Winter Shipping FAQ
Shipping tilapia during the winter months is about more than just getting them to you alive, it's also about getting them to you without damaging their nervous systems. Like all fish, tilapia can not generate body heat, nor do they possess a true brain. They do however have a very delicate nervous system that provides all of the feedback necessary to regulate behaviors and trigger instinctual actions. When this nervous system is permanently damaged due to near-death cold, the surviving fish will never fully recover. Tilapia with damaged nervous systems will not eat properly, develop as expected, or even reproduce reliably, if at all. Do not let impatience lure you into purchasing and then destroying perfectly healthy fish.
We will only ship Graded Blue tilapia when the outside air temperature is above 24º during the first night at all points along their journey. In addition, we will only ship Nile, Orange Mozambique, Wami or Wami hybrid fingerlings when the outside air temperature is above 37º during the first night at all points along their journey. Heat packs and styrofoam do an excellent job in most situations, but they are not without their limits. Heat packs reach a maximum temperature of 115º degrees, but only for the first couple of hours. After an initial burst of heat, the heat packs slowly diminish down to nothing. Even our best 72-hour heat packs only last for about 12 hours before they can't fight back against a temperature difference of 30º between the inside of the box and the outside air, irregardless of how many we use. So if the outside temperature is above 24º for Blue tilapia and 37º for everything else on the first day of shipping, it means that our best 72-hour heat packs will be able to keep up, and we can safely ship your fish.
But what about the second day?
Well, depending on the contents of your order (e.g. breeding colony, tilapia fingerlings) your delivery may be shipped overnight or it may be shipped by priority mail. Tilapia fingerlings are normally shipped by priority mail, which depending upon the delivery address may take up to three days. This means that we need a longer period of minimum temperatures in which to ship your fish. As the heat packs slowly fade, the amount of cold that they can counteract against becomes even less. After 72 hours the heat packs are completely exhausted, and the water temperature will match the outside air temperature. Before we ship a box of tilapia fingerlings, we check the weather for a three day period at the delivery address and at all points in between to ensure that as the heat pack loses energy the water temperature inside of the box will remain safe for the tilapia.
A few more words about our heat packs.
Battery powered heat packs are illegal for shipping purposes. It's literally a crime, punishable by fine and imprisonment. Check out the posters in the Post Office next time you're there, they take that stuff seriously. But it's not just the Post Office, it's also FedEx, UPS, and every airline that moves parcels. We certainly can't use hand warmers, those only last 8 to 16 hours and they don't put out nearly enough heat. So what do we use? It's a product called UniHeat 72 hour heat packs. If you're curious, check them out on Amazon. They were selling for about six dollars each the last time we looked. Expensive yes, but they're really the best that we can use.
Nobody wants to ship your fish more than we do.
We can't pay our bills if we don't ship your tilapia, it's really that simple. In the winter, we study the weather map like we're looking for buried treasure. We manufacture our own packing materials and assemble our custom shipping boxes at our in-house box shop. We can even custom configure boxes for a specific destination. We literally do everything to get your tilapia to you as quickly as possible, but none of that matters if we injure them with cold in the process.
Frequently asked questions.
As if the picture above doesn't tell a story of it's own, here are a few very frequently asked questions about our winter shipping procedures and policies.
Question: Do you ship tilapia in the winter?
Answer: Yes, provided that the shipment will not be exposed to first night temperatures below 24 degrees for Blue tilapia and 37 degrees for Nile, Wami, Mozambique and Wami Hybrids.
Question: My weather says it's going to be clear and 50 degrees for the next few days, will you ship my Blue tilapia fingerlings to me?
Answer: Yes, as long as the in-route temperatures will not fall below 24 degrees during the first 24 hours of travel and below 27 degrees during the second 24 hours of travel.
Question: What if I pay pay extra for next-day first early morning delivery of my tilapia fingerlings to minimize their exposure to the cold?
Answer: All you are doing is paying extra to receive injured or dead fish. It only takes a few minutes in cold water to cause permanent damage or death in tilapia. So unless you have a teleporter, there's no shipping method fast enough if the in-route temperatures fall below the minimums.
Question: But I ordered Blue tilapia.
Answer: You are still paying extra money to receive dead fish. It takes less than 5 minutes below 47 degrees for blue tilapia to die, and they are permanently damaged a few degrees before they get to that "death point".
Question: I thought you guys used heat packs or something.
Answer: We do, and they work great for Blue tilapia down to an air temperature of 24 degrees on the first day and 27 degrees on the second day.
Question: I'm not going to be above 24 degrees for several weeks. If you can't ship, why are you even open for business in the winter?
Answer: We ship to several areas that enjoy year-round temperatures that are well above freezing.
Question: I paid you, what about my money?
Answer: Your money still belongs to you, we are using it to hold your place in the shipping queue. As the weather allows, we will ship in the order received. Of course, everyone warms up at a different time of year, but all things being equal, you will get your order shipped before anyone else in your area.
Question: Can I get my money back for now?
Answer: Yes, we will refund any portion of your order that has not shipped. However, please note that orders placed near the end of spring can take longer to fulfill due to the number of people already in the queue. You are far better off to keep your spot in the shipping queue and let us ship to you as soon as possible.
Question: Once my winter starts, it lasts until March! Are you really not going to ship my order until then?
Answer: We hear this multiple times every winter. The minute you start talking about the weather, everyone gains precognition and becomes the weather predictor/historian for their area. All we can say is, with all due respect to your own experience, we check your weather three times per week and the facts don't lie. Even the coldest areas in the lower 48 have their unexpected warm winter days. We watch for these and will ship as soon as the opportunity presents itself. You would be surprised at how often we sneak a shipment of fish past Mother Nature!