How To Properly Ship Fish?

Demeter

I've been breeding fish for a good while and would like to send them off to other states. I figured I'd give away my first batch of bettas for free as a trial run, just pay shipping. Problem is, I don't know how to go about it.

The packaging is pretty straight forward but how do I actually get the fish to where they need to go? Where do I drop them off at, how do I track the packages, what mailing company is best, how do I determine the shipping cost? I live in Michigan and I've never shipped anything before, any advice/experience is welcome.
 

ValerieAdams

Rtessy just sent me a betta and he arrived in great shape! She may be able to help
 

Platylover

I can help a little with the shipping.

For shipping I believe the best way to go is USPS, a lot of the other ones are typically more costly and I believe when I read around USPS was generally the safest. You can either do one of the packages that has a set price or weigh and measure your box then put it into the USPS price calculator. You can drop them off at the USPS store or I believe they now take packages from your door if you schedule it, granted I don't think the latter would be the best option. Tracking wise you'll get a tracking number when you either print the label or label and send it at the post office.

Side note, DO NOT let them tell you you can't fish priority. I had the post office person tell this to me and I knew it wasn't true so I emailed the offices, there is no guidelines saying you have to ship fish a certain way. To save you the trouble don't even mention your shipping fish unless specifically asked.
 

ValerieAdams

I can help a little with the shipping.

For shipping I believe the best way to go is USPS, a lot of the other ones are typically more costly and I believe when I read around USPS was generally the safest. You can either do one of the packages that has a set price or weigh and measure your box then put it into the USPS price calculator. You can drop them off at the USPS store or I believe they now take packages from your door if you schedule it, granted I don't think the latter would be the best option. Tracking wise you'll get a tracking number when you either print the label or label and send it at the post office.

Side note, DO NOT let them tell you you can't fish priority. I had the post office person tell this to me and I knew it wasn't true so I emailed the offices, there is no guidelines saying you have to ship fish a certain way. To save you the trouble don't even mention your shipping fish unless specifically asked.
Just gonna put my two cents in, I hate USPS. Okay, not hate. But 100% would go with UPS over USPS. USPS has horrible handling in my experience.
 

MWR

Take them to the Post Office - if you are using the US Postal service.
Take them to the UPS store - if you are using UPS.
Take them to FEDEX store - if you are using FEDEX.

Get online and pull up the website of the carrier you are going to use. For instance, pull up the shipping calculator for USPS. They will ask you things like the WEIGHT and the dimensions of the box, zip code you are shipping from and shipping to, what day you are shipping. It will then provide you choices with prices.

Call your Post Office and find out what the latest time is that you can bring the package in for it to go out that day. Take the package to the Post Office in time for it to go out that day.

When you pay for the package, the Post Office will provide you the tracking number. You track the package by getting on the USPS website - "Track Packages". Type in the tracking number and try not to lose control! USPS sucksssss when it comes to their ability to tell you where your package is at! You will see the day/time they accepted your package. You will see the date/time it departed with a statement that it departed on way to next destination. You may not see another entry until it is delivered.
UPS and FEDEX can tell you at any time where the package is at - you will pay for this thru the high cost of using their services.

If you put additional insurance on the package, you will have to prove the value of the contents of the package for a "lost package" claim. Since you did not buy the fish, this will be pretty much impossible - I strongly recommend not adding additional insurance.

NOTE:
There is no guaranteed time frame for any level of USPS shipping method other than Express Shipping. UPS and FEDEX have about the same process for shipping - get on their sites and follow the prompts. Since you do not have an account with either of them - you are going to be surprised with the cost of shipping thru their companies.

NOTE
: UPS rates for Ground Service are real good if you are shipping to someone real close. Most people selling fish leave it up to the buyer for type of shipping - since the buyer is usually paying for the shipping. I have never seen anyone who refunds the cost of shipping for a lost box or late delivery box - you have no control over the carrier.

If you are using UPS and a claim has to be filed - you as the shipper has to do the filing. USPS lets the shipper or receiver do the filing. Not sure about FEDEX - I will let you know whenever they "let me down".

I strongly recommend you get on AQUABID and study how everyone ships - LAG (Live Arrival Guarantee), choice of shipping methods, requirements for claiming DOA's, additional fees for heat/cold packs, refunds/replacements/next order credit, etc....
 

Platylover

Just gonna put my two cents in, I hate USPS. Okay, not hate. But 100% would go with UPS over USPS. USPS has horrible handling in my experience.
It can be rather dependent on which post office is yours. A lot of different levels of how they ship fish. I’ve thankfully been blessed most of the time with good shipments and such.

I just recall looking through which is best and which worse for shipments and there seemed to be more incidents with UPS and Fed Ex rather than USPS.
 

Demeter

Any idea when the best days are to ship (was thinking monday/tuesday)? Also, would I be shipping directly to the other person's house or to another UPS store? I fiddled around on the UPS website and it seems mostly straight forward, and I was indeed surprised by the price for shipping a 1 pound package to a neighboring state. If packaged properly (foam lined box, shredded paper, heat pack etc) is 2 day ground shipping safe for a betta?

Hopefully last question, what are a few of the easier ways for payment? Paypal is basically the only thing I really know of but I don't have one as of yet. Better to get all my ducks in a row and see what's best before I decide on anything.
 

Platylover

Monday and Tuesday are definitely the best, but Wednesday can be good as well.

PayPal is probably the best and most trusted way to go, a lot of people will not buy from others lest they take PayPal.
 

ValerieAdams

Yes, 2 day ground would be fine. Just add some prime in their bag. I agree, Monday and Tuesday but sometimes Wednesday, Rtessy shipped mine on a Wednesday I think.

I would definitely go for PayPal
 

Rtessy

For bettas, unfortunately you have to use poly bags and can't use breather bags, so they will get sloshed around on the conveyer belts. Tape the edges of the poly bag so the fish doesn't get stuck in there.
USPS can work, but always check the arrival date beforehand. Also, I strongly recommend NOT using them anywhere near a holiday, so wait around two more weeks before using them. My 2 days priority package took over a week to arrive and my overnight package that I paid $60 to get it overnight did not arrive overnight.
UPS is the second best, in my opinion. Either way, both of them have an online calculator to check prices. You just need he box dimensions and weight. Make sure the betta is submerged if the package tips, and that 1/4-1/3 of the bag is water, the rest can be air. Make sure it is super secure and won't move, because that can minimize sloshing.
Grab a heat pack, a poly bag with the amount of water you'll need, packing materials, insulation, and throw it all in a box. Most postal scales should be able to measure it, and it should be between 1-4 pounds. Both UPS and USPS charge by the pound, and the online calculator reflects that. I would strongly recommend dropping off the package directly at the post office or UPS store and getting your receipt, just in case. For USPS the tracking number is on the label, for UPS it is on the receipt
 

MWR

For bettas, unfortunately you have to use poly bags and can't use breather bags, so they will get sloshed around on the conveyer belts. Tape the edges of the poly bag so the fish doesn't get stuck in there.
USPS can work, but always check the arrival date beforehand. Also, I strongly recommend NOT using them anywhere near a holiday, so wait around two more weeks before using them. My 2 days priority package took over a week to arrive and my overnight package that I paid $60 to get it overnight did not arrive overnight.
UPS is the second best, in my opinion. Either way, both of them have an online calculator to check prices. You just need he box dimensions and weight. Make sure the betta is submerged if the package tips, and that 1/4-1/3 of the bag is water, the rest can be air. Make sure it is super secure and won't move, because that can minimize sloshing.
Grab a heat pack, a poly bag with the amount of water you'll need, packing materials, insulation, and throw it all in a box. Most postal scales should be able to measure it, and it should be between 1-4 pounds. Both UPS and USPS charge by the pound, and the online calculator reflects that. I would strongly recommend dropping off the package directly at the post office or UPS store and getting your receipt, just in case. For USPS the tracking number is on the label, for UPS it is on the receipt
I received seven wild type betta individually packed in breather bags (correctly packed breather bags - no air) that took three days to get to me. All alive and well. Would like to hear an expert tell me how this was possible.
 

Demeter

So far so good, looks like only 2 pounds max if I can't find some smaller boxes. I'll be thinking things over, snapping pictures, setting up accounts, sourcing packaging materials and seeing how it goes in the next few days!
 

Rtessy

I received seven wild type betta individually packed in breather bags (correctly packed breather bags - no air) that took three days to get to me. All alive and well. Would like to hear an expert tell me how this was possible.
Seriously?? That's so odd, I've never actually heard of someone successfully shipping a betta in a breather bag. Are you noticing any effects on the labyrinth organ? How often do they breathe from the air?
(Please let me know if this is too off topic or if it's relevant enough).
 

wodesorel

USPS no longer offers guaranteed delivery dates, and does not have a true overnight service anymore. UPS and FedEx do, but cost a heck of a lot more.

Please keep in mind outside temperatures, boxes can freeze if they are left sitting around if a slower service is used, or while/when delivery is occurring. You can always ship to a hub or post office for pickup for safety.

I really think it depends a lot on where it gets routed through. I cannot get live insects shipped to my house in summer or winter as they always arrive dead. I get it shipped to my hubby's work 6 minutes away, which is on a completely different route and hub, and never have a problem.
 

Rtessy

USPS no longer offers guaranteed delivery dates, and does not have a true overnight service anymore. UPS and FedEx do, but cost a heck of a lot more.

Please keep in mind outside temperatures, boxes can freeze if they are left sitting around if a slower service is used, or while/when delivery is occurring. You can always ship to a hub or post office for pickup for safety.

I really think it depends a lot on where it gets routed through. I cannot get live insects shipped to my house in summer or winter as they always arrive dead. I get it shipped to my hubby's work 6 minutes away, which is on a completely different route and hub, and never have a problem.
When did the overnight guarantee change? When I checked their website, they said overnight was guaranteed for my package, and that was just like two weeks ago. Ugh, they're not the best anyway....
 

MWR

Seriously?? That's so odd, I've never actually heard of someone successfully shipping a betta in a breather bag. Are you noticing any effects on the labyrinth organ? How often do they breathe from the air?
(Please let me know if this is too off topic or if it's relevant enough).
They are perfectly fine. This was over a year ago. I was surprised when I opened the box - I was definitely not expecting breather bags! Fish came from Geiler Aquatics (now out of business) in Stanwood, WA. I have asked "fish friends" but no one knows how this is possible.
 

Whitewolf

Starve them for couple days. Put anquel plus in the bag so no ammonia. Insulate and heat pack in winter. USPS small flat rate box priority mail 3 days anywhere even HawaiI or Alaska. Write fragile this side up. "Rush" time sensitive in Sharpe on the box
 

AvalancheDave

Make sure you haven't missed the pickup time when you drop off packages. If you do, they sit for an extra day.
 

coralbandit

I ship every week USPS.
2-3 day has no guarantees at all. You get an expected delivery date but if it arrives it counts.
They do have Express that in many cases will be one day on the label.
Express is guaranteed to be delivered on time or YOU get the money back. Doesn't matter ifthey arrive a day late and all are live , they owe you a refund .
2-3 day if they arrive on time and dead you should have packed better .
I use #7 boxes which are 2 inches taller then large flat rate box. 12x12x8
I double insulate with 3/4 inch foam in winter and use 72 hour heat pack taped to lid of box never in contact with bags. The 72 hour are considered the best in the industry . UnI Heat is the brand of choice .
In the summer I use 1 layer of 3/4 foam and no heat packs.
I cut foam with a heated snap off razor.No heat makes mess !You will see. I use a torch to heat blade.I have plywood templates of the sizes I need to fit box perfect.
No gaps are tolerated if you want your insulation to count ?
I ship with O2 and use 5X20 bags with 12 ounces of water. I double or triple bag depending on fish .
I pack bags tight enough that they can not move around [side to side and up down. This is important IMO.
When it is not winter 2-3 day works 95% of the time ,maybe more ? I try to save my customers money for better things .
In the winter a 1 day delay can be death so Express is much safer.And again guaranteed .So the fish that leave here Monday Express have less risk for me and them then the fish going 2-3 day due the the storm they are going to face on Tues ..Only 10 + boxes so … 7 are express so far .
A box of 6 fish [3 bags of pairs] weighs about 5-6 lbs for me .
The heat pack alone is almost 1 lb.Why all sellers make you pay shipping when you order heat packs ..
A good seller can get 50 into a large flat rate box which is the cheapest way to ship the heaters .
ask if I missed something .
I have been thinking of putting together a video of 'What goes into shipping fish " so others may gain an appreciation to the time it REALLY takes to pack a box properly.
I pay for weight every time and found it is almost always cheaper then a large flat rate box and I get a little more room in my boxes.
Any box smaller then a large flat rate for fish is a joke IMO.
 

Demeter

I’m sourcing materials at my work (hey it’s free) and so far this is what I’ve found to possibly use. I’ve also decided to use USPS and I’ve found the store I will be shipping from (if all goes well).

Foam for the 2nd layer rather than 2 lays of styrofoam

731A5D55-015F-4127-A60A-834CB6FAB4A3.jpeg

A couple boxes that should (?) be sufficient for mailing a single betta. I’ve also got larger ones at home but they seem too big for one betta.

2808F401-6A41-41D5-843E-3CE68FFD161F.jpeg
 

Demeter

So I set up a checking account and will be getting my card and then signing up for paypal in about 2 weeks. Stopped by the UPS store just to ask about shipping rules and ended up buying half a sheet of styrofoam for 6$. The cashier seemed surprised when I told him I was shipping live fish

Then I made my trial run that weighed in at 1.02 pounds. Slapped a cheap toe warmer to the styrofoam lid, filled a bag with water and a floating thermometer then set it outside. I do not plan on using the toe warmers for shipping, they are just to see how well it insulates. Seems to be the perfect size for a single betta.


917CA533-2048-41F5-B50C-AA46FFED0E86.jpeg
E5F93756-16ED-4524-806A-9880EDC79CD8.jpeg

Going shopping this friday to pick up the O2 and fish bags, maybe some decent heat packs if I can find them. In the mean time I’ll be making more boxes.
 

ETNsilverstar

Where in MI are you located?
 

Demeter

About 30min away from Greenville.
 

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