How I Ship Live Fish

EricV
Member
As promised I've finally gotten the time to put together a step by step guide on how I pack fish and shrimp for shipping.

1. The box.

I use USPS priority mail for all of my standard orders.


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2. Insulation.

I use 1/2" foam insulation board (available at most home improvement stores in 4'x8' sheets for approximately $10) cut to size for a box liner.



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3. Heat

For cold weather shipments you'll need to use a heat pack.


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4. Prepping the box.

Use the pieces of insulation to line the bottom and sides of the box.


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5. Remove the heat pack from its packaging and wrap it with a paper towel and rubber band.


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6. Lean the heat pack against one side of the box.


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*I'm going to have to break this into a few posts due to the number of photos but perhaps the mods can recombine them at some point*
 
  • Thread Starter
EricV
Member
7. Time to pack the fish.

Today's test subject is a juvenile male fundulopanchax gardnerI killifish.


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Always bag in fresh clean water and fast the fish for a day or two prior to shipping.

8. The bag.

I use either LongLife or Kordon breather bags.


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I always add a bit of moss or other plant as it reduces stress on the fish.


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9. Bagging the fish

Pour the fish into the bag. You don't need to use a lot of water.


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I also add Prime (1 drop), seachem stability (1ml) and Kordon fish protector (.5ml) to all fish orders (the shrimp don't get fish protector) although the stability and fish protector aren't strictly necessary.


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Be sure to leave some slack in the bag when you're tying it. You want there to be plenty of give in the bag. The firmer it is the more likely it is to burst or leak.


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*ome more post to go
 
bizaliz3
Member
This oughtta be a sticky when it's done thanks for doing this EricV

Of course the step I am waiting on is the last step!! LOL

So with the bag, is that knotted AND rubber banded? or is it just a rubber band? I can't tell.

Also, how do you feel about using "fresh clean water" if the water source has 1.0 ppm ammonia? I tested my baby pleco in a bag for 3 days with very clean TANK water...he did well, and I was blown away to find no ammonia in the bag water after those 3 days

edit: also, this is probably a really stupid question, but how do you add just "a drop" of prime? How much is a "drop" anyway? LOL for the other two things you gave exact measurements! So for a drop, how do you add it?
 
  • Thread Starter
EricV
Member
10. Protect the bag.

I use small Tupperware type containers from the dollar store.


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Put a bunch of small holes in the lid (~25-40)


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Put some crumbled packing peanuts the bottom of the container for a bed as it will help with air circulation.


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Next add the bag


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More packing peanuts on top of the bag to hold it in place then seal the container and use rubber bands to secure the lid.


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11. Packing the box

Set the container towards the opposite side of the box from the heat pack


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Then cram it full of packing peanuts. Nothing should be able to shift around in the box. You don't want the fish sloshing around any more than necessary.


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12. Finishing up.

Put the insulation lid on the box



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Seal up the box


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Now just label it and it's ready to go to the post office and your fish will arrive alive and well in a few days


Hope this helped. Any questions feel free to ask.
 
bizaliz3
Member
EricV said:
Now just label it and it's ready to go to the post office and your fish will arrive alive and well in a few days
Ok...this is probably a really dumb question too....but I have no experience shipping things...even non living things!! haha So, how do you label it? print At home? at the post office? Does the weight of the package matter when using their priority boxes?

And do you write "fragile" or "this side up" on the box?
 
  • Thread Starter
EricV
Member
bizaliz3 said:
This oughtta be a sticky when it's done thanks for doing this EricV

Of course the step I am waiting on is the last step!! LOL

So with the bag, is that knotted AND rubber banded? or is it just a rubber band? I can't tell.

Also, how do you feel about using "fresh clean water" if the water source has 1.0 ppm ammonia? I tested my baby pleco in a bag for 3 days with very clean TANK water...he did well, and I was blown away to find no ammonia in the bag water after those 3 days

edit: also, this is probably a really stupid question, but how do you add just "a drop" of prime? How much is a "drop" anyway? LOL for the other two things you gave exact measurements! So for a drop, how do you add it?
The bag is knotted then rubber banded below the knot.

If you're more comfortable with using the tank water go for it just make sure it's as clean as possible.

And with an eye dropper of course for the prime and syringes for the other products. And by a drop I literally mean 1 drop from the eye dropper
 
bizaliz3
Member
EricV said:
And with an eye dropper of course for the prime and syringes for the other products. And by a drop I literally mean 1 drop from the eye dropper
Oh yes...duh....an eye dropper. I'll have to get one of those!! haha and steal some rubber binders from work. LOL
 
  • Thread Starter
EricV
Member
bizaliz3 said:
Ok...this is probably a really dumb question too....but I have no experience shipping things...even non living things!! haha So, how do you label it? print At home? at the post office? Does the weight of the package matter when using their priority boxes?

And do you write "fragile" or "this side up" on the box?
I print my own shipping labels at home. If you're using flat rate priority mail boxes the weight doesn't matter. I use regional rate type A boxes in which case the weight does matter and I have a small scale for that purpose.

I don't mark the boxes in any way.
 
bizaliz3
Member
so EricV I was just on the usps website trying to put together a "label" to get idea of cost. It won't allow me to pick flat rate priority boxes for "live animals". Does this mean you do not disclose that it is a live fish?
and the flat rate boxes are only priority 3 day...don't they have priority 2 day shipping?
 
  • Thread Starter
EricV
Member
The postmaster at my local post office knows I'm shipping live fish and doesn't think there's any problem with it but as far as the website goes I just treat it as any common package.
 
bizaliz3
Member
EricV said:
The postmaster at my local post office knows I'm shipping live fish and doesn't think there's any problem with it but as far as the website goes I just treat it as any common package.
Ok thanks. Sorry for all the questions!!!!
So is two day not an option then? I could have sworn there was one, two AND three day.

Anyway , thanks so much for this thread and all the helpful photos. I really appreciate it!!!
 
  • Thread Starter
EricV
Member
Depends on where it's going some destinations take a 3rd day. If your choosing priority mail and it's only giving you a 3 day option then that's what's happening. Express mail is the 1 day option.
 
bizaliz3
Member
EricV said:
Depends on where it's going some destinations take a 3rd day. If your choosing priority mail and it's only giving you a 3 day option then that's what's happening. Express mail is the 1 day option.
I see. So possibly if I was shipping it to a closer location, there would be a 2 day option?

Well whatever, these are questions for the post office...not you! LOL But I'd rather not deal with the post office other than printing my label and dropping off the box.

What time of day to you usually try and drop yours off? I know you will only ship Mon-Wed or Sat, right? Is there a magic "time of day" to bring it in?
 
  • Thread Starter
EricV
Member
You'd have to check with your local post office to see if there is a particular time they run their trucks but I usually just aI'm for the early afternoon and it's usually on its way on the 5pm truck. Check with your mail carrier. They'll know the particular ins and outs of your post office better than me.

Priority mail is always 2-3 days. If the label you're printing says 3 day then that just means they expect it to take 3 instead of two. Just depends on how many sorting facilities it goes through between you and the destination. Rural areas tend to take longer.

The extra day shouldn't be an issue as far as the fish arriving alive and well goes though.
 
bizaliz3
Member
EricV do you have a easy method punching the holes into the lid of the container? It wasn't as easy as I had hoped. Lol How do you go about it?

Do these holes look big enough?

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How about the inside? Does that look good?

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bizaliz3
Member
EricV just out of curiosity, once the box is all covered in insulation panals and its taped up tightly....how does enough air get into the box for the breeder bags to do their job? I feel like my holes in the container are too small too.
 
  • Thread Starter
EricV
Member
Even with the insulation panels a shipping box isn't airtight (nor would you want it to be) so there's more than enough gas exchange to keep adequate levels of oxygen.

Your packing job seems good and yeah those holes should be big enough.


I use a Dremel rotary tool to bore holes through mine since they can be a pain to punch by hand. Before I went that route though I just used small nails. A regular drill with a small enough bit would work too I'd imagine. Something like a 1/16 or 5/64.
 

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