Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: The Great White North (NOT Alaska)
I agree that the learning curve can be daunting. And no offense to those of you living in the States, but some people giving advice on this forum tend to be a little American-centric in telling people where to look for things instead of checking the nationality of the person seeking advice and asking what they have available. For instance, I live in a small-medium sized city in British Columbia. The nearest Pet Smarts are 2 hours away and 6 hours away...and as far as I know the nearest Petco is 7.5 hours and a border crossing away. In the event of an emergency, some of the things these forums recommend aren't readily accessible--and ordering on-line isn't always a viable option. I know that when someone is unable to find or afford aquarium salt I look before I tell someone in Arkansas that they can find Kosher salt at the Real Canadian Superstore for about a buck; or that Levamisole is banned by the government and is therefore unavailable; and Panacur can only be obtained with a prescription from a vet. (long story)
Sometimes the fancy submersible heaters that adjust cost more in shipping and handling than the entire tank set-up (including plants and fish) simply because I live in Canada, so I make due with either the cheap submersible from Wal-mart or an adjustable heater that doesn't submerge. As a student with a tight budget I make the best of what I have to work with, so I can understand some of the discomfort that comes with getting flak from some of the elitists on this forum.
It's not the new betta owners that should meet criticsm, but the pet shops that don't do the proper research into the animals they carry, and the employees who don't care about the fact that the fate of something that is every bit as capable of feeling and thinking as we are can be determined by bad advice and inadequate information. I know that before my room-mate found this forum there were a lot of things that even the professors who gave me my first betta didn't know (like flakes are not the best things to feed them). It wasn't until then that I learned to properly read the nutritional information on the packets (my fish don't need the MSG present in Hikari pellets, for instance). However, I agree that there is no one right way to do things...you have to find the basics that everyone agrees on and figure out your own way from there. I try my best to ask questions before I try to give answers unless someone else has asked them first (or there is a sticky about it).
I wish the best of luck to new members and ask that they don't get too discouraged as long as they are not actually putting their pets in danger after they have been made aware that there is a problem. Things do get better once you have a better handle on what you are doing.