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Looking for the best place to buy fish online? I get this asked of me a lot and it brings back memories of when I started out in the saltwater tank hobby back in the early 90s. Back then you just went to the local fish store to get your fish, live plants, and corals. I remember there was a store called Flying Fish Express and me told myself how crazy this is that you can get a fish shipped to you overnight.
However, in reality, it’s always been very common for fish stores and distributors to get their fish and other livestock like this. All that a store like Flying Fish Express was doing was cutting out the middleman and getting you fish direct, to your door, and at a very competitive price. Today, shipping aquatic livestock is just a common and accepted practice and the best way to get the more exotic and more high-demand fish, plants, and corals you can get in the hobby.
There are other times when you may live in an area where selection is just limited or the stores around you aren’t that great. Online shopping solves all of this for you. You get the best fish, the most exotic, and sometimes you even get guarantees! So knowing that I’ll break this down to you in sections and limit the stores to relieve your buyer’s anxiety.
No one wants to see a list of 20+ stores to buy fish, you only want the best of the best right? So that’s what I’m here for using my over 20 years in the hobby and seeing the evolution of the online fish store industry from its infancy to what it is now. So let’s get started! This list will be broken into 5 categories:
- Best Online Freshwater Fish Store
- Best Place To Buy Freshwater Aquarium Plants Online
- Best Place to Buy Saltwater Fish Online
- Best Place To Buy Saltwater Corals Online
- Best Place To Buy Koi Online
15 Best Online Fish Store: My Top Recommendations
For those of you in a hurry, I’ll provide a quick summary of my recommended fish stores. Click through the links to go straight to the store. My explanations are below. Many of these stores I have purchased from personally over the years and others I have gotten to know from my time in aquarium clubs and with other aquarist friends.
- Flip Aquatics
- Imperial Tropicals
- King Koi and Goldfish
- Aquarium Co-Op
- TSM Aquatics
- TCK Corals
- Unique Corals
- Next Day Koi
- Kloubec Koi Farm
Top Freshwater Store on the Internet
Most of us are used to buying freshwater fish at local fish stores since their variety and care are pretty good. After all, most freshwater fish are tank bred these days. There are a few places I would recommend if you are looking online.
1. Flip Aquatics
- US Based
- Specialized in Nano Fish
I’m a huge fan of Flip Aquatics. In fact, I’ve known Rob for a few years and have run into him a few times at Aquashella in Chicago and Dallas.
Rob started Flip Aquatics in 2010 and has set the standard when it comes to best practices in freshwater fish conditioning. He was the first in the industry to have a full 30-day quarantine process for shrimp. No other retailer on the internet is as robust when it comes to raising and selling properly conditioned shrimp. You can check out his video below from his YouTube channel. He is now the #1 online freshwater fish retail on the internet.
Rob and his team have also ventured into conditioned nano fish. You can now purchase the following fish types from his store:
You can also purchase basic supplies and aquarium decor from his store. Rob is a great livestock retailer. Definitely give his store a visit!
2. Imperial Tropicals
- US Based
- Specialized in Cichlids
This is my go-to for high-quality South American and African Cichlids. They have been around since 1970 and have been one of Florida’s leading tropical fish farms in the US. They have been a wholesaler to fish stores for many years and only recently have decided to branch out and offer their fish to the general public.
They specialize in African Cichlids, American Cichlids, Rainbow Fish, and Tetras. Their website has a few in construction pages, but they are easy to reach via email and are quick to respond. Because they are mainly a wholesaler, their shipping is expensive, so either order in bulk or order with a friend to keep your shipping costs low. They do not offer a free shipping option so keep that in mind when buying.
3. King Koi and Goldfish
- US Based
- Betta & Fancy Goldfish focused
King Koi and Goldfish is a family-owned business that has been operating since 2016. They are known for providing the rarest and most exotic Bettas and Fancy Goldfish on the internet. They even sell rare Ranchu, and show-size Oranda goldfish. They also sell Koi fish, but I do not have familiarity with their Koi Quality. One thing that sets them apart is their quarantine process.
This is one of the rare online shops that have a large selection of Betta Fish where you do not have to deal with import sellers. It is tough to find a quality what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) seller of Bettas and King Koi and Goldfish nails it. They work with top breeders to obtain unique Bettas. There is a lot of peace of mind that you aren’t risking it with an overseas seller that may ship fish over under a lot of stress or infected with diseases.
They will ship orders the next day and will ship to Canada!
- Auction based
- Exotic breeds
Aquabid is the eBay of freshwater fish buying. They have been around for ages, as you can tell by their outdated-looking interface and website. However, this is the place where a lot of folks go when they are looking for rare and what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) freshwater fish. You can find some rare imported freshwater fish this way, some you typically will not see in stores.
It is pretty crazy to think about how Aquabid has managed to build its community over time, especially with all the shipping matters when it comes to shipping live aquatic animals. Aquabid’s interface can look odd, but they have been doing it for years and once you get to know the sellers they will be a good source of unique freshwater fish and other livestock.
Top PLace for Freshwater Aquarium Plants
- Freshwater Plant and Shrimp Focused
- US Based
Buceplant is a Freshwater focused aquarium store that sells mainly live freshwater plants and freshwater shrimp. Buce was created by aquascaping hobbyists for the planted tank enthusiast. They are located in Southern California and their name came about because they became the premier Bucephalandra provider locally.
They offer a variety of high-end cultured live plants and back everything they sell with a guarantee. You can purchase just about any freshwater plant for your aquascaping project and even purchase the stones and aquarium driftwood directly from them. They are also one of the few online sellers that sell the highest-end freshwater equipment brands like UNS Aquariums.
They also have a stellar freshwater shrimp collection. They have a bunch of varieties including Fire Red Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp. If you are a big aquascaper and looking for a wide variety of plants, this is a great stop! Give them a try!
2. Aquarium Co-Op
- Freshwater Plants
- US Based
I’m a big fan of Cory. He has one of the most informational YouTube channels on the internet about the freshwater hobby. He covers a lot of basic and intermediate material that really takes the intimidation of the hobby away. He’s been an inspiration of the blog style that I do here to keep things simple and approachable for all. He also owns one of the best local fish stores in the country.
Cory and his team sell a variety of freshwater plants. They have all the basic beginner aquarium plants and several rare varieties. His team lives this hobby with a passion and it shows with the quality of plants you get from them. Cory has been part of our community for a long-time and he represents an ever shrinking list of online sellers who are truly small businesses. More and more of these online stores are becoming large corporations like Live Aquaria. It’s good to see Cory is still around serving the hobby as one of the little guys.
- Freshwater Plants, Some Livestock
- US Based
Amazon would be one of the place of places you won’t think of at first, but there have been a number of high quality sellers such as SoShrimp, GreenPro, and Big Pete’s Aquatics. For fish, Toledo Fish has been a great source of value cost Goldfish and Koi. If you have been a regular Amazon customer (let’s face, most of us are at this point), it doesn’t hurt to look at what is available.
Where To Buy Saltwater Types On the Internet
Ah, my favorite topic. I am unashamedly a saltwater fish and reef tank junkie. Selecting saltwater fish is a tough job as the quality of livestock varies and there is a risk of diseases that can wipe out your tank. You only want to purchase from a top retailer with a solid history. Here is where I get my fish.
- Saltwater Fish Focused
- US Based
Saltwaterfish.com has a great history as an online seller. They have been around since the early days and built their own community with a message board that customers regularly interact with to give advice on saltwater fish keeping. They offer a variety of saltwater fish for sale, corals, live rock, inverts, and even reef tank setup supplies.
They are a saltwater fish store that will offer you a 15 day live guarantee on fish. These guarantees from sellers like SWF are the reasons why I get so many of my saltwater fish online now. Many local fish stores will not give you this guarantee. It’s the best piece of mind you can get in hobby.
They ship all their fish via FedEx overnight and you only need to spend $99 to get free shipping. That may seem like a lot, but saltwater fish are expensive. It’s pretty easy to get up to that level with 2 fish, sometimes one. You can see now why that guarantee is really important! No one likes to spend over $100 and have a fish die the next day and your investment just goes up in smoke!
These people care and it shows with their over 4,200 Trustpilot reviews. Give them a chance when you are shopping. You won’t be disappointed! They are one of the best online fish stores.
2. Live Aquaria
- Freshwater, Saltwater, and Ponds
- US – Based
Live aquaria got a lot of bad rap when they were acquired by Petco back in 2015. Before they were acquired, they were Flying Fish Express. Yes, that’s right, the original online fish store. Live Aquaria has been shipping fish to customer’s doors since the 90’s. I would consider them the top dog sales wise when it comes to saltwater fish. These days though, I shop with them in only one section. That would be Diver’s Den.
Diver’s Den would be a what you see is what you get (WYSISYG) shopping section where Live Aquaria displays fish for sale and you get the exact fish in the picture. Each fish is put through Live Aquaria’s quarantine process. While the process is no where near as robust as my quarantine process, it is still one of the best out there in the industry and really the best place to go if you aren’t a fan of quarantining saltwater fish.
Live Aquaria has expanded into freshwater fish, koi, live plants, and corals over time, all of which are offered via Drivers Den. Their livestock has a guarantee like Saltwaterfish.com. Driver’s Den is more expensive, but if you are willing to spend a little more, this is a great option to look at for high quality saltwater aquarium fish.
3. TSM Aquatics
- US – Based
TSM Aquatics is where I refer all my high end clients. If you are looking for the most exotic fish, the newest tank bred varieties, and want the best quarantine process in the industry, TSM is where you go. They are a standard above all other fish stores. They have super rare and exotic saltwater aquarium fish like the Gem Tang, Wrought Iron Butterflyfish, Flame Fairy Wrasses and Crosshatch Triggers!
All their fish are put through a rigorous quarantine process, the best I have seen in an saltwater fish store. You can even pre-order fish and they will put it through their process and get it ready for you. They are the best full-service fish store you can find today. All their fish are expensive as a result, but for my high-end clients who don’t want to deal with the QT process and want the most exotic fish money can buy this is where you go.
If you are looking for any single saltwater aquarium fish over $200, I would highly recommend you shop here over any other saltwater fish store.
Saltwater Corals On the Internet
Ah my favorite topic. It’s so easy to get lost in that saltwater candy. I’m guilty of impulse buys here, but I’m comfortable to purchase from these three sellers. To me they are the best sources on the internet.
1. TCK Corals
TCK Corals is the place to go online to get the rarest and best-looking corals online in my opinion. It’s also the only place I will shop if I’m looking for an exotic bubble tip anemone type like a Black Widow or Rainbow BTA. They sell WYSIWYG corals, so every coral you see in their style is the exact coral. I also like that they are not heavy photoshop issues, an all too common problem I see with online coral dealers.
Their prices can be pretty expensive, however, they do have frequent specials. They are selling off their reputation. They have been around since 2007, based in NY, and have a stellar rating online as the source to go find the rarest corals and anemones. This is a coral shop you definitely want to visit often!
Ebay can be a tricky place to buy saltwater corals from. You can get some of the most exotic and nice looking corals from there, but there are also a number of bad sellers on their who photoshop like crazy. I am a fan of EBay myself and know the shops to look at. I’ll make your search easier by point you towards the ones I’ve had the best experience with:
Always do your own research when looking corals on EBay. Check reviews, check around in your local reef clubs, and check forum reviews. A bad coral seller won’t last long, but they will often rebrand to keep selling online.
3. Unique Corals
Unique Coral is a great place to get stock corals and WYSIWYG corals from. They also have bubble-tip anemones for sale, inverts, and some fish for sale on their site. They are also one of the few sellers out there that offers financing on large coral purchases. While I’m personally not a fan of that, I know several reefers like to do this to spread out payments for their builds.
They are a family owned business with a 6,000 square foot facility in Van Nuys, CA. They supply livestock to hobbyists, fish stores stores, and even public aquariums throughout the country.
Top Store To Purchase Koi (And Also Pond Goldfish)
Buying Koi is definitely a high-end hobby. There are some really fancy Koi you can buy these days and not everyone has access to a local garden nursery to get high-quality Koi. Fortunately, I have several I have dealt with over the years.
1. Next Day Koi
- Pond Focused
- US – Based
Next Day Koi is a e-store that is completely dedicated on shipping you the finest exotic Koi to your door. They focus on WYSIWYG Koi. Every fish you see on their website is exactly the one you will get when you order. They back all their orders with a 14 day live arrival guarantee and will also allow you chose your delivery date.
I really like that feature about them, as we are all busy people with schedules. It’s a nice feature to pick your date instead of trying to order on the right date to ensure it gets there when you are actually home. They sell a variety of koi including butterfly koi and all the popular koi fish types. They even sell pond goldfish and highly quality koi food.
You also get a 10% discount from me when you shop with them. Use my offer code ASDEPOT to get 10% off your order!
2. Kloubec Koi Farm
Kloubec Koi Farm is a direct dealer of exotic Koi. They have a farm that is 80 acres in size and have been around for over 30 years. They are known as the premier breeder of champion Koi in the US. They produce Koi to many retailers and they have a comprehensive quarantine process. They are also unique in the space as they do not rely on imported Koi. Every Koi you purchase from them was domestically born.
You actually have two ways you can order from them. You can either order directly on their website or you can shop their EBay store, which you can find bulk packages and super rare Koi for auction. Check out the Ebay store if you are looking for a champion-level Koi fish. The prices can get pretty crazy!
Internet Stores To Avoid
There are a few online fish stores I would not recommend. Below are a couple I steer my clients away from
- Freshwater, tropical, marine
- US Based
PetSmart is a source you can get live fish from online, however, I generally avoid it. The livestock quality isn’t that great – especially on the saltwater side. For freshwater, you can get fish from there; however, I would just rather go to other sources I mentioned above online. They do sell aquarium supplies, but honestly, if you are shopping for supplies, it’s best to buy from Chewy, which was the e-commerce subsidiary that they acquired in 2017 and then split off in 2020.
- Freshwater, tropical, marine
- US Based
Everyone in the US knows about Petco as they are the largest retailer of pet supplies in the country. However, they have issues with quality when it comes to caring for freshwater and marine fish. For marine fish, the tanks in most of their stores simply aren’t designed for them. Many fish you purchase from them will often be very stressed as a result. There are good Petcos though, but usually, there are more bad ones than good ones.
However, there is one way to purchase from Petco without all the issues that you see in their local stores. That would be purchased directly online. The reason why is the fish purchased from their online store are drop-shipped from the distributors. These distributors are usually going to be the same that many local fish stores in your area are going to use. This is no different than purchasing fish at the local fish store that just got shipped and is still in the bag.
While it will need conditioning and I recommend quarantining fish shipped overnight, they can be purchased at great prices from Petco. They also have a guarantee on freshwater fish.
Pro Tip: I'll make it very clear to my readers here that I ONLY recommend purchasing fish from Petco online since I know they dropship from the distributor. Your mile will vary if you purchase in store.
They are also great for getting supplies in a pitch though. I’ve gone to Petco before in a pinch when my local fish store was closed for supplies. If you are looking for conditioned/quarantined livestock, I would recommend buying from their subsidiary that specializes in it – Live Aquaria.
Well, there you have it, folks. That’s my recommended list of the best places to buy fish online. Are you a fan of a store that I left off of the list? Give a comment below and let’s start a discussion. If you are looking for guidance on how to set up your fish tank, I have several guides below that might help get you started.
Thanks again and see you next time!
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.