How I Ship Fish

First I use fresh water that has not had fish in it, but has been aged for about a week. I dont use heaters in most of my tanks so the temp is the same, and no additives so all the chemistry is usually the same. I use bag buddies and breather bags, but cheap ol me sees that 1 bag buddie works for 1 gallon of water so I get a pitcher and put about 2 quarts of water per bag buddie. Lasts alot longer for me that way.

A side shot of “betta cups” and the bag buddie water with 3 fry in each cup.

Shot from the top.

Fish in the bag and the top tied off.

I have only had 1 DOA when I have shipped and that was caused by the fish getting stuck in the corner of the bag. So now I tape the corners so they wont get stuck.

All bagged and ready to go, with these fish since they are fry I have put 3 to a bag, the fry are about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, if they were adults or really sensative I would only put 1 per bag. I also add extras to any orders, so for an order of 10 fry I ship out 12, this will help if there is a chance of any DOA’s, if they all make it the person gets 2 extra fish and is happy and more likely to cocme back to me for more.

I wrap the bags with poly fiber you get at the craft store for baby blankets. The reason I do this is because the breather bags work by allowing oxygen in and co2 out of the bag, if they are touching another bag that is less area for that exchange to take place. With them wrapped up the bags can touch without having to worry about not enough exchange going on.

An empty box, notice how tight the corners are and how they are overlaped on one side. I make the boxes on my table saw with a plywood blade. I pick up the 4X8 sheet of 3/4″ foam from home depot, this costs around $8.00 here, might be different in your area. I cut the bottom and top to fit the whole box, the sides will fit lenghtwise minus the thickness of the foam, and the height will be minus 2X the thickness of the foam, you want to have room for a bottom and a top.
It may look like overkill using a tablesaw, but I cut up 1 sheet of 4X8 foam at a time and this is a time saver for me.

Fish bagged up wrapped with the poly fiber in the box.

I use packing peanuts because I dont like to use crumpled newspaper, it packs too easily. I get the peanuts for free from mailorder items I receive, I also have my work save the peanuts from items they receive. Alot of dr offices and other business would save them for you as well if you asked them. I put enough peanuts to make it a tight fit but not enough to squish the bags down.

Now I put the lid on, notice I have a little tape tag on the lid, this helps when the people receive the fish, its easier to get the lid off.

I put an invoice in with the address it is to be delivered to, this helps if the label gets damaged and the PO opens it to see if there is any info to where its supposed to be shipped to. I also add a care sheet and instructions on how to acclimate them, some people already know how to acclimate them, but alot of people who buy fish online don’t, better safe then sorry.

Now after I close up the box I write the name of who its going to, I usually ship 8-10 boxes at a time so this is a big help and a time saver when you do the labels. I use the full sheet labels that you can print on a laser printer. If you go to you can register there to buy and print postage online. The benifit in this is that with most postage you get a free confermation number and it will email the person receiving the package that it is on its way. If you were to buy the confermation number at the post office it would cost $0.44 this is included with postage online. Also if you go to and print it there are no extra charges for postage like there is on but you cant purchase all of the diffent kinds of postage, but for the most part you will be using priority.

Now I am cheap I admit that. The label only goes on 1/2 of the sheet so why waiste a full sticker?
The full page labels cost me $0.30 each, so if I cut them in half the label is only $0.15, still cheaper then buying the shipping confermation at the PO desk.

On the outside of the box on all 4 sides and on the top next to the label after you have printed it I place the referance from the post office that says you can ship fish via priority mail. This way if they want to argue too much they can look it up themselves.

The label should quote: Perishable, Small Cold-Blooded Animals, DMM C022.32

Now you need to weigh your box, remember when figuring the price you always round up to the full pound, when purchasing a label online it is done automatically, but if you want to quote someone round up.

Finished label (edited to remove personal information off) I remove the label off of the full sheet of paper then cut the label to size.

Depending on the time of year you will want to use a heat or cool pack, but make sure you use the right size and the smaller the box the smaller the pack you will need.

Now with priority I send them out on saturday morning, they will usually arrive monday or tuesday. I get all my fish ready and packaged so I can end up at the post office to drop them off right when they open up. You might want to check with your local PO to see when they send out the last shipment of priority mail, some of the smaller ones don’t send it out on a Saturday.