Make sure you find a specialist aquatic shop that sells good quality fish and offers good advice. If you are a regular customer the members of staff will become familiar with your tank set-up and species purchased.
If you are under the age of 16 you must be accompanied by a parent/guardian or provide written consent to make a purchase of livestock.
When you visit your aquatic retailer, take time to observe the conditions in which the fish are kept. Tanks should have adequate filtration and present the fish well. Specialist aquatic retailers take great pride in their fish stock and will only sell healthy fish.
Take time to observe the fish to make sure they are all in good health. Any signs of disease or ill health should deter any purchase. Fish should be mobile with no signs of abnormality.
If you are unsure about the compatibility of the fish you have your eye on or their suitability for your aquarium set up ask a member of staff for advice. Any reputable shop will happily provide accurate information about the purchase/keeping of livestock and the correct use of products they sell and if your present equipment is suitable for those fish you intend to take home
You need to consider the size of your aquarium to determine the quantity and species of fish you can keep and the different species you wish to keep should be compatible with each other. For the welfare of all your fish it is important that they are going to be able to live together in harmony.
If you are buying fish for a newly set up aquarium please take great care to build up the stocking density very gradually. A responsible retailer will discourage you from buying too many fish in a short period of time. Remember they have both your's and your fishes' best interest at heart. If in doubt seek advice as suggested above.
It is a good idea to check your water quality before making a purchase. Ensure Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and Ph are at the right level. Simple test kits are available from your aquatic retailer and most shops provide a professional testing service and will be happy to explain your results to you.
Fish should be caught in such a way that keeps stress to a minimum and physical damage should be avoided at all costs. Hence most shops will insist on them catching the fish themselves.
Make sure you inform the staff of the journey time involved in transporting the fish home. They will be able to provide you with a purpose designed container to reduce the stress levels the fish are exposed to. It should also carry a sufficient amount of oxygen for the duration of the trip, an appropriate amount of water, and provide insulation for tropical or marine fish. Covering the fish up whilst in transit will be greatly appreciated by your new pets, direct sunlight will not only increase water temperatures it will also cause unnecessary stress
When you return home with your fish it will be necessary to acclimatise them before releasing them into the new environment. See Introducing Fish to a new aquarium.