In Los Angeles, it is not very difficult to find a saltwater fish store, the trick is to find a good one. Most saltwater fish stores in Los Angeles, have the same thing day in and day out. It really does get rather boring, especially when you have already stocked your reef aquarium with all the common corals and fish. Going online can be a good source for more rare corals and exotic fish but you have the added expense of shipping, possible delay and you cannot see the live coral or fish before it is bought.
That said, there are a number of online sources of information that can be very helpful. Saltwater fish forums are one way to find out good information about local stores in the area. Another way to find out good info is to visit the store a couple times during the same week. This will allow you to see how fast their inventory turns over and what days are the best to stop by for the newest fish and corals. Saltwater fish stores should have adequate filtration for the stock which they are holding in their tanks. They should also have a knowledgable staff that can provide assitance with the maintenance of reef aquariums.
It is usually worth the drive to find a great saltwater fish store. In Los Angeles, this can mean driving only a few blocks or driving sixty miles. As was said earlier, when it comes to having the best animals in your reef aquarium, it usually pays to go a little further. The San Fernando Valley, Canoga Park, Hollywood and Burbank have a few nice saltwater fish stores but the greatest growth in the Los Angeles area is the West Side. With a number of stores, even large import warehouses starting to pop up, West Los Angeles is starting to become a hot bed of activity for the coral reef community. Prices can vary greatly from saltwater fish store to saltwater fish store but you'll usually find the best prices at the larger facilities and warehouse locations.