Here's how it works:
- You buy the fish. The most common way people buy fish from overseas is through Aquabid.com. There are many, many sellers on there from Thailand as well as some from a few other countries like Singapore and Indonesia. Some of the Aquabid sellers also have websites where you can buy bettas from them directly. Make sure that before you buy a fish that you have a Paypal account, as this is the only form of payment most sellers accept and it's the best way to pay your transhipper.
- You choose your transhipper and pay the seller. After you win an Aquabid auction, you can contact the seller (Aquabid will send you an e-mail announcing that you've won the auction and give you the seller's e-mail address), or you can wait and the seller will contact you. They will ask you which transhipper you would like to use (provided you live in a country that has more than one). He/she will also tell you your total and what their Paypal address is. The total will be the price of the fish plus the cost of shipping the fish from the seller's country to the transhipper, usually anywhere from $3 to $8 each ($5 or $6 seems to be the norm). Why is it so cheap to have a fish shipped overseas when it costs over $20 to ship within the US? I'll answer that in our next step...
- Your fish are shipped to the transhipper. Sellers all send their fish to one place within the country they are in, and all fish are shipped at once to the transhipper. This happens on a regular basis, depending on which transhipper you're using. Sometimes it is every month, sometimes every two weeks. This should make it clear why it costs you so little; there are many fish being shipped at the same time, so with buyers paying $5 or so per fish it adds up. Another reason why this is cool is that you can buy fish from all different sellers in the same country without it costing you anything extra in shipping, and they will all be shipped to the transhipper at the same time. When a seller asks you which transhipper you want to use, they will usually tell you when the next shipment date is for each of them (and if they don't tell you, you can ask). Sellers will also usually (but not always) notify you when your fish have been shipped.
- You get in contact with the transhipper. The transhipper will contact you with your total once they receive the fish, but you can contact them instead if you'd like. You can even contact them before your fish are even shipped and say how many fish you have coming and ask for a total. If you pay ahead of time, your fish will most likely be shipped the day after the transhipper receives them. You will be paying the transhipper an import fee ($1 per fish), a handling fee (usually $2.00/fish) and the cost of shipping USPS Express. I've heard a lot of people comment about how expensive transhipping is, but I really don't understand where that comes from since you're only paying $3.00 in actual transhipping fees per fish. They have to go to the airport, pick up the shipment of fish, bring them home, unpack them all and give them once-overs, put them up for at least one night, spend the time communicating with you, pack up the fish, and mail them out. All of that is very time consuming and when you consider how much work the transhipper is doing for you, you're really not paying them much at all.
- The transhipper mails the fish to you (finally!). Depending on when you pay your transhipper, they will e-mail you telling you that your fish were shipped and give you the tracking number which you can use on the USPS website. Your fish should arrive the next day! For some locations it will take two days for the fish to arrive, but most of the time it is overnight.
Now, just a few more things...
What is a transhipper anyway?
A transhipper is someone who has gone through all the legal mumbo jumbo to be able to receive live fish from overseas. I don't know much of anything about the process, but there is paperwork and fees involved. They save us the hassle of having to go through all that poo ourselves.
How much more does it cost to buy a fish from overseas than just getting one from the within my country? Is it worth it?
I'm not sure about countries other than the US, but for us Americans it usually costs around $8 more per fish: $5 (average) shipping to the transhipper + $1 import fee + $2.00 handling fee. Everything else (cost of fish and USPS Express Shipping) you would have to pay even if you bought from a seller in the US. As for whether or not it's worth it... go browse Aquabid for a bit and I think the pictures you see will speak for themselves.
Which transhipper should I use?
People have different experiences with different transhippers, and some are more expensive than others. I will list the two transhippers I have used, as well as their prices. For those who have a recent price list for other transhippers, feel free to let me know and I'll add them as well. If you are looking for reviews of transhippers (or want to comment about your experience with a transhipper), see our "reviews" forum.
Jennifer Vivieros (If you want to know which transhipper I recommend, it is her.)
See her website at: http://bellsouthpwp....etttranship.htm
"Here are my rates for bettas or guppies:
Handling $2 per fish
Import Fees $.60 per fish
Box $5 (heatpack included)
1-2 fish $20.00
3-4 fish $22.00
5-8 fish $25
9-11 fish $30
I can ship as many as you would like. These are just
my standard box sizes/weights."
(This is from February 2006, but I don't think the prices have changed since.)
The other U.S. transshippers are:
Pegasus in Florida- firstname.lastname@example.org ((website)
Linda Olson in Colorado- email@example.com
I believe that covers everything. If anything I've said needs correcting or adding to, please let me know!