I mentioned in the general freshwater section today that I got an elephantnose from a fish store two hours from home! And I promised a review... so here it is...
Ok.. so the website doesn't look like it's finished, but that's ok.
My mom, who lives about 25 miles from Bozeman, is a professional artist. And she had to travel out to the far outskirts of Bozeman to get to a frame shop that offered reasonable prices. Anyway, that's how she discovered this place. She had a little time on her hands and nowhere to go, so she wandered in. She called me, raving about it, and saying I had to check it out. So I did. Today, my boyfriend and I drove two hours out to Bozeman, hoping Crystal Clear Aquariums would carry some fish not available at our LFS, and we weren't dissapointed. It was certainly worth the drive!
CC Aquariums not only sells fish and supplies, they also build, install, stock, and maintain aquariums (monthly fee). So the employees really are taking care of the fish every day and really do know what they are talking about!
They deal mostly with saltwater setups, but have a few freshwater tanks as well. The entire store was impressive. The owner told me he built everything from scratch. The highlight of the saltwater section was a reef tank set up as a series of tanks, set up like stairs, that gently trickled into each other. And for the freshwater section, there was a tank that appeared to be at least 500 gallons that they were revamping. It had a lot of algae growth and some incredibly happy, huge shrimp and plecos.
The fish all appeared very healthy. I did not see a single dead fish, nor any signs of ich or odd behaviors. Several of the tanks even had healthy fry in them. We didn't have a lot of time to look at the saltwater fish... but the freshwater fish that stood out to me the most were the angelfish whose bodies were smaller than their fins, the elephantnose (of course), some chinchlids that were almost all black, with just a few white markings on them, a polka dot lyretail pleco, some endlers, and way more that I can't remember names for. :P
I fell in love with the polka dot lyretail pleco, but he was out of my budget. Which is unfortunate, because the owner told me that if I purchased him, I could bring him back when he outgrew the tank and be refunded the entire purchase price. That's a great policy! The elephantnose was pretty close to being out of my budget, but I couldn't help myself. :P
Then I picked out some platies to add to my nano tank. They look like they could be painted platies or peppered platies. Orange bodies, with black spots that get dense enough near the tailfin for it to look solid black. The employee who helped me seemed to be sleep deprived and food deprived, was quite shaky, and didn't know much about freshwater fish... he couldn't even tell platies from guppies, let alone male from female. Which was ok because they found it acceptable for me to catch my own fish.
The owner had me sold on that elephantnose so fast, even though I didn't have the chance to research him. I normally research before I go to the petstore, often finding that the people helping me there are not being honest, or just don't know better. But I bought the fish anyway and immediately got on my phone to do research and found that the guy at the fish store was knowledgeable and honest.
I also asked if they ever carried blue pearl shrimp (yep, stocking the quarantine tank.. an empty tank just doesn't last long in my house). He said he would have no problem ordering it and I explained that I live two hours away. Turns out that he "has a guy" who travels between Bozeman and Billings twice per month. So, not only could I have him order the shrimp, but I could also have them delivered right to my house... sans shipping.
Overall, a wonderful experience. I can't wait for another opportunity to go there! If you live within two or three hours of Bozeman (I know.. most of you don't... ), this is the place to go!