Shipping and Bagging Fish for IFGA Shows

Shipping and Bagging Fish for IFGA Shows


By Bryan Chin

Let’s cover the basics to shipping guppies to an IFGA show.

Essential items to be included in your shipping box.

All items should be put in a zip bag to protect from water.

  1. Two copies of the entry form and a check to cover entry fee and return postage.
  2. Two bags per fish must be included to return your guppies.
  3. Return postage label with your address. Labels vary depending on how you shipped.
  4. Heat pack if needed to return your guppies.

Items to include

Bags for Shipping

  1. Bags
    1. Minimum size is 3” x 10” as per IFGA requirements.
    2. Recommend 5” x 12” (longer bags are easier to knot and wide bags give more room for larger guppies)
    3. 1.5 to 2.0 mils have enough thickness to prevent bursting during air shipping.
  2. Use 2 bags per fish to double bag.
  3. Mark each bag with a marker pen with same ID as your entry form.

Mark bags


Preparing guppies for bagging

Note that the fish needs to be fasted for 24 hours before bagging to avoid fish waste that will pollute the water. Remove guppies from its tank and place in cups; this makes it easier to put guppies in bags.

Fish in cups


Fold the lip of the bag to give a more rigid lip for easy handling

bag lip

Place bag in a container

Bag in cup

Pour the guppy and water into the bag

Pour fish in bag

Water to air ratio

  1. 1/3 Water to 2/3 Air.  
  2. Enough water so the fish is able to swim.
  3. Need enough air to exchange oxygen with water during transit.
  4. Stay with this water to air ratio or fish may die in transit due to lack of oxygen.
Air to water ratio


Knotting the bags

It is essential to tightly knot the bag to prevent leakage. When the package is on a plane the change in pressure will force water out of the bag in a loosely knotted bag and kill your fish.

Knotting bag

Cut the excess part of bag to make it easier to place in another bag.

Cut excess bag

Place the knotted bag into another bag upside down and then knot

Put bag in another

All fish should be double bagged to prevent leakage during shipping.

Double bagged fish

If it is a Tank entry then tie the matching pair’s bags together.

Tied bags

Place the bagged fish into a box with insulation that covers all sides.

The insulation can be wall insulation, foam, insulation bag or other types.  Function is to retain heat during cold weather or keep cool during very hot weather.

Bagged fish in box

Heat packs

Heat packs are needed if the shipping weather is cold. Usually during early Spring and Fall months. Take the heat pack out of the package and follow directions to activate.

Heat pack

Do not use the heat pack this way

Do not use heat pack this way

Do not use heat pack this way

Correctly place the heat pack so there is some insultation between it and the bagged fish.

Another method is wrapping the heat pack with other insulations such are several layers of newspaper, bubble wrap, or other insulation.  Use enough layers so to gently warm the fish.  Do not seal the pack from air which is needed to function.

Correct way to use heat pack

Ship the fish

  1. Assure all essentials items mentioned in this article are included in the box
  2. All sides of the box have insulation.
  3. Mail the packaged fish and notify the person receiving it when to expect the fish. Be sure to check the shows deadline to recieve the entries..












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