Guide For Ordering Bettas Online

Flowingfins

This is a guide for general information on buying bettas online* The following categories will be included.
1.) Why should I buy online?
2.) What to look for in a seller
3.) What to look for in a betta
3b.) Show/breeding quality
3c.) Pet quality
4.) How will my fish be shipped?
5.) Shipping from overseas
5b.) Transhipping
6.) The risks of shipping
6b.) DOA's
7.) Acclimating to their new tank
8.) Helpful tips
*I do not have experience importing, buying, or caring for wild types. This guide is meant specifically for Betta splendens in the time being, as I do not have experience with any of the wild betta species and do not feel comfortable giving information on the importing or buying of them at this time. As I delve into the realm of wilds in the near future, this guide will be updated.
1.) Why should I buy online?
Buying your betta online is a great way to support the improvementand and proper care of a species, petstores and local fish stores tend to keep bettas in small cups, with water changes every 2-14 (sometimes longer) days. These are not optimal conditions for them, and these practices should be discouraged. Petstore fish are also "mutts" and are often mixed tail types, which should be discouraged. "Rescuing"(AKA pity purchases) are showing the store that keeping bettas in the cups is ok, and you are just opening up a spot for another betta to become sick in. Most breeders provide their fish with top notch care prior to their arrival at your house/office/wherever your tank is. This ensures a healthy, colorful, and active fish when it arrives. Breeding bettas is also very costly, and it is rare to gain profit from doing so. Breeders are trying to improve the species, not make money off of them like LPS and LFS. Breeders are also more likely to give you proper advice on betta care, most LFS and LPS are just trying to make money, and their employees are not often well educated(I have met some very knowledgeable employees though.) The quality of fish found online is also better, these fish have been selectively bred for their colors and form, resulting in a more pleasing fish(I am not saying pet store fish are ugly, I have my fair share of them.) Overall, breeders have healthier fish that you know more about than pet store fish(age, parents, coloration name, who bred them, how they were raised), which is why I recommend ordering online over buying in a store.
2.) What to look for in a seller
Sellers should have a very high rating, as close to 100% as possible. Look at the description of the fish as well, good breeders will have more than a couple sentences and should have plenty of info about the fish. Here are some examples(written by me).
Bad seller-
Fish is 3 months old, show quality, shipping is $50 for priority, can ship with other fish from my auctions for $75. Can add on some IAL for $10.
Good seller-
This fish is 3 months old. He is a black melano halfmoon, not quite show quality but he would make a great breeder. His parents were a melano male and black ice female. He is eating well and has been growing fast. Shipping is $15 for priority, triple bagged with IAL, can also be combined with two other of my fish for the same price. Heat or cool packs will be added as necessary. Siblings are available for purchase as well as starter cultures of daphnia, microworms, vinegar eels, and Walter worms.
Obviously not all the extra info(siblings and starter cultures) has to be added for the "good seller", but it shows that the breeder has other quality fish and feeds them well. Good seller provides information on how the fish are shipped, how well they are eating, and what the parents look like. Bad seller provides minimal information and is charging an arm and a leg for shipping(priority shipping via the USPS costs around $15, for overnight shipping it would be reasonable). Use your own judgement when choosing a seller, look for the signs of a scam too; multiple listings, overpriced shipping, buy one fish get the other free. Keep in mind that there is somewhat of a language barrier with ThaI and Indonesian breeders, their grammar and spelling will not always be perfect, this does not reflect the quality of their fish.
3.) What to look for in a betta
Bettas should not have any visible deformities unless they are listed in the description. For example, loss of ventrals is common in bettas. This is a result of eating too much of one food in the fry stage, these fish are not breedable but make excellent pets, just make sure the breeder says something about it in the description. Avoid fish with crooked backs, curvy spines, misproportioned fins, and obvious signs of disease. Another "deformity" that is still pet quality is a fish with nipped fins that will not heal due to aggression in grow out, this does not affect the overall health of the fish. Look for good form(if breeding) and good coloration, don't buy any obviously sick fish, and try to stay away from blurry pictures, tannin stained water, and obviously photo shopped pictures. These do not show the true colors of the fish, and the fish can look very different when they arrive.
3b.) Show/breeding quality
This depends on the tail type, but look for clean, even fins, messed up scales, fin placement, fin length, curved spines, and spooned heads. I recommend following the IBC's breed standards and "judge" their quality by those. Do not go by descriptions that say "show quality", look it up yourself.
3c.) Pet quality
Pet quality fish should be cheaper than show quality, can have long fins, messed up scales, and most traits that would make them "unshowable", certain deformities like missing ventrals and choppy fins are ok. Stay away from fish with curved spines, sickness, and other obvious health issues. Blind fish can make great pets, they just need a little TLC, so don't discount them either.
4.) How will my fish be shipped?
Your fish will be shipped in an insulated box, double or triple bagged to prevent leaking, and be held in place by newspaper, packing peanuts, or shredded paper. Some breeders wrap their bags in newspaper as well, I have even had a fish triple bagged, wrapped in newspaper, in a bag stuffed with packing peanuts, in an insulated box filled with newspaper. It will very depending on who you order from. Sometimes heat or cool packs will be necessary. Your fish will have just enough water to cover their dorsal fin, since these are labyrinth fish they need as much air as possible.

5.) Shipping from overseas
Shipping from overseas usually costs $5 for a regular sized betta and $10 for giants. The bettas are packed in between other fish being imported, and the shipping cost is combined with other breeders costs so that is cheaper for you. They are shipped out one-two times a month, so you will have to wait longer(usually) than if you bought in your country. When ordering from overseas, you will also have to contact a transhipper to pick up the fish at the airport and ship the fish to you.
5b.) Transhipping
Once you have bought a betta from overseas, you will need to get in contact with a transhipper. There will usually be a list with names and contact information in the description. A transhipper will pick your fish up at the airport(which usually takes a whole day between customs, driving, and settling in the fish). There will be a transhipping fee, as well as a fee for shipping the fish to you. Most fish are re-bagged in fresh water for their journey to you, and are shipped out the day after they get to the transhipper. Transhippers can also hold fish for you(for a fee of course), they will care for them until you can have them shipped to you.
6.) The risks of shipping
Shipping live fish in the mail is risky, but if done right there should not be problems. They could get caught in the airport, they could ship you the wrong fish, they could overheat on the delivery truck, they could freeze on your front porch, they could be packed incorrectly, or they could have been shipped sick. Breeders do their best to ship fish safely, but there will sometimes be issues with the postal service that could not have been predicted. Most breeders have DOA policies.
6b.) DOA's
DOA, or dead on arrival, is just what it sounds like. The fish is dead when the box is opened. Whether it be the postal service's fault or the breeders, or even your's. If it is the breeders or postal service's fault, you will often be refunded the price of the fish or have the fish replaced. Shipping is not refunded. If the fish is left in the sun or cold after delivery, it will not be refunded either, as this is the buyers fault.
7.) Acclimating to their new tank
I recommend drip acclimating, the fish has just gone through the most stressful period of their life and is extra sensitive to water quality right now. Drip acclimating is the least stressful acclimation method, it slowly drips new water into the old instead of pouring it. Drip acclimation is when you take a section of airline tubing that is long enough to put into their tank and a bucket and have water slowly drip into the bettas water. To do this, put your betta in a bucket(for bettas, I first put them in a betta cup and let the water pour over the sides and into the bucket) and put a piece of airline tubing that is long enough to reach the bucket your betta is in into the tank and bucket. Suck on the end of the tubing going into the bucket and tie a knot in it. Do not make it too tight or no water will come out. AI'm for 2-3 drips per second for around 3 hours. After that you can net the betta out and place them in the tank.
https://www.fishlore.com/acclimating-tropicalfish.htm
8.) Helpful tips
~Check the sellers rating before buying
~Order more than one fish at a time, it will be more bang for your buck. You can usually combine shipping on orders from the same person.
~Check the weather before ordering, or ask the seller to hold them until it passes. Watch for hurricanes, tropical storms, blizzards, really anything that could hold up the postal service. I had fish get caught during a blizzard, and one was DOA and the other died shortly after arrival.
~Try not to open the package in direct sunlight, these fish have been in the dark for days and being blinded by bright lights isn't fun. When you put them in their tank, leave the lights off or on a dI'm setting for a couple hours while they get adjusted to light again.
The most common sites to order fish online from are eBay and aquabid. I have also ordered from eugene fish store with excellent results.

I hope this guide was helpful for anyone considering ordering online, I highly recommended it. It is by far the best way(in my opinion) to get quality fish.

*I wasn't sure where to put this, so please move if necessary*
 

Lchi87

This is sticky worthy IMO! Great guide
 

Jnx

Wow! Much to consider, but I think I'll be ordering my next betta.
 

Flowingfins

Should I add anything to it?
 

Lchi87

I would just add to the acclimating section to flesh it out more...some things that are common knowledge to experienced fish owners might just go right over the head of newbies to the hobby.

One suggestion to add:
-try not to open the shipping box in direct light; imagine if you've been in complete darkness for a few days and then all of sudden BAM bright direct light in your face. Not pleasant. Then keep the lights off for at least 4 hours after the new fish has been introduced to the tank.
 

Redshark1

Thanks for the article. One thing I'd not considered was photoshopping (to get a betta picture yo, ho, ho!).

A quick trip to eBay soon yielded one seller that seemed to have done that to add red markings to the fish.
 

SadieCM

This is so helpful! It's like you read my mind...I was thinking of asking about this very topic!
 

Flowingfins

I would just add to the acclimating section to flesh it out more...some things that are common knowledge to experienced fish owners might just go right over the head of newbies to the hobby.

One suggestion to add:
-try not to open the shipping box in direct light; imagine if you've been in complete darkness for a few days and then all of sudden BAM bright direct light in your face. Not pleasant. Then keep the lights off for at least 4 hours after the new fish has been introduced to the tank.
Edited them in!
Thanks for the article. One thing I'd not considered was photoshopping (to get a betta picture yo, ho, ho!).

A quick trip to eBay soon yielded one seller that seemed to have done that to add red markings to the fish.
It's surprisingly common, sadly:/
This is so helpful! It's like you read my mind...I was thinking of asking about this very topic!
I just had a couple people ask me for info on the subject, glad I could help you
 

mg13

Thank you Flowingfins! defiantly see if I can buy from a breeder now. for my next betta.
 

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