Rats, Cats & Elephants – Capel St Mary, Nr Ipswich

I am bloody angry. SO ANGRY that I’m not going to check this post for mistakes and grammar!

I’ve had a tropical fish tank for over 7 years, infact nearly 8 years. I started out with a small tank and and gradually upgraded to the 180litre community tank we have now which is home to several different varieties of fish, some of whom are as old as the set up itself. The tank is established, runs well and I have never had some of the common diseases I see people on the forums troubled with. I use tap water that I treat with de-chlorinater to carry out weekly water changes.

Several months ago I bought 2 small freshwater Dwarf Puffer fish from the shop in the title of this post. They incorrectly had this fish labelled as a Community fish meaning you could keep it as a member of a group of other fish who are also known to dwell peacefully together. There was no problem for the first few days as they settled in but then I noticed some of the other fish turning up with chunks out of their fins. The puffers were fin nipping the other fish during the night. I also found the puffers were incredibly hard to feed because they would only eat meaty foods like blood worm which everyone else in the tank enjoyed too and gobbled up before the puffers got a look in. The amount of food I had to put in the tank for the puffers made the tank filthy quickly and algae started to become a problem.

I eventually got a tank divider as a temporary solution since I didn’t want to take the puffers back to the shop. One of the puffers got bigger and the other smaller – I now know this was because they didn’t have enough room between them and one became boss. The little one suddenly died, so I was left with one.

The problem with food continued and I eventually bought another small tank called a Biube to rehouse the puffer on it’s own.  The Biube is a contemporary tank made from clear acrylic, something that a serious aquarium owner would perhaps find a bit novice but actually works beautifully for what I need it for. I was considering buying a shrimp of some sort to do the job of cleaning the bottom.  Crustaceans are often better in a ph of 7 because it’s more beneficial to their shells. Last week I went to the fish shop and saw they had some Crystal Shrimp – £9 each.  Knowing my tanks are around 8.2-8.4 I queried the owner at Rats, Cats and Elephants what his tanks read at. My thinking being if his tanks are at a PH of 7 and I dump a shrimp into mine which is 8.2 that could well be £9 down the pan!

The bloke stood there and practically froze at the question like I was trying to catch him out! He asked why I wanted to know, so I explained. I got a long lecture on PH which contradicted many things I’d read from other aquarium owners and encylopedias on the net. He came across as quite arrogant and I didn’t appreciate it when he made comments about my using tap water in my tropical tank and then took a stab at the fact I have a Biube! “The only problem you’ve got is that you own a Biube”! Well it serves the purpose I said, before leaving without a shrimp. Wil also pointed out that he’d been shitty about us asking for only 5 litres of Saltwater in our 25 litre container. Seems he’d rather we buy a whole container full.

As if the abuse of last week wasn’t enough we returned today to buy more water to do the weekly water change in our Marine tank.  I wanted to start up a small snail farm for the Dwarf Puffer so I asked the woman who works there (assuming it’s his wife) if she could fish out some of the tiny baby snails that were stuck to the inside of all of their hundreds of tanks along with some plants I was buying. She looked at me like I’d just peed in one of the tanks and then said snails aren’t something they sell. I said, no, I’m sure but do you want to keep them? (knowing full well most people don’t want that many snails in their tanks and other fish shops I’ve been to are only too happy to give snails away) She said no, they are a nuisance but that doesn’t mean she wants to go fishing them out of the tank to give to people!

I couldn’t have been more flabberghasted – I just stared at her in disbelief, took my bag with the plant in, paid and left.

I am beside myself that as a regular customer of this shop – one who goes in on a weekly basis to buy salt water, guinea pig hay, straw, sawdust, food and all supplies for my fish tanks – not forgetting the couple of hundred quid we spent on our marine tank, stock and all the follow up routine supplies and the fish I’ve bought there that she couldn’t throw a handful of nuisance snails in a bag for me. Helping me out and ridding themselves of something she actually admitted they considered a pest. In the middle of a recession I’m amazed that 2 people in a business of, lets face it – not exactly necessary products that people are going to buy when they’re broke, are willing to treat people in this manner.

I won’t be going back anyway.. I’ll drive twice the distance to go to other stores for future supplies as well as purchasing an RO/DI filter to make our own water for the marine tank.

Rats, Cats & Elephants – has definately lost my custom and I won’t have anything good to say to anyone else about them either.



  1. mrs hojo said

    slow hand clap there, idiots

  2. WIll said

    Sounds like you’ve had a bad experience with them.. to be honest I’ve never found them a problem and i’m going there tomorrow to buy some loach or some upside down cat fish.
    There younger employees don’t seem to have too much knowledge on fish but i dont really mind that as thats what the internet is for! 😀

    how are you getting on with your puffer now? and have you now got your snails!! 🙂
    i was thinking about getting a puffer i knew they could nip but i didnt realise they were that aggresive … never mind thats shot my aqua plans to buggery 😉

    • Anonymous said

      i find the young guys are the ones with knowledge! and manners for that matter.

  3. Foxsden said

    I had three not so good experiences with them unfortunately.. there’s just no need for service like that, especially with the money I spent there!

    It’s had a silver lining though because if you’re from this area and you don’t mind a bit of a hike – try Swallow Aquatics in East Harling near Thetford. It’s like you stepped into aquatic heaven! I’d sooner drive the 40 minutes it takes me to get to Swallow over the 15 it takes me to RC&E’s any day!

    My Puffer is great thanks. He’s fattened up loads since he’s been in his own tank. I gave up on the snails for now and started breeding brine shrimp (sea monkeys) instead. If you’ve got Fresh Water tropical and you want a puffer, the dwarf/pygmy puffers are not aggresive at all. They only grow to an inch long and they are not good in a community tank because they are very slow eaters. Which is why I rehoused mine in his own little nano tank.

  4. Foxsden said

    By the way – thanks for reading and taking time to comment.

  5. stephen said

    Yes the guy who runs the shop is a bit of a Burke but the tanks are always clean its best not to ask advice from him as he does talk to you as if you had just started school but I would rather go there than Sea pets

  6. Dave said

    I’ve had a bad experience there today with the older guy “Dave” i beleive his name is.
    I went in enquiring about Nerite snails. I have small green dots on my tropical aquarium glass and i found out what it was and a cure on one of the many aquarium websites on the net. After a couple of derogatory comments about the net he said to one of the younger assistants “you deal with this it’s making me feel sick” and walked off. I didn’t hear this, i wish i had!
    The Shop itself is brilliant for fish but dodge the old guy like the plague. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The young guys are more than helpful.
    I’ve had 80% of my fish and equipment from there because of them, but Swallow Aquatics in East Harling is the place to go on a Sunday if you fancy a drive out. Aquarium Heaven.

  7. Anonymous said

    Reading this makes me die! Everyone I know who has been there, or still shops there thinks he is an arrogant div, they all say they try to avoid him when possible. Without going into too much detail I was talking to him about a problem I was having with my aquarium, before Id even got into detail he stopped me once id mentioned reading a forum on the same problem and asked “do they all own fish shops, no, so dont bother going on the internet”
    I was like whoa.
    Other than him, the rest of the people who work there are always helpful.

    • Anonymous said

      the shop is a real disappointment, ok the stock is always the healthiest around but the selection is rubbish and after several conversations with the owner i question his marine knowledge beyond the basics. If you visit try and speak with the dark haired tall guy. knowledgeable and extremely helpful.

      • Anonymous said

        the owner is patronising beyond belief, wont go there again.

  8. roger chase said

    Is there anyone out there who has bought pond fish from Rats Cats & Elephants and had problems?

  9. Anonymous said

    Omg the owner of this store is a complete rectal area. I canr believe how rude he was to my friend enquiring about trops whereas I had a completly opposite experiance with the young lads. They were knowledgeable and couldnt wait to help me out. The tall dark guy is excellent and ISN’T trying to sell his stuff. It seems he genuinly wanted me to have the best Marine tank I could. I ended up leaving with more knowledge and buying nothing! Lovely fella. The boss (pretty sure its Dave) should not be approached at all. I doubt for anything. The youngsters in this store seem to be the ones to ask. For fish or animals. Oh p.s the young lass in the rodent room seemed very helpful for my wife enquiring about a Hamster for my son.

  10. Aqualife2u said

    If its helpful assistance and friendly customer service your after, try Aqualife2u.

    They always get back to you and any questions asked will get a reply and usually answered.

    Ive found that when going into large retailers they dont have the personal approach like a small pet shop/ specialist would offer.

    Their are just in it for profit rather than providing a service.

    • Anonymous said

      I disagree with aquatic life 2 U, saw a good free advertising chance there mate!? they offer a good service, though ive never spoken with the boss.

  11. Anonymous said

    Sam has left, started his own shop finally! Won’t be going back to rats cats

  12. Anonymous said

    Have no respect for the owners. I’ve heard the way they speak to their staff and talk down to them. Which they do to the customers too! That “rectal area” man, so brilliantly stated above, thinks all customers are idiots and says he’s right and everyone else is wrong (heard him say that when in store one day). He is an absolute turd and I really think he deserves for someone to punch his lights out. He really isn’t right in the head. I’ve heard him slag off customers as soon as they leave the store. Those people make his bread and butter!!! No matter what he thinks of them!!! What a f*****g idiot!!!

    Yes Sam is in Cliff Road in Ipswich. He has a fb page for his shop ReefScape!! He deserves the business so much more than the owners of this circus!!!

    Such a shame as the shop has so much potential!!

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