How long can fish survive transport?

Cambrianexplosion24

Hi guys! So I'm pretty sure the answer to this question is highly variable and depends on a whole bunch of things but this is my first time actually ordering fish online and having them shipped to me so I don't know a lot about how this works and what precautions sellers generally take.

I ordered two golden dwarf acara cichlids (nannacara anomala) and the site says they'll be about 9 months old so I would assume juveniles. I don't know how hardy they are, especially at that age.

I ordered them on September 12th and the estimated delivery time was 1 or 2 days.
I really wish the seller used Fedex which I have had great experience with in the past ordering reptiles, amphibians and arachnids but instead they went with USPS which in my experience is agonizingly slow and unreliable even when it's supposed to be priority mail.

I've been tracking the package and it was processed at a distribution center on the 14th.
Based on my tracking the package looks like it sat at the distribution center for over 24 hours, but now I'm confused because it's saying the shipping label has been created and USPS awaits the item, so for all I know maybe the seller just now packaged the fish and sent them. Of course apparently that was also on the 14th and I'm just seeing it now so maybe it just takes a while for updates to appear.
Still, it's been two days and if I know the postal service it might just take even longer.

So my question is, if in fact the fish have been in the package for this long are they losing oxygen?
How long can they generally survive in transit?
With the shipping costs and the addition of the heating pack and Styrofoam box this was an expensive order so I'm really hoping they aren't dead.
I've heard that a lot of places add a chemical to the water when they ship that reduces stress and I hope might also lower the a fish's breathing and heart rate so they use up less oxygen. Maybe they add one of those emergency oxygen tablets also.

What do you guys think? Should I be doing something? I'm sure the seller is keeping track of the shipment also.
 

Noroomforshoe

I ordered 3 young "1-1.5inch" blue acara earlier this year.
The shipped on Monday, I watched the tracking daily like you, I woke up early every day just in case. By Wednesday I was sure they would be D O A. Thursday they weren't here and I decided not to ask the seller for more cause I didnt want to kill more babies. Friday at 10 AM, they got here! They were in pristine water somehow, they were active and trying to jump out of the bag. I acclimatted them, which I now understand is not the ideal thing to go when they have been in they bag that long. But they are happy healthy little guys, well not so little anymore!

I hope you have a happy story to share with us in a day or so too! Good luck!
 

coralbandit

I had fish I shipped last over 14 days .
That is my personal record .
Anything under 4 days should be no problem for an experienced shipper .
 

Bwood22

Hi guys! So I'm pretty sure the answer to this question is highly variable and depends on a whole bunch of things but this is my first time actually ordering fish online and having them shipped to me so I don't know a lot about how this works and what precautions sellers generally take.

I ordered two golden dwarf acara cichlids (nannacara anomala) and the site says they'll be about 9 months old so I would assume juveniles. I don't know how hardy they are, especially at that age.

I ordered them on September 12th and the estimated delivery time was 1 or 2 days.
I really wish the seller used Fedex which I have had great experience with in the past ordering reptiles, amphibians and arachnids but instead they went with USPS which in my experience is agonizingly slow and unreliable even when it's supposed to be priority mail.

I've been tracking the package and it was processed at a distribution center on the 14th.
Based on my tracking the package looks like it sat at the distribution center for over 24 hours, but now I'm confused because it's saying the shipping label has been created and USPS awaits the item, so for all I know maybe the seller just now packaged the fish and sent them. Of course apparently that was also on the 14th and I'm just seeing it now so maybe it just takes a while for updates to appear.
Still, it's been two days and if I know the postal service it might just take even longer.

So my question is, if in fact the fish have been in the package for this long are they losing oxygen?
How long can they generally survive in transit?
With the shipping costs and the addition of the heating pack and Styrofoam box this was an expensive order so I'm really hoping they aren't dead.
I've heard that a lot of places add a chemical to the water when they ship that reduces stress and I hope might also lower the a fish's breathing and heart rate so they use up less oxygen. Maybe they add one of those emergency oxygen tablets also.

What do you guys think? Should I be doing something? I'm sure the seller is keeping track of the shipment also.
I would contact the seller to verify if the package has actually shipped. Because generally a label will be created, then later on the fish will be packaged then be picked up before it ever sits at a distribution center.
So that's a little confusing.

The main thing to worry about is ammonia.
There should be plenty of oxygen/gas exchange happening while in transit but the ammonia will foul up the water.

I had a baby deep water Hap ship via USPS ship on a Thursday and after it sat in the Distribution center over the weekend they sent it to the wrong town on Monday and I didn't receive it intil Tuesday (it was supposed to arrive Saturday). The little dude was in the box for 5 days. And was he was still alive when he finally arrived but he was in bad shape.

I had to nurse him back to health in quarantine.
20210901_204702.jpg
SmartSelect_20210916-032135_Gallery.jpg
 

BigManAquatics

The only time i ordered fish online, shipping was 5 days. I was a mess the whole time, but the fish arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all the same! For my peace of mind, i will most likely select and pay more for a faster option if available.
 

ProudPapa

I sent a male pearl gourami to someone a year or so ago that got delayed and took a week to arrive. He was fine when he got there.
 

LowConductivity

As stated above, a lot depends on the experience level of the shipper.

With near tropical summer time temperatures, I don't even start to think about worrying until fish get to the 7 day in transit mark. My shipping mortality is near identical for boxes delivered on day 1, or 8.
 

JLDJ

Yes, as statedI it depends on how the fish was packed and shipped .

I recently ordered a 'Panda Cory Catfish on line as there was no one locally that even had any Cory cats at all. This was my very first time ordering any fish on line .
BTW, I just ordered one as I already had one in my 10 gal tank. My past experience has been that just two corys get along just fine as they are not actually schooling fish.

The seller was in Arizona and I am in NY State .
It was sent "Priority mail" and was clearly marked with several big labels .... "LIVE FISH ", "PERISHABLE" , "LIQUID", " FRAGILE".

When I opened the box, the little Cory was very much alive and active in the plastic bag..
The fish was even double bagged to prevent any leaks and the bag was well cushioned with some sort of temperature insulating material.The box was also lined with Styrofoam..
When, the Cory was eventually released in my tank, it only took a few minutes for it to get back to normal and start feeding after its harrowing journey.
 

yeti79

Fish size may also have something to do with it. Smaller/younger fish seem to die more from my experience. I have had black kuhlis survive 11 days in the mail.
 

Cambrianexplosion24

Hi guys! Well they arrived after three days, both of them alive but I'm not quite sure how much longer for one of them. Definitely seemed ill hanging at the surface and then later on the floor of the tank breathing heavily. I put in some melafix but it might be too late for that one. The other seems fine if not very active.
 

Marlene327

I've had mixed results and the best results were from Aqua Huna and other professional businesses, or whoever used the fastest shipping method. I was willing to pay the higher price for upgraded shipping. A private seller on eBay sent me a dead fish. In all honesty, it was the USPS's fault. Their priority used to take 2 days, unless shipping coast to coast and it was 3. Now it's 3 even in a close radius and 4-6 if you're farther away. Overnight delivery with USPS is good, so is Fed Ex.

Cambrianexplosion24 I'm very happy they arrived and really hope the sick one can be coaxed back to health.
 

JLDJ

BTW, keep in mind that many fish have already been shipped a few times....from the breeder, to a wholesaler, to a retailer......

Also, after you get any fish shipped in might take a day or two to get back to normal.... get used to your tank and regain full color
If just getting a fish from a local shop can stress fish, imagine what being mailed in a box can do.

Anyway, I assume the the best scenario would be to get a fish from a breeder who in the business of mailing fish and knows how to properly pack them
 

Cambrianexplosion24

I've had mixed results and the best results were from Aqua Huna and other professional businesses, or whoever used the fastest shipping method. I was willing to pay the higher price for upgraded shipping. A private seller on eBay sent me a dead fish. In all honesty, it was the USPS's fault. Their priority used to take 2 days, unless shipping coast to coast and it was 3. Now it's 3 even in a close radius and 4-6 if you're farther away. Overnight delivery with USPS is good, so is Fed Ex.

Cambrianexplosion24 I'm very happy they arrived and really hope the sick one can be coaxed back to health.

Oh yeah! I've had great success with Fedex in the past and with only one minor complaint I have that isn't worth mentioning UPS has been great too. I wish more people used them for shipping, it's a must for live animals I'd say. I once ordered some orange headed feeder roaches for my bearded dragon that should have arrived in three days and because they used usps they ended up arriving after two weeks.
BTW, keep in mind that many fish have already been shipped a few times....from the breeder, to a wholesaler, to a retailer......

Also, after you get any fish shipped in might take a day or two to get back to normal.... get used to your tank and regain full color
If just getting a fish from a local shop can stress fish, imagine what being mailed in a box can do.

Anyway, I assume the the best scenario would be to get a fish from a breeder who in the business of mailing fish and knows how to properly pack them
That's a good point. I never even considered that! It makes sense that there would be a lot of shipping involved even for a local store. Fortunately it's been a couple days since arrival and I'm seeing some willingness to explore already and even a curious appetite! I did end up having to get some smaller cichlid pellets though because the ones I feed my blood parrot were much too large.
Fish size may also have something to do with it. Smaller/younger fish seem to die more from my experience. I have had black kuhlis survive 11 days in the mail.
For sure! I've always found the oldest fish to be the hardiest. They're past the most vulnerable growth stage so usually I'm very happy when adults are available even if I need to pay more but even that isn't usually so bad. The shipping costs are what kill me every time in my experience ordering terrarium animals.
Yes, as statedI it depends on how the fish was packed and shipped .

I recently ordered a 'Panda Cory Catfish on line as there was no one locally that even had any Cory cats at all. This was my very first time ordering any fish on line .
BTW, I just ordered one as I already had one in my 10 gal tank. My past experience has been that just two corys get along just fine as they are not actually schooling fish.

The seller was in Arizona and I am in NY State .
It was sent "Priority mail" and was clearly marked with several big labels .... "LIVE FISH ", "PERISHABLE" , "LIQUID", " FRAGILE".

When I opened the box, the little Cory was very much alive and active in the plastic bag..
The fish was even double bagged to prevent any leaks and the bag was well cushioned with some sort of temperature insulating material.The box was also lined with Styrofoam..
When, the Cory was eventually released in my tank, it only took a few minutes for it to get back to normal and start feeding after its harrowing journey.
That's great to hear! Corys are definitely fighters and I love how tough they are for their size. It also sounds like the seller did a really good job with the precautions they took. Shame on the postal service though for missing or disregarding all the details. In my case they didn't even bother reading my instructions to leave the box on the inside porch instead of on our front steps.
As stated above, a lot depends on the experience level of the shipper.

With near tropical summer time temperatures, I don't even start to think about worrying until fish get to the 7 day in transit mark. My shipping mortality is near identical for boxes delivered on day 1, or 8.
That's fantastic! You are really lucky to have those temperatures! It must be much easier to raise fish. Here in Wisconsin it starts to get chilly by mid October and doesn't really warm up again until mid June so I probably won't be able to do much more ordering until then.
I sent a male pearl gourami to someone a year or so ago that got delayed and took a week to arrive. He was fine when he got there.
Wonderful news! You did a great job shipping! I love pearl gouramis and it sounds like they must be a pretty hardy species!
The only time i ordered fish online, shipping was 5 days. I was a mess the whole time, but the fish arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all the same! For my peace of mind, i will most likely select and pay more for a faster option if available.
I know! I feel the same way! People really need to start using Fedex and scrapping the postal service for this kind of delivery. Considering most of the fish I want to get for my tank are available locally I don't mind occasionally paying extra shipping. The worst part is that the priority mail I arranged this time actually cost more than overnight shipping I've paid for Fedex in the past for reptiles and other terrarium animals.
I would contact the seller to verify if the package has actually shipped. Because generally a label will be created, then later on the fish will be packaged then be picked up before it ever sits at a distribution center.
So that's a little confusing.

The main thing to worry about is ammonia.
There should be plenty of oxygen/gas exchange happening while in transit but the ammonia will foul up the water.

I had a baby deep water Hap ship via USPS ship on a Thursday and after it sat in the Distribution center over the weekend they sent it to the wrong town on Monday and I didn't receive it intil Tuesday (it was supposed to arrive Saturday). The little dude was in the box for 5 days. And was he was still alive when he finally arrived but he was in bad shape.

I had to nurse him back to health in quarantine.
20210901_204702.jpg
SmartSelect_20210916-032135_Gallery.jpg
Wow! He doesn't look so good in the first picture but he's looking fantastic now! What kind of treatment did he need? Unfortunately one of the two golden dwarf acaras turned out to be sick and only survived for a few hours. The other one is okay so it definitely wasn't oxygen so I actually wonder if ammonia did in fact play a part. Then again he had a patch of discoloration and looked to be missing some scales after I removed him and examined him so I wonder if he injured himself or sustained some internal damage somehow during transit. In any case I emailed the seller and am asking if there's any possible way to send another one even though he wasn't DOA.
I had fish I shipped last over 14 days .
That is my personal record .
Anything under 4 days should be no problem for an experienced shipper .
That's incredible! I don't even begin to know how the postal service could mess that up so badly. No doubt the shipper had lots of experience like you said!
I ordered 3 young "1-1.5inch" blue acara earlier this year.
The shipped on Monday, I watched the tracking daily like you, I woke up early every day just in case. By Wednesday I was sure they would be D O A. Thursday they weren't here and I decided not to ask the seller for more cause I didnt want to kill more babies. Friday at 10 AM, they got here! They were in pristine water somehow, they were active and trying to jump out of the bag. I acclimatted them, which I now understand is not the ideal thing to go when they have been in they bag that long. But they are happy healthy little guys, well not so little anymore!

I hope you have a happy story to share with us in a day or so too! Good luck!
A miracle for sure! I'm amazed they were so active! They must have wanted to get out of the bag badly but at least they made it and are now thriving! I had to look up blue acaras now and they look stunning!
 

yeti79

Oh yeah! I've had great success with Fedex in the past
I really wish the seller used Fedex which I have had great experience with in the past
I have had the opposite experience. Fed Ex is the worst! They constantly have my stuff sitting somewhere for days. This has been the case for years too. The worst was they had something an hour away from me in Ohio and then sent it to NJ PA then to back to Ohio over a week later. I try to avoid Fed Ex because of their continuous incompetency.
 

strong style

In a similar boat. Ordered and fish were shipped promptly on Monday. However, no specific scan since they left the distribution center and now the tracking just shows "Arriving late." I have shipped fish myself that were stuck in the mail for about a week and all was okay but it gets me very nervous.
 

Bwood22

In a similar boat. Ordered and fish were shipped promptly on Monday. However, no specific scan since they left the distribution center and now the tracking just shows "Arriving late." I have shipped fish myself that were stuck in the mail for about a week and all was okay but it gets me very nervous.
Might want to treat them for bacterial infections from ammonia exposure when they get there.
 

strong style

Might want to treat them for bacterial infections from ammonia exposure when they get there.
Good plan, will do, thanks! I just hope they will survive. I am reading people have had weeks of delays on priority mail recently.
 

Revan

Interesting that this came up, the fish I ordered online just arrived today…

Well my fish took 4 days to get here, and they seem to be fine. I just acclimate them for 10 minutes then add them to the tank btw.

I dont have any quarantine tank setup as of right now, but I’d definitely try to use one to protect all the fish you have.
 

strong style

Interesting that this came up, the fish I ordered online just arrived today…

Well my fish took 4 days to get here, and they seem to be fine. I just acclimate them for 10 minutes then add them to the tank btw.

I dont have any quarantine tank setup as of right now, but I’d definitely try to use one to protect all the fish you have.
Glad the fish are okay! Did your tracking number ever get stuck on "in transit, arriving late"?
 

Revan

Glad the fish are okay! Did your tracking number ever get stuck on "in transit, arriving late"?
Just said that it would expect to arrive on a certain time, and then would change it to a later time.

FYI: Aquahuna shipped the wrong fish to me, and I now have some sort of rasbora
 

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Bwood22

Just said that it would expect to arrive on a certain time, and then would change it to a later time.

FYI: Aquahuna shipped the wrong fish to me, and I now have some sort of rasbora
Possibly Rasbora Paucisqualis (neon yellow)

Give them a day or so to adjust and see what they look like then. The pink flush operculum is throwing me off. But if they are young neon yellows, the pink will go away as they grow.
 

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