Shipping Corals

How to Reduce DOA’s When Ordering Livestock Online

When fish or corals are shipped via an overnight service, I am a BIG believer in having that livestock delivered to either a UPS or FedEx customer center. At these facilities the livestock can be held for pick-up. This can lower DOA’s when ordering livestock online.

Reduce Transit Time

One reason to consider delivery to a customer center is to reduce the amount of time the animals are in transit. I typically drive forty-five minutes to a UPS Customer Center to pick up livestock. It is really necessary for me since UPS promises overnight deliveries to my house by 7PM. But overnight packages to the customer center are supposed to be available for pick-up by 10:30AM. Yes, I live in a rural area.

green mountains vermont

Even if you live in a suburban or urban area it can take longer for an overnight package to make it to your house versus being delivered to a customer center. The dis-advantage with having livestock delivered to a home is that it has to go on a delivery truck. This adds an additional leg to the journey. The livestock may be stressed out further if it is bouncing around on the truck. Hot or cold temperatures inside the truck can add to the stress.

Avoid Fridays

I think it is also wise to NOT have livestock delivered on a Friday. If the package is delayed then it will likely be delivered on a Monday, which is the next business day. Shipping on a Monday can also be risky since Mondays can be one of the busiest shipping days of the week.

Time of the year is another thing to consider when ordering fish or corals. Many vendors will not ship during holiday weeks such as Christmas. If they do I would suggest not ordering during this time. Both FedEx and UPS are crazy busy during holidays and will not guarantee on time delivery for overnight shipments.

shipping frags sps

Be Mindful of The Weather

Really hot days can also be problematic. Many reef keepers put the hobby on the back burner during the summer. This is sort of a blessing since it reduces the amount of fish and corals being shipped during the heat of the summer. Thunderstorms can also pop up and cause delays at airports. But if you do place an order during the summer be proactive and watch the weather. Many vendors do this anyway but customers may have better insight into their local weather.

Shipping during super cold days is also very risky. When I ship corals I avoid days when the temps are below zero, whether it is on my end or the customer’s end. Heat packs work really well but I don’t push it during extreme cold. Again, the customer should be proactive on this front and avoid ordering livestock, even if the vendor is willing.

aci aquaculture sps


Overall, adhering to the above guidelines will reduce the chances of having DOA’s when ordering fish and corals online. All it takes is some common sense and, in some instances, a little patience. When in doubt, do your shopping in person. Visit your Local Fish Store (LFS), attend a frag swap or do some trading with a local reefer.

Additional Resources

If you would like some help with a new tank build, including help designing a custom aquarium, or help re-configuring your current setup then you can visit this page for more information. And if you are looking to add some equipment, I do sell GHL, Pax Bellum, Reef Octopus Calcium and Kalk Reactors and Royal Exclusiv products, including Dreamboxes, which is the equipment I use and recommend. I also sell Reef Brite metal halide and LED fixtures as well as Maxspect & IceCap Gyres.

As for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my YouTube channel. For an even deeper dive into reef tank care you can check out my Reef Keeping Master Class. This online course is an immersive and one of a kind educational tool designed to help reef aquarium hobbyists build and maintain a beautiful SPS reef tank. The course is a series of video presentations with some supplemental video from my YouTube channel. There are also quizzes to help students retain and understand the information presented in the course.

Need some frags…..I can help with that as well 🙂 Please visit my SPS Frag store to see what is available.

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