PSA: So you saved a fish from Wal-Mart...
So, many of my followers know that I've been involved in the aquarium hobby for about half my life. During that time span I worked for 4 different aquarium stores in Columbus, Ohio and I used to moderate an online forum, aptly named "Fish Geeks".
I've heard a lot of stories but never one more frequent than "I saved a fish from Wal-Mart"
Fish keepers: you're an amazing group of caring, creative, and actually very powerful people in the pet industry. I care deeply about the hobby, animal care, ethics, and conservation-mindedness, and there is something I need to express about "saving fish" and the responsibility of consumerism.
First of all, there is one thing that must be understood and I'll just give it to you straight: fish are products. Yeah, they're "live", but they still are bought from wholesalers, marked up, and sold for profit.
This product mentality towards animals is most obvious in stores that are not fish-only stores, such as good ol', cheap, get everything under one roof Wally World.
Here fish are an afterthought, as a way to bring in a little extra money to the store because they can undercut absolutely everyone else. The stores that are being undercut, those usually run by caring local business owners, almost absolutely treat their animals with more respect. You know, regular water changes, compatibly selected for display, fed daily, responsibly sold, etc.
Unfortunately, these poorly kept fish are exactly why people buy them from Wal-Mart.
Every single time you purchase anything from Wal-Mart it goes into a data system that counts that product as sold. This sale is a "success"; it is desirable and the business wants it. That's why the business exists! There is no special code that says that someone bought it because it was going to die. There is no way Wal-Mart will ever know about your motives when you purchase from them.
If you save a fish from Wal-Mart, you're condemning many more to the exact same fate.
The more you purchase from these places, the more they will absolutely restock. Remember, fish are products.
Aquarists have an amazing amount of power - wield this power wisely! Purchasing animals is a responsibility. Frankly, there is so much more responsibility to it than I am talking about here, so please think it over. Remember you "own" these businesses and can make a difference!
Let me make this clear: all stores that sell fish HAVE TO treat them as products- that's just how buying and selling things works. The aquarium hobby isn't all bad because of this, but you, as an informed customer, needs to be aware that you have the power to stop WalMart, or any other stores, from selling poorly kept or irresponsibly collected fish if you just stop giving them your money.