I'm the person that you interact with when you need to purchase fish and/or live insect feeders. Most of my time, however, is spent taking care of all of the birds/small animals/reptiles/fish in the store. A lot of people hate us and a lot of people love us. So, go ahead and ask me anything you want!


Comments: 181 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

Soyo1120 karma

Why must you keep Betta fish in 8 ounces of water? Why not dedicate 3-4 at least 5g tanks for just 3-4 bettas so they actually develop colors and look great?

PSCare17 karma

We get roughly 20-25 Bettas every week on shipment days. Bettas are not like regular fish, and they can be sold without my permission, you just take the cup and go. For the week or so that each Betta is with us they are okay in those cups. We change their water every two days so it is not dirty.

I love Bettas, and they are getting trendy recently. PetSmart has a lot of those .5-1 gallon tanks on clearance because I'm fairly sure we are getting rid of them completely. Most of the new Betta tanks I see are 2.5 gallon+ and come with a filter, a heater, a LED hood etc. I personally avoid selling the smaller gallon tanks to customers for bettas and suggest the larger ones, just a moral kind of thing I guess. Wife used to have the Betta Falls thing... what a piece of shit that is.

Fact of the matter is that PetSmart is a business and most of our animals are not kept in adequate terrarium/aquarium enclosures because 1: they sell quickly and 2: floor space. If we had proper tanks for everything it would take up the whole store. For example, you need at least a 30 gallon tank for a single goldfish, yet we will keep 5 or more of them in a 10 gallon cold water system.

Our local competitor tells customers that whole "Anything over 1 gallon will stress the betta out" myth to sell their tiny-ass Betta bowl things, and I would suspect so that the Betta dies quick and they come back for a new one. At our store we actually have morals and will definitely not do that to customers.

MrKingCajun-16 karma


PSCare19 karma

Keyword is eventually.

Goldfish can live for like 30 years, Koi up to 50.

I mean look at this son of a bitch

In a 10 gallon usually a year or two. In a goldfish bowl you got like a month before that thing shits itself to death.

But what happens is their organs keep growing with age but their bodies can't go any larger because the tank isn't large enough. Unfortunately this results in them literally exploding from the inside, their spine breaks and they die a painful slow death.

i_am_the_devil_11 karma

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

PSCare22 karma

African or European?

i_am_the_devil_4 karma


PSCare14 karma

11 meters per second

i_am_the_devil_5 karma

What if it were carrying a coconut?

PSCare15 karma

It can't carry a coconut. A swallow is about eight inches long and weighs five ounces, and you'd be lucky to find a coconut under a pound.

zombiefatcher9 karma

Why does Petsmart keep veiled chameleons in small glass tanks? I mean Petsmart sells the proper housing for them....

PSCare10 karma

We sell the proper housing for everything, but if all of the animals were in proper housing it would take up the whole store. Animals are not with us for very long and so we give them smaller housing.

Don't know about your local PetSmart(s) but our Veiled is just a young girl. If she was any larger we would definitely put her in one of the larger tanks, but we usually reserve those for groups of Beardies/Leopard geckos.

All of the animals are okay in their smaller housing we have at the store, but they quickly move into larger housing when customers buy them, and we are more than happy to help customers pick out all the supplies they'll need. I'd rather sell something knowing it is going to a good home.

zombiefatcher1 karma

But isn't putting a chameleon in a glass tank terribly stressful because of them constantly their reflection? I mean I know you aren't personally setting up the care policies, but it seems a little ridiculous lol

PSCare3 karma

Fairly sure that is a myth. Never seen any of our chameleons notice their reflections or look visibly stressed, they usually look fairly happy.

dlolb7 karma

are there any small pets that don't need too much attention (I have roughly 4-5 hours available to play) and are still happy to be carried and held? I used to have a hamster that was very loved and spoiled, but occasionally bit when I tried to hold her and cuddle her.

PSCare8 karma

Guinea Pigs don't need too much attention but only if you get at least two (of the same sex. We only sell same-sex animals at each store). They're actually very sociable. I've never been bit by one, they just kind of make cute little squealing noises for a second when you pick them up.

Honestly most people who have the small animals don't even have 4-5 hours, a lot of owners of things like hamsters/mice just like looking at them.

Dwarf Hamsters are my favourite as far as small pets, though. So cuddly and cute, and I've never been bit by one. The ones we have love to be handled. Haven't been bit by a regular hamster either but I can see how they would bite, I had one as a kid and I'm pretty sure she bit me.

A lot of people swear by rats, but as the person who has to full clean the rat enclosure every week... no thanks.

Botogiebu3 karma

Actually, you really want teddy bear hamsters. Dwarfs tend to be more irritable than syrian breeds. They're kind of the assholes of the rodent world, right up there with gerbils.

Also, getting a Guinea pig is the worst idea ever in my opinion. All they do is squeel, whistle and poop. They are like giant hamsters except loud, lazy, stinky, unfriendly and not cuddly at all. Basically a distillation of everything negative about hamsters, crammed into one giant ugly rodent pig which requires a giant rodent cage to keep and clean. It's all the work of keeping a rabbit, but all you get is a furry lump instead. I've heard they taste OK in a pinch though.

PSCare3 karma

I don't disagree with you. Those fuckers throw hay all over the god damn place.

Twinkie-twink1 karma

I can't count how much time I've wasted sweeping hay out from under the isolation room and NA room small animal racks.

PSCare1 karma

It sucks but I still like it better than having to remove the bird cages completely and sweep out the old seeds from the shelf.

Twinkie-twink1 karma

Screw Wednesdays.

PSCare1 karma

Wednesdays is our shipment too. So damn busy dude :/

I'm usually the one scheduled on Wednesday mornings. It's not so bad but it's often hard to get everything done before open.

fucking_hilarious6 karma

As someone who also works in Pet Care, how do you deal with individuals who claim that goldfish and tropical fish can go together? It is one of our biggest problems currently and its frustrating. The most our managers will currently let us do is to deny the return policy.

PSCare6 karma

Weird, we here are allowed to deny a sale on any pet in our department.

I had a woman the other day that wanted 2 of the 20 cent feeder goldfish in a fish bowl. I told her they would be dead within a month or so. She came back with a 1.5 gallon betta tank, I said the same thing but said it would be fairly perfect for a betta.

She bought the goldfish anyways, came back from cash and said I told her that the 1.5 gallon was "too big" for a betta. Too big, the fuck does that mean!? Me and my manager made fun of her after she left and she told me that. She ended up not buying the goldfish, thankfully.

Best you can do is try and educate customers. Some of them are so fucking stubborn. Same day as the story above I had a university-freshman aged girl almost cry in front of me because I said she couldn't get a goldfish. I referred her to get a sunburst wag platty and 3 Dwarf Gourami. She was much happier with that choice anyways. Goldfish are overrated man.

Annabe11e4 karma

Why does your pamphlets say red ear sliders have a life expectancy of 10 years when it's really 40+?

PSCare3 karma

No idea. Some of the info in those pamphlets is okay, most is wrong. We don't really refer customers to them here, we don't read them, and our manager doesn't care if they run out and we don't refill the slots where they are housed.

Classic corporate people who don't know anything about anything trying to be smart. Just know that nobody who works in the stores are responsible for those things.

The_________________3 karma

How often do animals get sick or die in the store? What is the procedure in either case?

PSCare11 karma

Fish die quite a bit, usually more fragile fish like Guppies/Platties, and mostly the feeder tanks (200+ goldfish in one tank, bound to get some deads). One of my jobs every morning is to clear out the dead fish from the tanks, but there usually aren't too many unless something is terribly wrong. Fish that are sick (ich, swim bladder) are put into the back isolation tank and get taken out when they are 100% better.

As far as things like reptiles/birds/small pets, we isolate them into their own tanks/cages out back in the quiet room and monitor them closely, logging in their problems and if they are improving or regressing. They are full cleaned once a week (same as every other habitat in the store) and are given food/water and medicine (if needed) twice a day.

Time is the best medicine, and most animals are fine in a few weeks. The ones that are fine but end up with permanent disabilities get adopted out, meaning we give them away for free. Disabilities such as blindness, an eye that is damaged and won't open etc.

Thing like this don't happen too often.

I've seen things before of like, PETA going into the dumpster and PetSmart and finding live hampsters and stuff. I gotta say that is most likely 100% Grade A bullshit. 150 billion percent would never happen at our store, but with over 1300 PetSmart locations you never know if one of 'em could have just done something stupid at some point.

I mean us Pet Care people aren't here to hurt/kill animals or anything, we have the job because we love pets more than we like people, lol.

Maybewhocansay3 karma

How can I keep my dog's diaper on when she wags her tail so hard it comes off? The diaper not the tail. She is on lasix.

PSCare3 karma

I don't work in the canine department but I have heard of harnesses that you can purchase that keep the diapers on. I don't think we carry them, though.

If my mother bought one for her dog she would probably bite the thing apart, lol.

ConfusedMandarin3 karma

Is it Pets' Mart, or is it Pet Smart?

PSCare6 karma

Pet Smart. It used to be PetsMart but the company changed the name to differentiate themselves from the "marts" (stores such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target etc) and to dedicate themselves into "Smart" solutions for "Pet Parents", or so they tell us.

PetSmart just sounds nicer to me, though.

Masterchrono2 karma

Is it true that everyone hates PetSmart?

PSCare2 karma

Hah! Pretty much. Luckily there's an even worse pet store chain here and the hate is deflected to them.

Most hate stems from some bad stories/videos on YouTube, but with 1300+ stores it only takes one fuck up to ruin everything for everybody. For Pet things I'd personally trust our guys, cause I've been told some stupid shit about pets at other pet stores.

ProximaC1 karma

My daughter did basically your job at a PetCo. They treat their animals as a commodity, not as living beings.

For example, the guinea pigs have a respiratory infection that plagued the store for 2 years. Instead of stopping sales for a while, medicating the pigs, cleaning out the tanks and killing off the infection, they just dropped the price to sell them before they got really sick.

The manager in charge of taking animals to the vet would lie and say he called the vet but they couldn't see the animal till next week, he would re-use antibiotics from a reptile on a bird if there was extras, and he would sign off on giving animals their meds for days he wasn't even at work. Animals would basically sit back in the wellness room until they died, then they went into a freezer that was hauled to the dump when it got full.

We actually have a Jackson's chameleon that was in the wellness room for a month. It ended up in the wellness room because the reptile manager yanked it off the branch so hard that 2 of it's toenails were ripped out of its foot and the foot got infected. He was getting medicine so irregularly that it wasn't healing. We bought him and now he's fine.

PSCare1 karma

Jesus, that's really bad. I've heard some bad things about that store, we don't have them here in Canada so I have no experiences with them.

PhilosophersStone12 karma

What do you think of the reptiles you have?

PSCare7 karma

There are 1300+ PetSmart stores and at ours we currently carry Beardies, Leopards, Ball Pythons, Veiled Chameleons, Anoles and a Mountain Horned Dragon. Mountain doesn't move too much, kind of just chills a lot. I really like Leopard Geckos, and I used to have a Bearded Dragon. Often when the store is pretty dead I'll take out the baby beardy and attach him to my shirt and walk around with him on me.

Anoles are whatever, kind of lame honestly. Our Veiled chameleons is sick unfortunately because a owner who claimed he knew how to take care of it (we can refuse sales) bought it for his girlfriend as a surprise and she had no idea how to care for it. We only learned of this gift exchange when he came back to return the poor girl, who has been lethargic since :(

But we are keeping a close eye on her like all of our animals that get a bit sick, and currently have her isolated out back.

PhilosophersStone12 karma

thats good to hear, do you guys carry any inverts?

PSCare2 karma

Depends on the store, but at ours we carry Mystery Snails, Hermit Crabs, Rock Shrimp, Red Claw Crabs and we even have a Australian Blue "Lobster" (Crayfish).

Sometimes we get Ghost Shrimp on shipments but they die fairly quickly because of how fragile they are.

Botogiebu3 karma

Damn, you really know your crabs. Is PetSmart pay commensurate at all with the knowledge you need to have on all these random animals? Do those skills transfer elsewhere?

PSCare1 karma

Some people here go to vet tech for college after, or zookeeping. My manager used to be a zookeeper. Pay was better as a manager at PetSmart.

I get 11 bucks an hour part time. Its okay for how my life is now, but people expect way too much out of me. I don't know everything about everything, but customers seem to think I do lol.

Storm1371 karma

Can I ask if turtles can eat a vegetarian diet? Some sites I read give me mixed info. Some say they need bugs, some say they can be all veggie. What's the BEST care? I'm curious since one day I'd love to own a red eared slider turtle. I just love them.

PSCare1 karma

We dont have RES here but my brother babysat one for a few months. The RES was adult and was often fed minnows. Omnivores always benefit from a mixed diet, so that would be the best diet for them.

nigrojesus2 karma

i've seen some petsmarts that offer shots, and other veterinary services. would you recommend taking my pet here, or should i take my pet somewhere else?

PSCare2 karma

That's the Banfield places. We don't have one here, but I have heard some horror stories.

I'd imagine the vets there don't care much because they're most likely underpaid. I'd recommend somewhere else. Veterinarians don't strike me as a good mix with the corporate world... seems like it needs people with a bit more freedom and morals.

Twinkie-twink1 karma

Current PetSmart PCA as well. Banfield wellness plans are fantastic and the service techs/clerks compensated decently. In my region, it's not uncommon to see store associates intern or straight up rehire at Banfield.

PSCare1 karma

Pretty awesome. Didn't know, thanks.

A_Jellyfish2 karma

What's the oddest thing to happen to you at Petsmart?

PSCare3 karma

A guy brought back a chameleon that he bought for his girlfriend. She didn't know how to care for it, it was a surprise for her birthday or something.

The guy was in his 30s.

The girlfriend was like 12.

Most of the really weird stuff happens up front, and I'm usually with the fish on busy days or out in the back room washing tanks or dishes or something.

adm73732 karma

My parents' cocker spaniel has been turned away by PetSmart and Petco because she gets very nervous when they try to groom her. They have said they think she's going to have a heart attack or something because she starts shaking so badly. My parents got her a 1mg alprazolam prescription, but even that didn't do much to calm her down. Any tips?

PSCare1 karma

Signs of stress are part of Salon training, and if you see a dog in distress you are supposed to take them immediately to the vet. Of course there's some logic here and if the dog is just nervous and they know it they ain't going to rush it to the vet, so they'd just deny service instead of causing it harm. One slip and it can cut the dogs tail off, things like that have happened before.

I'd recommend a private groomer who works out of his/her home. Less dogs, less people, less stress.

loridee2 karma

I purchased two different female bettas from PetSmart on two different occasions and each one only lived about 6 weeks. I didn't overfeed them. I make sure the tank was clean. I am really bummed that they both died and it happened pretty quickly. They went downhill fast. I read it's possible there is such a thing as having too large a tank. Mine was 5 gallons. Is that true? edit: I see there was a question about bettas. Mine is more about having done everything right, so I thought, but having them die anyway.

PSCare5 karma

Too large a tank thing is kind of silly. Too deep, maybe, as they need to come up for water often then head back down to the bottom into their hide/grass. They're used to swimming around huge rice paddys and ponds, having a tank that is too big isn't really a thing.

Sad about the Bettas, can't really comment on the quality of the betta itself though cause every store is so different with different managers and employees and suppliers. Females will potentially fight if they do not each get their own hiding places, but that's the only thing I can think of. Bettas are very expressive and will usually act out if something is wrong with water quality. Bettas can be hardy as hell and can do complete 180s in health, I've seen a betta with no fins at all regrow them all back completely.

loridee1 karma

I used tap water and water conditioner - would bottled water be better?

PSCare2 karma

Some people swear by the bottled water. My Betta acts strange if I use the recommended amount of water conditioner in his water, and I can visibly notice a film of residue on the top of the tank when I do. Because of this I started using less than what is recommended (for tap water) and he has been fine since.

We have this stupid "Betta water" stuff in store, it's like 8 dollars for a bottle. I've made it my mission to make sure nobody buys that stuff, lol.

Botogiebu2 karma

I have so many questions.

Can you pinpoint the moment when your life began spiraling towards a career in pet retail?

If you could go back in time and change anything what would it be?

In all seriousness though, what is your dream career? Do you see yourself working towards vetrinary science, zoology, or something totally different? Where do you go from PetSmart?

Finally, between all the birds, small animals, reptiles and fish... who's crap is the grossest to clean up after? (serious question)

Edit: Another serious question, how much does PetSmart pay you guys? Is it worth cleaning the ferret cage?

PSCare3 karma

  1. Lmao! This ain't exactly a career, everyone here knows it. Only employees with full time (aka benefits) are managers, everyone here is just working part time as a single step in their long-ass life.

  2. I have absolutely no regrets in my life. Maybe how my hair looked in high-school.

  3. Dream career, I moving in July to go to college for Welding. I love welding, it's so much fun.

  4. Grossest crap is rats. Don't see much fish crap. Birds crap isn't so much gross as it is annoying (stop shitting in your own food dishes!). Reptiles crab is good, hardens easily and is easy to take out.

But rodents, specially the rats... I hate cleaning these guys. Awful. I get that rats are smart and stuff and can be trained, but I never really understood why you'd want one as a pet. Just an opinion of mine I guess.

nixity2 karma

Why do you provide nests for and let your Society/Zebra/etc finches breed in their tiny ass cages? You can't even guarantee these birds are not directly related as they usually all come from one dirty source. These birds do not need nests except to breed.. and once there are babies the parents can't be sold.. yet every store continues to allow this to happen. I don't understand.

PSCare-1 karma

We don't provide nests for finches specifically at our store, not sure about others though.

If an egg is laid (usually by the canaries) we shake the egg to prevent it from hatching and leave it in the nest for a while as to not upset the mother. Typically PetSmart carries all animals of one breed of a certain sex, example all Finches would be female/male, all hamsters male etc, so no breeding should occur.

Legacy6012 karma

On average, how many dogs do you pet at work each day?

PSCare1 karma

Probably 2 a day. Most people who come to the back are families trying to blow their kids minds by having them look at fish and reptiles. Like a damn zoo visit, lol. Don't see too many dogs.

ThinkingGhibli1 karma

How did you acquire that position & what previous experience was required?

PSCare2 karma

I applied for all of their positions and in the "Would you like to be placed in any other positions?" I listed them all. Example, I'd apply for cashier and say I wanted to be in pet care at the end, but then applied for pet care and say I could also be a cashier. Maximum chances for you to show up on their database.

Took my 9 months to get the job. Patience is all ya need. I went in a few times and asked for the manager, but that didn't seem to help that much.

Didn't really have much on my resume. Still a young guy, but they mostly care about the application process.

Miles_Prower11 karma

What fish can I fit in a. 8 gallon BIOorb. I have two goldfish in there. Now I realize it is way too small.

Can I fit a betta in there?

PSCare1 karma

No to the betta. I'd say a form of danio (Zebra danio, white clouds) or a couple neon tetras.

Is it this that you have?

Don't know much about bio orbs, seems like the advertising point is sort of a small self-sustaining ecosystem? Smaller fish and live plants sort of deal?

I'd say a zebra danio and a ghost shrimp would be a good combination. Danios are hardy and do well in small tanks, and ghost shrimps don't need much space/food to live either.

Miles_Prower11 karma

Yes. I have a bigger one than the one linked.

I guess I need to move my fish to a bigger tank. Thanks for the advice.

PSCare1 karma

In the original you said you have "a. 8 gallon BIOorb."

Was the first period after "a" a mistake? I just noticed that, upon looking at their site it seems they have an 8 gallon but not a .8 gallon.

I read it as point 8.

8 gallons is great for a Betta, 5 is generally the minimum to get the full life out of your Betta. Could even toss in one or two of the previous guys I mentioned, I used to have 4 danios, 5 ghost shrimp and a betta in a self-sustaining ecosystem 10 gallon. This was in my ignorant youth, and I downsized the Betta to a 1 gallon and it died :(

ChanguitaShadow1 karma

2 things: I adopted an adult red eared slider that was a rescue and in really bad shape- they kept her in a back room- she's a very big old girl, and so I'm curious how "rescue animals" (specifically water turtles) are kept in the back. Was she in a larger tank? She was definitely abused by a previous owner, kept in a tank too small and overfed (her shell is all overgrown but in a way that shows her tank inhibited growth). How do you keep adult turtles in the back? Are they in a group pool or like a large tank?

Second question... and you might not really be the best to ask... but if I bring my cat in to the groomer at one of your stores... will they groom it? He's shedding like crazy and I feel like at this point, it may be an ok time to try the lion hair cut so he's less hot. Will they groom a cat?

PSCare2 karma

1: We don't have turtles here but everything is housed separately in it's own tank to reduce risks of infection/fighting etc, besides the fish. We have a divider to separate aggressive and passive fish.

2: I think it depends on the salon. I don't interact with the salon people much, they're at the very front and I'm at the very back. They always groom our SPCA cats before they go up for adoption, so they definitely know how to do it.

SNOTcorn1 karma

Banfields: worth it?

PSCare2 karma

Don't have one here but from what I've heard... no.

Not sure what the advantage of it would be, anyways. I like my little mom and pop vet that I take my cat to. I don't want corporate America involved in that shit.

bobby_hill_swag1 karma

What do you do with the animals that don't get adopted?

PSCare1 karma

The sick ones with permanent disabilities that I've mentioned before, or the cats in the adoption center?

In both scenarios we keep 'em till they get adopted. Could be over a year but we will still hold on to them.

ChosenPun1 karma

My dog was adopted from a shelter offering a two-week period where you could return and get your money back. My dog, was perfect for the first two weeks, but nowadays she barks at everyone and occasionally nips at our family. Any advice?

PSCare1 karma

She may need a bit of socialization training. Most PetSmarts have training classes that are more social than other training courses because they take place in the store. They get to socialize with other customers, walk around the store, see all of the other dogs etc.

Some training places do disciplinary training, and we do behavioural training, much more tame.

EngravedEnigma1 karma

I worked at PetSmart for a while (same position as you) and I have a question. While I was working there was a room where we kept sick animals we were treating. Mostly there were hamsters with wet tail but there was a hamster there for over 7 days (without treatment) with a rectal prolapse. No one gave a shit about this little hamster and it infuriated me. When I would bring it up to managers they'd blow me off. I quit because of that and other similar reasons. Have you encountered anything like this at your store?

PSCare1 karma

Nope! Our pet care lead is an ex zookeeper and has a degree from university in biology. Everyone at our store cares a lot about our little guys

baxter_19991 karma

Do you hire 16-year-olds? I need a job!

PSCare1 karma

18+ only :/

keystonekid161 karma

So, my local PetSmart advised me to buy a plecostomus for my tank with 3-4 other fish. Since then, the other fish have died and my pleco just keeps growing and growing -- I did not know what size they were meant to grow to and my local PetSmart said he'd be "perfect" for my tank size and my fish... which was wrong after I did research.

So now, my pleco is by himself in a 10 gallon tank and he (obviously) needs a bigger tank and better care. I am not interested in keeping him because I can't afford bigger supplies right now and just want him in a better home. Will my PetSmart take him back or am I out of luck because of their bad advice?

PSCare2 karma

Yeah, classic plecos get huge. Most of my day is spent correcting people who want a plecos that gets 1.5 feet long to put in a 10 gallon. At that point the plecos makes more of a mess than it actually cleans, pointless to have em.

Good "algae eaters" for a 10 gallon would be an Otocinclus, as they stay very small. Get up to 20 gallons and you can put in Clown Plecos or Rubber-Lipped Plecos, as they stay ~6 inches at the maximum.

Sucks that they gave bad information. It happens sometimes with the newer guys. There's not much training involved in relation to how to keep pets, so a lot of it is learning from other Pet Care vets who you will commonly be assigned with for the first month. I often look at care sheets online in my spare time to learn more about everything we carry.

Unfortunately PetSmart doesn't take pets back from anyone for any reason unless it is within the first two weeks of purchase and you can prove that with a receipt.

My recommendation would be to try and give it away for free on Craigslist/Kijiji. I think it would go quick. Trust me, there are weird fish fanatics out there who have their whole tiny apartment filled with 50+ gallon tanks that would love to have a free plecos. Heard a story of a guy who has such a big custom-built tank in his house that he needs to put on scuba gear to get in and clean it.

gunsforthehomeless0 karma

a guy and his son are looking at fish. 'ooh isn't that one pretty? which one do you like?'. the boy points to a jack dempsey. what do you do next?

PSCare1 karma

Ask their tank size. If it's for a kid it's usually something really small, so then I recommend the Danios and see their son die a little inside.

captain_buckwheat-2 karma

So, do you wish you'd stayed in high school?

PSCare4 karma

Not everybody can get a job at their daddy's firm right out of High-school :)