SCAPE is overdue for a get-together. Whenever we do finally get around to meeting there will be a lot of plants going around.

Also, if there is anything in particular you're looking for feel free to post on this board - the responses might surprise you.

And don't discount the LFSs just yet, some may be a bit of a drive but when you're buying plants it's only an occasional visit. Both All About Fish and Strictly Fish are well worth visiting.
 

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yeah, I share your frustration... there is more of a market for SW, so that's what most stores cater towards. I have found this site to be a great site for buying plants. You can find rare specimens that you wouldn't even find in a well stocked, health plant-selling lfs, and for a very reasonable price, even with shipping, especially if you buy a bunch from one person. I know my planted tank would not be anything like it is now without SCAPE (not that it's much anyway, especially since I've had a nasty algae breakout while I've been stuck up with pneumonia). The meetings are great for trading and getting plants, and even between the plants, people can mail clippings for minimal cost, if any, above shipping. Right now, I'll offer you some vals and java ferns (those are the two that I know I will have extra of, no matter what!) if you want any for your setup when you get your tank established. My best suggestion is to echo Carl and look for the deals on here. Again, even with shipping, the prices are about what you'd pay in an LFS, only the quality is much better.
 

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I just went to All About Fish today. It's a great store and fair prices, ($2.99) per bunch. I'm not sure who i dealt with, but he's a great guy. He even figured I came from SCAPE since i was talking about ADA and those galaxies he has. The plants were decent, but i believe it was because he did not recieve a new shipment that week. The display tanks looked good as well.

Neptunes Reef also has great quality plants and display tanks. I didn't inquire on any of the prices as my tank was not ready for it yet. I also believe that they are now buying from AB. Great stores to check out if you have the oppurtunity.

I highly recommend either store, but All About Fish has a great selection of fish. Each tank is a 20g standard placed width wise (opposed to the standard length wise) allowing for a wider selection of fish without risking overstocking.
 

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Dave,
It's sad to hear about the tank at Ocean Blue. That tank was originally set up by Gomer and John P with the help of a bunch of SCAPE members. We had high hopes for the store.

Right now I think anyone within driving distance is going to have to give support to the stores that are willing to support us. At the least, give All About Fish a try. Kirt is definitely making moves to accommodate us, as any store should. We are probably the best free advertising for planted tank sales. After all, planted tanks drive sales of a number of things including lights, plants, susbtrate, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wow!

Thanks for the heartening response - this seems like a pretty tightknit community. I'm still on the 'edge of the aquarium', so to speak, but now leaning into the tank instead of out.

If/When I get a tank plan with specfic plant choices, I'll will look to you all and the FS/WTB forum, and All About Fish/Strictly/Neptunes. And I'll try to make it to the next SCAPE meeting (I'll be the quiet guy with a ? over his head). I assume there will be an announcement post here.

Cassie, thanks for the kind plant offer - hopefully I'll be in position to accept it in the not-too-distant future.

Mike said
After all, planted tanks drive sales of a number of things including lights, plants, susbtrate, etc.
Exactly! I was hoping to dump a fair chunk of change on a deserving LFS (including for a tank & stand). Perhaps one of the fore-mentioned L.A. stores ...

Cheers,
Dave
 

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pastabatman said:
Exactly! I was hoping to dump a fair chunk of change on a deserving LFS (including for a tank & stand). Perhaps one of the fore-mentioned L.A. stores ...
FWIW, I bought my tank at Tongs in Whittier. They have a good selection equipement-wise, and a better than average (though not great) plant selection. Brian from Ocean Blue worked there at the time and delivered the tank and stand to me in Orange where I was living for like $40.
 

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you worried about driving distance i live in san bernardino and there is not a good lfs arround so i have to go to the OC and now to long beach and as far as i know all about fish is one of the best.i went there today and i got some snowball shrimps and some green ones,he even replace some of the shrimps that i got last week(he did not ask me why they died,he just replace them).

thanks,Kirt.
cesar mora.
 

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Try Neptune's Reef in Torrance. All about Fish had some nice plants and friendly service as well. Tong's in Fountain valley occasionally has reasonable plants (although I would not take a fish from there for free).

I have had the best success getting plants via mail order. Better quality, cheaper price, more selection. I have dealt with Aquariumplants.com and AquaBotanic.com in the past year or so and was very happy. Less so with Arizona Aquatic Gardens.

Bruce
 
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