Basement Bettas

Raising Show Quality Bettas

The box is not free..

Any one that breeds show bettas will produce a lot of nice
bettas that they will not breed or show. So many breeders will offer these
extra fish for sale in places like AquaBid rather than culling. Most times the
sales transactions go smoothly, but every once in a while you get someone who
does not want to pay you anything for the fish then throws a fit at the
shipping charge and tells you they can ship 20 fish for $10 and whining the box
is free. Well, I’m here to tell you the box is not free and for the following
reasons. And this is just the shipping process. It does not take into account the 2 hours a day we spend feeding and changing water and most often a full day on the weekend doing more time consuming maintenance.

I do order about 100 of the free USPS boxes at a time so I have several on hand at any one time. I print out neon colored “PERISHABLE avoid heat or cold” labels, blue “FRAGILE” labels and large arrows with “UP” on them. Printing these out only takes a few minutes but I spend a few hours attaching them to all 4 sides of all the boxes. I don’t have to add the labels but hope with them labeled like this they will be treated gently and the fish and cultures do not get tossed like a football or bounced around. After the boxes have their labels applied I spend more time taping up the bottoms so they are ready to have the insulation put in them.

All my fish and most of the cultures ship out of my home in
an insulated box. I have to run to my local Lowe’s and pick up Styrofoam insulation sheets to insulate the boxes so the contents are protected from the outside temperatures. I then must stand and measure then cut a top, bottom and four sides to line the box. Since cutting the foam creates lots of little free-floating Styrofoam particles and makes a mess of my kitchen, I prefer to cut most of it all at once. I usually use the small USPS box that is 7 x 7 x 7 so I make up as many of them as I can, saving some of the Styrofoam uncut for the occasional larger box of more fish. Cutting the pieces and fitting them into the box takes several hours out of an evening.

So, we now have ordering the boxes, printing and putting shipping stickers on the boxes and obtaining and cutting insulation and putting the box together so it is ready to ship when the fish sell before I even put a fish on AquaBid. Already I have several hours invested and nothing to put in the box.

When I get some nice fish I want to sell I set aside an entire day to photograph fish. The four photos I try to include on every fish I sell are part of the 30 to 50 of each fish I take. They are not always in the mood to be photographed, I switch out background colors to determine which color shows the fish the best and also must play with the camera and lighting as a dark fish takes very different settings compared to a light-colored fish. I believe in giving as good a representation as I can of the fish I offer for sale. I want buyers to see every scale and fin branch as well as a realistic representation of the color on the fish. Since I have started breeding black bettas I want to show the amount of iridescence on the fish as it is a trait we must breed away from. So taking pictures is nothing I can do in an hour. I get 20 fish for sale then spend the day trying to get photographs of them.

After a break I will then sit down and run each photo through an image program. Any picture that gives a nice view of the fish is cropped and resized for placement in the AquaBid ads. Once all the photos are done I then use a template I created to put together the ads for the fish. I insert all the good photos of the fish for sale and weed through them looking for the best four.. two facing left and two facing right. I place the photos, add some descriptive text and resize as needed. The file is then saved as a jpeg and uploaded and an ad created on AquaBid. It takes a couple of nights after work to get 20 fish ads created and online.

Once a fish gets a bid I mark the fishes’ container SOLD so as not to feed. The fish must be fasted at least 24 hours before they ship to ensure there is not waste in the water that would lead to death. I do my best to quickly get the fish ready to mail but there can be no shortcuts or the fish pays too high a price. My auction fish are not fed as heavy as the ones growing out or ready for showing or breeding. They are kept a bit leaner so they are better able to make the trip to a new home.

When the auction is finished I often have to send invoices
through PayPal of the final auction price and shipping charge. A copy is also entered into my QuickBooks software. Once the fish or cultures are paid for I get them boxed for shipping. I like to add about a drop of meth blue to a gallon of water for shipping the fish. It helps the gills process oxygen and reduces the chance of a parasite like velvet taking hold of the fish during the stress of shipping. The fish are caught, put in about 1/3 cup of water and double bagged. They are then placed into the box and more insulating materials are added to ensure the fish does not shift around and they are protected in the event a hot or cold pack is needed. Cultures are packed so they do not shift around in their box too. Because there is no way to keep the box in the correct position I must make sure the bagged fish or culture does not come in contact with an icy cold pack or a 100 degree heat pack. Fish will soon perish unless a layer of insulating material is between them and the packs. I must make sure the insulating materials can not shift and allow the contact with the packs. I print off a copy of each fish’s genetic tree or a cultures cultivating direction and insert them into the side of the box.

Once properly packed the box is weighed and a shipping label is printed. Most transactions on PayPal allow a quick couple of clicks to create and print a label. The shipping labels are trimmed and if there are no heat or cold packs the boxes are taped shut and the shipping label applied. If those are needed they are added and everything taped and labeled the last minute before I head out the door for work the next morning. I am  fortunate that the Post Office is a slight detour from my regular way into work every morning. And, the Post Office allows package drop off in a special bin so I can drop them off even thought the PO is closed. I ship Monday through Thursday, the days I work, to allow the packages to arrive at their destination before the weekend and also because it is only a slight detour to get them mailed. But that does not prevent me from making special trips to accommodate the special needs of a buyer. I am very willing and most times able to work with people to get them what they need, when they need it.

As you can see, we do everything possible to makes sure any fish or culture we ship arrives at its destination in the best possible shape. Raising, selling and shipping fish takes time.. my time. It does have a value and there are many other things I enjoy and would do if I was not playing with these fish. So, when people look at the $20 or $30 price on a fish or the $35 I charge for Express shipping they think I am either making a ton of money or ripping them off as I was lately told. What they fail to consider is the time, and expense,  it takes to bring that fish or culture to their doorstep. I enjoy breeding the fish and sharing with other breeders, but I can not nor will I allow it to cost me and the biggest thing in the whole equation is my time. Sure, the physical box may not coast me anything, but as you can see, that box is not free.


August 14, 2011 Posted by | Info You Can Use, Shipping Bettas | , | 2 Comments