Where To Buy Your First Pet Fish | Some have Guarantees!

If you’re looking into buying your first pet fish, you probably want it to be from someone you can trust. As living creatures, fish are a bit of an unknown, especially if you are considering buying online. If you are a beginner to fishkeeping you may not know yet who the most trustworthy sellers are. So, let’s look at the best places on where to buy your first pet fish.

This article is the only piece you need to read. You want your brand new pet to arrive home alive, happy and healthy. You’ll also want it to live as long as it can.

To make sure that you are getting a pet that is the best sample of its kind, check out below who the best experts are to buy from.

If you are just starting out as a fishkeeper, you may not know yet how committed you plan to be to the hobby. It can seem the simplest route to just head on down to your local pet shop and pick up a starter kit.

While the local pet shop is convenient, it isn’t really the best source for buying the highest quality specimen of fish.

You would be far better off to seek out other places to purchase fish. Do some research to see what vendors are in your greater area, or will deliver to your home.

Generally, we always recommend looking for an aquarium or fish-breeding expert to buy from. Not only for your first fish but for every one you buy from then on.

In addition, you will receive specialist advice from expert fish vendors. They are worth the extra few steps you may need to take to track down the right fish.

where to buy your first pet fish
Buying your first pet fish is very exciting.

Let’s look a bit deeper into who you can buy from and where to buy your first pet fish from, and whether you should…

How To Tell If You Are Getting A Good Specimen

Your new fish should arrive home happy and healthy. A healthy fish is vibrant and free of disease and infection. It should also be free from cuts or signs of attack from other fish.

They may need a few days to regain their strength and adapt to their new environment. Don’t expect your new fish to be bouncing with joy the second you get him. But after a couple of days in a new tank, he should revive well and settle in happily.

Local Pet Stores

There are two kinds of local pet stores – those that are part of a franchise or chain, and those that are independent.

Now I must admit that there are some amazing local pet stores out there. You can find small store owners, usually independent business vendors, who are dedicated, knowledgeable and wonderful at what they do.

The main problem with generic pet stores is that they have to have a wide range of stock to meet every customer’s needs. They will usually supply items for a variety of animals including dogs, cats, birds and other, more obscure pets, as well as fish.

TOP TIP: Ask to see the fish feeding before you purchase one. Often a fish that is unwell will not accept food. A clear sign you should stay away from buying it.

Because fish are small and generally easy to look after, these little stores will sell the fish themselves, but may not actually carry any other pets, just tons of food and merchandise to help you look after them. Even if the only pets they carry are fish this doesn’t mean that they are experts in the little guys.

Usually, they will only have a passing knowledge of fishkeeping, simply because they need to know all sorts of other things as well.

tropical fish in a bag
Buying tropical fish is one of the best parts of fish keeping

When they are part of a chain or franchise, they may be restricted by their brand to only knowing about and selling a certain number of breeds and items. 

These places are convenient and may be relatively low-cost, but you get what you pay for. You aren’t likely to get the quality of product or any expert advice that you would from a specialist seller. They’re not necessarily the best place to buy your first pet fish from.

Where can you find them?

Pretty much everywhere. Every suburb or major shopping center is likely to have a pet store. However, look for smaller more specialized aquarium stores. They offer a wider range of fish to choose from.

Legal Notice: We are not saying high street shops sell poor quality fish as some have great staff with lots of experience. What we are saying is specialist stores have a bigger selection.

Your local directory is the best place to find aquarium/fish stores.

Specialist Tropical Fish Stores

Specialist tropical fish stores are not as easy to find as local or chain pet stores. They will be scattered throughout the suburbs of larger cities. These won’t carry dog leads, worming tablets or kitty litter. Specialist fish stores are usually filled with wall to wall tanks, plants, and fish as well as everything you’ll need.

These specialist aquariums are like walking into another universe, with their blue-green glow, quiet hum and cool atmosphere. The staff are likely to be experts in all of the fish they sell. Their advice will include how to feed and care for them, the illnesses they might suffer, and the challenges a new fishkeeper could face.

Store staff here will not only have a great knowledge of fish, they usually have an enormous passion for fishkeeping. This makes them great people to get advice from when you are first starting out.

Making friends with your closest specialist fish store is one of the smartest things you can do when you are buying your first fish. As a beginner, there are lots of little mistakes you can make and all sorts of reasons you would need to seek advice. Having a vendor you can trust to give honest and genuine advice is so important.

Not only will you buy better quality fish that are likely to be healthier and live longer, but you will also receive the best advice on the equipment that you need.

young boy buying pet fish with his mother
Children love buying new fish.

There are so many different types of equipment that you need when you are setting up a home aquarium, with a very wide cost range. One of the best ways to save money when setting up a tropical aquarium is to buy the right equipment for your needs. The easiest way to know what to buy is to talk to your specialist store.

Staff knowledge and interest as well a larger selection of fish, makes these specialist stores a good place to buy your first pet fish.

Where can you find them?

Google ‘specialist fish stores near me’ to find the closest expert vendor near you. You’ll most likely need to drive a few suburbs or take some extra public transport, but it will be worth the effort.


We consider fish breeders to be the very best place to buy fish for your home aquarium, especially when you want to buy your first pet fish.

You will need to do some research into what type of fish you are looking for beforehand. Breeders tend to specialize in just one or at most a couple of fish breeds.

If you have no idea what type of fish you want, it may make more sense to check out a specialist fish store which carries many breeds. When you want the best specimens and the best advice about how to care for this particular fish, you should talk to a breeder.

TOP TIP: Don’t rush into buying your first pet fish. Your first choice can determine what other fish can go into your home aquarium. So choose wisely!

Breeders are expert in one type of fish, and usually, live and breathe this breed. They will know everything there is to know and be able to troubleshoot you through all the challenges that you may face.

Because they are experts in breeding, and in this one type of fish, their specimens will be exceptionally good. If you want the best versions of a breed, the hardiest, most beautiful and rare, you should go to a breeder.

Where can you find them?

Google ‘pet fish breeders near me’ or a better option would be to include the name of the breed you are looking for, such as ‘angelfish breeders near me’.

Join a local aquarium society and visit trade shows and aquarium events.

Online Stores

Online specialist fish stores can be incredibly convenient as well as offering competitive pricing. They are also usually good sources of expert advice. Most of the advice may be in the form of articles and blogs rather than actual conversations or answering your specific questions.

They can be a bit hit-and-miss however in terms of quality, and because you are obviously ordering a live fish to be delivered to your door, can be a bit risky in terms of transport.

That being said, there are some fantastic online fish stores to buy from. Some include ones that have guarantees that your fish will arrive alive and healthy. Having a guarantee of receiving a live and healthy specimen can make these online stores an ideal place to buy your first pet fish from.

You can compare a wide range of different breeds of fish all on the one site. In addition, you will read information to guide you towards the right fish for you. You can also usually buy all of the equipment you need at the same time and have that delivered as well.

Where can you find them?

Again, go back to our old friend, Google, and search for ‘online fish stores.

Some of the best online fish stores are listed below:

For more Fish Stores in the USA click here to visit a directory of fish stores.

screenshot of liveaquaria fish store
LiveAquaria is one of the biggest online Fish Stores in the USA

Social Groups

A fantastic place to buy fish is from the people who love them already. Throughout social media platforms such as Facebook, you can find groups and communities of local fish enthusiasts.

You can join ones local to you which not only helps you to make friends with similar interests in your local area, but it means that you can go and check out specimens before you buy them. 

Visit our facebook group here and join in the fun or get help from others in the hobby.

These communities are a fun way to meet people and have any burning questions answered. No matter what problem you are having with your fish tank, it’s likely someone else out there has already gone through it.

Where can you find them?

Facebook is the best place to start.  Search for ‘angelfish groups’ (or insert the particular breed you are looking for) or ‘fish hobbyist groups’. You could also try searching for fishkeeping or pet fish groups in your city.

facebook group fishkeeping forever
Join Our Facebook Group. It’s free and fun

Sometimes Facebook groups and pages can have names that make finding them through the search facility. You may need to search a little creatively or talk to your contacts about groups they might recommend.

Why not start by checking out our site: FISHKEEPING FOREVER


No one knows more about a specific breed of fish than the people who have made caring for this breed their hobby. Their passion for the breed will be huge, as will their knowledge around it. 

You are very likely to get a good quality specimen from a hobbyist and be backed by advice whenever you need it.

As you grow to love this breed of fish yourself you may find a lifelong friend and source of help and knowledge on your fishkeeping journey when you buy from a hobbyist.

The prices will not be the lowest, but the quality of your fish is often the very best.

Fish hobbyists are very good as they have a good background on the fish they are selling. You’ll be able to inspect the fish in the seller’s home before buying.

Where can you find them?

Fish hobbyists are probably the hardest group of people to find, but Facebook and Google are still good places to start. Look for ‘hobbyist groups’, ‘fish hobbyist forums’ and insert the specific breed you are looking for.

You may need to join some social media groups first and get chatting regularly to find hobbyists near you to buy from.

Where’s the best place to buy aquatic supplies?

If you live in the US we recommend Chewy.com. They offer great value with great guarantees and fast delivery. Click here to see their prices.

Conclusion: Where to buy pet fish

As you can see there are many options for buying your first pet fish. Many people can be excused for going straight to their local pet store and choosing their first pet fish.

Choosing your first pet fish and often naming them is all part of the fun of fish keeping.

Once you have purchased your first few fish and caught the fish keeping bug you’ll start to look at more options for a bigger and better supply of fish for your home aquarium.

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