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 Skoolz of Fish

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Ben
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PostSubject: Skoolz of Fish   Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:37 pm

First topic message reminder :

Skoolz of Fish

Address:
1503 Chamberlayne Avenue Richmond, VA 23222

Phone:
(804) 496-1481

Website:
http://www.skoolzoffish.com/

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PostSubject: Hello All   Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:47 pm

Hello everyone,
I've been MIA in regards to being active on this site. For this I apologize. I have had a chance to read up on some of your concerns and reviews and thought I'd give a response. It seems that the biggest issues people have been having is with my location and availability. In regards to availability, please be advised that currently I am the only one that mans the shop. I also have an aquarium maintenance business with over 70 accounts. I just purchased this business last May. This business took more than expected time out of my schedule and I also was getting married last fall so I apologize if I wasn't the most accessible. If I'm running a little behind, its usually because an account is taking a little longer than expected. I've been getting my Maintenance business under control and now have been spending more time on the retail end. Someone posted that I may not have business training /skillset and limited capital. I graduated from VCU School of Business with a BS in Accounting. I was an auditor for 10 years. I have business training and know how to account for my finances. Most people that open pet stores do so out of love for their hobby. Obviously, I love what I do. If I appear to do something different than most, it may simply be because I operate different from most people. I haven't fully advertised 100% because I don't operate 100% yet on the retail end. There's still much more work to be done but in the mean time I try my best to offer a nice alternative to the typical Aquarium selection in Richmond.

Next I want to address my location. I can understand that some people who don't have much experience with neighborhoods where I am located may feel like its unsafe but if that were truly the case I would not be located where I am. Just blocks away over 30,000 parents felt safe enough to send their kids to college at VCU and VUU. Its not the suburbs, but shouldn't be labeled as unsafe just because it isn't. My business sense has taught me that most aquarium businesses have gone out of business because they could not afford the high overhead involved with being in the west end, short pump, etc. My business is efficiently located in a booming up and coming area reasonably utilized location so that I can pass savings onto the customer. We are still in a growing stage. I ask that you bear with me during this process and not to judge based off of appearance, but by substance. Even though I may not be 100% running as a retail store, I can assure you my quality and products are offered to public with 110% care.

That being said, I have no ill will towards anyone who has had complaints. If anything, it helps be grow as a business because I have a better understanding on what the customers desire. I also appreciate the support we've been given. The past few weekends alone have been very busy at the shop as many customer are finding out about us through word of mouth. We promise you bigger and better things in the hopefully years to come. I pride myself on offering top notch customer service and product and can assure you this will never change.

FYI, for those that know me know that I like to advance my hobby by being hands on. November before last I went fish collecting in Uruguay to learn about fish in their natural habitat and all that it takes to get them to you, the aquarist. Next month I will be going to Florida to visit my wholesalers and fish farms and will be hand selecting premium livestock. That following weekend I will be having an open house to display 100's of unique and exotic fish. I will keep everyone posted on the dates.

Thank for your support and if you have any issues feel free to contact me via phone or email, 804-496-1481 rsabbakhan@skoolzoffish.com
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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:10 pm

Thanks for posting, Rama, and I stand corrected- thanks for posting on the forum! I hope you'll accept my apology in regards to my comments on your business training- obviously, my observations were inaccurate. Embarassed

It's nice to have some background info- you've got a cool place, and I hope that everyone here continues to support your shop. Best of luck in both parts of your business! My wife works at MCV in the gateway building, where I believe you've got a very nice Cichlid tank in the 2nd floor lobby- cool tank.

Looking forward to more info on the open house- I hope I can make it!


Last edited by DL Lawrence on Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:49 pm

Thanks Rama for sharing. I have been enjoying my visits there, and have appreciated your sharing your expertise and advice while I was there. You truly do have inventory that is not stocked and or available with the LFS's in the area, and your prices are quite good. Wishing you continued success and hope your business prospers and grows. We certainly need a quality fish store in Richmond and one that is knowledgeable as you are.

Ron

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:06 pm

DL Lawrence- No worries. I'll have more info soon.

Thanks Ron for kind words.
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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:49 pm

REALLY GREAT to hear from you Rama!

Sounds like all is going well and it looks like you have some exciting plans for the future....

Appreciate all you do to promote the hobby and look forward to reading more of your posts on the Central Virginia Aquarium Society.

Also...... I'm just curious: what is your FAVORITE fish?

I know, it's impossible to have just one maybe your top 3-4....

Very Happy


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PostSubject: Fav Fish   Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:04 am

My favorite fish? Man, that's hard to answer. My least convoluted response would have to be that discus are my most attached fish, first fish I've ever breed. Chocolate Cichlids are very high on my list. My favorite fish I ever had though was a fire eel.

How about yours?
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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:42 am

Nice to see you back here, Rama!

I can vouch for the location - I am one of the parents who feels comfortable with her daughter attending VCU only blocks away from the Skoolz shop, and she's never had any sort of issue, now in her second year there. There is crime out in the 'burbs too - plenty of it.

I'll horn in on the question of a favorite fish, and for me I can't name a favorite - its like picking a favorite child! I am very fond of my F8 puffer, since he has so much personality and I've had him a while, but my other fish fascinate and delight me also, in different ways.

Rama, do you ever get zebra loaches (Botia striata)? I'm eager to get a nice group (6 or so) for my 125.

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:33 am

@SkoolzofFish wrote:
My favorite fish? Man, that's hard to answer. My least convoluted response would have to be that discus are my most attached fish, first fish I've ever breed. Chocolate Cichlids are very high on my list. My favorite fish I ever had though was a fire eel.

How about yours?

DISCUS: now that does not surprise me.... Every time I have been at your shop we walk around the tanks and talk........ and on every occasion when we arrived at your Discus tank(s) you lit up like a kid on Christmas Morn' Smile

But when I posed the question I thought about your Ray's and some of the transformations you've made around your shop to accomodate the rays.... Not too many places you can actually go and pick out your very own Ray from a number of different species. You've placed a lot of time and effort into those fish.....

I also recall your sharing of fish that you actually collected in Urguay and you seemed very excited about those cichlids as well - it's been awhile and I can't recall the species.....

For me, right now I am really enjoying and into Apistogramma, I'm keeping Triple Red Cacatuoides, Panduro's, a Blue Steel and Macmasteri....

But my fish wish list is HUGE!

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:28 pm

Rama,

Being a busy man yourself, I am sure you can understand the value and importance of time and not wasting it. I am very intrigued with your shop and would like to come inside sometime and see what you have.

You are on facebook and you have publicly posted hours. I tried to work my schedule so that I could catch you during open hours and bring my son down to see your shop. I was very dismayed and felt like my time had been wasted when I made the drive and you were closed.

I also feel like you should make your presence known when you are open. Have a light on, or a door open, or someway to make sure the public knows when you are open or closed. Or post on facebook or your website if you are going to be closed. I did try calling ahead but the phone system you are using was complex and I was not able to get an answer.

#1 - Are you going to have posted hours when you will reliably be in your shop so that I can come visit? When are those hours?

#2 - What is the best entrance to use to get in your shop?

#3 - If I took my time to make you a better sign, would you use it, and could I get store credit for it.....your sign bothers me, but I hate to complain without offering a solution LOL!

Ohhh....and favorite fish....
1. I love Oscars but never have the setup to keep them.
2. I love Tiger barbs a lot, but they are a pack of wolves that tend to pick on their tank mates
3. I think I like Odessa barbs the best, but they have to have good color, and I can never find them

Overall, I like having a large variety of community fish (mainly tetras) but I have never experienced the reward of keeping one or two large fish. I am still inexpienced overall for keeping lots of different types of fish, so its hard to know what my favorite is.


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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:55 pm

Liz- Thanks for the vouch. Figure 8s are cool fish, just very mischievous. I just set up a display tank for puffers and gobies. As far as Striata Loaches, they're my most popular selling loach. I probably have at least a few left but can order more.

GunDog- Nice observation. I do love rays and believe they are very personable. I'm looking to expand my suppliers to provide even more rays. Cool that you like the apistos. If you breed them I'd be interested in buying some from you.

ddavis- I do apologize for the inconvenience but I can assure you our hours have been pretty consistent lately. As I explained before, May-December were just really trying months for us juggling two new businesses but they've pretty much stabilized. Our hours pretty much are what they are but during the week we sometimes can be a little late if an account takes longer than expected. Always best to call ahead of time if you expect to get at shop when we open up. The entrance is on the side door next to the open sign. In the winter we cannot possibly keep the door open as we sell almost exclusively tropical fish and we don't want our fish catching Ich and sickness. Our website details our hours, address and entrance on side of building. I appreciate your offer on the sign but I do have plans on a tropical fish Mural being painted on the side of the building. I promise you'll be pleased with end results, may just take some time to get them all done the way I envision having them done.

Odessa barbs are pretty cool looking. cheers



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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:09 am

A mural! Sweet! I look forward to it!

Its a blistering 26 degrees outside, are you sure discus dont like to ice skate Smile

I will find time to come and see your shop in the near future.

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:54 pm

Liz and I have definite plans to get over there this Friday. His posted hours on the website are 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm so we will go by that. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:09 pm

I went last Friday, I called ahead of time and learned that winter hours have them closing at 7pm. I arrived at 6:55. The clerk, thankfully, stayed 10-15 late for me, and I wa appreciative of that, but I was still rushed.

The discus and the rays were nice.

I found the community fish unimpressive.

The rocks and driftwood were really nice.

The plants were also unimpressive.

I wanted some green neons, but they were really tiny and I didnt think they would make the transition to my tank very well.

They do have shrimp substrate for nano tanks which was nice.


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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:32 pm

Skoolz of Fish has come a long way since the last time I was there many months ago. This time, there was a lot more of what I wanted to see (schooling fish, loaches) and a lot less of what I don't (too many ordinary cichlids.) The place looks better than ever. It's laid out really well and the tanks are attractively scaped with mostly fake plants. Some interesting surprises were a Sturisoma catfish and some kind of Hillstream loach - most likely Homaloptera. Interesting! Another surprise was a tank of Danio tinwini, a tiny danio from Burma/Myanmar. I had not seen or heard of these before but they were exactly what I wanted for my 55 so I bought a group of seven.

Rama was very helpful and friendly as usual. I especially like the way he takes the time to look up a species, either on-line or in one of his books, to confirm the ID. This means a lot to me as a customer. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:50 am

I was able to get the zebra loaches I've been looking for, and they're doing great.

I also got some of the green neons, currently in Q in my snail tank and they may be destined for my 5 gal betta tank, since they might be a bit too small for my 150 with all the angels. I was hoping they'd get as big as cardinals but I don't think they will. They are lovely and have great color, though.

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Sat May 11, 2013 10:13 am

Please see the original post and check out the pic of Rama's new MURAL! I somehow failed to get a pic of the other side of the entry door, which has an awesome RAY painted there, among other things, and next time I go I'll get a shot of that.

Dayne Heit is the artist, and a fishkeeper too, and he did an awesome job on this. Anyone driving down Chamberlayne won't be able to miss it! Nice work, Dayne.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of treasures inside the shop as well. I was able to expand my small group of B. striata (zebra loaches) with a few more very nice, larger specimens. There is plenty to see, with great prices. fish

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Sat May 11, 2013 8:23 pm

Oh wow, that is wonderful.... so unique - I love it and can't wait to see it in person.

Great job Rama!!!!

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Tue May 28, 2013 7:52 am

this is the only place I get my fish from. if rama doesnt have it he will order them in for you, that is how my hillstream loach collection started and will continue to grow since nobody else in the area could find them before I heard about skoolz. just picked up four big striata loaches, maybe four inch or so, and going back for more hillstreams next week. cannot reccomend this place enough, good guy, knowledgable and friendly. plus where else can you see a foot long fire eel?
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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Sun Aug 25, 2013 4:15 pm

Visited Skoolz with Liz this past Friday.  Even though it was about 20 minutes before opening time, the door was wide open and we were welcomed in like old friends.  This guy knows how to do business.  The place was alive with customers and action!  Rama has added some new discus and display tanks and there is a nice saltwater tank at the cash register area. 

Even though there were no hillstream loaches available that day,  something else caught my eye - a little fish from the South China Sea known as the rainbow goby.  I *had* to get three to add to my 55.  Nice fish, good prices, and excellent service are to be found at Skoolz of Fish.

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:02 pm

I get the impression, that they make most of the money selling online. I have emailed, and called up. I wouldn't trust the listed hours, always call first.

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:08 pm

@Sbane5001 wrote:
I get the impression, that they make most of the money selling online. I have emailed, and called up. I wouldn't trust the listed hours, always call first.
I may be wrong, but I don't think Rama does much with online sales.

I think he works a day job which keeps him from "normal" business hours.

Agree, not a bad idea to call in advance just to confirm

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:45 pm

I visited Skoolz of Fish today. Once again, I was very impressed. The owner is a enthusiastic supporter of Aquatic hobbyist. This guy loves fish. He advised me that he is planning an expedition to procure more unique fish for his shop. His store has also become the place to go to buy Discus. He advised me that he is expecting a new shipment of Discus soon. I definitely saw growth and improvement. I'm going back...  Cool

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:33 pm

I stopped by to visit Rama at Skoolz of Fish last week. I always enjoy myself each time I go to his shop. This guy has a pleasant personality and is very hobbyist friendly. He has a wealth of information and shares it freely but doesn't come off as a "know it all." This guy actually goes on collecting adventures and has seen many fish in their native habitat. He knows his fish. That is something that not many fish sales people can claim.

I'm finding out that his shop is the place to get those hard to find fish. I had been looking for some Kuhli Loaches for awhile. I found some at another shop but they were tiny and I was discouraged from buying them by a sales person. I got them even though the were small but was disappointed by the size and the sales person's assumptions. On a whim, I asked Rama if he had any. He walked me over to a tank that had some of the nicest mid-sized Kuhli Loaches that I have seen in a long time. I got some and also picked up some live Black worms. I walked out the store with a smile on my face because I had wonderful experience.
This is a cool hobby and Skoolz of Fish is one cool fish store...cheers

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     ~~~ My Aquariums ~~~
55 gal. Planted Community Show Tank
(Swordtails, Neons, Kuhlii Loaches and Bristled Nose Plecos)
30 gal. Bare Bottom Adult Angelfish Tank
20 gal. Bare Bottom Angelfish Breeder Tank
10 gal. Bare Bottom  Angelfish Fry Tank
10 gal. Planted Show Tank
(Guppies and Bristled Nose Plecos)
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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:31 pm

Good to hear. I still have to visit his store.

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PostSubject: Re: Skoolz of Fish   Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:34 pm

Rama will be speaking at the James River Aquarium Society in October.
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