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Unread 10/17/2011, 10:39 PM   #151
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Originally Posted by RonMidtownStomp View Post
Has anyone used or received packages lined with "Arctic Foil?" There is temperature data online for shipping things that are frozen with them, but all of the shipments of coral I've received use Styrofoam lined boxes. I'm thinking that arctic foil and peanuts might be much more efficient and cheaper to ship due to smaller boxes. Anyone have experience with this?


I just looked it up and it seems that arctic foil is used to keep stuff cold. Anyone know how it would work to keep corals warm?

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Unread 10/18/2011, 10:41 PM   #152
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Unread 10/18/2011, 10:46 PM   #153
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I just cut styrofoam from Home Depot to fit boxes. I actually had a half a sheet of 1" lying around. A good knife cuts it easily enough. It makes a mess but it sweeps up easily.

Back in a hobby with an island 4-side viewable 4' cube with center overflow. Old school SPS dominant with a nice zoa collection and a few chalices.
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Unread 02/06/2013, 03:05 PM   #154
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When shipping corals I have used styrofoam and attached coral with a rubberband. If the coral is big then use a bigger piece of styrofoam. Always double or triple bag your animals with separate rubberband. Never had any problems. Have a great day!

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Unread 03/09/2013, 02:27 PM   #155
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I must say, the upside down floating frag (on foam) idea seems to be the best yet.

Inventor of the easy-to-DIY upflow scrubber, and also the waterfall scrubber that everyone loves to build:
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Unread 05/22/2013, 06:02 PM   #156
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Just received a shipment of corals (softies, polyps) and there were 7 corals total. 3 in one ziploc bag (seperately bagged inside) and 4 in the other. All the frag plugs were attached to styrofoam, and the corals were shipped in a large styrofoam box. Also there was a heat pack on the lid of the box.

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Unread 09/08/2013, 08:55 PM   #157
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I like to use specimen cups so they don't get broken. Then wrap em in bubble wrap

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Unread 09/29/2013, 05:25 PM   #158
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This is one of best ideas I have come across

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Unread 03/05/2014, 08:59 PM   #159
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I’m eternally grateful to this community - without it my reef would not be where it is today. The next step is to sell/ship frags at reasonable prices via the propagated coral part of this forum. However nailing down the right way to ship corals is a must. This thread has been helpful, but info is sporadic and not a lot of detail. Please hammer this as appropriate. But note to date, I have not shipped a single coral. I basically searched - cut and pasted all the ref link material (below) and including this one into one document, and went through it a dozen times to summarize it to this point. My plan is to (a) finalize shipping best practices (b) validate material order list and then order it all (c) get certified via FedEx (d) offer frags via this forum

For best practices on how to ship SPS coral, there are two main areas that I’m still uncomfortable with.

First, is whether or not to put O2 or Air in with the container during shipping - or not to, leaving just water in the container (bag or p-cup). If the consensus is to use air, should it be normal air, or O2 from a bottle? 1/5 the water volume?

Second, is when and how to use heat packs or cool packs. When a styro box is sealed, heat packs essentially lose the ability to heat after using up the air in an air tight box. This seems to be the method most used from shipments I’ve received. I assume the goal is to get a good temp inside the box so when it’s sealed up, the vacuum is less susceptible to outside cold temps. My question in all this is – is it better to leave a small deliberately made hole to let air in a bit so the heat packs still function? For cold packs, I’ve read if the transient temp is going to be over 85deg F, then use a cold pack. I’d gather that the cold pack will work even if the box is all sealed up. It’s kind of cryptic on when to use the cool pack though.

(GAP) Air in the coral container
(GAP) Heat packs and loosing heat when there is no o2
(GAP) When to cool or not to cool a box

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Unread 03/05/2014, 09:02 PM   #160
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(1) Define best materials to have
a. Containers (boxes)
b. Bag sealing
c. Bags
d. Box fillers
e. Cold and heat packs
f. O2?
(2) Now that you have materials, See three options to ship
a. Confirm orders, payment, and shipping date
b. Option 1 I Like this one best
c. Option 2
d. Option 3

Shipping Best Practices
Purpose: Nail down a specific, repeatable shipping method that foremost gives the corals the best possible change of survival from my reef to the next. Cost is always a factor in both materials, and shipping so ideally want to keep costs down, which benefits everyone.

Purpose: Protect the life within its grasp. There are two parts, the box itself and the insulating capacity of that box.

Boxes can be premade with a single styrofoam cooler inside with a perfectly made lid, or a normal box with a sort of DIY insulation, or an already tailored bubble wrap insulating shell.

First, my plan is to target reusing medical shipping containers that are used to ship medications. This is a premade styrofoam cooler inside. Essentially safes both shipper and buyer money, since I should be able to get them for free as it recycles/reuses. Second in my opinion is this type of box is a more sturdy container to protect the corals inside against crushing. Let’s face it, a simple search on youtube confirms how badly boxes are treated, no matter what is written on them. Third, medial shipping tends to use smaller boxes, which in turn saves on the sipping.

If can’t get reuse, I’d explore both buying premade, or using bubble insulation - cool shield bubble packs (has a R value of 9 which is equal to a 1" of styro). Since box size is directly tied to shipping price, might still be worth exploring using bubble insulation. Personally, I’ll never get into buying sheets of styrofoam and cutting to fit that within a box. Too much time, and quality issues in my opinion to make it worth wile. Not knocking anyone who does this, but I don’t like the idea of cutting up styrofoam and making a mess. I have enough of a chore removing salt spray off everything in the house.

Found this helpful, although don’t know how true it is: An 8x8x7 box is a good size for small frag packs because its about as big as you can go before the price shoots way up. For example, an 8x8x7 box shipped priority overnight can cost $55 but if you ship a 12x12x12 box it can cost almost $90.

I didn’t realize that the size of the box makes a BIG difference. I learned this from earlier in this thread, that FedEx uses a formula called "dimensional weight" of (Length x Width x Height) / 194 rounded up to the next pound *OR* actual weight rounded up to the next pound, whichever is more. So, if you ship a box 12 x 9 x 10 you’ll pay for 6 pounds even if it only weighs 4 pounds. So even if you shipped an empty box, it's not just the weight but also how much space it takes up on the aircraft. Always use the smallest box you can get by with. This is tricky since right now while it's cold, the larger box with more water has more "mass" to keep the temp from fluctuating so much. I don’t know what the sweet spot is, but it was written in one of the reference links that if you're going to pay for 6 pounds anyway, you might as well put more water in the bags, the frags will arrive in better shape. Strategy is to use enough water to support 24-48hrs in transit, even though a goal is to shoot for 16 hrs door to door.

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Unread 03/05/2014, 09:04 PM   #161
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Bag sealers
Purpose: Keeps water and of course coral inside the bag without leaking.

Rubber Bands:
Time tested and true. Technique is important here and who isn’t impressed when LFS does it and makes it look so easy? As of now I am targeting to use an impulse sealer, since I am under the impression that air inside the coral bag is not required. If O2 is beneficial, or needed, I am not sure if the impulse sealer is the best way forward, I’ll address more below under O2.

Metal Claspers:
Most of the orders I’ve received have had this. Not sure on the investment, vice going with the sealer, but it can be used for other stuff around the house. Still, the bag with clasp is sort of like of rubber band in that there is technique. Positive is also there are no maintenance items like the heating element for sealer. For some reason though, I’m still more comfortable with the sealer.

Hot Impulse sealer:
I like how clean and strong this looks. Bottom line is the seal can be seen, and I feel more comfortable knowing the water will not leak. Also, it seems the sealer method creates slimmer or more compact package, which results in a smaller box. When I receive big boxes from some of the prominent stores – one doesn’t realize how much that would cost a hobbyist to send another hobbyist a box that size overnight. $80-$100 for sure just for the shipping. Again, I’m trying to figure out the best most compact economical way to ship to ensure the corals get to where they are going and arrive alive, and survive.

Purpose: Holds the coral and water together, duh. Challenges are to withstand some hard coral potentially rubbing up against the bag liner and obviously hold the water in without leaking. Also to have coral suspended or free floating where it is not going to either poke against the bag wall creating a leak or damage the coral. Using a cup where the plug is zipped or glued to the cup to separate the coral from bag is a great idea. The bag also provides some insulation factor so thinker is a bit better in my opinion.

Bag thickness: Between 2-4 mil thickness is what I’ve read. Since I’m going with the impulse sealer method, I will triple bag, using two 4 mil bags, and one with a 3 mil bag. If I use a specimen cup for zoas, I’ll likely just double bag. FedEx shipping requirement “double bagging fish in minimum 4 mil thick plastic bags” To them Fish and coral are the same. Seemed pretty reasonable in price for 4 mil.

Bag width and length: Want the width of the bag wide enough for small (1-2") or large (2-4”) frags, but also to fit a specimen cup, float disk, or extra water if needed. Length if using the impulse sealer isn’t as important given you have enough to work with or are not wasting half the bag cutting off excess. Getting this right is kind of important if you buying bags by the box of 1000. Still need some more research and testing on this. The recommended bag size is all over the map.

Delivery services are not happy when salt water leaks all over the place and gets things wet, so the shipping bags should be placed inside a heavy-duty plastic bag liner (33 gallon Hefty type garbage bags) that is inserted inside the foam liner or coffin box in case water leakage occurs.

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Unread 03/05/2014, 09:06 PM   #162
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Box fillers
Cellulose Wadding = (absorbs wetness). Most shippers in my experience do not use this, but from what I’ve read on FedEx is it’s a requirement. They want to know if a bag leaks, there is something inside to absorb the water without it leaking all over the place. It is a cost, so must weigh the benefit and vs what the shipping companies really require.

Peanuts – Most shipments I receive have this, and neither cellulose nor absorbent. They are great fillers and keep the contents in the box in place. Nothing against this, and not sure if I would reuse when I get them.

News Paper – Cheap, can absorb, and readily available. Looks cheap too and can compact when weight shifts. Mainly use to wrap ice or heat packs
Most shipment I’ve received has a large plastic bag to prevent any leakage that may get the box soggy. So all the fillers, and bags are inside the big bag. This is an added layer of complexity if dealing with the heat pack, since not sure how well heat will get inside the bag if the packs are outside. Food for thought.

Heat and Cold Pack
“If the temp is moderate 50-70 I don't use a heat or cold pack.”

“If temperatures are predicted to be dropping below 40 or rising above 80, it is usually best to delay shipping until conditions are more conducive to the survivability of the animals.”

I’ve read about 24hr or 48hr packs. (( Where to get them? )) Make sure the heat pack is warm before you close the box. Packs need air to stay warm ((so is a hole or gap left?)) Preheat pack for 30 minutes before you seal it in the box also ensures it works and is not a dud. Wrap it in newspaper or Uline sells neat envelops.. but that adds a cost. It was stated that if you wrap pack in a lot of paper if you only need a little bit of heat, wrap it less if you need a lot. Not sure what the determining factor is between knowing when a little or a lot is needed… Also, remember these heat packs need oxygen to stay warm. if you completely seal the styrofoam box with tape, and the outer carton, then the heat pack will be limited to the O2 that is trapped in the styro only. I’ve read to always try to leave one side untapped, or poke a small hole in the styro lid, to allow some air to enter, but heat packs are always cold when I get them, then they heat back up a few minutes after getting air outside the box. Lastly, remember to use a heat pack rated for a little longer than the expected time in the box. If you pack the corals at noon, and they won’t be delivered until 10:30 the next day, a 12 hour heat pack will not be enough. One of the references stated to always try to shoot for about an 8 hour cushion, so if you expect 12 hours in transit, look for a 20 or 24 hour heat pack. Also, try to use enough heat packs for the size box you are shipping. Again one of the references recommended use 1 - 24 or 48 hour pack for each cubic foot of space in the box you are am using.

For cool packs: spend $1 at local store and get a gel pack and freeze it. Wrap it in newspaper and to not allow it to contact the bags. Also for a "cool pack" I have just used a bag of ice wrapped in newspaper. Be careful with it though and don't use it unless you expect the temps to be above 90. If its going to be that hot have the package held for pickup at the local FedEx facility.

At what point do you consider heat packs? Any temp below 40F? I’m not sure how to determine the route the package will take to check this, Cross that bridge when I get there

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Unread 03/05/2014, 09:07 PM   #163
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Needed?? How to close bag with sealer if needed? How much?

This sure makes it sound important

“Originally Posted by galleon
OK, addressing the decent amount of water and corals using little O2 points:

Using an Acropora respiration rate of 0.2 gO2 m^-2 hr^-1 (derived from A. palmata), and an O2 solubility of 6.6 mg/L at 25C and 35 psu salinity in water, if we place a 5 cm x 5 cm piece of coral in 1 L of oxygen saturated seawater, after only 13 hours, less than 2% of the original mass of O2 in the water will remain! That's 100 millionths of a gram of O2. In an entire liter! Proper gas headspace and sufficient oxygenation of that headspace is a MAJOR factor!

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Unread 03/05/2014, 09:09 PM   #164
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Packaging Corals:

Option 1 and 2 – Affix plug to specimen cup (2 different methods)

Option 3 – Rubber Band Bags If you like this method, buy their book

Shipping Strategies
Purpose: To have the corals the least amount of time in the box and subject them to the least amount of shock.
“I drop off right before the last express pickup at 7pm and it usually gets there before 10:30am the following morning.”
“I've started having corals dropped off at a FedEx location. They arrive sooner in the morning since I'm eliminating the delivery person (that delivers to my door). This way it's far less likely to get my address wrong. I think that's a good tip for those buying online.”

“A lot will depend upon temperature consistency... I've had SPS do fine at 48 hours and then I've had them ship like crap in less than 12... SPS don't like excessive heat”

To keep costs down:
For me:
...use the smallest possible box.
…use a Fedex Location or commercial destination address as often as possible. The rates to commercially zoned addresses are a lot cheaper than to residential. If that different than a FedEx location?
…Common sense stuff like drop them off close to the pickup time, not at 8 AM on your way to work. All this can help the animals arrive healthy and safe. Remember too...Airplane cargo bays and UPS warehouses are not heated or air conditioned, and the temperature in a brown UPS truck can exceed 110 degrees on a 90 degree day. Even a white FedEx truck will get pretty dang hot on a warm day...don't assume just because the high is 85 that they'll be ok without a cool pack.

Finally, sign up for your own FedEx/UPS account, and print the label and drop it off at a drop off location. UPS stores and FedEx Kinkos mark up their prices significantly from what you would get charged with your own account. You'll also usually have to pay a $5 pickup charge. If you want to make your overnight shipment as cheap as possible...follow these steps:
1.) Use your own account
2.) Make the box as small as reasonably possible, cut it down if necessary.
3.) Ship to a commercial (business) address when possible
4.) Drop off the box as a drop off location (Is this a box or a store?)

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Unread 03/05/2014, 09:11 PM   #165
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Reference links, MODS, if this is in any way inappropriate, please delete, I'm just trying to share where I got the information above from.......










supplies from ULINE


p cups

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Unread 05/01/2014, 02:05 PM   #166
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So I did an order from ULINE, ouch. What's not mentioned is the shipping for shipping stuff. Ya, I know - an oxymoron. Now I know why box charges were a common thing at one point.

I did get a heat (Impulse) sealer and it rocks. Got it off EB for like $35 shipped with extra parts. The seal is so strong, after throwing the bag around decided to squeeze until it popped. Sure enough it was the bag that bubbled and broke, not the seal.

I'll follow up here and document what I ordered, and do pics.

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Unread 07/02/2014, 10:30 AM   #167
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Attaching the sps to frag to a chunk of Styrofoam has been a great method.

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Unread 05/03/2020, 01:06 AM   #168
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I recently recieved a box of frags and they used small plastic dixie cups that protected the frags... it worked out well. all the frags were received intact and perfect.

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Unread 07/05/2020, 11:51 AM   #169
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I got one from Live Aq, and they had directionals (this side up) and so on, bags with plastic sheeting inside to try to keep the specimens from rolling, which was just fine until Fedex thumped the box end-down on my front step. A stay in the sump overnight let me collect the 'wild' mushrooms and get them in cups with a rock inside the sump, but it's real hard to pack against all the handlers. Don't even ask about the down-chute in the luggage area of an airline. I once had a dreadnaught guitar end-over-ended down the chute: it cracked a suitcase it hit. I *hope* a dedicated parcel carrier has better practice.


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