Shop Address: 5335, rue Ferrier, Montreal Shop Website: http://www3.sympatico.ca/existenz/ Reviewed By: Mperor Date Of Review: March/2006 Overall: Very Good Times Visited: Five to Ten Times Freshwater Selection: Excellent Saltwater Selection: Excellent Stock Selection: Very Good Staff: Fair Prices: Very Good
Comments: Ahhh... My favorite LFS. They're actually a small chain of 4 stores, if I remember correctly.
Firstly, let's talk about the stocks. I must say that it is one of the most elaborate fish shop I've been to - it has a PRETTY HUGE selection of fish, varying from many different kinds of critters. There are moderate/high chances you'll find what you want there, livestock wise. (Barbs, Kois, Goldfish, Livebearers, Bettas, Angels, Cats, Loaches, Stars to name a few - and a lot more.)
They also have a relatively good selection of plants - they might not have everything, but they certainly got the basics: Anacharis, java fern, duckweed, swords, etc. - except the moss (haven't seen any yet - at least, not for sale).
As for the supplies, they also have about half of their space dedicated to that - large selections of food, tags, meds, etc. for fish, birds and mammals. They do have a department selling hamsters, birds, and sometimes dogs/cats, but they're in no way comparable to their fish department, which constitute their name, and also the core of their shop.
I must however point out that yes, there are dead fish in the tanks; yes, many of their tanks have this thing on the bottom that you can only guess to be dirty stuff; but thankfully, yes, they also clean their tanks, but perhaps every once in a while.
The pricing: well, I would say most of their live stock is cheap compared to other places, dependently on the type of fish. Obviously, it's much more cheapter to order on the internet, but when you think about all the shipping costs skyrocketing the prices, forget about the comparison - you pay your money and you get what you want there. In general, they are often on promotion, and you get to have various discounts, ranging from a mere 10% to a whooping 50% - like how they currently are (March 2006) - it's a 2 for 1 type of thing, for all fish, no exception supposedly. (True until now.) The MORE you buy, the BIGGER the discount, that's how it works at their place. (They also have a huge slection of various tanks, from 1 gallon to 166 gallons, or even more - with all the stands, pumps, filters, anything else you would need. But those get rather pricey, reaching the 1100s - I haven't seen any of these (tanks) anywhere else, so I cannot compare the prices.)
Now it comes to the staff. First off, I have to say that that place is filled with great people. They're all very friendly, love to chat with you if you incite them to, and are generally pretty nice. They would say hello to you when they see you, and even have a few words with you if they believe you're interested in something in particular (mostly the fish section). If you're a frequent/recurrent client, things will only get better - if you get to know the management well enough (they work around the shop, and aren't in their offices really), you can get discounts as long as you keep going back, one of the managers I identified is also very friendly, and can make suggestions when you can't decide. He will also consider shipping in stuff you propose, as long as it helps with his numbers.
The only problem now is that they may be great people, but they're no experts (can we really complain about this? How many fish shop actually are FULL of fish experts? Ok, Petfish people, if you work in a petshop, you don't count, cuz you're special(aware)! lol) They absolutely have no knowledge of the fish's living styles, details, blah blah blah... When you buy bettas, for example, they would not even look around, before they fill your bag (with the betta inside) with water from the nearest tank, whatever that tank may be - can be a molly tank, a gold fish tank, an empty tank, a tank with dead fish... You get the picture. When you buy your stuff, it is very likely that they will give you FALSE information about it - or at least, what makes sense to them, but I won't make a fuzz outta that - as long as they're not intentionally inducting you into error, they're forgiven to me. They're just trying to do their job. ;)
Overall, I'll definately go and return there as many times as I need for whatever fishkeeping needs that have to be met - it's rather accessible (close to a HUGE road), the prices are reasonable (for most) and the folks are rather friendly.