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Bagging and Shipping Apistos


  1. A. agassizii availability
    by huntley/ (Wright Huntley ) (Tue, 12 Nov 1996)
  2. Fed Ex
    by Dave Gomberg <gomberg/> (Thu, 22 Oct 1998)
  3. "breathable" bags
    by IDMiamiBob/ (Sat, 1 May 1999)
  4. RE: Shipping fish
    by Michael Meyer <mikeymeyer/> (Thu, 8 Apr 1999)
  5. Mr. Melgar, are you there?
    by Jota Melgar <jsmelgar/> (Thu, 8 Apr 1999)
  6. "breathable" bags
    by Wright Huntley <huntley1/> (Fri, 30 Apr 1999)
  7. Bags
    by IDMiamiBob/ (Fri, 20 Aug 1999)
  8. bottles for shipping.
    by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/> (Thu, 08 Feb 2001)
  9. bottles for shipping.
    by "V Kutty" <kutty/> (Sat, 10 Feb 2001)
  10. RE: bottles for shipping.
    by BigJohnW/ (John Wubbolt) (Wed, 7 Feb 2001)
  11. shipping fish
    by Rivulus1/ (Tue, 10 Oct 2000)

A. agassizii availability

by huntley/ (Wright Huntley )
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996
To: apisto/

Richard wrote: 
>At 09:09 AM 11/12/96 -1000, you wrote:
>>Hi All,
>>Regarding shipping of dwarf cichlids, has anyone ever shipped cichlids
>>using the same method as for killifish.  I have received killis from the
>>East Caost all the way to Hawaii on a couple of occassions with no
>>casualties.  The fish were shipped priotiry mail at a cost of less than
>>I will be looking to purchase some dwarfs early next year but I am a
>>little put off with shipping costs of $40.
>Cichlids aint killies. Their oxygen requirements are greater
>which requires larger bags and faster shipping. This
>costs more.

Most dwarf cichlids are no heavier breathers than equivalent-size killifish, 
and the normal diffusion rate of oxygen through a proper bag (1.5 mil) is 
quite enough to keep any of them alive, indefinitely, AFAIK. Thicker bags will 
suffocate killies or any other kind of fish, just as quickly as Apistos. 

The new Kordon breathables let you fill the bag with water completely, and 
*still* they have no problem breathing. The trick is to get enough surface 
area to assure enough diffused oxygen. If diffusion rate is high, you need 
little surface area.

I use about 1/3 water to 2/3 air, and fairly small bags (4X18 and 6X18). One 
fish per bag, unless they are really small fry.[That's killy style, 

As soft-water fish, Apistos are often far fussier about water conditions, than 
many killies (e.g., almost no buffering). That means that a strict starvation 
period before shipping must be practiced, so they don't die of their own 
ammonia. Use a double dose of Amquel, or equivalent, too, to trap any residual 
ammonia. A larger water volume is of secondary importance, if this is done 

You can double-bag in 1.5 mil bags, but never, ever use thick (freezer?) bags 
or you *do* risk suffocating them. Large bags are hard to find in 1.5mil, but 
tend to defeat the whole purpose of having larger bags if they are 2.5 mil or 
more thick. Breakage also becomes a problem with larger thin bags.

Ship young fish. They are almost always more resilient and shock-resistant. 
Mature fish rarely ship well, in any class or species.

That's *my* take on it, but I have done only a little shipping (mostly local 
transfers) of Apistos and would like to get more information from those more 
experienced than I. What say you? I may need to ship some young agassizii, 
soon, so please head me off if I'm really way off base.



Wright Huntley (408) 248-5905 Santa Clara, CA USA

Fed Ex

by Dave Gomberg <gomberg/>
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998
To: apisto/, <STRIPES/MITVMA.MIT.EDU>, huntley1/

At 07:16 PM 10/22/98 -0400, you wrote:
>Alysoun McLaughlin wrote:
>> A few months ago, we tried to ship fish via Fed Ex, and the package was
>> refused.
>> This thread confused me, so I called Fed Ex.  I was told that because the
>> cargo areas of their airplanes are not pressurized, company policy
>> forbids the shipping of live animals, with the exception of lobsters.
>Fed Ex in Canada, and UPS, refused the accept fish. 

Well, I spent a ton of time on the phone with FedEx, talking finally to the
Live Animals Desk and the Packaging Lab (which certifies that packaging is
adequate).  Here is what I found out:

You cannot send pets.  You can send LIVE FISH FOR HUMAN COMSUMPTION.  Page
77 of the service guide says so.

They told me the FedEx police will not actually come around to make sure
you really ate the fish.  I am pretty sure one problem is they don't want
to deal with the loss of someone's darling pet poochie.

The packaging lab said mark the package LIVE FISH PERISHABLE (I would
don't get into the fish brouhaha).   They want a minimum of 1.5" foam
insulation (inside a cardboard box), double bagging (preferably 4 mil), and
enough absorptive material that if the bag breaks it will catch the water
so other packages are not harmed.   Seems reasonable enough to me.

If you ship fish a LOT, like David Soares does, you can actually get
permission to ship tropical fish, but you need to work with your FedEx

Dave Gomberg, San Francisco  

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"breathable" bags

by IDMiamiBob/
Date: Sat, 1 May 1999

David Robinson writes:

> While breathable bags are certainly available now, many fish stores do not
>  go through the added expense of using the bags that are sufficiently
>  permeable
>  to support fish life for extended periods of time.  I submit this response
>  not
>  to be argumentative, but to prevent an unknowing user from taking this
>  advice
>  and believing fish can be easily maintained for long durations without
>  either
>  using high oxygen content in the bag or changing the air every twentyfour
>  hours.
>  If you know that your store truely uses breathable bags, then the fish can
>  safely
>  be kept for extended periods without the use of supplemental O2.
The "non-breatheable" bags which have been in the trade for decades also 
breathe.  The difference between the two is that the new breatheable bags 
breathe where they are wet on the inside, and the older standard bags are 
breatheable where they are dry.  That is why the standard bags are usually 
only filled about a third of the way but bretheable bags are filled 
completely.  The breatheable bags allow one to get more bags of fish in the 
same size container, or to use smaller shipping containers.  As I see it, 
this only means less available O2 in the container for the fish.  I continue 
to use the older bags and larger containers, so my fish have more air 

To demonstrate this concept, pick a couple of fish you don't particularly 
value, of the same species.  Put the smaller one in a jelly jar  with one 
third water, and seal the lid.  Put the larger one in a bag about the wame 
size as the jar with about the same amounts of air and water.  The large one 
will use more air, but still survive the smaller one, which will be dead 
within 12-18 hours, depending on the size of the fish and the size of the 
jar.  The bag is selectively permeable to O2 and CO2, and the larger fish 
will be just fine, assuming the bag and jelly jar are of appropriate size, 
proportionate to the fish.

Bob Dixon

RE: Shipping fish

by Michael Meyer <mikeymeyer/>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999
To: "'apisto/'" <apisto/>

I've had three different people send me fish via USPS.  I have never 
received a dead fish this way.  Granted the shippers new what they were 
doing.  My latest shipment was a standard fish box of angels from Angel's 
Plus. It said live fish all over it.  The folks at the Post Office were 
very curious about getting fish through the mail.  I wanted to make sure 
they were alive, so I opened the box right there.  They just oohhed and 
aahhed over these tiny angels.  Anyway, they said that people ship all 
kinds of live critters.  They have people sending bugs and bees through the 
mail.  I asked "What happens if the box gets damaged?"  The clerk said 
"Bees stay with their hive and don't try to leave it."  Guess they will 
take anything as long as it's not dangerous or illegal.

-----Original Message-----
From:	David Shim [SMTP:David_Shim@MCKINSEY.COM]
Sent:	Wednesday, April 07, 1999 8:00 PM
Subject:	Re: Shipping fish

Delta Dash (and other airport to airport services) will take fish.  They
cost more, and aren't as convenient since you have to go to the airport to
pickup the fish.

FedEx, UPS won't ship live fish.

USPS sometimes will.  I have received fish this way, but others have had
problems.  One fish seller explained that it was against official policy,
but the post office in practice operates on a don't ask don't tell basis.
I haven't verified what the official policy is.

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Mr. Melgar, are you there?

by Jota Melgar <jsmelgar/>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999
To: "INTERNET:apisto/" <apisto/>

G. kadar wrote:

> So how does Julio send his
>fish around?

Both, airfreight and Express Mail year round. During the warmer months we
have used Priority Mail without problems. 

Mis dos centavos,


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"breathable" bags

by Wright Huntley <huntley1/>
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999

> Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 16:20:21 -0700
> From: "David Robinson" <>
> Subject: "breathable" bags
> Bob Dixon wrote:
> > If you pump pure O2 into a bag before shipping, the O2 will escape the bag
> > anyway, because the bags we use for fish are selectively permeable to O2
> and
> > CO2.  This shopkeeper, while sincere and concerned enough to pass up a
> sale,
> > is not properly informed.  I have kept fish for up to a week in bags
> without
> > a problem at this time of year.  It only becomes a concern when
> temperatures
> > rise up past about 85F, as the O2 levels then begin to drop due to lower
> > solubility.
> While breathable bags are certainly available now, many fish stores do not
> go through the added expense of using the bags that are sufficiently
> permeable
> to support fish life for extended periods of time.  I submit this response
> not
> to be argumentative,

And I, too, wish to point out, non-argumentatively, that fish *can* live
indefinitely in the standard 1.5 mil poly bags we all use to ship fish.
They are already oxygen permeable enough that I know of a killy that
lived for over a month in a forgotten bag.

There are commercially available bags with *enhanced* permeability, but
I find them useless, for they need to be filled all the way, kept out of
spillage, etc., and generally make shipping too expensive or hazardous.
They are way too fragile for fish with spines, BTW.

The rules for regular poly bags and enhanced-permeability bags are quite
different. I have lost more fish from getting them in the enhanced bags
than I have for any arriving in regular thickness bags. Only thicker
bags, like freezer bags have killed as many fish for me. The reason
freezer bags are 4-7 mils thick is because thinner bags leak oxygen and
permit freezer burn! Thick bags don't "breathe."

Bob Dixon was right on. I have written articles on how to ship fish
safely. E-mail me privately for a copy of one. I have experience
shipping fish or eggs to Japan, NZ, Argentina, Africa, and Europe. I
expect live arrival if I follow *all* the rules.


- -- 
Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntleyone at home dot

                      Stop passing new laws!
       Repeal some dysfunctional ones. It will do far more good.* 
*Substance-abuse laws and other victimless-crime laws for example.


by IDMiamiBob/
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999
To: apisto/

John writes:

> The ones I use are a 1.5 mil sometimes 2.0 mil bag.  Depends on size.
>  My 4x14, 6x16 are 1.5 mil, my 8x20 or 10x20 bags are 2.0mil.   My really
>  large bags 16x36 are a 2.5 mil.   I also use a really nice size bag to
>  ship my apistos in.  I get the 5x20 bags through the NAFBG.  These are a
>  2.0 mil bag and 2 bags fit nicely into a 8x20.   Enough water and lots
>  of air for shipping or going to auctions with.   I really like these
>  bags.    Cost me $5 per 100.   

At you can get 5x20x2.0 mil for $26.90 per 
thousand.  Thats a little better than a 40% savings before shipping costs.  I 
suspect that 2.0 mil bags don't breath as well as 1.5 mil.  Is there a reason 
for going all the way to 2.5 mils?  Do the fish survive as long in these 
heavier bags?  Doesn't it increase shipping costs?  Has anyone tried 1.0 mil?


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bottles for shipping.

by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/>
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001
To: apisto/

The bottles I use right now are some that I've recycled from other shippers like
Trop Rio/Apisto Heaven and what suitable bottles that I scrounged from water
sampling projects at Superfund sites that I've worked at in the past. For those who
have received fish from me in these bottles, don't worry I never took used bottles
only unused, unopened, ones left over after a project was finished (I imagine
Plutonium is a very toxic metal to fish, too! :-) ). Since most projects use glass,
I have a limited supply of plastic bottles. Therefore I ask for them back along
with my small styro containers. For those who do a lot of shipping you might want
to check my old standby, Cole-Parmer (  This scientific supply
house is a good place to look. They have all kinds of bottles. They also have
affiliates in Canada and the UK that can get these to you if you don't live in the
US. For me, I'm considering a polypropylene (PP) sample jar that not only is wide
mouthed & water tight, but clear and unbreakable, too. They hold 4 oz (118 ml) or ¼
pint of water. This is sufficient for most apistos around 2" or less. The nice
thing is the cost. You can buy 100 sterilized jars with high density Polyethylene
(HDPE) lids for only $20, or 20¢ each (Catalog # U-06049-40). If you can handle
more jars, they sell 500 nonsterilized jars for $70 or 14¢ each (# U-06049-50).

Mike Wise

"John N. Alegre" wrote:

> And where do you get them.  A hard plastic bottle does sound a lot more
> attractive then a plastic bag.
> On 08-Feb-01 wrote:
> > In a message dated 2/7/2001 9:57:27 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> > writes:
> >
> >> When I ship
> >>  only a few fish I usually ship them in plastic water sample bottles. There
> >> are no
> >>  deflated bags or squashed fish.
> >
> > mike, what's the capacity of these bottles?
> >
> > tsuh yang chen, nyc, USA
> >
> >
> >
> ----------------------------------
> E-Mail: John N. Alegre <>
> Date: 07-Feb-01
> Time: 19:19:21
> This message was sent by XFMail
> ----------------------------------

bottles for shipping.

by "V Kutty" <kutty/>
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001
To: <apisto/>


The Polyfilter cubes I used were small enough to go through the neck of the plastic Pepsi bottles and for taking the used cubes out, that depended on where I was. If I had an apisto from a whitewater locality and I was in a blackwater habitat, I'd just use tweezers to get the Polyfilter out and put a fresh one in. If I were in the same area as the water in the bottle, I did a complete water change. I mail ordered my Polyfilter from That Fish Place in Pennsylvania. After getting it cut up into neat little cubes, I put it in an air tight zip-lock type bag to keep it from absorbing household chemicals. This technique worked really well in Brazil. Breathable bags were all the rage in 1998 when Lee Newman and I went to Peru, so I didn't take any of the Pepsi bottles down. The breathable bags were even better at holding Apistos until it was time to ship. Unfortunately, fish can get caught in the corners of these bags and get crushed. Ideally, I'd like to use the Pepsi bottle plus Polyfilter and flush the headspace of the bottle with oxygen - I wonder if I can buy a can of oxygen anywhere - in a spray paint/household cleaner/WD-40 size can. =20


Pete wrote:

How do you get the cubes of Polyfilter in and out when they need

replacement without tipping all the water out?

Or do you transfer the water and fish to a fresh bottle with a new cube of


RE: bottles for shipping.

by BigJohnW/ (John Wubbolt)
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2001
To: apisto/

You can generally get these bottles at supply places for medical
equipement.    Those nice bottles that saline solution comes in are
perfect for shipping apistos if they arent too large.    When i travel
to shows or conventions and need to transport show fish, i use large
peanut butter jars.     They are perfect travel containers, dont leak
and hold quite a bit of water, would also make great shipping containers
too i guess.   I eat alot of pb & j sandwiches so i have these jars
around!  lol
Anyone ever think of 1 liter pepsi slam bottles for this purpose??
They dont leak!    Just ideas im throwing out here.


shipping fish

by Rivulus1/
Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000

The Post Office is the best way to go. There are 2 options: Priority Mail and 
Express Mail. The differences are:

Priority Mail: Normally takes 2-3 days at most and is cheapest. Up to 2 
pounds is $3.20. Estimate slightly over $1 for each additional pound.

Express Mail: Guaranteed to be there the next day by a a specified time (the 
PO sets the time). If the box arrives late,you get your money back. It costs 
more,but is often worth it for larger shipments or valuable fish.

When I send fish during the good weather,The fish are packed in bags as small 
as possible with as little water as possible. This minimizes the weight. The 
bags are packed on their sides in either a styro box or a sturdy cardboard 
one. Empty space is filled with styro peanuts. Packed this way,I can send up 
to 8-10 bags (1 fish per bag) for $5-$6 tops by Priority Mail. No heat pack 
is needed in good weather.

When I send fish in cooler weather (below 55 or so),I leave it up to the 
recipient whether they want to pay the extra for Express Mail,but I cannot 
guarantee live delivery without using that method. The fish are packed the 
same way,but this time I would use a heat 20 hour heat pack (either shipping 
method). The heatpack is activated and duct taped to the inside of the cover. 
The bags are covered by a few layers of newspaper to protect them from direct 
contact. The box is then sealed and taken directly to the PO (expensive or 
larger shipments go direct to the Main PO for the area,others to the local 
one). If sent by Express,the fish arrived in perfect shape.

If your shipment is within 400 miles,it generally goes by truck (Priority 
Mail). If the weather is warm,as it is in Texas,no heat pack is required. The 
package,if mailed in the morning may even arrive at the destination the next 

Jeff McKee

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