How to Ship Fish?
I am wanting to get setup to ship some fish. I realize this may not be the best time of year for it.
if I want to start shipping successfully in the spring of next year: -
What I do need to get to make sure I ship successfully?
And where can I get these from?
What process should I follow to do this?
Who should I ship with?
Who should I not ship with?
What are the gotchas, problems and issues that I need to avoid?
I will be shipping hopefully my super red bushynose pleco (ancistrus cirhosis sp) offspring.
Unusually I have nothing more to add...
Shipping Fish - here's how I do
Shipping fish is easy, although I've had to learn from a few mistakes over the past two years.
Inform the buyer of the risk of shipping live animals: Don't ever guarantee 100% live arrival unless the recipient pays for overnight shipping ($35+, depending on distance and weight of box). You never know when the USPS priority mail (first-class) will be delayed. I still try to make any losses good for the buyer, but I can't afford to lose money selling the occasional fish either. I hate to lose fish in shipping, but it happens once in a while no matter what you do. Be up-front with buyers about it, especially if they "insist" you ship in questionable weather (too hot, too cold). I ship USPS priority mail for $15/box and send the tracking info to buyers. That $15 usually breaks about even on postage and packing materials, sometimes I lose a few dollars on shipping.
Fish Prep: Ok, after being honest with your buyers, the next thing is preparing fish for shipment. Always, always, always, try to fast (not feed) your fish prior to shipping to minimize waste build-up in the shipping bags. The only time I've lost fish, other than a bag failure, was due to either not fasting OR shipping fish that were too young. Wait until your BN plecos have a little size on them (1.5-2"). The fish need a little size to withstand up to 5-6 days without food. I fast smaller fry for 1-2 days and adults at least 48 hours.
Bags: Here is where you have a choice. You can use regular "fish shipping bags" or the "Kordon Breather Bags". The Kordon bags have the following advantages: CO2 & O2 permeable (bag "breathes"), you use minimal water (saves weight and shipping $$), and if sealed correctly, there is no air space so the fish don't slosh around in the bag. Downside? Kordon bags are expensive/bag (>$0.50ea), I've had bad batches where I had to re-seal the leaky seams with a household iron, and the bags hold little water which means waste products can build up quickly (ammonia). I use the Kordon bags, but I know of many fish shippers who don't and they have no issues shipping using regular shipping bags.
Boxing: When you have the fish bagged, you need to enclose them in a box. If you are shipping USPS (post office) you want to make certain water won't leak and damage other mail items and you want to avoid quick temperature shifts. I use one of the small square priority mail boxes (you can also use the "Flat-Rate" boxes, but I find the cost works out less if I ship by actual weight). I buy a sheet of styrofoam house insulation at the big-box home improvement store nearby (about $15-$20 for a 4'x8' sheet). I cut 6 pieces of insulation that form a "cube" to line the bottom, sides, and top of the box (basically making it a small cooler). I then take a puppy training pad and line the "cooler" to take care of any catastrophic leaks. Next, I wrap each bag of fish (1-2 per bag for my BN fry in a small Kordon bag) with a paper towel and place them in the box. The paper bag allows the Kordon bags to "breath" and you don't want Kordon bags in direct contact with each other or the styrofoam lining. After packing, I make sure the bags wont shift around, I fold over the puppy pad sides, place the top styrofoam panel on, then tape the box shut. I mark the box with "LIVE PERISHIBLE" in red ink and ship it out.
Always ship on Monday or Tuesday, watch out for holidays!
Options: You can ship at various times of the year, but I avoid winter. Heat packs are available as are cold packs, but it adds cost and inconvenience, as far as I'm concerned. I'm about to ship my last fish of 2012 and that's only going to TN, so it's not too cold there yet.
Hope this helps some, let me know if you need more specifics! If you use the regular shipping bags, you use a lot more water, leave a big air portion in the bag, and wedge the bag into an insulated box (for that I'd use the flat-rate shipping and use big shipping bags). Still recommend the puppy pad liner though.
Last edited by DKRST; 10-22-2013 at 06:44 PM.
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