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Shipping Fish Checklist

Fish Folk

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I’m shipping out some juvenile F1 Mountain Redbelly Dace tomorrow.


They don’t look like much yet — more like mini Siamese Algae Eaters at this stage — but they’re worth the wait…

Setting everything out tonight, I thought I’d share a little enumerated checklist for how I ship day-of. This is not a full-scale review on exactly how I ship from top to bottom, but more of the practical process on go-day…


1. Large fine mesh net for catching the whole school in order to select the best for shipping.

2. Small fine mesh net for selecting the best fish to sell.

3. Paper towel for padding. I prefer this to newspaper. 

4. Regulator for O2 tank.

5. Bernzomatic O2 tank I bought at Tractor Supply.

6. Small Lee’s specimen container. I use 1.5 of these for water volume in this particular shipment.

7. Plastic fish bags. I’m just using a double bag method with fish bags from my LFS.

8. Kordon AMQUEL. I add 3-6 drops per bag to counteract ammonia buildup in shipping.

9. Rubberbands for sealing up fish bags.

10. Skimmer net for removing duckweed before shipment.

11. Siphon hose with small pre-filter sponge fastened to the end for draining tank water into shipping bags. Avoids plants, etc. 

12. Packaging tape.

13. Blank label (USPS Priority Mail)

14. USPS Priority Mail Medium sized shipping box, well insulated and taped up already.

15. Sharpie for labeling fish bags and completing shipping label.

16. Scissors

17. More packing tape.

18. ACO Specimen Container.

Edited by Fish Folk
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On 10/16/2023 at 3:40 AM, TheSwissAquarist said:

Do you also do a little care sheet to go with the fish? 

Yes! Because I’ve gone over details about what’s in each box elsewhere, I omitted that in this original post. Maybe I’ll take a few more photos and mention that here…

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Here is what goes _in_ the box apart from fish…


A. Acclimation instructions. This is crucial info.

B. Shipping Notice / species care guide.

C. CryoPak — maintains ca. 72°-F in box.

D. Custom cut styro lining.

E. Paper towel lining, and corner protection.

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Snapshots from the boxing up process…

Catch large school with large net…


Move to large specimen container,  remove duckweed, cover, and examine…


Prepare precise water volume for shipping and treat with Amquel…


Count out precise numbers of fish, move to shipping bag, add O2…



Close up box with Acclimation Guide and Shipping Notice, label filled out and covered with tape to protect from rain…


Now to the P.O…

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On 10/16/2023 at 12:38 PM, Guppysnail said:

Please tell me about what a cryopak is and exactly what they do?  I have not heard of these. Do they keep fish warm in winter or just cool in summer or????

Also how are they used. Do you heat or cook them first?

They’re called “CryoPak Phase 22” because they hold temperatures to 22°-C (71.6°-F).

I buy mine through my LFS. I think they can be bought online too. Here is technical info. 

The gel changes its consistency, and is designed to help keep insulated boxes at ca. 72°-F.

With MRBDs, they can survive at temperatures in the 50°s, but this pak helps to moderate that drop.

I add 72-hr heat-paks in cold winter, and Uline ice-paks in summer heat. The CryoPak Phase 22 is ideal for fall and spring shipping.

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On 10/16/2023 at 12:38 PM, Guppysnail said:

Please tell me about what a cryopak is and exactly what they do?  I have not heard of these.

Yeah, just as Fish Folk said. . .  Cryopacks are very good at stabilizing temps inside a box. The turn liquid at temps above 72F and solid below that. The idea is that they absorb heat when the temps go north of 72F and will then release that heat back out into the box as the temps dip below 72F. I believe they cab be used in conjunction with heat or cold packs.

I experimented with them a bit and cold packs, hoping I could make an ice pack last longer inside a box on a hot day (ice packs run out too fast to be of any use). I didn't have much luck achieving my objective, but I'm going to try again at some point. 

A while back I also once called the company to inquire about buying in bulk to lower the per-unit price, but their minimum order, if I remember correctly, was a case of something like 1500. 

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 11/15/2023 at 12:19 PM, H20CultureLabs said:

A nice checklist! Have you ever used breather bags? I have had really good success shipping with them by sealing them with an inexpensive heat sealer. Worth a short and saves the O2 step. 

Yes. I use breather bags when shipping small fish, and/or individually bagged fish. Unfortunately, I cannot find large breather bags at a good price point. 

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