How to Ship Aquarium Fish in the Mail
In a previous article, we talked about how to breed and sell aquarium fish to help offset the costs of your aquarium hobby. Selling to a local fish store is much easier because you can safely transport the animals yourself, but if you do not have any stores nearby, selling fish via online classified ads or auction websites like AquaBid is an alternative to consider. While Aquarium Co-Op no longer sells fish online, we have plenty of past experiences and best practices when it comes to shipping live animals through the United States Postal Service (USPS).
How to Ship Live Shrimp, Fish, and Snails
1. Gather the materials : USPS Priority Mail Flat rate Medium or Large Box 0.5-inch thick foamboard insulation or Styrofoam sheets. – Breather bags and fish bags. – Rubber bands. – Packaging tape. – Newspaper. A 72-hour heatpack with a paper lunch bag, a Ziploc bag, and a cold pack with a piece fabric and Ziploc bag. – “Live Fish” labels Fish net Specimen Container
1. Get the recipient’s zip code so you can check the weather forecast at both the departure and arrival locations. Avoid shipping animals to locations where the temperature is below 32 degrees F (0degC) and above 90 degrees F (32degC). 2. Do not feed animals for at least 1-2 days prior to shipping. 3. Securely tape together the USPS Priority Mail box, and then cut out 6 pieces of insulation to fit in the top, bottom, and four sides of the box. The bottom and top pieces must cover the entire box’s base. To prevent them from falling, the four sides should be interlocked. Insert the bottom and side insulation pieces inside the box.
Shipping box with Styrofoam insulation sheets
1. For hotter weather, wrap the icepack in fabric. To prevent condensation, place it in Ziploc bags. If the weather is on the colder side, remove the heat pack from the plastic wrapper. After it has started to warm up, you can place it in a lunch bag made of paper. 2. In the catch cup, add some water from your fish tank to the specimen container. The catch cup will hold the fish to be shipped. Gas-permeable breathing bags are used for most animals. They allow fresh oxygen to enter the animal and carbon dioxide to leave. To minimize the possibility of a bag burst or a fish dying, you can either place one fish in each bag or split them up. Try to use as much water as possible so that the water parameters are more stable and the fish has more room to move. Squeeze all the air of the bag while twisting the neck of the bag, and then tie a tight knot on top. Attach a rubber band below the knot and loop it around the neck of the bag as many times as possible.
Breather bag without extra air, sealed with a rubber band and knot
If you’re shipping betta fish that need air or fish with spines, use regular fish bags. Fill two-thirds of the bag with water and the remaining one-third with air. The first bag should be sealed with a rubber band. Slide it upside-down into the second fish bag. Seal the second bag by using a rubber band. A piece of fabric mesh can be added to shrimp shipping containers so they have something to hold on to while in transit.
1. To check for leaks, place the fish bags on a newspaper or towel for 10 minutes. If using breather bags, wrap them with a porous material (e.g., paper towels or newspaper) so they won’t touch any nonporous materials that may interfere with gas exchange (e.g., Styrofoam or other plastic bags). 2. Add the cold or heatpack to the box and then the fish bags. Between the cold or heat packs, place packing material or a piece cardboard. This will prevent the animals from becoming too hot or cold. The remaining spaces can be filled with packing material, so the box is secure and does not rattle.
Shipping container with a heat pack in brown paper bags, two breather bags with live fish and a crinkle-cut filler
1. Place the last piece of insulation board on top, and tape up the box. To prevent them from getting wet, attach the “Live Fish” and mailing addresses to the box. Cover them with packaging tape. Reinforce the box with several additional strips of tape if needed.
Many fish retailers only ship on Mondays and Tuesdays so that their fish will hopefully arrive before Sunday (when USPS typically only delivers Priority Mail Express and other specialty packages). Other sellers choose to drop off their fish on Saturdays because the shipping volume can be a bit lower and mail is still transported over the weekend. You may also choose to only offer the more expensive Priority Mail Express shipping to increase the likelihood that your fish are delivered within one to two days.
Due to possible delays in shipping, especially during holiday season, we use heat packs that last for longer than the expected delivery time. To keep your live animals warm and healthy during colder seasons, ensure you include a 72-hour heat package.