Most aquarium service companies are, in my opinion, a disgrace to the aquarium hobby. Why do I take this harsh stance? While working in local fish stores, I had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with several service companies first hand. And in virtually all experiences, the impression that I got was a negative one.
Most of these service companies are run right out of the back of a pickup truck or a garage, and that’s where the brunt of my criticism is directed. There are a few actual companies that are tied to fish stores that do servicing, but in general, the servicing comes from individuals. Actual companies (with storefronts) that offer aquarium maintenance are a much better choice, as they probably carry some form of insurance and have some sort of screening process or training prior to hiring.
Another thing I have noticed is that most of the service people don’t know their way around an aquarium setup. They don’t focus on establishing a well-balanced system or educating the person actually housing the aquarium. Instead, they force livestock and equipment onto unsuspecting aquarium owners and often overlook, or even create, problems to keep themselves in business. Most maintenance personnel even recommend bad maintenance methods. For example, the average aquarium requires at least two water changes a month. It’s sort of a generalization, but doing multiple water changes will drastically improve water quality. A majority of “professionally” maintained aquariums only get a water change once a month or less. The maintenance guy will recommend this for people on a budget or those not willing to spend for extra care. Ideally, the individual maintaining the aquarium should be worried more about the well being of the fish and explain to the customer how things work best.
In addition to suggesting livestock and equipment that is either unnecessary or even bad for the setup and care of the animals, most service companies and maintenance individuals severely rip off their customers. They find livestock ad equipment at local fish stores, purchase it, and turn around and sell it to their customer for a huge markup. This is another thing I saw first hand and it really got under my skin.
I personally feel it’s better to have a hands-on approach to your aquarium. Anyone with a little patience can do it. Just research the livestock, assemble the proper equipment, and maintain the system. Doing this yourself will give you personal gratification will save you loads of money in the long run. But if you do want to go the “professional maintenance” route, I highly suggest you ask for references and do some research yourself. Double check prices online, ask local aquarium keepers about aquariums, and try to be involved when the maintenance individual comes to your home and tinkers with your aquarium.