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10 July 2018

What About Fish?

We’ve written a lot on shipping live animals in general and reptiles in particular. But what about fish, corals, and other aquatic creatures? How does one get started shipping coral frags, fish, or invertebrates often found in home aquariums? 


You can find all the supplies you need on our website. We have shipping kits available that contain everything you need to make a single shipment, but if you intend to ship with any regularity at all, you’ll want to buy supplies in bulk. 


  • All of our boxes are approved by FedEx for shipping live aquatic and reptile creatures.
  • All box orders, whether in bulk or in kits, come with the minimum required 3/4" foam insulation liners. 

What size boxes should you order? 
That depends entirely on what you intend to ship. If you’re primarily shipping one or two small coral frags or small fish, the #1 boxes (7x7x6) will do nicely. If you think you might ship larger coral colonies or be shipping out multiple specimens in a single order, you may need larger boxes. It can’t hurt to order a larger supply of the boxes you think you’ll use most often, and then a small selection of other sizes to fit your less common situations as they arise. 

What other supplies are essential for shipping aquatics? 

Fish Bags
Fish bags come in many different sizes in large and small quantities. While not strictly necessary, we recommend double-bagging your shipments. (See more tips below.) 

Portion Cups
These are small cups that can contain your specimen while floating in a bag. This allows you to put multiple pieces in a single bag of water. It also protects the bag from being punctured by sharp points that can be found on some frags. (Cups and lids are sold separately, so be sure to order both if you choose to use portion cups.)

Fish Bag Inserts
This is a heavy liner that goes inside the fish bag to protect it from punctures by sharp corals or aggressive or spiny fish. 

Box Liner
If FedEx finds a box leaking any liquid in one of its facilities, there is a very strong chance they will pull it off the line and throw it directly into the trash. A box liner is an important layer of insurance to protect against this possibility. 

Temperature Control
It’s important to remember that water conducts temperatures very efficiently, so any cool packs or heat packs used in aquatic shipping need to be wrapped in several layers of newspaper and situated so they do not come in direct contact with any bags of water. 

Cold Packs
Cold packs need to be frozen ahead of time and will usually only last a few hours. 

Phase 22’s

  • Phase 22 packs are designed to keep shipments between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike standard cold packs that change phase at 32F, Phase 22 packs are designed to change phase around 72F.
  • Phase 22 packs function from both a heating and cooling perspective. You can pre-cool the pack to keep shipments cooler, or pre-heat the pack to keep shipments warmer.
  • Phase 22 packs are extremely popular with amphibian shippers, frog breeders in particular. To maintain a stable internal box temperature, multiple packs are often used in each box.

Heat Packs
We offer 40-hour and 72-hour heat packs. The 72-hour heat packs put off less overall heat over a longer period of time, offering a more stable environment in the shipping box. The improper use of heat packs is the #1 cause of deaths for live shipments and extreme caution and care must be taken. If you are at all uncertain about using a heat pack for your shipment, please call or email our Customer Service desk for prompt, professional advice. 


Double Bagging

  • When you use a single bag, corners are formed at the bottom of the bag where the seam comes together. These corners can trap fish and are vulnerable to puncture. To mitigate this issue, we highly recommend double bagging your specimens. 
  • Place the fish or coral in the first bag as usual and secure the top. Then turn the bag upside down and slide it into the second bag. This turns the “top” of the first bag into the bottom and forms a nice cup shape. 
  • For extra protection, place a Fish Bag Insert into the bottom of the second bag before inserting the first bag.


  • Every shipment needs some kind of packing material to surround the contents. This material helps to absorb the bumps and knocks of the journey and keeps your animals securely settled in the center of the box. 
  • When shipping in water, newspaper (or clean newsprint) is ideal because it is far more absorbent than other traditional materials like packing peanuts or quilt batting.If you spring a small leak along the way, the newspaper can absorb it before it becomes a problem that might attract unwanted attention from FedEx.

Water/Air Ratio

  • Air is as essential in your shipping bags as water. The water absorbs fresh oxygen from the air around it and that is critical for your live specimens. 
  • For many shipments, we recommend that the bag be filled 1/3 water to 2/3 air. 
  • Never ship with more water than a 50/50 ratio. 



All in all, the process of shipping any live animals—whether they are aquatic or reptilian—might seem like a daunting maze to traverse. Just take it one step at a time and soon you’ll be shipping like an old pro. And never forget that we are always here for you. We want you to be successful and are happy to work with you on any questions or concerns you might have throughout the entire process. 


Reach out to us: 

Mon – Fri, 7am – 6pm MST

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