Buying fish online


Fish Crazy
Sep 29, 2023
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QLD, Australia
Hi everyone,

Just wanted to clarify some things about buying fish online and maybe some help/suggestion.
Having never bought a live animal online, I am slightly concerned about both the safety of the fish and the likelihood of it being diseased/ill and unable to get a refund (not that I get a refund when not buying online, but anyways).
Certain members of my family also believe that I most definitely should not do this. However, I refuse to continue to pay over 3 times what I should at my lfs and am sure that if it didn't work there would not be an entire industry based around it.

That said...

The main point of this post is to look for advice/suggestions.

1. Have you ever had fish show up with visible illness? (eg. ich), and did you do anything about it? (am thinking about the doa policies and whether that applies to serious visible illness)
2. Does anyone have any specific online sites that ship to Australia with both a broad range of fish and reasonable prices? Right now I am viewing coburg aquarium, if anyone is familiar with it please tell me your experience, but they have been out of stock of the fish I want for ages so might need somewhere else.

Sorry of this post is weird or annoying, just a noob looking for tips :)

I have never ordered online before! Fortunately for me I got all my fish for free from friends, with the exception of two.
I cannot give advice on whom to order from, if you do decide to order online!
I can say if you do order some, to stick the new arrivals in a quarantine tank if you have one. If the fish get sick, depending who you order from you can ask for your money back.

*edited for grammar
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I've ordered fish once online. The company I chose had a decent reputation in the UK. I ordered around October time during a cold snap and the company phoned me to postpone delivery as they didn't want to send fish in the cold temps which I agreed with. I ordered some fish for myself and a friend. 6 juvenile Sawbwa rasbora,4 Koi Swordtails, and a couple of corys. All the fish arrived with no deaths. However, the rasbora were very tiny and I began to have deaths every other day in the quarantine tank. Luckily their refund policy included up to a week of having the fish so I got my money back. I had 5 out of 6 die in the end. I believe it was due to stress (shrunken stomach in PIC) and the age of the fish being too young for travel. From my POV it's best not to order juvenile fish and avoid bad weather conditions as well. Hopefully, you'll have a better first experience than me :)

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I live in an out of the way corner of Canada. My lfs price gouges, so a lot of the local aquarists buy online. I don't because I have better resources.

Some are clueless and order at temperature extremes. That is asking for trouble. And trouble they get. Most of the time, the online sellers are selling low quality stock, from the farms. The stores get the same fish, so no win there.

You buy sight unseen, so you don't always get the best, or healthiest. For the regular, common fish of the hobby, I wouldn't buy online. Local keepers have told me of columnaris wipeouts, ich, tb, and all kinds of things they might have spotted and avoided in a physical store.

The exception is specialty dealers selling rarer fish. There, they live by their reputations and they know the number of aquarists interested in uncommon fish is not only small, but those fishkeepers communicate among themselves. They pack, and select carefully.

Bargain sellers are to be looked at with a critical eye. And shipping costs matter a lot. I know a seller in the next province who will sell me 6 Corydoras I'd love to have here for $50 total. Locally, if the lfs even got such fish, they would be $25 each. . Let's say I get 10. In my region, the flat rate for overnight shipping is $169. Add that to the fish, and it's six fish for $220.

Ouch. Plus, with shipping, it's reasonable to expect a 10 to 20 percent dead on arrival.

I do not see those fish in my future.
I only have 1 semi local store, so the bulk of what I buy are mail order… the technology is there now to safely ship fish in most weather ( hot packs, and cool packs and thermal insulated boxes… but there are premium sellers out there… should be some in Australia ( I’m a long ways from there) but get some general recommendations from some locals

My biggest complaints is dealers that charge my card, and don’t ship for a month, not being able to choose your fish, and you can always get the last fish of that type, and it’s not going to be the best in the lot…

And taking into account your concern of illness… I don’t think any seller worth his salt, will sell you a sick fish… but if they are rough looking, and exposed to the rigors of shipping, may arrive sick, or easily succumb to illness after arrival… so a quarantine tank is always a good idea

Also if your fish is aquarium raised instead of from a big farm, you’ll likely receive a higher quality fish… a really good seller will give you some information on the source… wild caught, maybe with the region, aquarium bred, if not listed, you can assume it’s farm raised
Certain members of my family also believe that I most definitely should not do this. However, I refuse to continue to pay over 3 times what I should at my lfs and am sure that if it didn't work there would not be an entire industry based around it.

I’m with Gary and your family. Don’t do it. It’ll probably end up more expensive, with deaths, illnesses, the wrong fish, etc. I’ve only ever bought fish online once. That was because I couldn’t get the fish from a store (Etroplus canarensis). The seller dealt in the more hard to find cichlid species and had an excellent reputation for online sales. The fish arrived in perfect health even though they were delayed for a day in transit. If you can buy them at a store, I’d buy them, even if they’re much more expensive.
I used to sell fish online - livebearers and killies bred here. I knew they were healthy, and they generally made it alive and well. The Canadian postal system is slower than the US, but the reason I stopped is the costs kept going up. My last ten shipments had fish costing half what the shipping did.

About 10 percent of fish died in the rare bad shipments- usually due to crushed boxes. They put the fish box in, then two pianos on top - that sort of thing.

Trading with other breeders got me fish with a Camallanus infestation once. Otherwise, the home bred fish have been incredible.

Airport to airport works well and is affordable, only I have to spend 8 hours in the car to get anything that way. When I go to the hub for other reasons, I try to order fish. But these are specialty fish more expensive at source because I like rarer fish, but really well packed and shipped. For example, all Corydoras are single packed. That kind of smart shipper is hard to find.

That company's competition will charge the same for shipping, but they go with one bag, one species and you take your chances.

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