First, let us know if you can pick the fish up at the nearest UPS Customer Center. That is by far the best, most convenient way to get fish. It's quicker, less stress on the fish and you don't have to wait for the driver to show up at an unknown time. Just show up at 8:00-9:00 AM with your tracking # and I.D.. Track the fish before you leave to go to the center. If it's last scan is somewhere nearby, then it will be at the center when you get there. We address it to the UPS location, so it cannot be delivered by mistake.
Have an aquarium ready for your shipped tropical fish. It is best to quarantine your new arrivals from any other fish you have. They are stressed by shipping and susceptible to any pathogens your other aquariums may contain. If you do not properly quarantine them, you will risk having them die. Anything added from another tank to your quarantine tank means that it is no longer quarantined. Just because your existing tank shows no signs of disease, it may still contain pathogens. They can be present in low numbers waiting for a stressed fish to attack.
Use your regular tap water when setting up the aquarium to be used for the shipped fish. Be sure your aquarium filter has fully established nitrifying bacteria or be certain to have an "active filter" with established nitrifying bacteria, ready to put in when your shipped tropical fish are added. You can also use a bacteria starter culture to help establish the biological cycle, but these will not work at well as an established active sponge filter. Do NOT put your shipped tropical fish into pure "R.O." or de-ionized water. This will greatly stress and probably kill your newly shipped fish. They need to be acclimated to this type of water slowly over time.
First, we ask that you do not have the fish shipped if you have no leeway in the delivery time. The overnight carriers that we use are fairly reliable, but if the carrier is late, we don't want the fish to die because you were unable to wait longer. If the fish are not there by 10:30 AM, contact us right away. The carriers are late often enough, that you don't want to try and pinpoint the delivery. If you have to leave, place a note for the carrier driver to take the fish to another near-by address where the box can be signed for and brought indoors. If the shipped fish are a full day late, and you or someone else can't be there to accept delivery, call us and we can possibly make arrangements to have them sent to another address. The carriers are somewhat flexible and we can often re-route the shipped fish to another address. It can go to a neighbor, a work address, any business in town, or the nearest UPS Customer Center. Many find it more convenient to schedule the shipment to be picked up at the UPS Center, which is the fastest and safest method when getting new tropical fish shipped in. When picking fish up at UPS, always take your tracking # and identification with you.
Delivery times are usually before 10:30 AM. If you haven't received the fish by then, it's a good idea to call us right away, track the package, and then start looking for the spot the carrier may have hidden the package. We've had the carrier put the fish-box in garages, parked cars, behind shrubs, in back yards, underneath patio furniture, at neighbor's houses and many other places you'd never dream of looking. The key is to suspect the worst and start looking. It's also imperative to let us know immediately when they haven't arrived by 10:30 AM. It helps to put a LARGE note on the door for UPS to "Knock Loud", or to "Ring the bell several times". Even if you do, they are very likely to just toss the box in the bushes and run. They do not normally ring a bell or knock. This is another good reason to contact us if the carrier is late.
Please check the condition of the shipped fish immediately upon arrival. If there is a problem or concern, call or e-mail us right away. Do not wait for the problem to get worse. If you have a problem and we make a recommendation and the fish's condition worsens, please notify us again immediately.
Our guarantee is cancelled if you choose 2nd Day shipping or do not notify us of a problem within 2 hours of the first attempted delivery. We will do our best to help, but we also need you to do your part promptly. Many times we can prevent further problems if given the opportunity.
If your shipped fish arrived alive but look a little ragged, do not be alarmed. Many of the varieties (especially blacks) show damage from handling more readily. They tend to easily lose scales and some get split fins during the handling process. The blushing angelfish's more delicate fins are very susceptible to higher ammonia and bacterial levels and their fins will sometimes disintegrate under these conditions. Don't worry though, if this happens they will quickly heal and should look great again in a week or two of good care.
Shipping can be stressful on fish. Be prepared with an ammonia neutralizer. If you smell heavy ammonia, you should add an appropriate amount to each bag to eliminate some of the ammonia. It may be necessary to repeat this if the acclimation takes a long time, you see signs of stress or if you smell strong ammonia at any point. If the fish are stressed because the water is too cold, they must be warmed up to a reasonable temperature rather quickly. It is best to empty each bag into an appropriately sized, fish-safe, bucket. Lots of surface area is important. Do not aerate the water, and do not float the bags in an aquarium. When very cold, and in the presence of a tranquilizer (which we commonly use) the tropical fish can appear dead and yet be fine (still, you should call us). Always acclimate shipped fish that seem to be dead. Most times, they are just in a torpid state from the shipping conditions, and will be just fine if warmed up soon enough, and acclimated properly. To warm the tropical fish, place their bucket into a larger container that contains warmer water. This should be done until the temperature gets into the low 70's. The acclimation procedure can be started while the water is warming.
Start a siphon from the aquarium they are going into, through an airline tubing, into the acclimation bucket. Put an airline valve in-line to control the drip rate. If you don't have an airline valve, then you can tie a knot in the airline and tighten or loosen it to control the drip.
Drip water from the aquarium into the fish-bucket, at the rate of one drip/second for every 3 cups of water in the bucket. This means that 6 cups of water in the fish-bucket gets dripped at 2 drips/second. Every 20-30 minutes, double the drip rate. When the water volume in the fish-bucket has doubled to tripled, add one fish to the aquarium and observe it's reaction. If it looks worse, then acclimate the rest of the tropical fish for another hour and then try adding one more. If the transferred fish look okay, it is then safe to add the rest. Any individual fish that haven't been added to the tank, and look overly stressed during acclimation (spinning, erratic movements, on it's side), should be acclimated quicker. Put them in a separate container and take at least 10 to 15 minutes to gradually double the water volume and then add the stressed fish to the tank one at a time. If the first one added improves, the others can be added in the same manner.
Critical: Part of acclimating your new tropical fish is to not feed smaller fish for at least 24 hours and preferably 48 hours for larger ones. When you do start feeding, start with no more than one or two bites of dry food. Normal sized feedings can make your fish sick or even cause newly shipped fish to die! Remove all uneaten food within 2 minutes. If you cannot get them to eat dry food, try a very small amount of a live food. However, it is best to not feed live foods during the first week. Do not feed frozen foods for any reason during the first week after their arrival!
Having fish shipped in, can be a good experience when you're prepared. Good luck with your new fish and please let us know the outcome on our Facebook page. Thanks.