Many hobbyists ask this question and there really is no clear cut answer; the issues with ordering live fish through the post are numerous although corals, plants and clean- up-crew will generally travel far better than fish. If you do shop online and if you’re in the market for new livestock then it can be extremely tempting to order a few fish to arrive by post…but hold your fire!
Always try and buy from retailers that operate a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) policy. Take care that when you order any livestock online that the merchant offers clear pictures of the actual specimen which you will receive. A stock image of a fish is never going to be reliable…you need to see the actual fish in order to ascertain it’s health, size and any issues which it may or may not have.
With corals, plants and clean-up-crew, you can afford to be a little more relaxed in your shopping; good retailers will however always show the actual item which you can expect to receive…so you can usually shop with confidence.
Too good to be true
Beware of retailers offering extremely low prices…often these are companies which buy in huge quantities and while they can afford to keep prices down, they may not have the ability to ensure the health and quality of their stock. This is not the case with all low-cost retailers of course but the best way to be certain is again, to look for that WYSIWYG policy.
Another important tip to remember when purchasing any livestock online is to take care to read the shipping policy thoroughly. Check for the packaging charges which can sometimes be high due to the inclusion of heat packs and extra Styrofoam. It’s not always cheaper to buy online once you add in the cost of packaging and delivery…and although this kind of packaging may have a high cost, it’s very necessary because without a heat pack most tropical fish wouldn’t make it far on their journey.
The ethics of mail order livestock
Some people worry about the ethics of posting live creatures through the mail system but the fact is that the trade in fish and other creatures for aquariums was already very busy even before the internet boom. Shops had to order their stock from their suppliers…there’s always been some degree of travel involved for the inhabitants of any aquarium. The main issue is ensuring that the stock receives the very best in care during their transportation because every time a marine creature is moved from one body of water to another, they will experience some levels of stress and stress can be a killer.
A degree of common sense is all it takes to successfully purchase livestock from online stores and as long as you ensure that you read all of the small print and ask questions where things aren’t clear, there is no reason to think that buying online isn’t a good idea.
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