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Shipping live aquatics in the UK. How can I do this? Can I do this?


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I know this is a controversial topic of sending live fish/invertebrates through the post, however, I have came to the conclusion that if I take all the precautions - double bagging, using polystyrene boxes, heat packs, using next day shipping services, etc - then I would be able to successfully ship live aquatics just like the many breeders across the country. I have quite a bit of experience (and success) shipping items from simple letters up to boxes weighing 15kg+ as I run a small eBay shop, so I firmly believe I would be able to have live fish and invertebrates arrive alive and well.

The reason I want to do this as I would love to start breeding fish and raising young fry up to the point of sale, however, I do not feel I would be able to sell all fish locally as many fish give birth in the hundreds and I would be left with tanks full of fish. So I would want to be able to have the reassurance that I would be able to sell across the country and have a better chance of selling all of the fish.

I have watched many videos and read many articles but I still have a few key unanswered questions:

What courier should I use to post the fish? Are there any couriers which specialise in live fish?
I see that many people use royal mail, however, I would not want to have to take a box labelled 'LIVE FISH' to the post office and get told I cant send the parcel even though royal mail policy allows it. I have heard of many people simply just not labelling the parcel to avoid any confusion. Would it be better to get the parcel collected from my home?

Can I legally sell the fish online and post them?
As far as I am aware the only relevant legal obstacles to this would be a lack of a 'pet shop license' which I believe I can get around as the fish fry would be classed as the offspring of a pet and would not have been bred with the intent to profit off of them. I think I have already answered this question for myself but any further input would be greatly appreciated.

If anybody with experience in sending fish through the post has any recommendations/tips regarding this, i would really appreciate them.

Thank you for reading this thread, and thank you in advance for any advice. :)

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I have recently had a couple of deliveries of shrimp using the Royal Mail next day by 1PM and that went well. I have had may deliveries of shrimp using that service over the years and never had a problem and to be honest, when I look to buy on ebay I will only buy from someone using that service (but that is due to this place isn't the usuall 'numbered house in a normal road' address and most courier drivers aren't all that bright so it confuses them, but that is specific to where I live and ANY ordinary address should be ok). There are a number of overnight couriers like DX and APC who I think would deliver fish but you will need to do your own research as to whether they have a licence for carrying fish and/or whether they will even deliver fish/shrimps, they keep changing since COVID, some that did now don't, and some that didn't now do, and it keeps changing???? Even Royal mail isn't what it was, as now they tend to just leave/abandon the package somewhere, rather than getting a signature and handing it to someone in person, and I think the delivery time may now be by 4pm, whereas it was by 1pm? I have only ever had one fish delivery through an overnight courier (not sure who it was but it was before covid, may have been DPD?) and that went ok as well. Any 24 hour/next day delivery should be fine but I would use one that will deliver live creatures specifically, and mark the package as such (and put the buyers phone number also on the outer package) as obviously a bit more care should be taken with live creatures.

There are a lot of ebay sellers over here sending shrimp through the post, the parcels I get usually are marked 'live creatures' and I doubt most (if not all) aren't registered/licenced, or pet shops etc so I can't imagine there are any real restrictions or requirements. I imagine shrimp and fish are classified the same????

Packaging is pretty straightforward and you have mentioned all the aspects in your post, double breather bagged, packed in a polystyrene box padded with newspaper (and heatpack if needed).

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I reckon you should go for it.

Ensure you use next day delivery services and only ever ship on Mondays/Tuesdays to avoid parcels getting stuck at a depot over a weekend.

When ever I sell shrimp, I always include 1 or two extra. Eg, if someone bought 10, I will pack 11 or 12 shrimp. That way, if one shrimp died on arrival, you don't have to wear the cost of re-shipping. 

Check weather forecasts for the next few days before sending, and try to avoid super hot days (30+ DegC). I don't think shrimp mind if it gets cold. But heat will kill them fast.

Edited by jayc
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Thanks for both of your advice. I think royal mail would be the best option for me. 

Do you think it would be okay for me to get the item collected from my home rather than a post office as it isn't necessarily close by.

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I'm not sure that Royal mail do collection (?), but if they do then you could use that, or just do 1 delivery day per week and put that on the advert 'only post wednesday' or similar, at least you only have to go to the PO once a week (some weeks obviously you may not need to go at all)!

Some other courier services do collect.

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