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Looking for the best place to buy fish online? I get this asked to me a lot and it brings back memories 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 telling 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 where 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 the 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
Best Online Freshwater Fish Store
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. 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
2. Arizona Aquatic Gardens
- US Based
- Betta focused
Arizona Aquatic Gardens is a family fish farm that has been operating since 1987. They are known for providing aquarium fish for freshwater aquariums and ponds. They recently added saltwater fish as well, but I don’t know much about their quality of marine livestock. Their freshwater selection is excellent however.
This is one of the rare online shops that has 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 Arizona Aquatic Gardens nails it. They work with top fish farms producing unique Bettas so you this is a lot of piece of mind that you aren’t risking it with an imported fish that will come over with lots of stress or diseases.
They will ship orders next day but are on a set shipping schedule. Please check their shipping page so you know what day you need to be at home to receive your package!
- 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 as managed to build its community over time, especially with the 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.
Best Place Buy To Freshwater Aquarium Plants Online
- 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 hobbyist 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. 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’ve big 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 immediate material that really helps take 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.
Best Place To Buy Saltwater Fish Online
Ah, my favorite topic. I am unashamedly a saltwater fish and reef tank junkie. Selecting saltwater fish is a tough job as quality of livestock varies and there is 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.
Best Place To Buy Saltwater Corals Online
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. Cherry Corals
Cherry corals is the place to go online to get the rarests 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 on 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 are pretty expensive. They are selling off their reputation. They have been around since 2006 and every hardcore reefer knows about them as the source to go to the rarest corals and anemones. You can purchase from them directly on their website. They will have auction sales from time to time, but those will be posted on forums.
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 Corals 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.
Best Place To Buy Koi Online (And Also Pond Goldfish)
Buying Koi is definetly 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!
Online Fish 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 their 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 care with freshwater and marine fish. For marine fish, their 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 then good.
They are 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 livestock though, I would recommend buying from their subsidiary that specializes in it – Live Aquaria.
Conclusion – Best Place To Buy Fish Online
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 what how to setup your fish tank, I have several guides below that might help get you started.
Thanks again and see you next time!