How to Ship Live Fish

How to Ship Live Fish


How to ship live fish is not as difficult as it may seem as long as you have all the necessary tools needed for the job.

There are many different methods of shipping live fish online.  In this article I will explain what works best for me in my many years of shipping live fish.

Tools Needed:

Fish bags – minimum 2 mil thick

Heavy Duty rubber bands

Cardboard box


Packaging tape

Oxygen Tank

Heat Packs


Fish Sedative (optional)


Do not feed the fish at least 24 hours before shipping!


Step 1 – Double the bags so you have 2 bags in 1.

Step 2- Add aquarium water to bag.  You only want to add enough water to cover the entire height of the fish.  The fish must be completely under water.  ( OPTIONAL – Add fish sedative at this time )

Step 3 – Add oxygen from an oxygen tank to the bag.  It must be either medical oxygen or commercial oxygen.  Any other type of air will not work!  DO NOT blow air into the bag using an air pump or with your mouth.  That is actually carbon dioxide that will kill the fish.

Step 4 – Twist the to of the bag and fold the top of the bag over.  Tightly wrap a rubber band around it to seal it tightly.  Make sure you do not twist it too much.  The bag must be somewhat soft.  If you inflate the bag too much it will burst with the air pressure during transit on the airplane.

Step 5 – Put the bag with the fish in a  3rd bag for extra protection and tie the bag with a rubber band.

Step 6 – Measure the inside dimensions of your cardboard box and cut Styrofoam sheets to create a Styrofoam box inside the cardboard box.  This will serve as a cooler for insulation and protection. (You can skip this step if you are using an already made fish shipping box)

Step 7 – Tape all the corners of the Styrofoam box with duct tape to seal it and prevent air form getting in or out. (You can skip this step if you are using an already made fish shipping box)

Step 8- Tape a heat pack to the bottom of your Styrofoam box.  Only tape the edges to hold it in place.  Do not place tape across the top center of the heat pack or it will not work.

Step 9- Line the inside of the Styrofoam box with plenty of newspaper.  This will serve as insulation and will also absorb water if the bags leak.

Step 10- Place the fish bags inside the box standing upright.

Step 11 – Place crumbled newspapers around the fish bags tightly to prevent the bags from tilting over.

Step 12- Place the Styrofoam lid on top.

Step 13- Close the cardboard box and seal it with tape only using one or two strips of tape.  DO NOT seal the entire top of the box with tape.  Air needs to get in and out for the heat packs to work otherwise the heat packs will not produce heat!

Step 14 – On all sides of the box use a marker to write: Live Fish- Fragile Liquids – Keep Warm.  Also draw arrows pointing to the top of the box on all sides.

Step 15- Tape your shipping label to the top of the box with clear tape.  Cover the entire shipping label with clear tape to prevent it from ripping off.

How to ship live fish is not complicated.  I hope this article gives you a pretty good idea on how to do it.

If you have any questions on how to ship live fish, feel free to email me and I will be happy to help.

Here are some useful resources for shipping live fish:

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