What You Should Know Before Buying Fish Online

In this article, we’ll go over a few things that you should be aware of when buying your fish online.

While there are many places to buy your fish online you’ll want to stick with a vendor that has a great track record and is actively engaged in the hobby.

One such vendor is Consolidated Fish Farms and I’m sure if you check them out after reading through this article you’ll be more than ready to place an order.

If you do decide to order from Consolidated Fish Farms enter the Coupon Code: TFCG to receive 10% off your order.


What You Need To Know Before Buying Fish Online

The #1 most important thing about buying fish online is…. shipping fish is stressful for the fish.

Shipping fish is a stressful event for the fish, and every seller should be doing everything they can to eliminate as much as possible, but if we can, be honest for a minute.

Even under the most optimal care, sometimes things happen. In transit, a lot of things can happen to a fish. A fish could miss its destination hub and be late. Not handled with any care coming off a plane and shook. Left in places that are either too hot or too cold.

Your vendor should have taken precautions when a package is going somewhere temperature might not be adequate, but sometimes it’s not enough.

Even if every vendor prepared as well as they could, it still might not be enough, and I say this… work with the vendor.

If something comes in DOA, notify the vendor first before putting feedback. At the very least, let them attempt to fix the problem before you leave them negative feedback. Think about it like this:

Most of us run a small business doing this because we are passionate about it. However, the vendor should 100% want to make things right with you.

At the very least, they are owed that. 

Look For A Quality Vendor 

When you begin to look online for fish, it is important to evaluate and review the vendor selling the fish. It is ideal to buy your fish directly from a well-established fish business and has great experience in shipping fish.

First and foremost, take the time to read and review the vendor’s policies.

Within the policies, the vendor should very plainly explain how they prepare fish for shipment, how the fish are shipped, when they ship, what they do when weather is not ideal for shipping, their ‘dead-on-arrival (DOA) policy, and other information that is vital for you as the customer to be aware of.

While these policies may be lengthy, it is vital as a fish buyer to be aware of the vendor’s policies so that you are fully aware of their procedures and know what to expect when working with them. 

It is also recommended to read the reviews for vendors that you may be buying fish from. Hopefully, the vendor has plenty of good reviews that give you a better idea of buying fish online.

While there may be some bad reviews, you’ve read the vendor’s policies so you can easily decipher if there was a policy miscommunication or a legitimate problem. If and when you decide to order fish online, make sure you leave the vendor an honest review.

Just like the reviews may have helped you decide on an online fish vendor, your review will help others choose a vendor for their online fish buying. 

There are a few other points that we would like to specifically ask about if they are not already outlined within the vendor’s policy page:

  • How are the fish determined ‘safe’ to ship? Many fish vendors will discuss thoroughly examining their fish before shipping. Since the process of shipping and then being quickly reestablished into a new tank can be stressful for a fish, it is vital to only ship the healthiest fish possible. It is also important that the online fish vendor ensures that the correct fish, size, and quantity are being shipped. Since most online fish vendors are sending multiple orders, it is important to ensure a policy in place to ensure the correct fish are being shipped.
  • How are the fish being packed for shipping? Ideally, online fish vendors will have a description or picture of how the fish are packed and shipped. If not, be sure to ask; it is better safe than sorry. When fish are being shipped, they should be in a styrofoam box inside a cardboard box. Having two layers of protection is safer during shipment and helps keep the temperature as consistent as possible. The fish should be bagged in an oxygenated bag or a breather bag. We prefer oxygenated bags, but they are both good if packed properly. Depending on the type and size of the fish, they may be double-bagged to reduce the chances of a punctured bag. Depending on weather conditions and the types of fish, an ice pack or heat pack may also be included in the box to ensure the fish stay at the ideal temperature. While this process may seem ‘extra,’ it is vital to a successful fish shipment. Even the healthiest and strongest fish in the world have little to no chance against a poorly packed fish box. 

Review The Shipping Policies 

As mentioned before, it is vital to read and review the shipping policies that you are looking to purchase fish from. All online fish vendors have shipping policies that are slightly different, but there are a few points that you should be sure are included.

  • How quickly the fish are shipped once purchased. The exact turnaround time for each vendor varies from same-day to 7 days. There is no right or wrong; it depends on the vendors’ availability or general schedule. Keep this in mind so that you are not panicking when your fish don’t arrive the day after you order them. It is also good to know so that you can plan to be home when your fish arrive.
  • Anticipated delays. Most vendors will include that there could be delays in shipping your fish. These reasons can include fish availability, fish health, weather, or holidays. Each vendor should strive to ship only their healthiest fish in a manner that will reduce their transit time to the shortest time possible. Shipping sick fish during hazardous conditions (typically extreme cold) or over a holiday period can cause a bad experience for both the buyer and vendor. 
  • Issues once fish arrived. Unfortunately, there are inevitable issues when shipping a live animal. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen often, but the vendor should have a written and well-outlined policy about what is done if there is an issue with the fish once they arrive at you. The most common issue is that fish arrive dead. All online vendors have a slightly different policy when it comes to DOA’s so knowing the vendor’s policy prior to order is important. Other issues that sometimes happen are that the fish does not look exactly like the picture online, the wrong fish is sent, or the wrong quantity is sent. While these are fairly uncommon issues, reach out to the vendor for clarification if you are concerned about these. 

Check The Weather Before Ordering 

As mentioned before, weather plays a major factor in success when shipping fish.

One thing to keep in mind is that your vendor should be checking the weather for not only your location but the entire path from their location to yours.

Most of the time, vendors are most concerned about extreme cold weather. Most vendors will pack their fish with heat packs which will help keep the box warm, but even extreme cold can be detrimental to the fish while shipping.

For example,

if you are in Florida and ordering fish from New York, while it may be warm where you are, if there is a winter storm going through the New England area, the vendor likely will delay shipping until the weather is better.

Therefore, one important tip for ordering fish online is to have patience and trust that the vendor has the fish’s best interest in mind. 

Expect To Recieve Stressed Fish 

While most fish will be shipped under optimal conditions, they are still prone to stress. As you likely know, when a fish is stressed, it is more susceptible to illnesses.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to completely eliminate stress on the fish. Making sure that the vendor is properly packing the fish and shipping in the quickest manner possible are two ways to reduce fish stress.

Tracking the fish once in transit and ensuring that you or someone is there when they are delivered is another way to reduce stress. By being home when the fish are delivered, you can quickly begin your acclimation process into their new aquarium.

You must properly and thoroughly acclimate the fish into their new aquarium to reduce fish stress. It is also important to note that some fish species are more sensitive to stress. If fish stress is a major concern, we recommend not shipping super sensitive fish to avoid this issue. 

What Happens When Fish Arrive Dead? (DOA’s)

There will be fish that arrive dead after shipments from time to time. Most of the time, it is no fault of anyone and just something that happens and is a risk.

Most vendors will have their DOA policy outlined on their website; if not, you should certainly ask before ordering. As mentioned before, different policies address DOA’s but all vendors should address their procedures if they occur.

One of the most common policies that we’ve found is that the vendors will replace the fish under most circumstances, but the buyer must pay for shipping.

Some cases in which the vendor will not replace the fish are if the fish were not picked up within a set period of time, pictures or documentation is not provided, or it has been too long after the fish were shipped.

Again, it is always good to ensure you have read and understood the vendor’s policies before ordering to avoid surprises or issues during or after the ordering process. 

We hope these points are helpful when you start looking for an online fish vendor to buy from. But, most importantly, practice plenty of patience as you are ordering a live animal on the internet. 

Jack Dempsey
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