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Fish create a tranquil and aesthetically pleasing aspect to your home. Whether you have a large saltwater tank or a small freshwater aquarium, fish make great pets for young and old alike.
Buying live fish is also exciting, but where to go? What about Walmart? As our go-to, one-stop-shop, does the giant box store carry live fish?
Does Walmart Sell Live Fish?
No, Walmart no longer carries live fish. Animal rights groups have been pushing the huge discount chain (along with other major retailers) to stop the practice for more than a decade. It was in 2019, however, when Walmart finally gave in.
In March 2019, Walmart announced it would be removing live plants and fish from its sales floors. When and how the aquariums would be moved was up to the store managers, however. It wasn’t until October of that year that Walmart was officially live fish free.
Why Did Walmart Stop Carrying Fish?
Before 2019, 1,700 Walmart locations sold live fish, and the discount chain claimed 30% of tropical fish sales in the United States. The decision to discontinue selling fish as pets came as a result of several things. For example, animal rights groups had crusaded for the fair treatment of fish.
Another reason was a change in sales. The demand for live fish in Walmart’s stores dropped. The conditions in which the fish were kept, their unhealthy appearance, and dead fish were among the reasons people no longer wanted to buy their aquatic pets from Walmart.
Walmart had seen a marked drop in its live fish sales through the years. Although the popularity of animated movies, such as “Finding Nemo,” caused sales to increase, customers were not as interested in keeping fish as pets anymore.
Beyond that, aquariums took up a lot of real estate on Walmart shelves. An American Pet Product Manufacturing Association survey shows that up to 43.5 million Americans own dogs and 37.7 million own cats. In comparison, only 13.9 million people own fish.
With many customers shopping for dog and cat items, the space reserved for aquariums could be better used for other pet products. This was especially true of larger items such as dog beds, crates, and cat trees.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was the lead animal rights group urging major retail chains to stop selling live fish in their stores. This opinion was supported by many after the organization published an expose on Betta fish being kept in contaminated water in more than 100 Petco locations.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Betta fish require a minimum of a 2.5-gallon tank along with a filtration system and water temperature control. Unfortunately, many Betta’s live out their lives in small, inadequate bowls.
Research in 2016 also showed that fish are a lot more intelligent than initially thought. They are capable of emotion, and their memory is strong. Some of the findings include:
- Puzzle-solving capabilities
- Recognition of other fish
- Memory lasting up to three months
- Tool use
- Emotion-based responses
PETA spent 10 years petitioning Walmart to stop its sale of live fish. The animal rights organization counted 2019 as a victory herding us in the right direction.
Does Walmart Still Sell Fish Supplies?
While Walmart no longer sells live fish, you can still purchase all of your fish supplies there. Stores carry an assortment of tanks, filtration systems, temperature gauges, fish food, tank decor, and much more.
You can find all your aquatic items on store shelves and online at Walmart.com. You can often find a better selection online, as well.
Where Can I Buy Live Fish?
If you are looking to add to your fish family or starting your first tank, there are still a lot of places where you can purchase live fish. Major pet retailers such as PetSmart and Petco carry live fish along with all your aquarium accessories.
Be that as it may, you run the risk of finding fish in unhealthy conditions, so the better option is to find a reputable online breeder. It is essential to do your research, however. Check for living conditions, policies, and customer feedback and reviews.
Wrapping Up: Does Walmart Sell Live Fish?
You no longer can shop for live fish at Walmart. Because of the less than humane conditions, PETA, and consumer trends, finding your next fish friend will have to be done elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of Wally World's low prices on fish supplies, though!