How to ship fish plants inverts and corals

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AC Members
Jan 24, 2009
I've never shipped before so let me make sure I have this right.

1 Never feed the fish within 48 hours of shipping. (no problem)

2 If using tank water, change 50% of the water the day before. personally, I use aged tap water, not tank water. (gotcha)

3 Use 2-3, 3mm plastic bags, secure with rubber band (I use wire ties). (where do you get wire ties?)

4 Make sure the fish is covered 2-3 inch over its highest point with water.

5 If possible, fill bag with pure oxygen (do not blow in the bag) can pump air into bag with bike pump or compressor. (bike pump it is)

6 Try to use tranquillizer, bag buddies will only last 5-6 hours, but if its the only option, its fine. (what tranquillizer and how do I use it and how much?)

7 Use Styrofoam shipping box. once a fish is placed inside the foam box, pack it with news paper so the fish doesn't bounce around. (gotcha)

8 Use heat or cold packs when needed. in very cold weather, use 2-4 heat packs. (I'm very scared to put too many or too few heat packs in...More info or help pls)

9 The carrier use to deliver fish is also important. USPS express is the lease expensive, but only has a 80% on time rate. fed-ex has much higher costs but carry a 98% on time rate. (fed-ex)

10 IMO never mark the box "live fish" this will only draw negative attention to the package. (good to know)



AC Members
Jul 21, 2009
Spokane Washington
Good info, more complicated than shipping birds. But the same thing about not writing "Live" applies to both. When I ship eggs I just write fragile. Some write "Live embryo's" and such but those boxes end up smashed.

I also was wondering about the tranquilizer, isnt there some sort of oil or seed extract that will tranquilize fish, I think I saw some fish and wildlife guys using it when counting trout fry.

Staff member
Jun 4, 2003
whats the best way to ship snail ramshorn and mts
Alternative options on shipping shrimp:

We don’t all have breather bags. They are great but unless you know someone or you’re going to shipping out things regularly. It’s not the best but it has worked for me. I use a zip lock sandwich bag and fill it with about 2/3 - 1 cup of water. I use a brine shrimp net to catch the shrimp. This makes counting them very easy. Once they are in, I toss in small thing of moss or other small plant. I use a basketball pump to pump air into the bag. I make sure it’s inflated but not ready to burst. Good idea is to tape the top off so there is no way that it can open. I then place it in a freezer ziplock bag. In the winter I add styrofoam and heatpacks are a very good idea.

same thing


AC Members
May 31, 2010
I was wondering if Priority mail would be ok ... It takes two days but I just cant afford $35 to ship my fish.


Registered Member
Sep 3, 2010
Very nice informative information. I've been shipping them every other week for a couple of months now, and no one ever asked me for a waiver. I wonder if this isn't the same type of thing, where you're shipping to a particular state that requires something more?


AC Members
Apr 9, 2010
florida panhandle
Real Name
What about shipping small crabs? and alternative types of bagging for fish?
If they are air breathers then i'd make sure they can get to air, if they are water breathers i'd treat them like any other invert.

I don't know what you mean about alternative bagging, I mean you could probably use a tupperware container or something but you'd have to make sure it had plenty of room for air and was sealed really really well, even then it'd do a lot of sloshing around.

Just hit up a LFS and ask them for a few bags. I really wouldn't trust ziploc bags personally.


AC Members
Jun 18, 2004
Visit site
Real Name
Just curious, for those of you that ship USPS, do you let the post office know the contents when they ask (liquid, live animals, etc.)? Also, when shipping express mail, does anybody know the specific rules when it comes to being granted a refund? I've had numerous shipments now sent express mail with guaranteed next day delivery (says guaranteed delivery date and time on tracking site), but have yet to receive any package within one day (it always takes two days to arrive at my house despite the fact I don't live in a rural or inaccessible area).