1. Selecting the Box
USPS Priority is arguably the most cost-effective way to ship. Here is a cost break down, dimensions, and weight cost of some commonly used sizes (left--medium flat rate; middle--7x7x6; right--regional rate A toploading):
|Weight||Cost (online rate)|
|7x7x6 Box||0-1 lb||$5.51-6.20|
|Regional Rate A||< 15 lb||$7.95-9.62|
|Medium Flat Rate||< 20 lb||$10.85|
Boxes can be ordered for free via https://store.usps.com/store/
Rates are based on online (printed postage), they are slightly more expensive if purchased in the post office. The range depends on the distance for the non-flat rate boxes. A 7x7x6 box is ideal for shipping lower amounts of shrimp (10-30).
Hold for Pickup is a free option, this is a necessity when shipping to someone's residence in hot or cold weathers. During transit the box is not usually exposed to extreme temperature shifts, and the majority of deaths result from leaving the box in the mailbox for an afternoon.
Remember there is no live-stock guarantee, so insurance is not really an option. Make it clear to the buyer who will bear the burden of loss on event of dead-on-arrival or loss of package (usually, it should be the seller).
Insulating material is a must in all weathers, it helps preserve the water temperature during air transit even if you're shipping during a temperate climate. You can get a very large foam sheet from Home Depot for about $10, and cut to size to the box with autility knife. Do this outside, as foam bits can get everywhere!
A word on heat and cold packs
Personally I have not used these, because the heat or cold pack will spike the temperature in the box within the first few hours to an extreme, then steadily drop back to room temperature. In very hot or cold temperatures, I suggest taking the package to the postal office, and shipping with the Hold for Pickup option. If using heat or cold packs, remember to leave the package outside the insulation--leaving a heat pack next to the shrimp bag will result in cooked shrimp.
3. Packing Shrimp
A few quick tips on keeping shrimp healthy during the transit process:
- Quarantine the shrimp for 3 days before shipping, do not feed during this time to minimize ammonia in the shipping container;
- Pack shrimp just before the time of transit; and
- Use new (aged overnight) water and treat with a few drops of Prime.
I drop use a plastic bottle to keep the bag open, net out the shrimp into a small tupperware container, then pour the shrimp into the bag.
4. Bags and Bagging Methods
Half Water Half Air
Any cheap bag water retaining bag can be used with this method. The image shows two old Petco plastic bags. Fill the bag about half way full of water and half of air, use oxygen if you have it, otherwise air will work too. Tie a tight knot around the top of the bag (or use two rubberbands). I double bag these to make sure there are no leaks. This method is recommended over Kordon bags when shipping labyrinth fish such as bettas or corydoras (so they can surface for air).
Kordon Breather Bag
Kordon bags are more expensive, but saves you a lot of hassle. I generally fill the bag 1/3 way with water and tie a knot for 10-20 shrimp; with more shrimp (~30) I fill the bag 1/2 way with water and use 2 rubberbands to secure the top. Kordons are breathable (O2-CO2 exchange) so there is no need to leave air, and the water will not swish around during transit (less stress on the shrimp).
With any method pack in something for the shrimp to hold onto, i.e. java moss or pellia. This will drastically decrease shipping stress.
5. Secure the Box
Add in old newspaper, old magazine, or packing peanuts so the bags do not move around. The additional insulation also helps!
Afterwards, weigh your box, USPS charges in 1lb ranges, if you go to 1lb 1oz, you will have to pay the 1lb-2lb fee. Invest in an accurate scale ($15-20), it's worth it if you ship quite a few packages. Underpostage will lead to packages being returned to you.
6. Secure the Label
Use clear tape or a plastic label holder to make the label waterproof. You don't want to chance the box getting wet and the label fading into obscurity.
That's it! Send it off to the post office on Saturday, Monday, or Tuesday to avoid a possible weekend holdover. I prefer Saturday, since mail moves on Sunday and the package usually arrives the following Monday or Tuesday.