Shipping Fish to Shows
Before you ship you will need to get a few things together. You will need bags and an insulated box. Handy to have is the cut off top of a 2 liter bottle cut off, a 1/3 measuring cup and a cup or jar. Depending on the season you may also need heat or cold packs.Your fish must also have been fasted for 24 hours so they do not put feces into the bag.
For shipping to shows I use 2 mil 4″ x 14″ or 4″ x 12″ Poly Bags that I get at ULine . The longer ones are a bit easier to tie but I prefer the 12" long ones. I know a box of 1,000 seem like a lot but you will eventually go through them. I ship close to 30 fish every show, double bagged. I also ship extras to be sold. Then, they are double bagged and returned to me and I have to send the return bags with them. So, in one show I can easily go through close to 100 bags. Hopefully you will have some extra fish you can sell on AquaBid and you will need bags for them as well. If nothing else you will have a few seasons worth of bags.
The next thing you need is an insulated shipping box. If you are only shipping a few fish the free USPS boxes are great. Just figure out a size appropriate to put the number of fish you are sending. Styrofoam insulation sheets can be found at Lowe's and cut to size to line the box. Make sure your cutting blade is sharp and it is an easy project. Since I tend to send a few fish to support the shows I needed a bit bigger box. I got a Styrofoam box from my local fish store and I can ship almost 30 fish in it. You may see if your local fish store can save you a nice size box if you plan on sending a larger number of fish. A good box will ship back and forth for several seasons.
When I ship fish purchased from me I ship in water that has a little methylene blue in it. I feel it keeps external parasites from taking hold in the stress and temperature fluctuations of shipping. But when shipping to shows the water must be clear. No meth blue or IAL [Indian Almond Leaves] coloring in the water. The reason is the fish are unboxed and floated in the containers they will be show in. After about 30 minutes the shipping bag is cut and the fish is poured into their temporary home for the next few days. Any colored water will not be allowed in the show.
When it is time to bag fish I get the shipping box, bags, the top of the soda bottle, the measuring cup and a canning jar together on the counter. I also like to fold a dish towel in half and use it as my working surface. To begin measure about 1/3 cup of water into the jar or cup. Grab a net, catch and put your fish into the jar. Then, taking the soda bottle top, inset the top into a bag. Gently pour the Betta into the funnel and down he goes into the bag. If you try to just net the fish and put them into the bag with water you will end up with a betta on the floor. The funnel ensures a safe passage into the bag for the fish.
I grab the top of the bag with one hand and using the other hand I start at the top and slide down the bag trapping air. You want about twice as much air as you have water. Any more and you will have difficulty tying the bag and the fish will get thrown about. You also do not want to have the knot snug against the air. By leaving a little play in the bag it will slide into the second bag much easier.
Twist the top and tie a knot. Pull several times and make sure this knot is secure. You do not want this bag to leak. I then trim off some of the extra top. Invert the bag and slide it down into another bag. Twist the top and tie a tight knot. I pull several times to make sure it is snug. This time snug the knot right down on the other bag.
Take a Sharpie [or permanent marker] and write the entry number of the fish on the bag and put it into the box. Continue bagging the fish until done. You want to put the bags in the box in such a way they do not shift around. You may need to stuff some newspaper around them to fill in any gaps so they are secure. The box will probably get bounced around so you want the inside as secure as possible so as to reduce movement.
Add to the box your entry form, bags to be used for your fish on the ride home, a check for entries and return postage. For information on filling out entries and handling the return postage see our article called Entering a Show.
Here are some links with pictures on bagging your fish.
And here is a nice video. Again, I use the cut off top of a soda bottle as a funnel instead of my hands.