How to Ship Aquarium Fish in The Mail

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 does not sell fish online. However, we have many years of experience and best practices regarding shipping live animals via the United States Postal Service.


How to Ship Live Fish, Shrimp, or 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 top and bottom should completely cover the base of the box. To avoid them falling down, the side pieces must be interlocked. Insert the bottom and side insulation pieces into the box.

Styrofoam insulation sheet in shipping box

1. If the weather is on the hotter side, prepare the ice pack by wrapping it in a piece of fabric and placing it in a Ziploc bag to minimize condensation. If it’s cold, you can take out the plastic wrapper and remove the heat packs. Once the heat pack is confirmed to be warming up, wrap it in a paper bag. 2. Scoop out some water from your fish tank into the specimen container or catch cup. The catch cup will hold the fish to be shipped. We place most animals in gas-permeable breather bags. This allows fresh oxygen to enter and carbon dioxide 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. To ensure that water parameters are stable and fish have more space to move, try to use as much as water as you can. Twist the neck of your bag and squeeze all of it. Then tie a tight knot. Attach a rubberband below the knot to loop it around as many times as you can.

Breather bag with no extra air inside, sealed using a knot and rubber band

– Use regular fish bags if you are shipping betta fish that require some air in the bag or fish with spines that may puncture a breather bag. Fill two-thirds of the bag with water and the remaining one-third with air. Use a rubber band to seal the bag and slide it upside down into a second fishbag. Seal the second bag with 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. Place the fish bags on a towel or newspaper for 10 minutes to check for leaks. 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. Place the cold or heat pack in the box, and then add the fish bags. Between the cold or heat packs, place packing material or a piece cardboard. This prevents the animals from getting too cold or hot. 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. Tape up the box by placing the last piece insulation board on 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 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. 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.

We use heat packs that are longer lasting than the delivery date to avoid delays, especially during holidays. To keep your live animals warm and healthy during colder seasons, ensure you include a 72-hour heat package.