What to expect when ordering from SaltWaterFish.com

Published 2018


Written by Dan

In my 20+ years of being in the aquarium hobby, I had never ordered fish online.  Yes I had ordered equipment, but until just a couple months ago I was too skeptical about ordering fish.  This article outlines my first ever online livestock order, and shares my first impressions ordering from Saltwaterfish.com


The quick summary

If you just want the short and sweat, we ordered, it was awesome, I would do it again!  If you want to hear the details of how the process went so you know what to expect yourself and what to keep an eye on keep reading.

Why not buy from my LFS?

I love my local fish stores, and will continue to visit and shop at them.  Through the years I have seen several pop up and shut down.  Some were good, some were bad.  The thing they all had in common though was the fact that I could actually see the fish before I decided to buy them.

I read in forums that people were ordering fish, coral, plants, etc. and having them shipped to them.  I also heard of the crazy cost for shipping they were paying too.  Not to mention I was always worried that it might show up and have a baby fin or something. (Yes, that was a corny nemo joke.  Your welcome!)

Then we had a couple issues with a few fish we got from a LFS needing to be flushed within just a couple days of purchase, and they didn’t offer any sort return policy.  Not to mention that one of these issue caused an ich outbreak.


Because of this we started to get really critical of the fish we saw at the local store.  I mean really critical.  If I saw one fish that looked slightly rough in any tank I wasn’t buying that week.

This was really hard for Jess because she suffers from a condition many of us aquarium owners have called “OOO that’s pretty”.  Not to mention taking our six year old to the fish store and saying no were not getting Dory today started to weigh on me hard after the third or fourth time.

The guarantee changed my mind about ordering online!

Jess started checking out some of the online stores to see what types of fish were compatible with our reef tank.  This lead to her see the return policy that SaltWaterFish.com offers.  As of the time I am writing this, they offer a dead on arrival money back guarantee and store credit if it does not last 15 days. My other big hurdle of shipping was covered with their free shipping threshold.  I mean it is real easy to spend $79 dollars on fish and coral.  You just have to do one purchase that you may have spread out over 2 or 3 if you were headed to the local store.  Add in the great deals they run periodically where if you spend slightly more and you get free fish. So at that point it became a no brainer, we just had to plan it out so we could spend enough in one swipe.  We caught a holiday sale, and I think we got a really good deal.Save


The whole process of ordering and processing the order went smooth.  Their online system is great.  There was also no charge to have the order as a hold for pickup.  This allowed us to go 10 minutes away to FedEx at 10am and get the package so we could start the acclimation started rather than it sitting on a truck another half a day while they ran their route.

Keep an eye out for your shipping confirmation!

We knew when we ordered Saturday night it would not get processed until Monday.  We did however expect it would get shipped Monday and need to be picked up Tuesday.  When we had not seen any shipping notice by midafternoon though we called to follow up. It turns out that because of the great sale they were running they had been slammed with orders.  Because of this, they had to push some orders back to be sent out Tuesday for Wednesday delivery, and ours was one of them. This makes perfect sense but had we not called I would not have known to adjust my half day from Tuesday to Wednesday so we could pick them up and acclimate them to the quarantine tank w/out rushing.  I do with there had been proactive communication of this fact on their part but that is really my only complaint in the whole process and I honestly understand.  Who knows half their staff could have called out with the flu that Monday.  It’s just hard to plan for that, I get it.

Arival Day

I know it seems like we are close to everything but we really are only about 15 minutes for the FedEx Airport hub in our area.  So we had the package held there for pickup.  We got to FedEx, walked in and was back in the car in maybe 5 minutes.


Everything was packed in a Styrofoam cooler inside of a cardboard box.  All of the items were individually bagged and wedged perfectly in the cooler.  Even the height of the bags filled with air seemed to be right about the right size to fit to the top of the cooler so that in case it did flip over in shipping it would not be a huge deal.  The bags were sealed with aluminum crimps so make sure you have some needle nose pliers handy or be prepared to rip open the bags.  They really were not that hard to pry apart.

In between the bags were a couple heat packs to make sure the temperature didn’t drop to low since it was winter when we were ordering.  They were actually still pretty warm to be honest.


We have a couple plastic trash cans that are right about the perfect size to hold a large fish bag.  But we only have drip hoses and cans for two bags at once.  So we put the two biggest fish in first expecting they would have gone through their air supply first. After a couple hours of dripping the fish and coral, plus a fresh water dip for the two coral frags; everything was looking good.  The fish were swimming and eating.  They were loving the pod filled algae covered rock we pulled out of the 180 and placed in the quarantine.  The coral was even starting to open up after just a couple hours. Moving to the big tank After 10 days in the 20g quarantine tank we decided everything was ok and we moved them to the 180. Two months later and everything is still doing great.  They swim, eat, and poop non-stop.


At this point I could not be happier and will definitely be ordering from them again.  The only complaint I could even come up with is that I wish they had a standardized email they could send out early Monday to inform you if they would be waiting until Tuesday to ship your order or not.  Outside of that the fish were healthy, on the larger side of the size range we ordered, and beautiful.  Based on this experience, I would absolutely recommend them.  




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