Unfortunate problem that is ongoing in all states
You are to be commended for wanting to help the fish, and in no way get something for yourself!
I have been breeding oscars and bettas for over 20 years, have purchased fish in 7 states, in all types of climates, and all types of tanks, and I have to say that I have found the same appalling conditions in Wal-Mart, PetCo, and EVERY chain type pet store.
There is no way that an employee or two can monitor hundreds of differnt types of ish at different stages of growth and disease. I have found devoted, caring people at every store I shopped, but they are simply too stretched out to be able to handle fish properly.
As a result I NEVER purchase from anyone other than a "mom and pop" store.
Go by a few in your area, meet the owners, make several trips, tell them you are devoted to raising healthy, long-living fish and that your business will be worth several hundred if not thousands of dollars of business in your lifetime, and they will give you what you are looking for.
Also, these smaller shops are ALWAYS wanting to hear that people are upset with conditions in the big houses, and will be happy to take care of you.
You will pay more for your fish and supplies, but you will be happier in the long run.
I always offer to write articles or give classes free of charge to these small shop owners, and believe me, if you do that, you will DEFINITELY be taken care of.
Hope this helps.