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. It is easier to sell fish to local fish stores because they can transport them safely. However, if there are no fish shops nearby, you might consider selling fish online via classified ads or auction sites like AquaBid. Aquarium Co-Op doesn’t sell fish online anymore, but we do have a lot of experience and best practice when it comes shipping live animals through 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 foam board insulation or Styrofoam sheets – Breather bags or fish bags – Rubber bands – Packaging tape and scissors – Newspaper, packing peanuts, crinkle-cut filler, or other packaging materials – 72-hour heat pack with a paper lunch bag or a cold pack with a piece of fabric and Ziploc bag – “Live Fish” labels Fish net Specimen container
1. For both the departure and the arrival locations, you will need to know the recipient’s zip code. Avoid shipping animals to locations where the temperature is below 32degF (0degC), or above 90degF (332degC). 2. Do not feed your animals for at most 1-2 days before 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 top and bottom should completely cover the base of the box. To prevent them falling apart, the four side pieces should be interconnected. Insert the bottom insulation and side pieces in the box.
Styrofoam insulation sheets in shipping box
1. For hotter weather, wrap the icepack in fabric. To prevent condensation, place it in Ziploc bags. If it is colder, take the heat pack out of the plastic wrapper. After it has started to warm up, you can place it in a lunch bag made of paper. 2. You will need to scoop out water from the fish tank into a container or catch cup. Place the fish in catch cups. – For most animals, we place them in gas-permeable breather bags, which allow fresh oxygen to enter and carbon dioxide to exit. 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. Twist the neck of your bag and squeeze all of it. Then tie a tight knot. 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
Use regular fish bags for betta fish, especially if there is a need to keep some air in the bag. The bag should be filled to two-thirds with water and one-third with oxygen. Seal the first bag with a rubber band, and then slide it upside-down into a second fish bag. Seal the second bag by using a rubber band. – When shipping shrimp, some sellers add a piece of fabric mesh so that shrimp have something to hold onto while in transit.
1. Place the fish bags on a towel or newspaper for 10 minutes to check for leaks. Wrap the breather bags in a porous material such as newspaper or paper towels. This will prevent them from touching any nonporous materials which may affect gas exchange, such Styrofoam and other plastic bags. 2. Place the cold/heat pack in the box. Then, add the fish bag. Add packing material or a piece of cardboard between the fish bags and the cold or heat pack. This helps to prevent animals from getting too hot or cold. The remaining spaces can be filled with packing material, so the contents don’t move around.
Shipping box with a heat pack in a brown paper bag, two breather bags containing live fish, and crinkle-cut plastic filler
1. Tape the box shut by attaching the last bit of insulation board to the top. To prevent them from getting wet, attach the “Live Fish” and mailing addresses to the box. Cover them with packaging tape. You can reinforce the box by adding additional strips of tape, if necessary.
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). Some sellers drop off their fish on Saturdays, as the shipping volume is lower and mail can still be transported over the weekend. To increase your chances of receiving your fish within one to two working days, you may choose to offer Priority Mail Express shipping.
We use heat packs that are longer lasting than the delivery date to avoid delays, especially during holidays. For live animals that are being shipped during the colder months, be sure to include a 72-hour heatpack to keep them warm and healthy in transit.