Prepare to Receive Fish


Fish Acclimation: 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 as soon as the tracking shows the box has arrived at the destination UPS Center. Bring your tracking # and I.D..  We address the package to the UPS location, so it cannot be delivered by mistake.

Have an aquarium with a cycled filter ready for your new 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 to attack a stressed fish.

Be Prepared

  • Carefully follow each step in the acclimation procedure.
  • Be available to start the acclimation as soon as the fish arrive.
  • Have fish-safe buckets, ammonia neutralizer, siphons, valves, nets and a quarantine tank with a biologically active filter.
  • Have plenty of time on the day of their arrival to be sure they are doing well.
  • Notify us immediately in the event of a problem or concern. We must also be notified if their conditions gets worse after following a suggestion we give you.  If you choose not to tell us right away, we do not want to hear at a later date that the "fish arrived with the problem". If the fish do not arrive by 10:30 on an Overnight shipment, please call or email us immediately!
  • According to our instructions, return any fish that are dead-on-arrival or send a clear photo with the tails cut off. Do not dispose of the fish until we confirm that the photo is clear enough.

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 you can buy an "active filter" from us with established nitrifying bacteria, ready to put in when your new fish are added. You can also use a bacteria starter culture to help establish the biological cycle, but these will not work very well and we do not recommend them. Do NOT put your new 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.

Upon Delivery of Shipped Fish: 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 location, which is the fastest and safest method when getting new fish shipped in. When picking fish up at UPS, always take your tracking # and identification with you. 

The carrier may hide your fish: Delivery times are usually before 10:30 AM. If you haven't received the fish by then, it's a good idea to email 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 rarely knock and are very likely to just drop the box and run. They do not normally ring a bell or knock, so check frequently until they arrive.

Checking for problems: Please check the condition of the shipped fish immediately upon arrival. If there is a problem or concern, 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 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.

Fish Acclimation Procedures after Receiving your Shipped Fish: 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.

On the Arrival of your Fish: 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, the fish can appear dead and yet be fine (still, you should email us). Always acclimate 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.

Drip System for Acclimating Fish: 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.

Acclimation Procedure for Fish:  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 the fish for at least 24 hours and preferably 48 hours, especially with the 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 or a review on our website. Thanks.