Review: Burscough Aquatics

Having already visited and reviewed several different marine outlets in the North West UK over the last couple of years, frankly we’d though we’d already seen the best that the region has to offer. However, when we read what people were saying about Burscough Aquatics and saw some of their stock images online we decided we just had to pay them a visit. So how exactly does this outlet stack up against some pretty strong competition?

Located around 10 miles North of Liverpool, and just 2 miles North East of Ormskirk, Burscough Aquatics is reasonably easy to reach being just a few minutes’ drive from the M58 and Junction 27 of the M6. Burscough village is quite small and the industrial estate where the shop is sited is well signposted, so it is very easy to find. There are a handful of parking spaces but we think you might end up having to park in the local environs on a busy day. Anyway, behind its modest façade, Burscough occupies a double industrial unit and is what we’d class as a medium sized outlet compared to our those we’ve visited already. It is well laid out inside with plenty of space to browse and good ambient lighting. The range of dry goods is excellent with major brands such as Red Sea, D&D, New Era, Tunze, Hydor and EcoTech all evident. Prices looked very reasonable too and (although we obviously couldn’t check every item) our general impression was that there are potentially some great deals to be had here. Owner Steve is certainly a very approachable and affable person and we were pleased he took the time to chat to us despite being obviously busy. Steve explained “we set up the store here about 3 years ago and we’ve focussed on marine right from the start. Just recently we’ve expanded into the double unit you can see here so obviously things are developing constantly. Our Online store will also be going live in the next 2 weeks”.

After exploring the first room which is filled with dry goods, a nice Red Sea Max display tank and the shop counter we move through into the second room which has more dry goods and the marine livestock holding systems. Now, although we’d call this a medium-sized venue, the choice in here would certainly put many a larger outlet to shame. First of all we have two shallow 6×3′ tanks which hold a range of mainly LPS corals and clams. The first of these tanks also houses a nice trio of tangs (Purple, Yellow and Convict) and a shoaling group of Green Chromis. The second tank is a dedicated SPS display. Although we’d just missed a Reefworks shipment there are still some nice colonies on display here plus a wide selection of frags so budgets of all sizes are catered for. Colonies are priced at about £40 on average which is about the same as some other outlets in the area, and frags are around £7-10 which, considering the size and health of most of the pieces, was very reasonable. Steve tells us that as well as regular ReefWorks maricultured shipments, stock is also sourced from Amblard and TMC – so you can rest assured that you won’t be getting any ‘dodgy’ livestock here. Alongside these two tanks we have a couple of rock vats which look to have a nice selection of pieces – on our visit rock is priced at £11 per kilo, with discounts for larger amounts, plus an extensive range of reefbones, plates and branch. All in all everything looks well maintained and labelling is pretty good.

Turning around, in the middle of the room we have 3 more 6x3s that form another complete system. These tanks house a diverse array of LPS and soft corals mainly, plus plenty of inverts such as starfish and shrimps, and quite a few fish too. Actually the highlight of our visit, a stunning male and female Anampses femininus wrasse, are housed in one of these tanks along with some of the healthiest Holanthias borbonius we’ve seen. There are more wrasses in the middle tank too indeed this has got to be one of the best selections of that family that we’ve seen under one roof. The soft coral selection is also very good here and generally all the coral stock looks very healthy. As well as beginner level species like Leather corals and Xenia, the shop also offers plenty of expensive Scolymias and Cynarinas for LPS coral enthusiasts. Back to fish and in the end tank, there is a stunning mixed shoal of yellowback and loris anthias plus some very nice hybrid clowns hosting in an anemone. It’s nice to see that finicky species are maintained in this setting actually and this is sure gives them a good chance of maintaining peak condition before resale.

Talking about fish, around the outside wall, the shop has two dedicated fish holding systems and the first bank consists of 30 tanks (six 48”x15”x15” and twenty four 24”x15”x15”). Housing a range of species from the common to those that are more unusual and expensive, this system is run at a lowered Salinity and is optimised so that medication may be used if necessary. Having said that, all the fish looked great on our visit indeed we can’t recall seeing any dead or diseased fish at all. Our only niggle was that there was quite a bit of particulate matter in a number of these tanks (no doubt stirred up by the resident fishes) and this gave us quite a few problems with backscatter in our images – no criticism of the store here though of course! Occupying the long side of an L shaped arrangement, the shorter side is formed by a slightly smaller bank of 24 tanks (24x15x15) that are run as a separate fish system. The reason Steve has done this is so that he can run a full salinity in these tanks and this allows him to keep goby and pistol pairings and certain other inverts. In this system we also noted some nice Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish, some Yellow Assessors and plenty of fat looking Mandarins and Scooters.

With a good range of quality brands, a diverse selection of healthy livestock and friendly, knowledgeable staff, we really enjoyed our visit to Burscough Aquatics and came away with a few items of our own. If you haven’t already been we seriously suggest you take the time to make a visit. To go back to our original question of how this outlet compares against others in the area, we have no hesitation in saying that Burscough certainly holds its own against some of the larger outlets. Some of these outlets are known to be great for fish, and others for corals but Burscough presents us with a nice balance of livestock all round. Similarly, the range and pricing of dry goods is attractive too. At just 3 years old we certainly hope to visit again to see how things develop. We also hope the store continues to thrive and to offer yet another great marine outlet in the North West.

For more images check out our gallery below. Also take a look at their website HERE.

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