Many people find it odd that Bettas are shipped from buyer to seller and to and from shows. But because bettas are air breathers they can actually be easier to ship to a delivery location than fish that get their oxygen exclusively from their water.
Maybe you’ve just bred a fresh brood of a prized betta variety, or you need to find a new home for a fish that didn’t suit your tank. Whatever the reason, you’ll want to make sure that your betta reaches his new home in one piece.
As long as a few conditions are met, Bettas can ship just fine, but you need to be prudent to make sure your fish arrives at the other end in good condition. Here are our tips for how to prepare your fish for shipping.
Any fish that is going to be enclosed in a small bag will need to have fasted for a good 24 hours. Fish will continue to put their waste in the water if they have not fasted, and any fish waste is going to be ammonia.
Even small amounts of ammonia can be lethal to fish, so fasting is done to keep water quality safe.
Use Good Quality Double Poly Bags
For shipping to shows, I use 2mm 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. Don’t try to cut corners by using thinner plastic, since a split or a puncture can easily be fatal to a fish shipped over a long distance.
Using an extra bag to contain the first one adds a layer of protection, catches any water spillage, and also adds a degree of insulation.
Use Water From Your Fish Tank
If you’ve kept fish for a while, you’ll know how important it is for water conditions to remain relatively stable within the right parameters.
Water temperature, oxygen levels, pH, water hardness, and the absence of toxins are all vital aspects of healthy water for your fish.
The best way to avoid shocking your fish with a change of water conditions is simply to fill the bag with water from your existing tank.
To be on the safe side, you could turn your tank’s water temperature up to the maximum range for bettas (81 Fahrenheit) a few days before shipping, so that it stays warmer during transit. Even a few degrees can make a difference.
Gently Catch Your Fish
Catching your precious pet fish is never an easy operation. You want to make it as calm and gentle as possible, but the fish’s instincts will tell him to escape your net at all possible costs!
Catching your betta in the right manner is an important step in the shipping process because you want to cause him the least possible amount of stress to ship well.
Prepare your bag by floating it in the aquarium with the top rolled down.
With slow, controlled movements, move your betta slowly into the corner of your tank, and gradually lift the net to the surface, blocking escape routes with your hands.
Place Your Betta in the Bag and Inflate It
Once you’ve caught your betta, gently place him in the bag, take it out of the aquarium, and placing it firmly over your mouth, breathe air into it.
Once it is firmly inflated, twist the bag closed and tie it off with a strong rubber band or string.
The firm inflation will help pad the bag and provide a solid shape that can be packed neatly into your box.
Insulate and Pad Out Your Box
Fish should always be shipped in insulated boxes. You can get Styrofoam from a local home improvement store like Lowe’s.
Then the foam must be cut to fit the box. The space between the bags and the box can be padded out with styrofoam ‘peanuts’, shredded newspaper, or any other similar padding material.
Not only will the insulation help to maintain a stable water temperature, but it will also help prevent the bags from moving about which would be stressful or even lethal to your fish. Use extra cardboard and tape to minimize the movement of the bag as much as possible.
When you close the box, the darkened environment will help your fish to relax, consume less oxygen and produce less carbon dioxide.
A sleepy betta will ship much better than an overwhelmed, stressed one!
Unless There’s a Heatwave, Use Heat Packs
Betta fish prefer stable water temperatures of between 78-81 Fahrenheit.
If the temperature drops below 75 Fahrenheit, your pet fish is at risk of thermal shock and will become more susceptible to all kinds of health problems, diseases, or even death.
Unless it’s high summer and the weather is consistently above 78 degrees over the distance where your fish is being transported, then heat packs are essential.
72-hour heat packs are a common choice for transporting fish, but be sure to do your homework to find out the maximum time that the shipping could take, and try to find the fastest delivery method possible, for the well-being of your fish.
This should be fairly obvious, but if public holidays are coming up, or periods when the postal services are especially busy, it’s not the best time to ship a betta fish.
Even a 24-hour delay in delivery time could prove fatal to your fish, and as we have emphasized, the fastest possible shipping time is your highest priority.
Labeling the Parcel
The best practice is never to list live fish on the outside of the box. It is better to mark the package as perishable and avoid heat and cold. And, if possible, establish a good relationship with your local PO.
Not only will you be shipping fish but receiving them. It is nice when you can call and get them to open a back door and give you your imports rather than wait another day.
Most will find your hobby interesting and they become a good person to have in your corner when your box gets lost.
Add Instructions for the Recipient
When you pack your betta fish into your box and send him off, you’ll be wishing that there’s a loving home waiting for him on the other end, with an owner who’s knowledgeable and meticulous in caring for his pet fish.
But, in fishkeeping, even the people with the best intentions can make mistakes.
If the recipient of your fish lacks experience, they could make errors when introducing their new fish, which is one of the most common causes of fish fatalities.
Basic things, like how to acclimatize the betta to its new environment, should be included in your instructions – there’s nothing too obvious to mention!
Turning lights off, floating the bag, and slowly mixing aquarium water into the bag are all vital steps to ensure a smooth transition for the fish into its new environment.
Shipping a betta fish can be fairly straightforward so long as you know how to get them securely from one location to another.
With the tips we shared above, your betta should arrive at his destination fit and healthy, and ready for life in his new home.
When shipping fish it’s always best to make sure that the new owner is responsible, and include some basic instructions to make sure your fish gets the best possible start in its new home.