Last updated: 2012-05-02 — Created: 2012-02-11
I found them! I thought I was actually going to have to go on a fishing expedition to Peru before I’d be able to to get some, but thanks to Jeff Rapps at Tangled Up in Cichlids, I’m now the proud new owner of some F1 true green terrors. I ordered a couple F1 bifiasciatus as well to go with my older wild-caught female (courtesy of Bob at Aqua Tropics).
My fish-loving friend Brian (check him out at FishFlipper) asked me to go in on an order that (a different) Brian over at Fishopolis was putting together, so that we could all share the shipping and import costs associated with having fish airmailed from the US into Canada. Curious if I’d see something I might want, I had a look at the most recent Tangled Up in Cichlids stock list. There they were, like the shining holy grail of rare South American fish waiting to be ordered, just at the right place, just at the right time. Sweet. With this post, I just wanted to share my first “import” experience.
Andinoacara stalsbergi 1.5” 15.00 or 6 @ 12.50
F1 juveniles of incredible and rarely-offered white-seam ‘Peru green terror’
Paratheraps bifasciatus 2.5-3” 12.50 or 4 @ 10.00
F1 Rio Chacamax -- gorgeous red-spotted race w/ lots of yellow over body
I’ve always found other hobbyists reluctant to ship across borders whenever I’ve made enquiries on sites like AquaBid. At first, I thought it was just due to the fact that the shipping is usually much more expensive than the fish, but it’s a lot worse than that. Just shipping from Phillipsburg, NJ to Toronto, ON — about 600 km as the crow flies — incurred some serious overhead. The invoice below shows the breakdown of all the various fishes ordered by the group, plus the extra costs associated with shipping. I personally ordered eight fish at $12.50 US apiece, so you can see how this $100 order would have been prohibitively expensive to import if there weren’t others sharing in the added costs. I should probably also mention that any live arrival guarantees apply only to the cost of the fish, so the shipping (and return shipping) costs are all part of the risk of shipping fish.
Our fish were packed up and sent on Tuesday and available for airport pickup first-thing Wednesday morning. Apparently our fish took quite the detour in getting the short flight from Jersey up to T-dot, being routed all over in the process. Looks like they went from Newark, NJ (EWR) to Denver, CO (DEN) to Las Vegas, NV (LAS) to Toronto, ON (YYZ). They went next flight guaranteed (NFG), but in a very roundabout way!
Brian and Brian went to the CBSA offices at Pearson International Airport to get our package, where they were bounced between a couple of offices in order to pay our extra fees and get intensely scrutinized by the customs officers there (just doing their jobs, of course). They were then sent to a warehouse where they waited for a worker to bring the box out on a forklift. It was a regular unheated venue, so any extended delays would have meant frosty fishies! There was a concern because the waybill for the shipment had the contents label “fish and aquatic plants” abbreviated to just “aquatic plants”. Had this been noticed by officials wanting to prevent plant species migrating where they shouldn’t, it would have spelt certain doom for our fish. Apparently, a specialist is required to inspect in these situations, so you have to wait for him to be available, and that may be longer than your fish have to wait! Fortunately, this was not noticed, so our parcel did not get flagged for extra scrutiny.
The order came in a single polystyrene shipping box, about the size of a 25-gallon breeder aquarium, with heat packs to help with the cold. (It’s just above freezing right now, being mid-February, perhaps even colder at higher altitudes, such as in unheated plane cargo holds!) We were charged $14 USD for this packaging. Because the order went by plane, a $25 USD airport delivery fee was added. US Fish & Wildlife had to inspect our order to the tune of $186 USD. Lastly, the actual shipping charges were $141.46 USD. Oh, wait…not done yet! The government wanted its 13% harmonized sales tax upon arrival, and a terminal fee was owed to the airport. PayPal wanted 3% to convert our (practically at-parity) currency and dinged me for another 2.9% + $0.30 CAD to send my payment over to Brian. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie!
After getting the fish home, slowly acclimatizing them to my tanks and letting them get settled in for a day, they are ready for their first meal in Canada! All eight survived and seem to be doing well so far. With everything said and done, my cost per fish was $23.05 CAD — not too bad for some rare F1 imports, I’d say! A fun adventure!
March 2nd, 2012 – After a couple of weeks swimming in my tank, all six green terrors are alive and well. A couple of the smaller ones seem emaciated and showed signs of ich, so the tank is being treated with promising results. On the other hand, there’s one of the six that is really packing on weight, so it looks like I’ve identified my first male and the dominant fish in the group!
May 2nd, 2012 – The two smallest GTs did not make it, having not been able to keep any food down and grow along with their brothers & sisters. The four remaining seem to be doing well, each having a very distinct size, but also a plump belly, so I’m not worried about losing any more. Judging by the growth rates, I’m hoping for two males and two females and at least one pair from them. Pictures to follow.
The wild-caught bifas female has laid eggs a few times now, but the F1 male is still too small (~3″) to risk them swimming in the same space (he’s on the other side of a divider). The F1 female is in another tank, but is growing steadily as well.