B.K.A. Information pamphlet No.5 1983
One of the more interesting aspects of Killifish keeping is the sending and receiving of eggs and fish through the postal service.
Provided that a few simple rules are followed it is perfectly possible to send eggs and sometimes fish, all over the world. Certainly there is an increasing exchange of species between the various national associations, which at the end of the day, can only be good for the continued existence of some of the endangered species. The following are general guide lines which if adhered to will ensure that what you transport will have a very good survival rate.
GENERAL TRANSPORTATION. To ensure survival most killies require a temperature of between 15 and 27 C. ( 60 to 80 F. ) although most will happily withstand temperatures far lower, higher temperatures will affect a great many species adversely. Therefore, it is common sense that if it is a warm day and only a short distance is involved only limited insulation is required, where as in winter a well insulated box must be used.
Often the question is posed "How thick should the insulation be?" Well, this will depend on the type of insulation being used, but for the purpose of killies it is recommended that expanded polystyrene, in the form of a small box is the best material. This has the advantage of being light, durable and quite strong. Although small boxes of less than half an inch thickness are regularly used with satisfactory results, it is desirable to aim for an insulation of about one inch thickness. Not only will this ensure a more stable temperature when transporting over relatively short distances and times, it will, when sending by post, ensure survival over a period of days, given reasonable atmospheric temperatures. Most hobbyists, who also exhibit, will construct boxes of wood or other suitable material, Which are lined with polystyrene and will accommodate a fish and jar or small tank. When fastened the occupants are safe for a considerable time, if not days, given favourable weather conditions.
If polythene bags are used to hold the fish always obtain the heavy duty bags and always double bag. More than one fish has been saved because of this. Always bag individually and with fish of up to one inch in size, a quarter of a cupful of water is sufficient. More should be allowed with bigger fish. Allow as much air as possible to stay in the bag and all should be well.
Fish have been known to survive for up to three weeks so packed. The bags should be about 3" by about 10" and of heavy duty polythene.
SENDING EGGS BY POST Firstly, let us consider the method of packing. Here again polystyrene is the best material to use. Select a block or two pieces of at least 3/4" which will go through the standard letterbox. Carefully carve a depression to accept whichever container you will be using and there you have it. The container is usually a small glass or plastic vial which are obtainable at most chemists, although the glass variety are swiftly disappearing.
Depending on the size of the container, again aim for an insulation of at least one inch all round.
The eggs can be packed either wet or dry as most water hatching eggs will be perfectly alright sent in dry condition. If sending in water the container should always be topped up so that it is full. This will eliminate damage due to shaking whilst in transit. The addition of a few strands of nylon wool or peat fibres will also help in this regard. The addition of a tiny amount of anti-fungussing chemical can be used but is best avoided if possible. Provided that the eggs are carefully checked before they are packed to ensure that they are fertile then all should be well. Eggs in a well developed stage should never be sent. As a general rule eggs of over four days development, except of course those of the semi-annual or annual species, should not be used. Before sending check with a hand magnifier that development has started. The small dark pin points of life can be detected within 36 hours in most cases. There is no excuse for sending infertile eggs. If the 'dry' method is used then the medium should be soaked in water and squeezed in the hand until all the water possible is excluded. If peat is used ensure that it has been well soaked for a period of time and also boiled. The eggs are placed in the medium and usually travel without problems, but again, care must be taken to ensure only fertile eggs are sent. Finally, seal the package well and address clearly. If you do this the postal authorities will handle swiftly and well, but fail to do so and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a soggy mess will arrive!
SENDING FISH BY POST Most postal authorities have regulations about sending live material through the post so it is always advisable to check with the appropriate authority first. The box, in the case of postal transportation, should always have a thickness of at least one inch. You are less than fair to the fish if you use less. As a general rule they should never be sent in winter, unless it is only an overnight journey and the weather is relatively mild - a minimum of 10 C. It has been claimed that fish do survive longer journeys in winter. This may be so in some cases, but in the majority the fish do not survive and those which do usually die shortly afterwards. As an association dedicated to the preservation of killifish we should not advocate exposing our charges to unnecessary risks.
The guide lines given under the general transportation should be followed. Always allow at least 24 hours to lapse after the last feed before packing a fish. This will ensure that a minimum of waste matter will be discharged in transit. Always ensure that the fish are in good condition. Sub-standard fish will soon get you and our association a bad name!
Again pack very securely and address clearly. Always send by first class post and indicate this on the package. Special delivery service is usually available but is relatively more expensive. However, if the fish are rare then this is by far the better method. The railway authorities also operate an express parcel service and if the arrangements can be made beforehand, then a parcel can be sent the length of the country with an almost guaranteed delivery time.
Finally always include details under which fish have been kept, such as pH and DH if known, or type of water, e.g. rain, tap or mixed, and the type of food given. In the case of eggs, details of the water should always be included.
Those who receive fish or eggs should always remember that the sender is usually concerned about their safe arrival. Such acknowledgement should always be made as a matter of course.