REVIEW: Oasis Aquarium, Manchester

You may well have heard by now that the recent PFKs readers UK ‘Marine Retail Outlet of the Year’ award was won by Manchester’s Oasis Aquarium. Based just to the North West of the City Centre, we were pleased to be invited to visit this relatively local supplier to discover just what makes it more highly regarded the other suppliers we’ve been to.

This store begins to impress the moment you step through the door. It’s immaculately maintained, well laid-out and although perhaps a little on the ‘cosy’ side, absolutely crammed with dry goods on the street level floor. The product choice really is excellent, with Oasis being preferred and authorised agents for a long list of manufacturers, large and small. Actually, things were a little chaotic when I arrived but only because a brand new pearl white Red Sea S-Max was being assembled in the store (one of the first in the UK). You can’t miss the two lovely mature reef displays in this area either… both testaments to the obvious skills and experience of those who have set-up and maintained them. The ‘proof is in the pudding’ as they say.

Moving downstairs into the livestock area is a real treat. I can’t quite put my finger on it but after 10 years in the hobby, this is one of the few stores where I still feel a tingle of excitement… like I’m entering an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’. There are literally tanks everywhere you look and furthermore they are all modern, spotlessly clean, well-lit and filled to the gunnels with livestock (and apparently they weren’t even fully stocked on my visit). Moving into a second room we have freshwater stock, and deeper still into a third room, more freshies and stunning Discus… over 200 tanks altogether, some of which are partitioned into several sections.

Back on the subject of marine livestock though – the thing that perhaps jumped out most was the eye-popping selection of high grade LPS specimens, on sale for very reasonable prices too (in my experience many other stores would be looking for 10-20% more for this kind of stock). The central LPS display tank is worth a visit in itself and I hope this comes across in the images. Fish-wise, it was pleasing to see a broad selection (well over 150 species at an estimate) with both common and rare fish evident. I’m not lying when I say I don’t recall having seen one sick, injured or dead fish either. It’s clear that this supplier evidently gets the cream of TMCs imports. Furthermore, captive bred/raised species were also available including some lovely juvenile Pomacanthus maculosus angels. It’s worth noting that the fish system is run at a slightly lower Salinity than the full strength invert systems, and they don’t use Copper in the retail fish system. Finally, labelling was clear, up-to-date and informative… an excellent show all round!

Hanging around inconspicuously for nearly 3 hours, I was impressed that the staff remained extremely polite and helpful both with me and with a range of other customers of different levels who visited. The advice being given out generally was spot-on… unopinionated, up-to-date and not commercially driven. Put all of these factors together and it’s clear why people evidently love this store. Many other retailers may get some of these elements right, but this is one shop that excels in all areas. Take note that this retailer is also a member of OATA and thus bound by their code of conduct.

We hope to visit again soon and specifically bring you a pictorial update on the Red Sea S-Max display system. If the rest of the shop is anything to go by, it’s going to be STUNNING.

Click HERE to view an interactive 360 degree image of inside the store, or explore the image gallery below to see our choice pics from the visit.

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