Shipping Killifish and Eggs
Shipping Killifish and Eggs


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Shipping Killifish and Eggs

Do not ship unhealthy Killifish fish

Never ship weak, diseased or stressed Killifish, since they are much more likely do die. Placing a weak Killifish among healthy Killifish can be a death sentence for the healthy ones, since a dead fish in the bag will pollute the water for them. Make sure that your fish are not exposed to any stress factors prior to shipping, such as temperature changes, radical alterations in water quality, oxygen changes or a new day-and-night cycle. You should also avoid introducing any new fish or plants to the aquarium since they can carry pathogens.

Do not ship Killifish that has not been properly starved

Starving your Killifish may seem like a cruel thing to do, but it can actually save their lives. During shipping, ammonia poisoning is one of the most common reasons behind fish death. Fish will secrete ammonia/ammonium in their feces, through their skin and via the gills. The more a fish eats the most waste products it will produce. You should therefore starve your fish for 48 hours prior to shipping, since this will lower the amount of ammonia in the water. In the wild, most Killifish species can survive much longer than 48 hours without food. 

When it comes to herbivore fish, starving can prove problematic since there are always some algae in the aquarium for them to feed on. It can therefore be a good idea to move them to a bare aquarium 48 hours before shipping. Use water from the old aquarium to avoid chocking them; they need all their strength for the shipping. 

Do not use too much water and too little air

A common beginner’s mistake when shipping Killifish is filling the bag with a lot of water, leaving room for only a small amount of air at the top. Plenty of air is actually more important than plenty of water, since the air is used to get rid of CO2 and receive new oxygen.

If you use a 45 cm x 10 cm plastic bag (which is suitable for small Killifish), 3 cm of water at the bottom will actually be enough. Between ¼ and ½ dl of water will keep small Killifish alive.

Enough water to stay good and wet is all they really want or need. I use about an inch of water in the bottom of a 4" x 18" x 0.0015" poly bag. That's only an ounce or two, and is just right for smaller killifish.

N.B! If you use so called “breather bags”, you should fill the entire bag with water. In a breather bag, the gas diffusion is carried out from plastic to water. In a normal bag, the gas diffusion is instead carried out between water and air inside the bag, and through the part of the bag that has air on both sides.

Do not use inappropriate bagging

  1. The bag must allow gas exchange between the air inside the bag and the air outside the bag. This means that freezer bags cannot be used, since they are design to keep oxygen out. (See “Do not use too much water and too little air” for more information about how normal bags and so called breather bags work.)
  2. If the bag will be transported by air, keep in mind that aircraft pressurized to a typical 1.2 km elevation will make the bag swell, and a bag that is too full can burst.
  3. To tie the bag is safer then using rubber bands, since rubber bands can break. If you have to use rubber bands, place one extra rubber band over the first one.
  4. Cover the water filled bag with another tied bag to prevent water from leaking out if the first bag is damaged.

Do not use pure oxygen in small bags

Filling up fish bags with pure oxygen instead of normal air is getting increasingly popular, but should only be used during short transports, such as from the pet shop to your home. If you use pure oxygen for longer journeys, it can imbalance the gas exchange process since the CO2 will be much lower than normal. Using ordinary air is safer.

Do not use less than perfect water

The water in the aquarium should be kept in perfect condition prior to shipping, and this water should be used to fill the bag to prevent any change in the amount of total dissolved solids (tds). If you use any other water, your Killifish can experience an osmotic shock. Two things should however be added to the water in the bag – a high-quality dechloraminator and an ammonia sponge. Using three times the normal dose of the dechloraminator has proven successful in the past.

Do not use plants

Some people believe that putting plants in the bag is a good idea when shipping Killifish. The rational behind the idea is that plants produce oxygen, consume CO2 and take care of organic waste. The problem is that these processes only take place in the presence of light. When you pack your fish bag in a dark container, it becomes impossible for the plant to carry out photosynthesis. It is only during photosynthesis that plant plants consume CO2 and produce oxygen. Just like the cells of any other living creature, the plant cells will however continue to consume oxygen and excrete CO2 inside the dark bag. The plant will therefore compete with your fish for oxygen, and increase the CO2 levels, instead of helping your fish to survive the trip.

Do not forget to pack the box right

Styrofoam boxes are great for transporting fish bags, but should always be placed in a sturdy cardboard box or similar since Styrofoam does not handle wear and tear very well. Ideally place a large plastic bag inside the Styrofoam box to prevent water from emerging from the box if a fish bag breaks during transport. Never place any absorbent materials inside this plastic bag, because such materials will draw water from a damaged fish bag. If a fish bag breaks inside a big plastic bag without any absorbent materials, quite a lot of water will actually stay inside the fish bag since a small pool will form inside the big plastic bag. If you need to use news papers, plastic popcorns etcetera to fill out the box, place them outside the large plastic bag. Isolating the box will be necessary for cold transports.

Do not rely on old information

Always contact the shipping agency to learn about recent changes in shipping rules and regulations. A lot of things have changed, and continue to change, since September 11, 2001. Old rules and guidelines may not longer be valid.

Do not use cryptic labeling

Always contact the shipping agency and ask them about how to properly label your fish box. If they have no specific requirements, the following labels are recommended. (Keep in mind that several agencies do not longer ship items labeled “LIVE”.)




If you know that your box will be transported to or via a nation where English is not commonly understood, it can be a good idea to use translated labels as well. 

Shipping Killifish eggs

  1. Freshly laid eggs are normally the easiest to ship. Fill the bag with water from the aquarium in which they were laid and add an ammonia absorber.
  2. If your Killifish has spawned on a spawning mop or inside peat moss, place the entire mop or piece of peat moss inside the bag. (Don’t forget to tell the receiver about the exact water conditions in your aquarium.)
  3.  Only use bags that allow gas exchange.
  4. Bubble-wrapping can be used to protect the bag with the eggs. It is also advisable to use some type of stiff protector, such as a cardboard box.

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Shipping Killifish and Eggs