shipping

Transport live fish from field to lab

Keep fish cool in pails or coolers by the lake. Use portable aerators and air stones to keep the water bubbling. Avoid crowding, and exchange the water frequently using lake water to maximize water quality. Keep the water cool, as heat or oxygen stress combined with the stress of transport will cause mortality.

Use sturdy styrofoam coolers to transport the fish. You will need a cooler about 14 inches high if you use soda bottles rather than plastic bags to contain the fish (make sure they are thoroughly cleaned and rinsed to remove all odors). Other items you will need include:

  • full oxygen tank, tubing and airstone
  • clean plastic bags and rubber bands, or
  • clean 2-litre soda bottles with caps
  • freezer packs or ice
  • marking pen
  • duct tape

Wrap the freezer packs or ice bag in towels or newspaper so that ice and cold packs are not in contact with the water.

Remember that air is more limiting to the fish than water, so use only about 20% of the container for water. Pack the fish into coolers just before traveling back to the lab. Add a few drops of Prime or Amquel to condition the water and remove ammonia. Add about 5 fish per bottle or bag. Bubble oxygen into the water for a minute and then seal bag or bottle tightly. Place bottles vertically into cooler. No more than 40 fish in total per cooler is recommended.

When you get to the lab, open each fish bag and let it float in the aquarium it’s going into. Wait for about 15 minutes so the water in the bag is the same temperature as the fish tank. Every 15 minutes add 1/2 the original water volume of the bag from the aquarium. Do this at least 2 times so that the fish also gets used to the new water parameters. You may have to dump some water out when the bag starts to fill up with water.

Before dumping fish into tank, pour out the fish and water over the sink into a large net. Make sure that you don’t pour any of the lake/stream water into the fish tank as this may carry parasites. Then dump fish into the tank.

Transport eggs from field to lab

Transport eggs in falcon tubes placed in sturdy styrofoam coolers to keep them cool and provided with sufficient oxygen. It is easier to transport eggs that were fertilized only 0-2 days previously, because they require less oxygen than older embryos. Other items you will need include:

  • full oxygen tank, tubing and airstone
  • falcon tubes
  • stand or other device to hold falcon tubes upright
  • freezer packs or ice
  • marking pen
  • duct tape

Wrap the freezer packs or ice bag in towels or newspaper so that the tubes containing the eggs are not in contact (contact will chill the eggs and cause mortality). Place the wrapped pack or ice along the bottom or on one side of the cooler.

Make sure the eggs are rinsed clean and that testes and other tissues have been removed. Place one clutch of eggs into a single falcon tube half-filled with clean lake water (preferable) or dechlorinated tap water. Place the airstone into the tube and bubble oxygen into the water for a minute. Remove the airstone and then cap it tightly. Place bottles vertically into cooler (best if you have a stand for this purpose). Secure the tubes so that they do not slide or tip during transport.

Ship live fish and eggs by air

1. Ship only on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to avoid a weekend disaster if shipment is delayed by customs, weather, or airport issues.

2. Check our oxygen tanks a few days before shipping and fill if empty. See link on this page for instructions on how to fill the oxygen tank.

3. Starve fish for one or two (preferable) days before shipping.

4. Pack fish and eggs for shipment following the instructions above for transporting fish and eggs from field to lab. Adding one teaspoon of activate charcoal per bag of fish is recommended. Double-bag fish, and DO NOT over-inflate bags or they will burst in transit.

5. Give yourself at least an hour preparation time for EACH cooler of fish being sent (assuming that you’ve prepared other items ahead of time: plastic bags, freezer packs, labeled boxes for coolers, full oxygen tank). You’ll need more time if you’re sending more than one type of fish and need to organize them while you’re packing.

If you are shipping internationally, make sure the receiver has sent you the appropriate importation documents to include. Also print and fill out THREE copies of the Commercial Invoice form. Finally, Ask Dolph to print and sign THREE copies of the letter of declaration. An example letter is available here. Leave the box in Stores.

Fedex Instructions

Obtain a waybill form from Zoology Stores the day before and fill out. Call FedEx and confirm an approximate pickup time.

Air Cargo Instructions

Book the fish onto a flight 48 hours before. Look up the flight number ahead of time.

The Air Canada booking number is 604-231-6801. Use the UBC account number to book (145121), but bring a credit card to pay for the shipment when you drop off the fish. When you book, the airline will want to know the number, size and weight of the packages, and your name and address. They might want to know the name and address of the recipient at this time. They will give you a tracking/waybill number at the time of booking. The recipient will need this information 48 hours prior to arrival or their Customs may not release the package in time to save the fish.

Air Canada Cargo is at 4900 Miller Road at the Vancouver International Airport. Bring the fish to the cargo office the night before the flight, or in the morning at least 2 hours prior to flight time. Customs will want to view the fish before the cooler and boxes are taped, so keep them untaped until then. Cargo will want the cooler in a box or properly wrapped in sturdy paper. They will not accept a plain styrofoam cooler for fear of puncturing it during transport. Ask them to put stickers on the box to indicate which end is up, so that the contents aren’t inverted during transport. Make sure the statements “Live Fish” and “Do not refrigerate” are clearly written on the box, so that they expedite and so that they do NOT store the parcel in their 3°C cold room before transport. Tell them that room temperature is fine.

Bring the following information and documentation to the airport.

  • Government-issued photo ID, with your name and address (e.g., drivers license).
  • The name, address, and phone number of the person receiving the fish (remind the recipient to bring government-issued photo ID to the airport when they pick up the fish).
  • A declaration of importation for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Get the recipient to fill this out and fax to you before you go to the airport.
  • Two copies of a letter from Dolph to US Agriculture, listing the contents of the container.
  • Copies of the permit under which the fish were collected. You may not need them, but the cargo people sometimes want to include documents that the fish were collected legally.

The specific instructions above assume you are shipping to the USA. Modify accordingly if shipping to another country.

Ship specimens, tissue, or DNA by courier

These instructions apply when shipping to the USA. Modify accordingly for other countries.

We use DHL to send fish specimens, tissue, and DNA. The procedure is similar as for an ordinary package, but with a bit more documentation.

  1. Drain all alcohol or other preservative from the specimens and pack them into a sealed box, such as a tupperware container. In the case of fish specimens, line the box with damp towels to prevent them drying out.
  2. Print two copies of a letter from Dolph to US Agriculture, listing the contents of the container.
  3. Print and fill out TWO copies of the Commercial Invoice form.
  4. Go to the DHL web site and fill out a waybill. See Dolph for password. Once you are logged in, the waybill will be partly filled out already. Make sure to check boxes indicating you want email confirmation. Print the waybill (see below if you have trouble printing).
  5. Add the waybill number to the Commercial Invoice form you printed.
  6. Bring the samples and all the paperwork to Stores for pickup. You won’t need a DHL envelope.
  7. To track a package or print the waybill again (if you had trouble printing the waybill in the above step, restart your web browser before continuing here), login to the DHL website given above. Click “Shipment History” in the upper right. On this page you can locate your order and paste the tracking number into the box on the left. To print the waybill, click the waybill number and you’ll be transferred to another page to do this.

Ship tissue or DNA on dry ice

These instructions apply when shipping to the USA. Modify accordingly for other countries.

We ONLY use FedEx, because the other couriers have restrictions on shipping dry ice. Leave enough time in the day for you to pack up the box and have FedEx come and pick it up from Botany/Zoology Stores.

Note: Ship only on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to avoid a weekend disaster if shipment is delayed by customs, weather, or airport issues.

1. Get a cardboard box and a styrofoam box that sits neatly inside with little free space (fill any free space with scrunched up newsprint to minimize jostling of samples). To find a matching styrofoam and cardboard box look around labs that frequently buy enzymes, such as NAPS or the Qaigen stores on the 3rd floor of the North wing of the Biological Sciences building.

2. Place the appropriate labels on the outside of the cardboard box. The appropriate labels include:

  • The shipper’s address and contact info. This is us.
  • The receiver’s address and contact info.
  • At least one (2 or 3 is best) dry ice warning stickers (see image below). Please make sure that you do not write on the stickers as they MUST not be written on. The best place to put the stickers is in the middle of the shipping box.

    The stickers may be purchased from Botany/Zoology Stores. They are located just above the biohazard waste disposal cards next to Scott’s office. Or, download and print the warning label and tape it onto the box. Just make sure that it’s a large and clear copy of the warning label.
  • Write the code UN1845 on the box next to the dry ice warning label (see image above). This tells the shipper that it’s dry ice.
  • Write the total weight of the dry ice used in the shipment next to the dry ice warning sticker (see image above). This MUST be written in kilograms and NOT in pounds.

3. Get your dry ice (instructions on getting dry ice below). I’d suggest getting at least 1 kg of dry ice but no more than 3 kgs.

4. Obtain a FedEx EXPANDED SERVICE INTERNATIONAL AIR WAYBILL from Stores and fill it out as shown here in an example. Please DON’T get the regular INTERNATIONAL AIR WAYBILL as it won’t have the section needed for a dry ice shipment. Our FedEx customer account number is 359397682.

5. Print and fill out THREE copies of the Commercial Invoice form.

6. Ask Dolph to print and sign THREE copies of the letter of declaration. An example letter is available here.

7. Place the samples into the dry ice and close the styrofoam box securely. Tape the cardboard box shut.

8. Tape a plastic window envelope to the top of the box. Combine each of the three copies of the Commercial Invoice form and signed letter of declaration and place them with the EXPANDED SERVICE INTERNATIONAL AIR WAYBILL into the window envelope. Example is seen here.

9. Leave the box in Stores. Call FedEx and tell them the package is ready for pickup.

Get dry ice

If you really want to be thrifty, you can stop by NAPS or any enzyme-selling lab and ask if they have any free dry ice. Otherwise you’ll have to buy it.

To purchase, make sure you know the speed code to pay for the dry ice. If you don’t know it, please ask Dolph.

Obtain a styrofoam box with lid. Bring it to Chemistry Stores (corner of Main Mall and University Blvd), located across the street and just north of the Biological Sciences building. Once you enter the Chemistry building, directly in front on the right is the stairs which you take down to the bottom floor. Walk East down the hallway. You’ll walk along a wall of lockers and will soon see the entrance of the Chemistry stores.

You must first weigh your box before placing the dry ice inside (I measure it in kilograms). Ask the attendant for the keys for the dry ice room (the dry ice room is located next to the stairs you came down). Get your ice, and weigh the box again and figure out the total weight of dry ice taken. Record the amount in the dry ice book in Chem Stores.

Note that Chem stores closes for lunch between 11:30am and 12:30pm.

Filling the oxygen tank

  1. Call Praxair 604-527-0710 to order oxygen. Our customer no. is HU839. They will ask for a credit card number so please make sure you have it before calling.
  2. Tell them you want medical grade O2 in small bottle size and tell them the quantity.
  3. Let them know if you have any empty tanks for pickup. The delivery guy drops off full tanks and picks up empty ones. Drop off the empty O2 cylinders outside, next to Zoology Stores, next to the large gas cylinders. Tear off all the old tags.
  4. It usually takes 2-3 days before they arrive. They will drop off the filled cylinders in the same area when you dropped off the empty tanks.
  5. If you need to speak to our sales rep for Praxair, his name is Alan Sechinko and he can be reached at 604 619 6420.