How to Safely Purchase Aquarium Livestock and Equipment from Fellow Hobbyists


Acropora Coral Frag

Most aquarium keepers tend to get their marine livestock from local sources, with a majority of those transactions taking place between two or more hobbyists in the private confines of one’s home.  Occasionally, the hobbyists agree to meet up at local places equidistant from both parties, such as local fish stores or gas stations, usually picking whichever is more convenient. The reason most of these coral purchases, equipment upgrades, and fish swaps takes place in such a private setting is due more to convenience more than anything, as the aquarium makes for a great conversation piece and all of the goods are right there. While most of us never think twice about meeting up with someone at their house, or having a fellow reef keeper come over to yours, these situations can present all sorts of problems. For starters, sometimes you’re meeting a total stranger, and despite giving them the benefit of the doubt, you may run into a total nutjob who could either cause you physical harm or steal from you. With those possibilities in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can protect yourself and prevent bad things from happening.

Only buy from active and well-known members of your aquarium community

Every local aquarium club has members that are well-known and respected. They may or may not have the top notch stuff, but they are trustworthy and are always helping out with club activities and events. These members also have huge posts counts and have been members of the community for several years. Another common feature is that they are premium members of the organization, meaning they pay annual dues to show their support of the club.

These are the people you want to be buying your corals and fish from. Besides being trustworthy, they will probably also give you a better deal on your purchases or trades.

Meet in public places, like fish stores

Worried about going by yourself to someone’s home to buy aquarium livestock? Uncomfortable with the idea of letting a complete stranger into your home? These concerns are completely understandable, and fortunately there are many options available. To get around the problem, offer to meet in a public place. This can be a local fish store, a grocery store parking lot, or anywhere really. Just as long as there are other people around, you should be okay. Also make sure, that when you are going out, let your family members know the exact time and location of your meeting, and who it is with.

The one thing you have to be careful about when meeting with fish stores is the store’s reaction to the sale. If you are selling corals on their property, then you are potentially stealing a sale from them. While you may not see it in this light, there’s a good possibility that fish store employees and owners won’t look too favorably on it.

Take a reef keeping buddy along for the ride

If you’re uncomfortable with meeting up with fellow hobbyists all on your own, why not take a reef keeping buddy along for moral support? This close friend can keep you company during the ride, help you make ideal coral purchasing decisions, and deter any would be wrong-doers from doing any damage. While most of your aquarium friends will be glad to help, sometimes they may need a little convincing. If you offer to take them to their favorite fish store or toss them an extra frag, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind accompanying you on your trip.

Check for feedback and past history

There’s no better indicator of a potential problem like bad feedback. Scour all of the posts by the person buying or selling the aquarium livestock, making sure to look for transactions that went awry. Also be sure to type the person’s username into the search engine of the forum. Any time the person’s name is mentioned, it should show up. This allows you to browse all of the posts where his or her name was mentioned, allowing you to track down any past transactions.

These are just a handful of ways to protect yourself when buying aquarium livestock from local hobbyists. If you have a helpful tip, be sure to let us know by commenting below.


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