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2:07 p.m. Mon.-Wed.: Best Tropical Fish Store 

Albany Aquarium

Just as the best food is often found at the seediest dives, the Albany Aquarium's decor is not its finest feature. The floors are crumbling and the quarters are cramped. But what it misses in ambiance, the thirty-year-old store more than makes up for in old-fashioned fish know-how. For East Bay tropical fishionados, this is the store. Owner Guy Oei, along with an assembled team of all-knowing fish-geek sales clerks, take pride in their fish-rearing and are careful to pass on helpful, accurate advice to well-intentioned but often uninformed customers. The priority here is healthy, happy fish, so they'll steer you away from committing ichthyocide by overpopulating your tank, even if it means netting less profit for themselves. Albany Aquarium quarantines all fish before they reach the sales floor, which explains the vitality of the guppies, tetras, and gouramis that dwell in their numerous tanks. And, given the fragility of the species, healthy fish and good advice can often make all the difference. Unfortunately, customers often have complicated questions for the expert staff, lines are long, and store hours are limited, so shoot for off-peak hours when you can.

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