A specialist shop selling pet fish and reptiles expects to close before Christmas.

Aqualush and Reptilush have been based off Great Western Way near the Bruce Street Bridges roundabout for nearly seven years but rising costs and increasing pressures have made it difficult for the businesses to keep going.

Owner Karen Hunt announced on social media that she expects to close the store within the next month.

She wrote: “We have had a great seven years, for the most part, but with rising pressures from suppliers and heavy online discounting, energy prices, and post-Covid struggles, my small business just can't compete.

“Sadly - with the exception of my most loyal customers - people just go elsewhere and buy cheaper online from those without the significant overheads.

“We have an amazing customer base who we are beyond grateful for and we thank you all so much for your support.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to my whole team, particularly those that have been with me for many years. Everyone has been absolutely amazing.

“The stress, tears and sleepless nights trying to find the rent, pay the bills and survive is far too much for me to bear.”

Swindon Advertiser: Aqualush seen from Great Western WayAqualush seen from Great Western Way (Image: Google Maps)

A 10 per cent discount has been added to the remaining marine fish, corals, critters and tropical fish, snakes, and plants so that the stock is sold by the end of the year.

But one employee has launched a fundraiser with a goal of £10,000 in an attempt to make the store financially viable.

The donation page is www.gofundme.com/f/save-aqualush-your-5-star-reptile-centre

Samantha Beckett wrote: “Karen has poured her life and soul into this business, she is an amazing person who I admire and respect more than words can say.

“This is a place I cannot say goodbye to and it needs to be saved – it changed my life for the better.

“No-one in our area can compete with what we sell, all our animals are cared for to the highest standard, this isn’t just a job it’s a way of life.

“We offer the highest level of aftercare possible due to the love we have for the little critters we get to interact on a daily basis.

“Any and all help will be highly appreciated, and we hope above all to have the option of carrying on providing the excellent service our customers keep coming back for.

“Our customers… are family. We love matching that little friend to their perfect home.”