When I found Green Spotted Puffer fish at Walmart in February 2015., I was shocked. All were emaciated and suffering from fin rot, ich, flukes, and parasites. The associate warned me not to buy them, but I took two home anyway. They miraculously lived through the night, so I went back and bought the rest.
I learned that Walmart was told by the supplier Quality Pets, to feed them fish flakes. Puffer Fish are notorious carnivores and fin nippers, so I went on to try to find out more about this company and why they would put this kind of fish in a retail next to goldfish.
A source with Quality Pets made me aware of a Blackfish / Walmart alliance contrived to lock impulse buyers into returning to Walmart for repeat business.
Marineland is a company specializing in developing filters and aquarium products who, along with Tetra Inc, , and other's, engage in product switching under the umbrella company Spectra Brands*. Together, they manufacture Walmart's two exclusive brands called Aqua-Tech and Aqua Culture. Marineland furnish and maintain the tanks. There is a reason the tanks are filthy and can go weeks without repair.
Compassion buyers increase revenues.
Puffer fish are very inquisitive, bond quickly with one person who they readily recognize, and they display emotional intelligence. This is why as told by Quality Pet they have "personality" and are in high demand. Walmart does not carry the puffers actual diet which is live or frozen, so in order to place them in Walmart Quality Pets Inc. have told Walmart to feed the Puffers fish flakes, and so thousands die simply from starvation. QP does not treat the fish for disease before stocking their stores. I have seen this at every Walmart I have visited in the past months, and have seen YouTube video's proving that it is happening at Walmart all across the country.
The sad irony is Tetra Inc, who supplies food samples to Aqua Culture aquarium kits, also does business with Seaworld, who is themselves under scrutiny for alleged cruelty. This "Blackfish" philosophy of capital gains at the suffering of animals, is not lost on the fact that Seaworld's Educational website refers hobbyists questions to Tetra. *
I knew the Puffs would have died a lingering painful death by starvation in Walmart's care, so I did entire tank rescues. I wrote corporate, and I met regularly with the managers of all eight Bay Area stores that sold puffs. I say this past tense, because as of 9/23/15, Walmart managers stopped puffer fish sales in the entire San Francisco Bay Area.
In addition to Walmart’s withholding of food and neglect of the puffers, is the Tetrododoxtin neurotoxin issue. My volunteers and I have researched the numerous fatalities associated with the Tetrodotoxin found in all puffer fish. It only takes 2 mg to kill an adult human. There is no antidote. Walmart sells Puffers to the unwitting public with no warning Label.
There are no restrictions as far as who can buy them here in the US. Thailand prohibits the sale and export of puffers because of numerous fatalities from the Tetrodotoxin in the puffer fish's skin. They are being sold as "ornamental pets" to unwary impulse buyers. Quality Pets are well aware that Puffers will naturally excrete this lethal neurotoxin when under stress. They treat the Puffers with Tetracycline and separate them from other fish because they know they poison the water and weaken or kill other fish. What could be more stressful than starvation? The tanks at Walmart are rarely locked and are within reach of children.
Puffer Fish are a poor choice for inexperienced fishkeepers. They have many special needs, are lethal when not handled properly, and are sold without a Warning Label. They suffer, all fish at Walmart suffer, hellish conditions.
In May, Walmart Puffer Rescue Shelter joined forces with two other small individual groups, and formed Puffer Rescue Justice Corps.
My intention to save a few, has become a mission to spread awareness of corruption in the pet industry and stop the Walmart/ Blackfish alliance. I intend to take this campaign across the country...Destination, Walmart Headquarters in Arkansas, and on to Washington DC.
Product or Service Mentioned: Walmart Sanitary Conditions.
Reason of review: fish suffering.
Monetary Loss: $8.
Preferred solution: remove puffers from pet department inventory.
Walmart Pros: Managers responsive to request, Willingness to improve conditions for fish, Stopped selling puffers at stores when asked.
Walmart Cons: Puffer fish starvation policy, Filthy fish tanks, Ongoing neglect and abuse of fish, Puffers sold without tetrodotoxin warning, Puffers sold to novice owners.