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FAQs about the Marine Wholesale Livestock (Import/Distribution) Business 

Related Articles: Stocking a Business, Open Letter to the Trade re Quarantining Livestock, Growing Reef Corals For Profit, Pond Service Business, Don't Sell Non-Aquatic Plants!, Live Plants & Macro-Algae (IZOO 98 Report), Marine Macro-Algae, Ornamental Marine Algae/How to Raise & Market It, Compatible Marine SpeciesMarine Fishes, Selection, Display in the Industry, Damsels, Clownfishes, Hawkfishes

Related FAQs: Livestock Business 1, Livestock Business 2Livestock Business 3, & FAQs on: Marine Wholesale,  & FAQs on: Wholesalers, Transshippers, Jobbers, & Sources For: FW Fish & Invert. Livestock, FW Plants, Pondfishes/Comets, Marine Algae, SW Invertebrates, SW Fishes, & From/By Source Countries, & Facilities: Collecting Stations, Holding Systems, Breeding/Aquaculture, & Research, Tradeshows, Crooked Dealings, CITES, Tariffs, Permits, Other Confiscatory Conventions, Moving Livestock, Growing Reef Corals, Tridacnid Clam Biz

Thalassoma sel., captive fish mortality      7/26/17
Thanks bob, i will shy away from that wrasse.
I did pick up a wrasse people don't encounter often in aquaria, but I've seen you talk about while diving in Hawaii, a Coris venusta. Subtly beautiful, and ate everything the lfs had to throw at it.
<Hardy, like most Coris spp.>
I wanted your opinion in fish mortality. I've been told a trip to a wholesaler during receiving can be an absolute living nightmare. Garbage cans full of dead fish.
Without any real, honest empirical data out there, what percentage do you put on the number of fish living a week after they leave the ocean (capture, transport, acclimation at first facility), versus one year post capture (the hobbyist home aquarium)
<Losses likely exceed 10% for some shipments; perhaps more. Highly variable at times>
And lastly, how would you rank in order of most common first, reasons fish perish:
<Largest source of mortality: trauma/stress in collecting, handling, shipping>

1. Not suitable for captivity (ribbon eels, Moorish idols, mandarins)
<On a scale of 1-10, this is a 5>
2. Improper set up (seahorse in fish only set up, Achilles tang on too small of quarters, coral eating species kept in tanks absent of coral, Garibaldi damsels kept on tropical set ups)
<Again, about a five>
3. Disease (flukes, ich, velvet etc)
<Maybe a two>
4. Environmental ( bacterial, harsh water conditions)
<A six>
5. Incompatible tank mates (too many tangs, triggers with lion fish)
<A four or so>
And lastly 6, the mysterious fish just die whether it be stress, some type of genetic defect (heart issue, liver etc)
<A one>
Any others I didn't think of. (I'm sure chemical interaction, stray
and others play a part too)
Thanks bob
Re: SW fish mortality... more GIGO, generalizations in, g out. Now water chg. %   7/27/17

Thanks bob. Always wished there were more hard science when it came to this, more in the direction of cat and dog understanding.
<Google the names Andrew Rhyne and Kathleen Wood. These two have been gathering such data>
I will throw one more in there, misinformation, taking ideas from others and thinking they will work for you.
Was just told by someone at a reputable online fish e-ticket that more than a 25 percent water change at a time is harmful and removed beneficial bacteria. I always thought and still believe organic build up in a fish only set up is bad, and the good bacteria existed on rock, sand tank, and very little in the water.
<Mmm; am leery of generalizations... Would require information on how the replacement water was made, how the old water was removed...>
Never heard of too big of a water change in a fish only set up, as long as temp, salinity and other spec param.s are close.
Thanks again Bob.

Exploring aquarium trade in the Pacific Islands, requesting contacts       9/21/16
Hey WWM crew!
I am proposing a Watson Fellowship project for next year after I graduate from college to look at the marine ornamental aquarium trade.
how the trade functions on islands in the South Pacific, its sustainability, and the influence this trade has an reef management and conservation through the local cultures.
<Oh! Great>
The Watson is a program that offers a paid year of exploration abroad to expand vision and abilities in the field of your choice. Aquariums have long been a passion of mine, and I am curious to investigate how the hobby ties in with reef health, the latter now my basis of my research as a developing marine biologist. I will focus in on the islands of the South
Pacific and attempt to develop a more detailed understanding of how cultures, customs, and fishing practices come together to influence the reef environments.
A part of the project planning is that I need local contacts to help direct me as I travel from country to country and allow me access into observing and working with these communities. I am wondering if you would be willing to put me in touch with anyone you know in the area. Particularly, I am interested in looking at Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Fiji, Samoa,
Tonga, and potentially Palau and the Cook Islands, though the itinerary is still flexible.
<Yikes; a bunch of folks to relate. HOW I wish you had made this request beyond a couple weeks back, come out to visit at the recent MACNA... several folks were in attendance that would have been important to your task here>
Thank you for your time and consideration! I look forward to hearing from you.
<Let's see... of "uber" contacts (folks that have done, are doing similar work); am going to suggest Andrew Rhyne, Kevin Erickson and Elizabeth Wood... DO look up their names on the Net, contact them w/ the same intro. as here. In Fiji I'd contact Walt Smith, in the Cooks (Roratonga), Chip Boyle.... Unfortunately I don't know you personally, hence my hesitancy to introduce you directly. Bob Fenner>

Exporting Red Sea Fish, Maldives Fish, with Sri Lanka fish       9/21/16
Dear Sir,
We are exporters of Marine and Fresh water live tropical fish for more than 20 years, operating in Sri Lanka.
<Ahh! I'd like to come out, visit, and FINALLY dive there... in the many places I've read Rodney Jonklaas, Arthur Clarke, Helmut Debelius.....>
Now we extended our business for import and re-export of Red Sea Fish and Maldives fish in view of expanding our
international "buyers network". To achieve our sales targets, we built good stock of Red Sea Fish, Maldives Fish, with Sri Lanka tropical marine fish and fresh water fish therefore we will be able to offer you attractive promotional discounts.
<I see>
At the same time we can guarantee almost "Nil DOA" because our modernized facilities in our aquarium along with our 20 years experience in packing for long destinations, and maintaining healthy sanitary aquarium. Please refer attached stock list with promotional prices, for you to enjoy the special offers such as, 20% discount for marine fish and 30% discount for, fresh water tropical fish. Also, we offer special net prices for large quantities.
<Good practices>
In order to see the condition of our fish, we propose you to start with a trial shipment. Please feel free inquire any further details of our company, international references as well as flight information to your destination etc.
<Am no longer active in the trade; but will post your letter and contact information for others on our website>
We are available for your service at any time because we are customer oriented company.
Aquarium Marine Fishes.
197/1, Padiri Pio Mawatha,
Thaladuwa, Negombo,
Sri Lanka.
Tele: - 0094 31 2223512
Whatsapp:- 0094 77 4345752
E-mail:- <mailto:amfishes@eol.lk > amfishes@eol.lk
<Good fortune to you, Bob Fenner>

re: Too late for Galba's Chrysiptera 9/15/09
Thank you Bob - you are invaluable - I'm sure you get that all the time. I hope you never become disenchanted from hearing it, because it is wholeheartedly the truth. The supplier is replacing. Should be here tomorrow. Wish me luck. I hope I did not contribute to his death by not putting him in the display tank.
<Not likely, but I would routinely just dip/bath this genus' members and place them directly. Most are very "clean" on arrival.>
Also - I am "floating" the aggressive Firefish in an acrylic cage suction cupped to the inside of my display tank. Much to my husbands amusement - the Firefish leapt from the "cage" into the tank - where I shear dumb luck I was able to promptly net him before he got his bearings, and placed him back in his cell where he now sits cooling his jets. However not without escaping my husband's rendition of "Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy... The docile Firefish hid at first, but is now swimming about.
Chris K
<Ahh, welcome. BobF>
re: Too late for Galba's Chrysiptera 9/15/09

Bob - am I misunderstanding - I do not need to QT the fish tomorrow - just a freshwater bath?
<Yes... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm

Crooked Dealings... LFS... esp...      11/8/13
Dear Wet Web Crew,
    In my continuous search for new suppliers I have come across another company that absolutely does not deserve to be sent money. We started working with Pets 4 Us Dubai in September. After receiving a stock list an order was placed. A proforma was then received, and subsequently paid.
This company has done nothing but make excuses since the proforma was paid. I just once again want to save others from going through the pain of having their money stolen.
<Ah yes>
The Companies Information
PETS 4 US Dubai/
Seaview Ornamental Fish Trading

Box No. 90040, Dubai
<http://www.yello.ae/location/dubai >, Emirates
Phone: *+9714-2667677 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +9714-2667677 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting*
Fax: +97142667688
    Just hoping to save some other retail stores out there from wasting their money!
<Will post your input. Bob Fenner>

Crooked Dealings   5/17/13
Dear Crew,
<Brent; please send along your contact info. for posting so folks won't take this as a move against a competitor or such>
    I just wanted to send you this email to add to the crooked dealings section. I am the Live Stock Manager at a pet store in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and wanted to report a recent experience to prevent the same thing from happening to others, we are all in this together! Recently I placed an order with a company called OAFA Peru (http://www.oafa-aquarium.com/micro.htm ). I do understand why you advise never sending money to a company you have never dealt with before,
<Yes... credit card, transfer that is revocable>
 however it has been our experience that the industry does work in this fashion until a relationship is established. We have been operating for 10 years and have never had this issue but we did understand it would be a matter of time before we experienced it. Anyways, to continue I placed an order with this company and during the time we were placing the order their communication was fantastic, all emails answered within 24 hours. The second we had a confirmation that the fund transfer had gone through all communication ended on the company's end. Repeated attempts to call have ended in being hung up on. I am sending this in the hope of sparing others from loosing significant sums of money trying to deal with this company.
Below is the complete information I have on this company.
Thanks Very Much!
Av. Las Flores 430 San Juan Bautista - Iquitos - Peru

Bob!  I want to exploit your wholesale experience!   12/3/11
Hey Bob!
Normally I contact you and your colleagues on the topic of various nonsense that is plaguing my reefing experience, but today the mode is a bit switched up.  I am contacting you on behalf of a friend and fellow reef keeper.
Long story short a good friend of mine is jumping into / has jumped into the retail game (fish and coral) to some extent.  He is 1 year recovered from a nasty bout with non-smoke related throat cancer.  As a form of emotional therapy he decided to take up his long desired hobby of reefkeeping (something he has admired for YEARS....).
 <A good path I'd warrant>
Simultaneously, his wife (my colleague and friend of mine) is an elementary school dedicated science teacher.  Her room is basically financed through a grant and with that they are able to maintain multiple reef tanks (among other animals).  It's REALLY cool, to say the least.............
 <I can imagine>
Anyway, my friend Joe (hahaha, the husband...... Joe ain't the wife!)
basically took the reigns on the classroom's reef projects in conjunction with his own personal reefs.  He was able to take on the school as a client and build in his "store" under a previously established business license. 
He desired to pay this advantage forward to private customers and so happened his current business project. 
In the past year, this has turned from that into a true grassroots operation dealing with local reefers exclusively in the Eastern North Carolina region.  We collectively (we meaning about a dozen or so reefers) actively participate in "pre orders" where we purchase fantastic livestock for a little less than retail through Joe's new fish store.  In whole, we not only look for a deal,..... we hope to help our fellow reef keeper and friend in his endless bills and debt that is building because of this G.D. cancer.............
 <Go on>
To tie it all together, I know from previous emails and general awareness of your experience that you are well engrained into the wholesale side of things.  To cut to the chase, Joe is ordering and having specimens shipped to North Carolina from California.  I know that Cali is pretty much the number one stop for most imported specimens.  However, I am hoping you can maybe shed some light on some competitive wholesalers that originate from the East Coast.
<Mmm, unfortunately, I don't "know" them well enough presently to give recommendations. Also unfortunate is the fact that what one tends to hear are negative comments rather than praise. I am sure there are honest, competent people at this level in the trade in the area; I just am not aware enough to plug them>
  Joe has currently been working with a fantastic West Coast dealer but there have been some recent circumstances that leave some room for desirability.................  many of these situations could be resolved by East Coast shipping and availability.  I have found various wholesalers on the coast and as far inland as Ohio, but I really trust your input as much as any research that I do on my own.
 <Much to relate>
If this is bordering the line of decency with WWM, I FULLY understand. 
This is not meant as a means of profit.  Regardless, I am compelled to at least take the shot and get your input. 
 <Not problematic. I do still count myself as being part of the industry>
Either way, thank you for your insight on this and everything that you have helped me with in the past.
Are you able to shed some light on the East Coast market?  I'm not necessarily looking for a Bob Fenner endorsement, but can you maybe point us in the right direction to look for suppliers? 
 <Mmm, better perhaps for you to list whom you're familiar with and hear/read my responses. I am much more familiar w/ collectors, producers nowayears... Is the operation of size? I am tempted, though w/ trepidation, to suggest IF: 1) the volume is sufficient (like ten wholesale boxes minimum), 2) you can use/move this number of organisms in a month or so, 3) you have the facilities to hold said numbers, and as important 4) know how to acclimate trans-shipped livestock, that you and yours consider a transshipped order... DO see WWM re the term, practice... I am bcc'ing Diana (who works w/ Mary Middlebrook) re their contacting you, sending along a price/availability list. Otherwise, DO stick w/ reliable, known wholesale suppliers. The margins may be smaller, but so are the head-aches and potential losses.>
Thanks Bob!  I know this website is not designed for business advancement and I half feel sick to my stomach for even sending this email, but I believe enough in Joe and his cause to give myself strength to pull the trigger and ask for your input.  
Thanks Bob.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Info On Wholesalers/Jobbers, corals biz  11/5/10
<Hi there>
My name is Joey Nichols and I am trying to gather all information needed in order to best educate myself on opening an online coral storefront. I've searched through your site and have found a lot of useful information, however some of it seems a little bit outdated and some of the links in the FAQs etc no longer work.
<Thank you for this input. Such tasks/work are in need of continuous revision, updating>
Anyhow, I'm mainly looking for some information about wholesalers:
How do they operate (minimum order amount etc)?
<All have their own standards, which, once you're accepted as a bonafide dealer they will relate. It is of considerable advantage to be a "larger" player... there are tens of percent lesser cost shipping and "paperwork" depending on the volume you're dealing in... and very importantly, the possibility of direct flights, your relationship with the airlines/carriers>
I hear that you have almost no say so over what corals you receive (like you may receive a box of poor quality, unpopular corals)
<Mmm, this is definitely not so... the "real" people in the trade even have wysisyg... >
I've heard a few mentions of "jobbers." If I understand correctly, these are people you hire to "cherry-pick" pieces for you. How can I come in contact with one?
<These folks abound... I really suggest you come out, visit at least some of these intermediaries... they are centered about the handful of (I take it you're in the U.S.) international airports w/ Customs facilities... Even haul out to the big/ger international trade shows... You're welcome to transit w/ friends and I to Aquarama this May in Sing... Many growers, collectors attend such...>
Who are some of the most reputable wholesalers?
<Some are listed on WWM:
the first block of links under "Livestock">
Thanks for your help and hope to hear from you soon!
Joey Nichols
Joe Knows Reefs, LLC
<Glad to assist your efforts. Bob Fenner, out presently visiting in Fiji w/ Walt and Deb Smith...
Re: Info On Wholesalers/Jobbers 11/09/2010
Thank you for your quick reply Bob! Especially considering you are in Fiji! Hopefully I will be able to visit such a place in the future.
<For sure>
As far as visiting the west coast, I will most likely be unable to do so for at least a few months. I hope there is some way I can seed and grow a relationship with dealers in the meantime. Being that I will not be able to make the trip any time soon, do you have any suggestions as far as locating a jobber in the mean time?
<Mmm, yes. If you have a business set up already (fictitious name, license...) call them...>
On the other side, the owner of my LFS has offered to introduce me to his distributor on the west coast via phone, and even offered me to piggyback orders with him to save on shipping and reap his benefit of having a 7yr relationship with these people.
<Ahh, a good possibility there>
Do you have any knowledge of or dealings with the people at "Eye Catching Corals" based out of PA?
<I do not. My dealings are not wide but deep in the trade... I retired many years back (94) but still attend the intl. trade shows, give business presentations (as well as hobbyist and the odd scientific), and have many wonderful personal relationships w/ friends who are still active in the trade. But these are the very-well-established "A" players. I barely know newer folks>
One last question...I intend to include on my site a section (and eventually an archive) of "Weekly Informative Articles." This will be an educational article on anything from water chemistry parameters to propagation to lighting etc.
<Ahh, good idea on many counts>
I hoped to be able to use writings from established icons of the industry (such as yourself..hehe) in order to provide customers with a well written informative from very experienced testers.
<I appreciate your offer, but I have no available time as a content provider>
Again, thank you for your time and enjoy your time in Fiji! Joey Nichols Owner Joe Knows Reefs, LLC
<Thank you. BobF, blurry from fish collecting all day... and Fiji Export biers!>

Thanks 5/17/09
Thanks for forwarding me the job offer, but I'm actually making a go of the wholesale livestock warehouse thing on my own...see http://www.captive-aquatics.com/captive-aquatics-wholesale-saltwater-fish-and-coral.html.
<Interesting... some bold claims... You have a holding facility?>
I'm attaching my business plan, I'd appreciate it if you'd take a look and let me know what you think, when you have time.
<Will take a look>
Thanks again Bob, and have fun on your trips!
<Will try. BobF>

Transship acclimation   3/1/09  Hey Bob I was reading some of your post's and I was concerned about acclimation from a transhipper .. when I receive fish my method was to cut bags open add fish and there water they came in to the Styrofoam box, then drip , I'm aware this could be wrong because of the O2 and ph difference .My question is if you can help me . lets say the fish that came in the bags after opening is 7.2 my system is 8.2 I need to buffer up what the water the fish came in ? <?! Yes... one REALLY needs to address this process carefully... dilute the acclimation/shipping water ammonia out... matching pH... raising this slowly...> do I have separate water to acclimate and if so when I add my fish to my system my system's ph is 8.2 . <Are you joking? I take it not... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner> can you help me out here thank you so much John Hartson.

Re: Transship acclimation I am sorry to bother you I did read those article's and I am trying to follow them and understand them completely. <... Am wondering, what is so incomplete re this protocol... I just re-read it> On my first order I had lost about half of my stock, what I had done was float the bags <... I would NOT do this... too stressful, takes too long, the animals are in need of more immediate acclimation> in my water but I didn't have enough surface room to float all so process took to long, Need to figure out better way to temp acclimate. <This is BEST done by dripping the pH-matched water...> I thought dripping from my system's water would be correct, <?!! No!> but after reading those articles I know the ph and ammonia act up ect. <No such word as ect> So if you could help explain to me would be helpful. Ok if I receive the fish and add the fish in the Styro boxes what should i do from there? <What? Read where you were referred to> add what chemicals to ph up? <... idiocy... the pH will be lower...> drip or don't drip? i will use air pumps . I do not have a separate qT tanks only display tanks. <Then you should NOT be transhipping> . My systems have a ph of 8.2 salinity of 1.024 which is the same as the fish in the bags from the exporters <... not on arrival> , I ask my exporter for his SG. 1.024, my temp of my tanks are 77 degrees. I did buy ammonia destroyer but I read somewhere else that if there's a high ammonia just add fish to main system as it better than leaving in toxic water, so why add ammonia destroyer as some say? I sorry for my lack of knowledge on this but would like to understand proper way of acclimating ..thanks for you time John Hartson <Please... don't waste y/our time... If you're unwilling to read, please quit our trade and take up something that doesn't involve livestock. Really. BobF>

Vietnam exporter  1/30/09 Hi, <Marie> I just want to know if you know these guys : xanhtuoi aquarium They are a fishes/corals exporter in Vietnam <Mmm, Xanh Tuoi is one of the older/more established Vietnam suppliers... though I've "heard" of a few "bumps" with aspects of size, quality of organisms from folks dealing with them, there has not been outright fraud... I want to greatly stress my usual warnings re folks getting involved in direct importation... This is NOT an everything-positive means of improving quality, supply at low price... But a trying, variable mix of experiences... requiring capital, knowledge, patience and often large losses and hassles. Best to transship, have others deal with freight, forwarding, customs, CITES...> I just want to know if you had hear things about them... good or bad Thank you very much! Marie <Welcome! Bob Fenner>

have you heard of this company?  9/2/08 Our company is looking at importing to Canada and we contacted by exportaquaticvn [mailto:exportaquaticvn@yahoo.com.vn]. Do you know anything about them? Thanks Dave <Mmm, not enough to render an opinion. Bob Fenner>

Small Business Support, Aq. svc. co. seeking lvstk.  8/1/08 Just wondering if anyone has seen this e-mail? I don't know how long a reply typically takes. I know you guys are busy. I'm resending in case it was somehow not delivered. <Mmm, good... hadn't seen this myself... Perhaps our "junk" mail software removed it...?> Crew, My business partner and I recently started a small business setting up and maintaining tanks. We are located in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and were able to get a small shop started with very little overhead. Finding great deals on tanks and keeping a low overhead, we were able to set up our coral tank, a live rock curing tank and a small livestock FO system. We are trying to get into the retail aspect of things and have been trying to find some good wholesalers. <There are some very good ones... and some not> Would you recommend Sea Dwelling Creatures for our marine fish? <Yes... I know the Cohen brothers, owners, managers from many years back> Or is there another wholesaler closer to Virginia that you would recommend? <Mmm, don't know of folks on the eastern seaboard I would plug> Where should we get live rock? <I'd buy this in whatever bulk rates you could sensibly use/store... ten or more boxes at a time... from SDC, Pacific Aqua Farms (Walt Smith Intl.)...> We have considered going with dry rock but I was wondering would you recommend? <Mmm, not the dry rock, unless you can use this "under" other real live rock placed atop it> I understand that these questions may be answered in the FAQs, however most of the people you advised are located in Central or Western U.S. <Okay> We have a wholesale account with summit. However, they do not list many of the vendors we wish to carry (Octopus, Tropic Marin, AquaC, Salifert etc.) They will order it with an up-front payment, but are there any other wholesalers in the area that you would recommend? <Mmm, yes... do look to the excellent company which is located in Arizona... can't think of their name right off... but their ads run in the hobby zines... Sell mainly to service businesses, have a very good selection. Bob Fenner, out in Hawaii, away from ref.s> Randall Smith & Ricky Larwa R & R Aquatics Hampton Va

For Bob....CITES ? 5/6/08 Hi Bob, Drew here, I just had a quick question concerning this document http://www.reefs.org/phpBB2/files/citesusfws_129.pdf <I see it> And also what your take on it affecting our hobby will be? <Negligible. The countries listed barely ship to the West, or anywhere... Chip Boyle in Roratonga (Cooks), and Walt Smiths operations in Tonga are likely the only persons I know who will be mal-affected> Is this a temporary thing or more permanent? <Don't know... but I doubt it will be permanent> I have also heard through the rumor mill that is flying that Walt Smith has released 80% of his staff as a result of this. Like i said I guess I just wanted your opinion on the matter. Thanks, Drew Lawing <Thanks for bringing this to my/our attention. CITES is a worthwhile convention (IMO of course), and folks have just got to comply... Bob Fenner>

Pet business questions  3/9/08 Hi to All, <Alfred> I am presently opening a 1800 square foot aquarium store specializing in fish, plants, corals. <Ahh! Congratulations!> I have never actually worked in the business as a retailer but I have done some aquarium service. <VERY different experiences...> I have a good head for business and work does not scare me. <Seven days a week... I do hope you have a hands-on equity partner, other good help...> My question in short is How many dry good suppliers will you need to adequately stock a store. <At least two good ones...> I noticed that some have certain products which are limited and others carry a full line but the prices may not be as good. <Yes> I have made contact and opened accounts with Central Pet and Royal Pet. Could you please give a short list of the DG suppliers you feel would benefit a new store in the NY Westchester area. <These two are good choices... I would "interview" others you can find through Pet-Business Buyer's Guide, the online resources of the APPMA...> I read your article on live stock dealers being concentrated in the airports and such. And don't know how to go about establishing relationships with them. <Contact them... via the Net, the phone... best, if at all practical, in person...> I have been getting stock lists from HIFI-Marindo, their prices seem very good, and wondered if you have any experience or insight in doing business with them. <None to share carte blanche on the Net, with someone I don't know...> I have taken your advice and subscribed to all of the possible trade magazines and am currently waiting for them to begin arriving. <Ahh, good! Not much directly of use in any given issue... but with a discerning mind, reading betwixt the lines... much can be gleaned> Outside of designing the store layout and negotiating the commercial lease; I feel getting the best prices for my end of the products and livestock is ultimately paramount to my success. <And that partner, and employees?> All Help is appreciated. P.S. If one of these topics was already discussed in detail don't bother answering the question just direct me to the discussion. I must have missed it and do apologize for being redundant. <No worries. Bob Fenner> Alfred Idone Allstar Aquarium LLC Thinking about an Aquarium for your Home or Office ? Looking for Aquarium Service or Products at Discount Prices ? Take a Look at my Web-Site : www.allstaraquarium.com

Customs Broker at LAX for Import  3/2/08 I am looking for a broker who can clear 8 boxes of Discus fish from Malaysia for me who has some knowledge on how to get them through quickly. The value of the shipment will be no more than $2500.00 and once the shipment clears I will take them home. Do you know any business that can do this for a reasonable fee. I do have my own Import License and will renew it shortly since it expires in April. Thank you George Garcia www.azdiscus.com <Mmm... might be faster to have someone "piggyback" your order for you... in the trade, in the area... otherwise... I'd try Bill Flegenheimer... used their Customs Svc. at LAX many years ago... Bob Fenner>

Halichoeres trispilus   11/21/07 Hi Bob, <Peggy> I was sent a Halichoeres trispilus (didn't order it), and I'm having trouble finding any information on it. I presume it's not reef-safe and feeds on inverts based on the very minimal info I've found. Can you provide some insight to this fish please? <I wish I did know... this is indeed a rarity amongst this super-genus... I did read on Fishbase re... 9 cm. long... I suspect as you state that this is an easier-going member of this usually placid genus... Sort of like the "Yellow Coris" (H. chrysus)... I further speculate that its husbandry is similar to all Halichoeres. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/halichoeres.htm and the linked files above> Many thanks. Peggy <Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Re: Halichoeres trispilus  11/21/07 Hi Bob, <Peg> Many thanks for your response. I had already been to WWM and scoured the pages for info on this fish, and also the information on fish base. It is strikingly similar to the H. chrysus but is half white (entire bottom) and half lemon yellow (entire top) and has 4 black spots from caudal area through dorsal. I introduced this fish to a 125-gallon show tank with mostly peaceful fish (there is a Six-Line) that also has a nice deep sandbed. I haven't seen him yet this morning, but he did only enter the tank at approximately 8:00 p.m. last night. I pray he's ok. I take it very personally when I lose a fish. <Ahh!> It doesn't happen very often. Will let you know how or if he fares! <Thank you> One of my peeves is receiving fish I didn't order, especially those that are either rare and not much is known about their care or they're predatory in nature. <Ah, yes... A VERY poor practice in our trade. NOT one common amongst what I term the "A" players... the best of our industry. No one should make "free" unordered animals, NOR make summary substitutions... In turn, such suppliers SHOULD contact their collectors, transhippers... and DEMAND that non-ordered life NOT be sent, indeed, NOT collected. Pardon my rancor here, please> I know my vendor meant well, however, sending me this beautiful fish. They take extremely good care of their fish and provide my store with magnificent specimens. <Ahh, good> Thanks again Bob, and do enjoy your turkey dinner! Peggy <Thank you my friend. Peace and good life to you and yours. Bob Fenner> Re: Halichoeres trispilus  11/21/07 You sound like me when I open boxes of fish and find something I didn't order! I rant and rave all over the store about having gotten something I didn't order. I have limited fish space because everything I do is reef-oriented, so I'm VERY careful about what I order. I NEVER order anything that won't fare well in captivity, and I think perhaps I turn customers away because of it because I just tell them it's irresponsible and some don't like it. I also ALWAYS put NO SUBSTITUTIONS on my order forms. It's infrequent that I get them, for which I'm thankful. I suspect this was my rep thinking he was sending this fish to a place he knew would do its best to care for it. <I see... am sure both you and I "wish" (as in "if wishes were fishes we'd all have full tanks)... that such issues could/would be better communicated... Perhaps in a better universe> Many thanks again for your prompt response Bob. I must again remark on what a downright nice individual you are. You are a blessing to the entire industry and all hobbyists. Peggy <Thank you my friend. BobF>

Interested in Touring Asian Wholesalers.  11/13/07 Hi Guys, <Rob> I am a pilot living in Chicago that works for a major airline in Japan and I have recently started a reef tank. I have also become an admitted reef-a-holic. <Happens...> I travel to such cities/countries as Japan, Singapore, Bangkok, and Hong Kong. On my layovers, I am interested in touring ornamental collection facilities as an interested hobbyist. Could you guys steer me in the right direction of some collectors out there that I may be able to visit. Their emails or websites would be appreciated. Thank you for your assistance. Rob Culen <I would use the "A" list of folks who are members of the OFI: http://www.ornamental-fish-int.org/ The green bar... "Membership"... you can search by country. I'd give them a call/email a week or so in advance, then one/two days ahead... Many places have "sorts of" tours... Most all folks in the trade are very accommodating. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Miami transhipper... wanting to piggy-back livestock from the Far East...   7/27/07 I was wondering if y'all knew of a good Miami based transhipper who imports from Malaysia or Singapore? <Yes... Dolphin International is the best here...> Im having a heck of a time finding someone who is willing to deal with a 3rd party transshipment.... <Third party?> which is understandable. My shipments average only 40-70kg on average so it can be cost prohibitive to import such a small quantity, <Ah yes... the economies of scale work against such puny volumes... the shipping, CITES, other paperwork... make it too expensive per unit...> and I don't have the space or resources to import larger quantities. I currently pay $140 per box (14kg weight limit, no repack) through an LA based company, plus shipping to me in Orlando. But they only import from Singapore and I import mostly from Malaysia, so it is hard to transport fish from Malaysia into Singapore as it adds cost. I import about once a month and I'm wanting to lower my costs (and prices) for my customers. Biggest problem though is that going from Singapore to LAX, then onto MCO I have several DOA issues, which is why I'm wanting to find a Miami based transhipper as it is only a 1 hour flight to me from there. This greatly reduces turn around time and hopefully will solve my DOA issues due to less time in the bag. Im willing to pay the same if a Miami transhipper can import from Malaysia and get the fish to me faster. That alone is worth the money. Please let me know. Thanks <Contact Steve Lundblad at their LA offices... Bob Fenner> -- -Ryan Orlando Discus

Introductions (well re-introductions), SW lvstk. importation biz.  -- 06/07/07 Hi Bob, <Aaron> Not quite sure if you remember me but we met some time back in Sacramento for a convention there (really the name of the convention escapes as I think I was pretty drunk then!) <Heeee!> Anyway to refresh your memory we talking a while about collecting stories there in Hawaii whilst in the hospitality room standing over the Keg sucking down some strong blonde! Ah good times :-) <Ah, yes.> Anyway, the reason for my email. I have owned an import business for about 10 years now and have been bringing in fish directly from Africa ( mostly Tanganyikan fishes) so am a little familiar with importing freshwater fish but have not ever imported saltwater fish so I am a little at a disadvantage in trying to do this. <Mmm, is in many ways similar... a few not so... Particularly the "singly bagged", fewer numbers, possibly much higher mortality...> I have been in contact with my supplier in Tanzania about him possibly collecting salt on the eastern coastline. He has never done it before nor has he even kept saltwater fish before ( he is VERY green!) I have asked him to try with my guidance. We both decided that he could try to do a couple of fish at first to be sent with my freshwater fish as samples. This way there shouldn't be too much risk involved. My problem is that I am unfamiliar with what species might occur from the area so any help you can give with regards to that would be great. <Ahh! Do take a look at the fantastic Database: fishbase.org... You can sort by geographic region/country, and re-sort the species by family... Not very much commonly sold in our trade hails from this area, BUT there are some real lookers that might be caught, imported... Do have your collector contact me if I may be of service in suggesting collection methods, gear et al.> On another note, I have a small facility set up with about a 2,000 gallon total saltwater system (both separate coral and fish). I do want to expand that another 1000 gallons on the coral side and add more live rock tanks as well an invert system. I know it isn't much gallon wise but want to try to start importing stuff from other places. I have tried getting stuff from SDC and PAF and have been quite happy with the product but I want to try to move more into the wholesale end of things here in the bay area. <Can be done... more economically... but, as you will find (the same as w/  FW) there are inherent risks, costs to bringing in your own... and you will  need to "scale" up your operation/volume, holding facilities to "make sense"  of whole livestock containers... and resale of same> I do have other clients currently that I sell my African fish to that are national and all have expressed an interest in getting fish from me since thy have been happy with the quality of the Africans I have been providing. Currently we have gotten some fish from my friend in Maui but that is all so far. <Oh! Good practice> I have spoken to some other sources in Indo but have not felt totally comfortable sending them a large order as I do not know them. I wonder if you would be willing in the future to help me out with some info/background into doing this. Thanks for any help. <Yes my friend. I will help you. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Aloha, Aaron Kerrigan

Re: Introductions (well re-introductions), Whlse. marine lvstk. biz  -- 06/08/07 Hi Bob, Thanks for all the insightful info. I looked on Fishbase this evening to get an idea of what might be in that region. Mostly stuff I would expect from most of the other countries around there. I was hoping for more of the red sea type stuff. <Unfortunately, no... The Red Sea (along with Hawai'i and the Sea of Cortez) has the highest degree of endemism (about a quarter of near-shore/reef/shallow water species are ONLY found in these locales... that is, not found elsewhere> I do see that there is some of that available though. Can you give me a idea of what sort of corals might be there or if they are even able to send the from there? <Mmm, all sorts... all the major/principal stony and soft coral families, genera...> Maybe there is an equivalent to fishbase for the coral as well? <Unfortunately, not as yet... but there are: http://cnidarian.info/data.cfm http://hercules.kgs.ku.edu/hexacoral/anemone2/index.cfm Which I use very often> I did receive an order of about 15 boxes from Hawaii last night and all went pretty well. At least know I can house 15 boxes of fish if need be with the current system. <Yes... but I hasten to add, the 50th State does pack very light... the livestock (coming from further away, so doesn't seem to make sense) will be about doubled per volume/boxes> Can you give me an idea of what amount of gallons I would need to be a true player and to be able to handle a container? <Mmm, about twice what you currently have... about 5k minimum if this was well-laid-out... including with a few hundred cubicles...> How many boxes in a container anyway? <Depends on the type of box (Coffins for HI for instance) and container... for an LD3. Am so bleary this AM can't seem to recall... I think it's 48 coffins and 72 double styros...> All The Best, Aaron <And to you. BobF>

Looking for importer   5/2/07 CONFIDENCE MARINE AQUATIC AFRICA <confidence_marine@yahoo.com> We are one of  marine fish exporters located in West Africa. Our company established since 2006 with modeling. We specialize in marine fish, invertebrate, crab, shrimp, soft coral, anemone and live rock. We have been shipping to Japan, all part of U.S.A., Italy and China. We also guarantee our lowest price. <Really... are you a member of the OFI?>      Our fishes in our farm come from various sea water through Ghana , such as  Kpone, Nungo, Keta, cape cost that are known to have many kinds of ornamental fish with all kinds of shapes and colors.   customer satisfaction is our aim;      The quality of being certain of our   Abilities <Will post your msg., email addr... But urge caution with anyone dealing with unknown suppliers. Do you have a website? Bob Fenner> Wholesale, Transhipper question   3/21/07 Hello WWM Crew, I have a very general question regarding dealing with wholesalers and transhippers. <Some slip and slide here twixt players...> I am considering starting up a production facility for freshwater ornamentals in Hawaii. However, I am concerned with shipping costs to the mainland <You are wise here> and would like to know the potential advantages or disadvantages of dealing with wholesalers vs. transhippers. I have seen some literature that suggests that direct marketing to retailers would be the best way to go. I was wondering if someone could shed a little light on this matter? It would be great to get some, "if I were in your shoes..." advice.  (Joe G.) <I do wish there were some sort of clear-cut definitions to be proffered here... Or even a "this is better" position to take, point out... However, "wholesalers" may well do little for their margin... or worse, simply delay the starvation and stress of provided livestock... themselves barely buying and re-shipping the stock... In the "real world" (what is this anyway?), I would seek out and deal with "real players"... What I call "A" players in our trade (I am unabashedly one)... and forego any dealing with non "A" players... yourself always striving to be one... Perhaps a trip to the upcoming Aquarama show in Singapore would be the best money you've ever invested here... Steve Lundblad of Dolphin International is an "A" player... and the largest transhipper of FW livestock on the planet... Bob Fenner>

Wholesaler Recommendation 9/8/04 Hi, Could you direct me to some reputable wholesalers for saltwater livestock and drygoods? Thanks Kelly -Corals and More <since any wholesaler is largely at the mercy of the variable nature of wild-caught organisms... its tough to say one is "best." They do not manufacture the fishes and corals they sell... and cannot assure which and what quality they will arrive in any given week. To the point... instead of looking for wholesalers, you should look for a professional "cherry picker" (AKA jobber) to select the best livestock from among the better wholesalers any given week for you. If you agree... do call Erik and Dennis Reynolds at Aqua Marines (www.am4fish.com). They are the oldest jobbers in LA... highly recommended by many folks, including me :). Aquarists looking to help their local shops and themselves in the process might pass this contact along. With kind regard to all, Anthony Calfo> Local SF Bay area wholesalers    5/3/06 Hi Crew,   I am currently ordering my stock from LA, I have accounts with SDC and Quality, but I would like to order locally if possible. I am only aware of Pan Ocean, but I'm suspecting there may be others. Any input would be greatly appreciated. keep up the great work!   Regards,   Alan <Am not familiar with sources in your area "well enough" to direct you. Do you have current editions of industry "Buyer's Guides"? You can order such, e.g., Pet Business Magazine's... via the Net. There are also possibilities, consideration due to considering transshipping with others in/about your area... Bob Fenner> Wholesale Business in Midwest Ohio?  - 06/30/06 Good morning Bob, <Another hot one here in San Diego, Rob> Hopefully you can help me out here. I might be crazy.... <I might be a butterfly/fish, dreaming I'm a petfish guy...> I've been in the hobby for quite a while now and have really enjoyed it. <Is a blast, eh?> I have run a small basement hobby shop for a while and have expanded to doing some e-tailing.  Due to my size, getting quality live stock at a good price is not easy. <Yes... "economies of scale/s" definitely exist, impact here> I have been dealing with wholesalers off 104th st with some success, but I feel better service is possible. <Mmm, and worse if you catch my drift/plankton> In central Ohio we have a decent amount of local fish stores, a few high end establishments.  With the retail market tapped out I started looking at the wholesale market. There are a few wholesale locations in the near area; Dayton, Lansing, Michigan, Illinois and a few other locations. While I have not visited all of these wholesale locations the few I have seem to be running a somewhat shoddy shop.  I feel with the right relationships with exporters a higher quality livestock can be brought into this location. <I am in agreement... though... see below please> The main issue, is import locations.  To my knowledge Chicago is the nearest location live stock can be imported. <This is correct... need Customs, brokering facilities and numerous International Air-freight flights...> I heard a rumor that Detroit also allowed FWS imports?  Do you have any info on this? <I don't know for sure, but have heard this rumor as well> Am I completely out of my mind to think it would be possible to setup a wholesale location here that will cater to local retail outlets in the tri-state area? <Is possible>   Do you have any recommendations on importing? Dealing with customs brokers, freight forwarders? <A proverbial "zillion"... Not an easy business to do, be involved in... I must (just cuz it's in my nature) hasten to mention a/the "Opportunity" costs involved in such an enterprise... that is, what one might otherwise do with ones resources (e.g. money, time, patience... and so much more). My fave way of putting this, "what else might you do" that would likely grant you as much/more "return on investment", "effort" with as little acceptable "potential for loss"... at least disaster-proof large losses?  This is a germinal question... I truly enjoy our interest, both hobby, business and scientific, but chose (decidedly, as in "nothing is decided till it's done", to go another full-tilt investment route (securities and real estate) and was able to "retire" (as folks say I now can't imagine having time for a job) back in '94 as a con/subsequent possibility... I have been a part of helping design, build-out, otherwise establish such wholesale facilities (and collecting stations, retail outlets...) around the world these last four decades... and so still have sensibilities re what is involved, the players, the relatively low ROI and high risks entailed... Is the potential for "fun", enjoyment, self-satisfaction "worth" the trials, noise, trouble of such an enterprise? Each/you must decide for yourself. I would (at this juncture) only wish that you engage yourself with full knowledge of what is entailed. I would definitely visit first-hand all the wholesale operations in the area... as well as those on 104th/LAX... for ideas on their set-ups, operations... I would read (thoroughly) the brief offerings on WWM's Aquatics Business subweb, detailing for yourself the "5 critical elements" (Go Rin No Sho)... and start looking for those key personnel, set-up, location, finance, stock/sources... as well as your "operations manual" of how you intend to do what you'll do...> I plan on working on developing direct relationships with the exporters by visiting them each personally prior to selection. <In their countries of origin... a good idea>   Hopefully this will give me a small edge when it comes to the selection of livestock. <A huge and necessary one... Plan on re-visiting them annually.> Thanks for your time and I really appreciate your help. -Rob <Am very glad to help... Your and others success is critically important to me, my/our goals in aiding others in their respective success in our fields of interest, business. Bob Fenner> FW Commercial fish DOA rates  06/14/2006 Bob, <Jeff> I look up to you as an industry icon! <Heee! Thank goodness... someone shorter in stature than moi!> I have a question. When receiving shipments from domestic (within the U.S.) suppliers of freshwater fish, what percentages would be normal in terms of DOA and what percentages would indicate a clear out of the norm or atypical result due to netting stress, bagging, shipping stress? Thanks, Jeff <What a good/difficult question... Well... let's see/state that with some "lighter" packing, preparation of livestock, such mortalities could/would be reduced appreciably. That said, there are going to be some incidental losses due to the vagaries of handling, collection... many variables. But how much is tolerable/acceptable? Many folks in the trade have a policy of shipping a few percent more specimens than ordered to make up for such losses... For others there is a contractual limitation, requiring calling, documentation, perhaps photographic evidence to verify substantial (whatever this is) losses for credit/replacement consideration. Okay, all this being qualified, I do think more than a few percent in any given number, species lost is too much. Large/r losses foretell more trouble coming... What's worse than "trying to sell out of an empty cart?"... having ones systems filled with up with obvious or not sick, unsaleable livestock! Anywho, "things" happen order to order, shipment to shipment, so tis necessary to be communicative (not the disease) and talk with your suppliers should there be troubles or no.     Well, in retrospect, the question itself was rather easy... it's the response which is hard to understand. Bob Fenner>

Help Needed in dealing with wholesalers 5/14/06 Bob, <Steve> I am reaching out to you in hopes that you could provide some insight or direction.  I currently operate an "e-tail" business selling corals, fish and invertebrates.  I am facing two issues that if I can not overcome - I fear there would be no way to continue operation.  I am located on the east coast in Pennsylvania and am struggling to find quality wholesalers that will deal with me.  When I got into this business I promised that I would maintain the highest quality of livestock or I would not exist at all. <Not an easy biz... a good, long "learning curve", small margins... and many marginal players...> Unfortunately due to not having a brick and mortar location many of the quality wholesalers will not do business with me, which has lead me to deal mainly with transhippers. <Can be a real proverbial "crap-shoot"... many long hours, highly variable vitality/survivability-mortality, quality...> I am only able to obtain wild colonies which with methods for collection combined with shipping all the way from places like Tonga to Philadelphia international airport, there tends to be very high levels of loss - sometimes up to 2/3rds of an order. <At times even higher...> I would like to deal with wholesalers and perhaps even employ a jobber to assist in the selection of my livestock.  I wondered if you were aware of any that work with e-tailers? <Have you tried FishHeads as a jobber? I would ask the folks at Sea Dwelling Creatures and Underwater World, Pacific Aquafarms... all in/about 104th street, LAX...> I abide by any and all minimum order levels that a retail location would be held to.  If you could assist me in this matter I would be forever grateful. Best Regards, Steve Fauth 6 Feet REEF <I do hope/trust these fine folks will deal with you (have known all for many years). Contact info. can be found in Buyer's Guides, the Net... am out in HI, away from my ref.s. Bob Fenner> H-town livestock wholesalers, SW  - 09/10/06 Bob, do you know of any wholesalers in Texas other than Reefsavers? Will be going down for MACNA and would like to pick some fish/corals for our shop, but RS doesn't allow walk-ins. thanks, Joe <Mmm, don't know much of anything re the folks there since way back when Fritz tanked with all their operations... See you then/there though... and we can ask around re. BobF, in Jamaica presently or would look in the industry mag.s "Buyer's Guides" re>

C-Quest new Toll free number. Note, this is a wholesale marine livestock supplier, not selling to consumers  9/21/06 Bob, <Hi Barrie!> It is Barrie here, from C-Quest.  I just wanted to drop you a quick note to give you some updated information.  I've set up a new telephone number for people to contact us at.  The number is 1-888-4-TANKRAISED.  Which is 1-888-482-6572.  I'm trying to get this info out to as many people as possible and if you have the opportunity to pass it along that would be great. I'm actually down in Puerto Rico visiting the hatchery right now and having a blast.  I've been to do quite a bit of really amazing snorkeling right off the coast.  Fun Stuff! <Oh yes!> I'll be back in California some time next week and I plan on making a road trip down to San Diego to visit some stores.  I'd be interested in meeting up for some ribs. <Oh! Do please call me: 858 549 XXXX for this and I'll show you about (we only have a few stores that deal with marines unfortunately... but two or three might be your target customer. I'll call about, make sure the decision makers are about... BobF> Take care, Barrie

Wholesalers that deal with small outfits? Hi whoever may answer this, I tried this on WWF and no one answered so... I have been trying to work this tank in this city, Albuquerque, and yesterday I talked to a newer store and couldn't believe it. I had bad luck with an online Jawfish (probably shipping stress-- lived for about a week and never ate), anyway I found a local store. They were serious when they said they would order one (unlike the rest of the places around here). The guy, though I don't think the owner, is a REAL enthusiast and insists on keeping the Jawfish a full two weeks in a tank by himself. He wants him eating and settled before I take him. I am way too happy about this!! <sounds like a fine retailer to support> But gosh the folk around here are living in the dark ages. The way they get saltwater fish is: they make out an order send it to a second company. This company has no tanks. The day they get the delivery from CA, they go out in their pickup and deliver. So the fish have to go thru a longer stressful shipping day then usual.  <not at all uncommon> It also ups the cost of the fish. I was wondering if you all would know of someone who deals with smaller orders (maybe $120-200)? I told him about Quality Marine and ORA (I think ORA at least deals with small orders?) <many companies will... tell your dealer to subscribe to a good trade magazine like Pet Age, Pet Supplies Marketing or Pet Business. They have hundreds of pages of contacts and distributors. But his best bet is actually to go to LA at least one time and tour the hottest spot for wholesalers on 104th street. All of the big boys are there... QM, SDC, WSI, etc. It will be the best investment in his marine sections... actually meeting and seeing the suppliers. Order from there. Better yet, look up a fish picker in LA to pay $30-50 hr/order to cherry pick your order for you... trained eyes and ears picking the best and healthiest fish rather than minimum wage workers filling remote orders> I think the business would go up-- as everybody I have met here orders online just because they can't find what they want. If they could they would not deal with shipping costs. This is also a small town in some ways, word will get around. Also do you know of any resources for modernizing? They bought the shop from someone else and they have UGF, separate tanks (though the separate tanks are nice for my Jawfish-- not so nice for keeping up), and Skilters!! <yes... attending the national trade shows and conferences are the best place to see technologies and get samples/ideas... MACNA is in Dallas this September... HH Backer has several shows yearly... other organizations have many on the West Coast. Your LFS needs to get more involved with the business side of his trade (starting with the above listed mag.s for contacts and show dates)> (That is more or less typical here, btw). I don't think they have RO as the guy says he fights diatoms all the time. I hope you can help, we are getting a nice little aquarium group started here, so I know there is interest in having at least one good source for fishies and inverts. <excellent to see you helping them get on the right foot!> Thanks,--des <Anthony>

Re: "the business" - Part 2 Hey Anthony, Thanks for your prompt reply! I think the elusive goal of life is to make a living doing something you love...unfortunately that isn't always so easy! <agreed and agreed> Well, I think you guys have done well, and I respect you for it. <thanks kindly my friend> Regarding my previous email, I would have to disagree with you on a few points.  The available flights and distance between Cairo, Egypt to DFW is actually a shorter distance and flight than to LAX!   <alas, you are still missing the point bud, in part my fault due to/limited by the brevity of e-mail. Beyond transit time you must reckon the rigors of transport in unheated cargo wells through the tropical pacific to a warm destination (LA or Miami) versus the decidedly cooler path various shipments must traverse to get to Detroit (through London for many... over Canada for some! Brrrrrr!). With over ten years experience importing animals... I'll take 25 hours shipping tropicals through the tropics versus 20 hours via a latitude north of New York any day <G>.> I am still trying to hammer down a flight plan that would be less than 20 hours (I'm down to about 39 hours so far).   <the higher prices and higher mortality of Tonga shipments for example is because it takes around 30 hours to get anywhere civilized in America on import. Shipments over 20 hours are killing animals unnecessarily. You can trust me, doubt me or better yet talk to others that have done the same math for a consensus my friend. I assure you that you will make more profit and kill fewer animals by buying higher priced healthy livestock that has been held at a wholesaler, rather than purchasing a whole lot of stressed and dying cheaper animals transshipped direct. I'm not sure how/if you figure that Detroit is the closest place for Red Sea at 39 hours. Most Red Sea comes into the East coast (a little New York, most Miami> Sri Lanka is also physically closer to Detroit than Los Angeles, although not by much.   <again... the temperature in transit issue. There really is a reason why the majority of marine wholesalers are in California. You can live or die by the numbers... but the numbers will not lie> I have not researched the flight times there yet.  A and M Aquatics (a wholesaler) in Lansing, Michigan often carries a large selection of Hawaiian, Red Sea, and Caribbean fish.  There are also wholesale facilities in Bloomington, Minneapolis (Salt H2O Headquarters).  Also, APET inc. in Illinois, Holiday Coral in Indiana.   <No sale... you've named three. You can name 10X more and it will still be pale by comparison. The only reason these places exist is Detroit being one of 5 (7) legal ports of entry (and forwarding flights) for CITES listed animals. That still does not mean their rates of mortality and morbidity aren't higher. Making a profit and making an honest profit are sometimes two very different things. I am very aware of the wholesalers you have mentioned. You too can get the industry scoop at the trade shows and conferences <G>> These are all legit operations with decent facilities (I've seen many of them).   <OK... I'll stop trying to persuade you. Just tell me what you want to hear ;) > I would never consider transshipping fish, as most (if not all) pet stores simply do not have the time or resources to acclimate the fish correctly.   <agreed> I believe corals can be transshipped, if care is taken to be selective in the species that are shipped.   <this is a barely truthful assessment which I begrudgingly agree with. Severe limitations though> Most transhippers I have had experience with have little knowledge of the animals they are "shipping", and care even less if you have DOA's! <I'm starting to wonder if it has rubbed off> They are not a model for my business! I realize that you should not recommend that anyone import wild caught animals for a living.  I hope that legislation will not just shut down our industry outright.  But our industry is unfortunately responsible for damage to reefs, and the forces that may ultimately destroy natural reefs are much harder to regulate! <OK> It is not my intention to form a large scale wholesale business.  But rather to form a high-quality small scale business.   <sounds good... be sure to form and revisit a good business plan often> I see too many fish that come in starving and diseased from large wholesalers. I hope that by focusing on smaller shipments, feeding and treating disease intensively, I can have higher quality fish.  I can then sell these fish to my maintenance customers (with more of an assurance they will live!), and sell the rest to select stores, or online. <cool> I have always tried to "do my part" to encourage propagation and captive-bred specimens, buying coral frags from customers, supplying the store with my own, trading frags with friends, etc. <excellent... although you are preaching to the converted :) > Doh! another long email...sorry =) <no worries> One more thing....after hearing your talk, I got rid of all my powerheads, and put a Gen-X pump on a closed loop in my tank.  That lowered the temp. by 4 degrees! Now I can run my halides longer, plus I have more water flow! <its a beautiful thing! great to hear my friend <G>> The comment on Caulerpa sp. algae also explains why Acropora don't survive very well in our store Ecosystem reef!   <yes... amazing. The proof is in the pudding as they say> Guess we'll have to set up a special tank for those! Brett <best regards, bud... do chat more with us at MACNA 03 if we do not see you before then. Anthony>

"The business" - Part 3 hey again Anthony, Go to sleep! =)   <ha! Vampire shift <G>... somebody has to keep the WWM mail train running round the clock :) > Seriously, your dedication to the hobby is admirable.    Thanks for your input (again!).   <and thank you for caring to know my/our opinion my friend> I based my conclusions on distances between the Red Sea, DFW, and LAX on physical estimates ("as the crow flies"), which is but a rough estimate  compared to the reality of airline flight schedules.   <understood and agreed we have to start somewhere> Unfortunately, climate  control of airline compartments has yet to be initiated (except for pharmaceuticals and haz. chemicals, the folks that have big bucks!). <I hear you my brother!> I would definitely agree that shipping from a tropical location to a temperate location presents problems.  I thought that water quality concerns were more important (pH and ammonia) than temperature.   <both are valid and significant concerns with varying effects on morbidity, mortality of marine life. Take the surgeonfish for example: studies have shown that they can take a 10 degree increase in temperature before showing rates of stress induced Ich infection that can be instigated with as little as a 3 degree drop in temperature. The ocean as we know it is remarkably stable in temperature. Dr Carlson told me one time that he dove water in Fiji that was 85F at 75 foot!!! Yep... stable water temps are a biggie. Agreed though, that other parameters of water quality are equally important and some more so> I really don't want to tell you what I want to hear,   <heehee... you were starting to scare me with the sales pitch in the last e-mail> I just would prefer a discussion, rather than just hearing an opinion.  And, it's just more fun to argue! =) <you're married? :p > Well I'm past the point of writing good email...I'm off to dreams of snorkeling in the south pacific.... Thanks again! Brett <ciao, bub... and best of luck. Anthony>

Corals for German Distributor Dear Thomas, Thank you for your e-mail dated 30 December. Ornamental Fish International is an international aquatic industry organization with members in 40 countries. As such, we do not, ourselves, deal with the import or export of fish, plants, corals, etc. However, please visit our website (www.ornamental-fish-int.org) where, among other things, you will find a full listing of our members under the Members' Directory section. Please feel free to contact any of them. With best wishes. John JOHN DAWES SECRETARY GENERAL ORNAMENTAL FISH INTERNATIONAL APARTADO DE CORREOS 129, 29692 SABINILLAS, MANILVA, MALAGA, SPAIN. TEL:+34 95 289 1975 FAX: +34 95 289 0895 E-MAIL: ofidawes@compuserve.com www.ornamental-fish-int.org <Thank you for the follow-up John. Bob Fenner>

Wholesale startup... Hi folks, <Hello> I'm wondering if anyone can guide me in the right direction on what I need to prep for a wholesale start-up for tropical fishes (fresh and salt), corals and live rocks, on the legal side? I currently reside in California and I need to find out what's legal or illegal to import.  Also, there might be some restriction on livestock from certain countries and the like. Any input is appreciated. Thanks in advance... <Whoa! There is MUCH to learn... and confluent with my "working philosophy" of offering help "appropriately" I/we need to not start "en media res" (in the middle of things)... there are other critical (as in deadly) aspects of this potential venture to know well... other than the legal side (there are laws, CITES, forms-a-plenty to fill out for import, often from exporting countries), but relationships to build (there are crooks in our trade, incompetents, non-A players... to sort through, discover, befriend)... What is your background in the industry? Do you have time to work for someone else for a few months? I WOULD NOT continue forward w/o this valuable experience (I won't be party to helping you fail, but will gladly introduce you to friends who are "doing what you want to do"). Bob Fenner>

Re: wholesale startup... Bob, <Steve> Thanks a bunch for your prompt reply and invaluable advice. I apologize for not being able to get back any sooner... Back to the subject, I don't intend to do this "big" at all... <Let's continue this conversation in a broad manner (for posterity, others edification). There is no way to "do this not big"... there is a severe "economy of scale" working against small-timers... the net-landed cost of small shipments (less than LD-3's) is enormously more per shipment, per organism... you won't be able to compete unless you can justify the one-shot costs of paperwork, CITES, the freight cost per kilo at container, 500 kilo rates...> I'm really thinking of running this setup at home (garage or something), with a 3 - 5 hundred gallon reef setup. I happen to know some foreign suppliers who can get me great prices on live stock and rocks. <We would need to define "great"... you'll soon find that there are many hidden and opportunity costs to "bringing in your own" livestock> I only intend to be a supplier of LFS around my neighborhood. Only thing to sort out really are the logistics of import/export. <I hope you have patience... for missed, delayed flights... and plenty of capital> I 'm currently checking with California Fish & Game,  Food and Agriculture and USDA, especially for species that are protected and prohibited...Do you see any issue here? <No real issue with the State, Fed.s... the real issues are human in general... as you will soon fully realize. Good luck my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance for your time in this... Cube holding systems for marine fish wholesalers   12/27/06 Hi Bob, <Kent> Just wondering if you can suggest some manufacturers of holding systems for marine fish wholesalers -- we are looking for systems that hold the fish in individual cubes and we haven't been able to locate any manufacturers other than RK2 as yet -- it's difficult to get information from down here in Australia. Best regards, Kent <Glad to help you... the very best units I've encountered were produced for Quality Marine/LA... when Phil Shane owned/ran it... these are individually serviced/drained for water, have separate hinged covers.... and have one side bead-blasted/obscured (very important) that reduces aggression/view from one side/animal to the next... Phil told me he somehow had this "patented"... Am going to cc the current owner/manager here and ask that he respond to you re the possibility of sending this technology or product... Otherwise, the Krechter brothers of RK2 (will BCC them as well), TMC in the UK (ditto) are companies that I know to be competent and honest in the fabrication of such in our trade. Bob Fenner> Coral Collecting and Supply Business   10/27/06 Dear Bob, <Alan> I believe you are the best person I can ask for advice. I live near the sea in Malaysia and have easy access to coral reefs. I've been dreaming of letting up a business to supply corals to LFS in Malaysia and Singapore LFS. I'm able to find a place to set up a holding facility for the livestock's, and also know about CITES regulations and stuffs. <Good... all necessary elements> But I'm not sure if this idea is viable in the long run especially when the market outlook isn't as good as it used to be. What do you think? <Hard to impossible to predict, but I do believe (with confidence) that there is still "room" for such an endeavour...> And furthermore it seems like the demand for livestock is more inclined towards exotics these days, of which I'm not confident of finding them in abundance in my collecting area. Maybe I just have to dive deeper instead of hanging out at shallow lagoons. Do you think this business can be done? I feel like quitting my job to do this full-time. Any words of wisdom and suggestion is appreciated. Thanks and have a nice day. <Mmm... it is a very good idea to be able to sample ones market... after defining such... and determine what will sell better, best... But having dived, visited both countries, I am sure there is a good mix of species to be had, perhaps cultured... Very many other important aspects to understand thoroughly (collecting, holding, bagging/shipping) and critical relationships to forge with suppliers, customers, the airlines... Do you have specific industry experience? My usual strong suggestion here to "try this on someone else's dime/Ringgit/Sing. Dollar... ahead of making a large monetary/time investment of ones own. Bob Fenner>

Re: Coral Collecting and Supply Business  - 10/25/06 Hi again Bob, thanks for the speedy reply. <Certainly welcome> Unfortunately I have no business experience as I was brought up and trained to work for others in a tiny room :( <Mmm... this knowledge is not hard to gain... you obviously have drive and intelligence... and a capacity with written English> I was thinking of trying out first by selling a batch of corals to this buyer in Singapore, and then see how things goes. He has expressed interest only in the popular corals like exotic zoanthids and Ricordea Yumas, so I have no choice but to deliver what he or the market wants. <This could be a good start for sure> My greatest concern in the long run would be price competition from Indonesia side as they have greater varieties of corals and low price due to the weak Indon.. currency. Perhaps I have to come up with some USP? (Unique Selling Points). <Yes... and quality and service should be your by-words... Bob Fenner> Import License - 10/22/2006 Hello Bob and crew, <Greg>   I am starting a wholesale marine facility in Pennsylvania.  So far it is going great!  Do I need an import license from USFW to import live rock and corals directly from Jakarta, Indo, Soloman Islands, etc.? <Mmm, not as far as I'm aware... will need to apply for CITES clearance each shipment> I have the suppliers, but do not want to forward money before I get this cleared up. <Mmm... a comment... unless you know the folks involved VERY well, I would NOT send money... a wire transfer can be arranged to be more or less simultaneous with the shipments... or better still, a credit issued pending....> Also, would it be best to have the shipments arrive first in LAX, clear customs, then forward to Philadelphia or Newark?   <You'll want to check re the time frames and cost of each... I would enlist the help of a freight forwarder in all cases> Should I contact a customs broker for this?   <Yes... there are prominent ones that deal in our trade at every airport that receives livestock. BobF, in Indonesia presently>  

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