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NFC: Shipping.

Hey All.
  Last weeek, a friend of mine agreed to ship me 12 Mikrogeophagus
ramirezi ram fry, about 1/2"-3/4".  Though, these aren't natives, I'd
still like to relate the rest of the story.
  They were shipped Monday AM and arrived this morning.  The single bag
was filled to about 3/4 volume with water.  The water was a swimming pool
blue colour, likely due to the presense of a coupper drug in the water --
most likely to control the growth of bacteria and/or algae.
  All but one fish was "down."  Two were dead.  The others died this
afternoon, save the one who was immediately put into the fish tank, and
promptly vanished into teh tumbles of weed.  I'm not sure if this one made
it, its rather doubtful.  
  Those of us in the native fish hobby probably ship fish more than anyone
else in other branches of the hobby (i.e., excluding wholesalers, dealers,
etc.).  We also tend to get into a little more of the high branches of the
hobby, breeding other fishes.  These, too, we like to send off to friends
and such.
  Shipping, therefore, is a rather important part of this.  UNless you
hire a courier, you're going to likely use US Mail, UPS, or FedEx.  These
were shipped, just as I ship my fish, US Mail Priority Express.  This has
the advantage of being cheap, easy to deal with, and reliable.  Its not a
mistake to ship fish this way, just be sure to makr the outside of the
container as containing live specimens.  
  When filling bags for fish -- which includes ANY kind of transportation,
especially shipping, its everyone's first instinct to give the fish lots
and lots of water.  They need the water to breath and swim, right?  Wrong.
When I fill bags for shipping, I fill them so that the fish is covered in
water no matter how I hold the bag - it may get jostled during shipping.
The water will dissolve the air -- fish breath air (oxygen) not water.  
As t organic wastes and such dissolving in the water, don't worry about
it.  The fish won't be putting out enough waste materiel to matter for 2-3
days.  If its a real concern, dont' feed the fish the day before you ship
them.  While on that topic, never ever ever ship plants with fish in the
same bag.  The plants will gobble up the oxygen, release chemicals into
the water, and may break down.  
   Its also an easy thought to throw in some sort of chemical to help the
fish along.  THis is nine times out of ten a mistake.  A stress releiver
or something may be the only exception.  Adding this coupper solution is
likely one of hte things that did in the fish.  Coupper is, of course, a
poison.  Usuaully, its used at low doses so as not to harm the fish.  Its
also not left for a very long time.  They were in the bag in a relatively
high solution of this stuff for a comparatively long period. 
   NExt... ever hear the expression don't put all your eggs in one basket?
Well, don't put all your fish in one bag.  First off, this reduces
crowding, possible bickering, and so forth.  Second, if something goes
wrong with/in one of the bag,s theres always the other.  If the box gets
dropped, poked, etc. and one bag bursts, you only loose some of them.  If
one bag experiences a high level of NH4, you still have the other.  
  Last... always always always put something around the bag when shipping.
Crushed newspapers, styrofoam peaunuts, plastic bags, anything.  Aside
from adding some insulation for haeting problems (which may be signifigant
in a small container) this will have two other big advantages.  If water
leaks out, this will absorb it.  Your package will still likely get there.
(Packages which water will usually not be delivered... Iv'e only had a
leaky package delivered once.)  If the box gets dropped, kicked,
drop-kicked, etc., the materiel will absorb the shock.  And, lastly, the
bag won't slosh around in the box.  

 J. L. Wiegert                                    ICQ UIN: 1918889
 New Web Page Up and Coming!                      AIM  ID: Etheosoma
 http://nativefish.interspeed.net    --           NFC's Web Page
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