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NFC: Shipping fish a how too guide

Shipping 101: A Beginner's Guide To Sending Fish To New Homes In Far Away
by Robert Rice
Ok, OK you have done it .You have just collected the hidden, secret spot
of your favorite fish and shockingly have too many excellent fish. Maybe
you have done even better and your favorite fish has spawned and you have
fry coming out your ears. Great , at first you panic then you dig out a
NANFA trading post and decide I want to send my fish to Miss. Jones in
Portland Oregon ! Sounds good so far. Miss. Jones being a trusting sort
sends you a box full of aquatic plants that you have wanted for years.
You are in heaven ! Suddenly you realize you have a problem you owe Miss.
Jones some fish but do not have the foggiest idea how to get them to her
! Relax your friendly host (me) will walk you through the whole thing.
You need to ship fish ? Well first off you need to get a box and some
bags. Here is the place where a friendly pet store owner can make your
life easier. Let's say you ask your local pet store owner Hans "Sir, do
you have any extra boxes or bags I need to ship some fish". Hans looks at
you in disgust and says " Why do you need to ship fish, you don't buy
fish here so where did they come from? You are a bad person get out of my
store." So you slink away vowing never to return. On your way home you
get a brainstorm and stop at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store and
purchase a box of Glad freezer bags for $1.29. Not the ziplock kind but
the cheap old reguar freezer bags.You also notice CHEAP styro coolers for
$1.99 and snag one of those too. On your way out you talk them into
giving you a cardboard box that once held Pampers diapers. OK , fine you
are in business. 
Or what if instead old Hans had said "Boxes ? You want Boxes ? Yeah I got
a pile of them in the back help yourself and buy something will ya? " So
you purchase some bags from him at a nickel a piece and vow to buy all
your hardware from your new buddy Hans. Who by the way loves to collect,
and tries to talk you into taking him with him next time you go (that is
a different story though !).
So, either way you are heading home with the right stuff in your car and
a grinding fear in your heart about shipping those fish. You wonder how
can fish survive in this little box for the long trip to Oregon. A tear
wells up in your eye when you think "I could be sending my babies to
there DOOM , whoa is me." Relax fish are not people and they can tolerate
a box very easily and with little stress.
You have picked your fish out and are ready to start packing . First rule
of packing is less water equals more fish ! that means put the absolute
minimum amount of water in each bag. Fish do not breath water they breath
air. If your bag is full of water and not air you will have a very heavy
box of stinky water arriving in Oregon and a very angry Miss. Jones
opening them. So put about an inch of water in each bag sometimes more ,
sometimes less depending on the size of the fish. I like to put just
enough to fully cover each fish and never any more. Then I blow the bags
up to a squishy soft consistency. If you are lucky and have bottled O2 or
a tire pump use that instead of blowing em up with your mouth. When you
exhale it adds a bit of CO2 to the air mix wich is not good. If not your
air is better than no air. Now be carefull, if you blow your plastic bags
up too much , the pressure change while on an airplane can burst the bags
open . Rule number two is, more bags equals more fish. What this means is
it is far better to have 15 small bags with 1 fish in them than two large
bags with 8 fish in them. If a fish dies you will limit the damage to his
buddies if they are not in the bag with him !
So now you have packed up these fish just so and have all these cute
little bags on the floor what now? Simple, place them in the Styrofoam
box and put a bit of newspaper in there to cover any gaps and tape the
box closed. I use 2 inch wide packing tape as it adds support to the box.
Then place the whole thing inside a suitably sized cardboard box with a
bit of newspaper to cover the gaps label it and write live fish on the
sides of this box. Tape it shut and you are ready to go to the post
office. Maybe Hans gave you a cardboard and styro all in one if so skip a
step and head to the post office!
The post office you say ! Why not UPS, Fed Ex or one of the other
carriers? Because they often do not allow the shipping of live animals
and they are always more expensive. So you lug your large ugly box up
there, all labeled up and the postal clerk says " I am sorry but we can't
ship LIVE fish ." You however have read this article and are prepared and
reply " Ma'am in the domestic mail manual section 124.632 it states you
can ship non venomous cold blooded animals via the post office." "Oh "she
says, looks it up and says "Never mind !" and your fish are on their way.
Wait you say, what if I was shipping to another country, say London
England, is that legal? You would recite the same sentence except add
".....the international mail manual states in section 139.1 that the
shipment of non........" You get the picture. Anyway she says "oh" and
ask "how would you like it shipped?" The correct answer is priority mail.
Most packages are there in 2 days and it is so cheap you can't beat it.
So you cough up about 10-12 dollars and head home and wait. The best
thing is next time you ship fish, the postal employees will all know you
are the fish person and will be glad to help. See those postal service
coffee breaks are good for something.
Two days later you get a call from Miss. Jones in Oregon thanking you for
your cool fish and all is well. You are happy, your fish are happy and
Miss. Jones is happy. Life is good. You think you might want to trade
again and dig out your NANFA trading post again. Yes life is good!
I have used the same setup to send fish all around the world with waits
as long as 14 days with a higher that 80% survival rate. So do not be
afraid to ship fish , be afraid of taxes , death , environmental apathy
but not shipping fish. Until next time good luck and good fishing.

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