Editor:

My name is Andre Frcek, 12 years old. I have been keeping aquatic life ever since I was 4 years old. I have kept multiple species including community freshwater, semi aggressive freshwater, freshwater invertebrates, and all varieties of cichlids. I also have a very extensive knowledge of saltwater fish and invertebrates. When I was younger, I always enjoyed visits to Petco, but now after I have been in the hobby for multiple years, I have learned more and more about fish keeping. When I recently walked into this local Petco I was appalled by the conditions that their aquatic life is kept in.

In the freshwater section, many fish were cramped into aquariums about 10 gallons in size. Most of the fish were at the bottom, or swimming in the cramped conditions. Their filtration systems are not adequate for the amount of poorly housed fish they keep. The fish are very stressed. Most species of fish will fold their fins when they are stressed. Many fish in the tanks had fins folded, at the bottom. The social fish huddled together, the more aggressive ones stayed separate.

Petco had multiple Oscar cichlids in a ten-gallon aquarium. Some of the Oscars where covered with ich and dying in the corners of the tank. Others were nipped by their aggressive tank mates only competing for space. If these fish were kept in bare minimum conditions, for the number of Oscars Petco is keeping, they would need at least a 150-gallon aquarium, even if they are juveniles. They are even more active at their juvenile state which means they need more swimming space. Most of the fish were very diseased.

I know the Petco employees readily take out the many dead to hide the results of poor fish keeping. This also affects the customer. If a child comes into to their store wanting a new finned friend, and they have the proper setup at home, and because the fish comes with nipped fins or ich or fungus or even fin rot, and they can’t identify it very quickly and cure it rapidly, the fish will be dead next morning, and Petco will have a very disappointed child, a dead fish, and they will spread the word, leading to less sales. I am sure Petco is not medicating their fish, because most medications are copper based, and the ones that aren’t are extremely expensive. Most of your tanks house invertebrates such as coral, shrimp, lobsters, worms, corals etc. These invertebrates cannot tolerate copper based medications.

In the saltwater section of their aquatics section, many of the tanks had cloudy water, diseased fish, and barren aquascaping. All of the fish they sell for the marine section are reef fish, and their tanks are completely barren, they are alone, with two or three dwarf hermit crabs. I saw the yellow tang, a beautiful, regal fish that comes from the densely populated reefs, and biodiversity of the reef environment. It was alone, with a few closed corals that had parasites, and the yellow tang had marine fungus on one site of the tail and some missing scales on the head. It was hyperventilating. Yellow tangs require a minimum of 100 gallons of specially mixed reef water. Most of the fan worms were missing the fans that they require to filter feed. Saying that these fish are juvenile is not an excuse! All fish no matter what age, even fry, require a proper housing.

I was surprised at how filthy the tanks were. There were huge uncontrolled algae blooms on the sides of all the tanks so you can’t even see the fish they have on display. With such poor water quality fish are more susceptible to diseases. Saltwater fish are very delicate, and they are kept in appalling conditions.

I ask of Petco for the sake of their fish and customers, to provide fish with humane living conditions. Many true aquarists are switching to ordering fish online through professional retailers. Petco can bring these costumers back if they treat their fish properly.

For the love of fish,

Andre Frcek

Santa Monica, CA