PETCO Customer Service Destroyed My Fish Tank

Author: keith
Category: Business Blog


A few months ago I purchased a few live plants for my 50 gallon aquarium that I have had for almost 10 years. I have always kept artificial plants but when I was at PETCO a few months back, the sales associate informed me that live plants are beneficial for the aquarium and the fish love to eat and hide in them.

This is when I tried to call PETCO customer service at 1-877-738-6742. No luck!

She showed me which plants to purchase (a braided wicker ring with plants growing out of the top held down by a rock at the bottom and also some loose green plants that were floating in the large aquarium).

I asked her if there's anything I need to know about having live plants or any harm they could cause to my fish/tank and she repeatedly told me "no, live plants are the way to go – the fish love them!" I put the plants in my tank and they looked beautiful for a few weeks until the braided wicker ring began to completely fall apart and come dislodged from its rock base.

About a week after the plant began to fall apart, I decided to soon pull the plants out of my tank and finally go return them to PETCO​.

As I was examining my tank trying to decide what to replace the live plants with, I began noticing these small brown circular snails all around my tank. I have NEVER had snails in over 10 years with this tank and it really worries me.

They are absolutely nasty and very dirty. I began doing research on the matter and learned how detrimental they could be to my tank. I fished as many snails as I possibly could out of my tank– every single day I would find more and more little snails. A few weeks ago I finally returned the live plants along with a baggie full of the little snails to PETCO. 

I called prior to going and spoke with the store manager Ray who informed me I need to come in and talk to Travis, the aquatics manager. When I got to the store I found Travis and told him of my problem. He allowed me to return the plants and he told me what fish I need to purchase to eliminate the snails. I ended up spending over $30 on new catfish in attempt to get rid of the snails. I have given these new catfish a few weeks now to see if they would help.

Finally, I wrote a letter to the PETCO corporate offices at 9125 Rehco Road in San Diego. Big surprise? No answer again!

At the same time as this, I continue to find multiple snails in my tank every single day and it is VERY frustrating. I now have spent countless hours cleaning my tank, purchasing new supplies and purchasing new fish to help decrease the snail population however nothing has been successful. I do not think it's right that the original PETCO store associate did not have the proper knowledge to warn me of possible snails living on the live plants. 

When I notified the store manager Ray of the fact that his associate failed to inform me of the possibility of snails (even after I had directly asked her if there was anything at all that could possibly harm my tank with adding live plants for the first time) and that she actually urged me to purchase the live plants, I was told by Ray "I guess I need to spend more time training my sales associates, most of them don't know much about the fish."

Travis, the PETCO aquatics manager, instructed me to purchase five catfish that day, which I did. He told me I need to buy a loach fish to help better rid of the snails but he didn't have any so I "would have to go find one somewhere else". 

It may sound trivial but this has really cost me a lot of time and money and caused me a lot of stress.

I truly hope this doesn't happen to anyone else – there should be signs posted to warn people of the possible snail infestation when purchasing live plants. I feel at the very least I should have been given a refund for the plants AND given the new catfish, help remedy the situation, none of which was done. I was made to feel like this was my fault and basically 'too bad' for me and my tank.

I truly hope that someone at PETCO corporate headquarters can come up with a better solution to this problem and help me figure out a way to get rid of these snails once and for all. They are dirty, nasty and I'm tired of spending countless hours fishing them out of my tank.