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FAQs about the Business of Livestock Importing & Tran-shipping

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

Does matter how, where you buy from...

Transship Contacts        3/30/16
I recently decided to open an aquarium store after having such a poor experience looking for a LFS in our town.
<Mmm; I do hope there's more to your venturing here>
The two decent shops had sold to new owners who both could not handle an business and both shut down.
Right now there is only one shop in the city that supported 4 good sized specialty aquatics stores just a few years ago. I feel I can get most of my fish from wholesalers however I would like to transship corals and some freshwater fish that are hard to find these days, mostly South American fish.
<Transshipping is not for the light-hearted.... lots, make that MANY sources of trouble, potential losses involved. What is your time worth? Do think about this... and tying up your resources; money, tank space; in high numbers of organisms in order to make it worthwhile? Do you have an idea of what's involved in receiving wild-collected, imported livestock? I've worked in the trade for more than fifty years, studied assiduously my whole adult life... and barely have a beginning of useful knowledge, technique...>
It was easy to find the best dry goods suppliers, I just called and bought direct. Unfortunately fish do not come with labels stating where they were manufactured! If this is something you can assist me with I would appreciate it greatly.
<Let's have you read on WWM's Business SubWeb. Start here:
Scroll down to the "Livestock" tray...>
We have the space and tanks to handle large coral shipments,
<A whole can, LD3? Fifty some boxes?>
but I do not feel we have an adequate space to take large fish orders to make transshipped fish worth the effort for us at this time.
Thank You,
<And, we'll be chatting. Read for now. Bob Fenner>
Re: Transship Contacts       3/31/16

Thank You.
<Again; welcome>
I will be sure to let you know when we make our first LA trip!
<Ah, good. Am still friends w/ many of the folks in the trade; do try to get up and bug the LA folks every few months>
We are going to do some initial orders before going to LA to test out new systems. So far I feel comfortable with Sea Dwelling creatures and I will get in touch with PAF!
<Do add Quality Marine to your list. They're a bit more money, but worth every dime. They, TMC in the UK (mostly) and DeJong in the Netherlands, are the best outfits on the planet. Best collectors, SOPs...>
Thank you again
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Transship Contacts       3/31/16

QM is on the list. I have everything set up and have been in contact with my salesman. They will not release a price list until our retail location is up and running.
<Yes; and you may have to send in your resale license... They may not even be adding new customers. Happens>
Right now I have a warehouse full of tanks waiting on final city approval before we can actually set up. The Government must get their pound of flesh before we make a sale!
<And arms and legs, plasma ongoing. B>

For Bob: Transship Clams      8/10/13
Hi Bob,
I'm talking to Len Liebrand of New Age Aquatics about brining in some Tridacna clams, Max & Croceas.  Do you know him - reputable - concerns about transshipping?
<Only be reputation... am very dubious re Tridacnid transshipping... Many dire issues... poor mantle colour; high mortality... imported w/
untreatable disease (esp. pinched mantle, pests...>
I've never transshipped before & invite any insight/advice you might provide.
<The long and short of it/this is that I wouldn't do it/this... In fact, I would leave off w/ this sort
of dealing period; until and at least till you have a HUGE need for the several boxes that are involved. Please have a read here:
Re: For Bob: Transship Clams      8/11/13

Bob, you are a love for taking time out of your busy schedule to write me.
<Heeee! During delicious lunch!>
I sincerely appreciate it & will take your advice to be patient & continue looking.  SDC is currently one of my suppliers & I will establish communication with PAF next week.
<Ah, good. You are welcome to mention my name as one of your industry contacts>
Many thanks again my friend.
<Ahh, the pleasure. BobF>

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>
Re: Bob!  I want to exploit your wholesale experience!  12/10/11

Sorry for the delayed "thank you"!  I blacked out around Monday and suddenly came back to comprehensive awareness this Friday evening.
 <Whoa! I hope the blacking out is a euphemism>
Always top notch from you and the crew.   I appreciate the insight.  The facility itself is currently very small.  One day perhaps.  Skipping the middle man is always the ideal route with the purchase of any product. 
I've seen a max of 5 boxes the size you suggested, but this is generally filled by pre-order participation from local hobbyists. 
 <Ahh, yes.... and trans-ship boxes are far more concentrated>
Gotta run, my cat is screaming and the dogs have a squirrel trapped in the corner of the fence. 
 <Heeee! Obladi oblada>

Wholesale/Transship Q's 3/1/10
Dear WWM Crew:
My husband and I have been in the hobby for (combined) 36 years and we have decided to open a small basement E-tailer store for coral, fish, and maybe some dry goods (most likely fragging equipment).
<Ahh! Still a viable business proposition... "done right">
We've been talking to a friend of ours that has been doing roughly the same thing, but it seems that getting into the business is a real hush, hush thing, and when I ask questions I get the run around (answers to some Q's but not others). I'm a very to the point person -- just tell me what I need to do and I'll do it.
In any event, we've gotten our DBA and EIN, working on state tax stuff. I have "applied" to a few wholesale/transhippers and I get nearly zero response.
<The "A" players are wont to take on much in the way of "independents", some even just unknown new customers period. There's a huge bit of lagging ARs and poor people/practices going on currently in our country>
I think this is very unfair since I fax them my credit card number, SSN, etc (sensitive info!). If they don't want to deal with me, why give me the run around?
<Too many have been "burned"... Better to best by far to "haul out" (after making an appointment) and physically visit, glad-hand the folks you want to, will be dealing with. My earnest promise/pledge, I will meet with you in LA and environs w/ these folks if you'd like an introduction. I make this offer as an earnest desire to further the industry>
I work full time during the week, so it's very hard to pick up the phone and call from my office (kind of feels like double dipping to me). I have e-mailed both of them to say, "please e-mail me so I know some one has picked up my documents from the fax" but nothing. So, what's up with that?
<Perhaps poor behavior on the people you're contacting's part. Might I ask (off line or no) whom this is?>
FINALLY over this past weekend, I got a ton of prices lists from a company that I never even applied to. How did they get my e-mail address?
<Mmm, some of the folks in the trade will send such "work" to smaller companies, competitors...>
I would assume that they want to do business with me if they sent the lists, right?
The other thing is they sent an excel sheet that is called "international export/import fee charge" and it gives dollar amounts that say "per shipment". I'm attaching so you see what I mean.
<I see, have seen such many times>
Is this something I have to pay in addition to the other fees they state at the top of their price lists (attaching one as well) every time I purchase coral and fish? Seems pretty crazy to me.
<These are largely government tax/confiscatory issues... Someone has to pay... you need to be large enough, established enough, to justify the volume dealing to parse out all these costs (and a margin for profit of course)... Customs, CITES et al. permits, freight/forwarding, (re)boxing et al. charges are par for the course for transhipping/importing. Retailers pay these as a part of all wholesale livestock purchases.>
Any way, thanks so much for your time and help on this (especially over the years!). We both want this to be fun, but so far (besides looking at all those wholesale lists!) it's not so fun.
<Is indeed a grind in many ways... and definitely not for the part-timer, folks who can't really stand a good deal of stress and strain. Shipments "get lost", sometimes there's a great deal of DOAs, mis-dealings... not for the feint of heart for sure>
Many, many thanks,
S.E. Michigan
PS: See you all at MACNA Orlando!!
<Ahh! Do make it known if I may be of further assistance. Bob Fenner>
Re: Wholesale/Transship Q's 3/1/10
Thanks for the info Bob. The people I contacted (use your discretion in making this public) were Leader Aquatics and Golden Ina .
<Don't know either of these outfits well enough to comment>
I faxed them both early last week, and while I understand Golden Ina says "allow 3-4 days processing if you have no trade references" I feel that a simple, "yep, we've got your info and we're processing" would be nice. The one company that did respond rather fast was Randy at Coral Fish Hawaii, but he told me that there is a 5 box minimum and at this point we cannot hold that many fish comfortably or humanely, so purchasing from him will have to wait.
<Oh, Randy Fernley and I know each other quite well. He's a fine fellow.
Honest and competent. And a super scuba diver. Five boxes is really "very little"... unless you can get to the point/size of regularly handling full containers... you'll be behind...>
The one that did contact me with the lists is "Fish in the Bag". I would love to deal with them as their kg, box, cities and other charges are reasonable, but it's that $495 international import/export fee that is so high. Maybe this doesn't make sense to me, but why charge fees on top of fees?
<Is the current nature of the biz... Again, someone/all have to pay one way or the other>
Why list the costs at the top of the spread sheets (attached) for these items and then charge again...or is that just an example of what they could be in that last sheet I sent?
<This is "it"... Better to tell folks the up-front costs at the beginning.
They are costs per shipment that have to be met...>
Sorry if these questions are a pest. I deal with the federal gov't on a daily basis and find them to be a pain to, "just tell me what you want from me already with out a run around!" ;)
<... there is TOO much gov't period. The U.S. is coming to an end ala the Soviets as a direct result, and has been more indirectly for decades>
We may take you up on your offer for a "meet and greet" on the west coast.
<Good. Do just write, give me an indication of time/s you're available. I will drive up from San Diego to meet you, or you're welcome to come/visit here and we'll go up together. Really>
We'll have to find some time when we're all available. Until then, we'll rendezvous with you at MACNA in Orlando this year for sure. First drink is on us. :)
<Oooh, now you're talking. Cheers, BobF>
Thanks again,

Help, transshipping   6/3/08 Hello Bob and Crew, <Dan> I have been directed here by a friend of mine who has helped me start the transshipping business. His name is Doug McConkey from Quality Handcaughts. He is no longer in business and has not been for some time. He has given me all his contacts and so far we have been growing at a good rate. Not too fast due to the competition in the market here in Vancouver BC Canada. I own and operate ConKayde Reef and Marine Inc. We have not been around for very long but as previously mentioned we are growing. <Laudable in this economy> We currently bring stock in from Indonesia, Philippines, Cuba, <Neat!> and occasionally Sri Lanka. We receive excellent quality for the 10-15 stores I deal with between BC and Saskatchewan however Our biggest problem really breaking into this is we are having an extremely hard time finding a Fiji , Red Sea, and Hawaii supplier to round out getting the most wanted stocks. <Mmm, Red Sea... is going to be tough... You really need to be much larger/have more volume to make this make economic sense> Fiji is just due to the fact that the only one I know of (Walt Smith) deals with another competitor here so will not deal with me as well. <There are a handful of other operators there... none as good as Walt, but...> as for Hawaii I have tried FOUR different suppliers (Pacific Aquatics, Rufus (kaiohi), Wayne's Ocean World, and the last was RT Distributors.) of which not one has finished a transaction. We have gotten all the way to orders in and then NOTHING again. Red Sea well I just cannot find any info for anyone there. <Mmm, try Randy Fernley of Coral Fish Hawaii... for input... his contact info. can be found on WWM or elsewhere> I am wondering if you perhaps would not know a RELIABLE and sure supplier for Hawaii and possibly Fiji and Red Sea? <W/o knowing you better, no. My naming is taken as an endorsement... I don't do such> Doug has said you were one of the most helpful and knowledgeable people he has ever met in this industry. <I consider myself such as well> I will be leaving for Densepar Indonesia in two days so I will look for any replies when I get back ten days later. I so far have tried to make frequent visits to my suppliers as to insure proper quality and handling/shipping as to give the livestock the best chances for survival and quality to my customers. <An excellent practice!> Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you as I have read the past "chats" with people I have know or dealt with including Doug and Thomas Heeger. Thank you. Cheers Dan Meeks ConKayde Reef and Marine 778-384-4013 or 604-504-4011 <Let us continue chatting... perhaps I can introduce you to some other possibilities over time. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help, transshipping lvstk, mar.   - 6/3/08 Wow thank you Bob for the quick reply. Thank you for your praise. I am relatively young in this industry in terms of age(34) as well as how new we are. Yes Red Sea has been an issue. I have contacted Issham aquatics in Saudi Arabia however they state they do not have enough stock to begin shipping to me over here. <I have heard, know this as well> Aquamarines has red sea in from time to time and if it falls within schedule we try to do it. It is EXTREMELY expensive after seeing what the direct pricing is from Issham. <Yes... you need to buy (more) directly> I have Extended family in Africa and we are setting something up there and Australia as well so you can see I am trying to be very diverse. <A good trait> I will not accept anyone collecting by use of cyanide I.E. why we are making our best efforts to go to each supplier to "check them out" as one would say to make sure they are practicing what we are preaching lol. <I have helped put up quite a few collecting stations... and encourage the practice of frequent visiting... Done by TMC, QM...> Of course I would not use your name as a reference unless asking to do so first. <Appreciate this... but is impossible, improbable at least not to. I ALWAYS BCC all whom I mention...> I have found Randy's info but there seem to be several numbers for him. <Do contact him. Feel free to mention my name> I guess I will go through each until I find the correct one lol. Now on that note. you say to call him...for reference as he may know someone? <Mmm> or he does this himself? <Both... he may well be able to greatly assist you... with Micronesian fishes (e.g. Flames), other "moving cans about" matters> I fully understand using another's endorsement usually becomes a direct correlation should something go bad and not one but both persons look bad. I thank you for any and all information you have and would provide. If you have any questions please feel free to ask or any suggestions for me to hear. Time is dwindling down before I leave. I look forward to hearing from you. <And I in meeting you> After I come back I will be here for two weeks and then off to LA. I think we are scheduled to try and come over to Hawaii in September whether we have found a proficient supplier by then or not. <Oh! Do make the itinerary known to me. I own prop. on the Big Island, travel there often... perhaps we can meet up there. BobF> Thank you. Cheers Dan Meeks ConKayde Reef and Marine  

Need Bali or Philippines fish transhipper in Los Angeles  11/6/07 Can you recommend a good Indonesian arena fish trans-shipper that operates around LAX? Thanks, Tara <Mmm, how large is your operation? Really, how many boxes can/do you want to handle in a given shipment? Can you take a whole LD3/can? I might try Fred Ong at UWW off 104th... Bob Fenner>

Re: Need Bali or Philippines fish transhipper in Los Angeles 11/07/07 I am just looking for two boxes of fish, for breeding purposes, that are impossible to come by at my LFS and are not on any of the wholesaler lists, but are on the exporters current price lists that I receive from Bali and the Philippines. I do not yet have my importers license yet, and so am just a lowly LFS consumer. Any advice? Cheers! <Yes... contact Eric Cohen at Sea Dwelling Creatures. I will cc him here on your behalf; ask him to make arrangements for you if he can. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Livestocking a store - 10/07/2007 Hello Again, We have spoken before and I am a frequent reader to the site that has really helped out quite a bit. So thanks for that :) <Welcome> First a comment on some of the tips you have given and some feedback on results. I asked months ago about getting in touch with a cherry picker/Jobber for regular stocking of a store that had been in business for over 15 years. You had recommended The guys at fish heads, and quality marine. <Both fine outfits> I see that QM is a supporter of the site so If feelings may be hurt feel free to delete post as needed :) <We post all> We were at the time only dealing with SDC, ERI, UWW, ORA. What happened was that our 1st order was a bell ringer so to say where the corals were simply amazing then tapered off to the usual ..ssssshhh...tuff :) When feedback was given there was no reason given just promises of better quality product in the future that was never fulfilled. Sad to say the least. I eventually did find a jobber in CA that was a pleasure to work with and the quality over the past 6 weeks has been getting BETTER!! crazy to think of !!! I don't want to mention any names on here as it offers competition to the market... sorry guys and gals! We on average spend about $5,000 per week and our jobber is now getting all of our business. <A good sized business for sure> The reason for the email today is that I am currently looking for a trans-shipper out of Australia. We have already set-up a piggyback with our jobber who is fine with it and promises not to open our boxes. We currently have on call about 4 trans-shippers but none out of Australia. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. <... Mmmm, do you have facilities for holding such shipments? I want to comment re all levels of dealing with collected livestock... transhipping, wholesale, jobber... in that the companies appraised are "only as good as their last shipment" typically... And secondly, that transhipping, even from generally excellent country/sources are Australia is fraught with perils... I would continue piggybacking if I were a sole retailer (as opposed let's say to a chain that can justify the volume)... Bob Fenner> Thanks In Advance :) Brian

Re: Livestocking a store  10/11/07 Bob and WWM crew Thanks for the quick response and thanks for the honesty:) We currently have a quarantine location for approximately 300 corals at any given time. The main purpose of this is to ensure healthy specimens and that any hitch-hikers are dealt with appropriately. <And to add... to ensure an adequate "rest" period> The systems are each treated individually based on species. ie. SPS tanks are monitored closely for things like Acro eating FW's and Monti Eating FW's, Zoanthids for pyrediad snails (spelling?). <Pyramidellid likely> The problem with continuing as normal is that one of our main competition is getting Austr. corals and we are not and for this reason we are loosing business. We are also trying to stay on the cutting edge of the wants and desires of the few propagators in the area, as well as customers looking to do so and turn a profit. Also with getting Australian corals the store also actively participates in propagation of the corals in house. <Okay> I can understand the concern about the corals in transit as we have dealt with trans-shippers previously, we have a system in place for animals that arrive stressed where we acclimate them in a large bin of their water with a heater and a large skimmer and slowly acclimate them to our holding/quarantine tanks. Once temp is where it should be we will move the hardiest corals first one at a time. We monitor the response from the corals as am sure you know they do communicate with us. If a coral does not respond well to the move we take longer on the acclimation for the rest of the lot. we have been hugely successful with this and have reduced 24 hour deaths to under 10% on any order delayed once. <Yes...> Just to reiterate we have no intentions of transshipping any fish, anemone, and shrimps, snails, etc. It is not worth the sad amount of loss of the animals (sometimes over 60%). When it comes to items like this we stick with SDC, F/H, etc as they rarely get their shipments off loaded due to sheer size (or so it seems to me). Plus they get unpacked a good 8 hours before ours. We are willing to pay more for the health of these animals. Please Help us out :) Thanks again you are a blessing to those who care! Brian <My young friend... I have NO idea who you are... Are you competent? Honest? I will NOT refer strangers to friends in the trade. I WILL BCC you here. B> Re: Livestocking a store Add on to email sent earlier, In addition to the e-mail sent earlier Re: Austr. transshipper  10/11/07 We only want to trans-ship corals no fish. We are only looking for saltwater livestock, and we aren't looking to receive 3000 corals at once we are looking to get approximately 50 to 100 corals at any given time. <... need to piggyback such small orders> I've seen that Bob F may not know someone well enough to recommend but I'm willing to give them a try. The more names of Austr. trans-shippers the better. Thanks Again Brian <... keep reading, studying. B>

Re: Livestocking a store 10/16/07 Hello again! Thanks for the response we have spoken before about finding a jobber / cherry picker. I was the one who mentioned that we do the "Club Card". I can understand your concerns with referring strangers to friends. I don't know how to rectify this issue, and it seems to be the major hold up. All that I can hope is that your contact contacts me in the near future, and he/ she gives you positive "feedback" on us. Thanks so much for the time and help. Brian <Let's see if any folks respond to you directly... Most all Australian collectors are "full-up", don't have any more stock to sell... Do you buy out of Vietnam directly? I do hope to run into you at one of the major industry shows. Will gladly introduce you about if so. Bob Fenner>

Re: Livestocking a store 10/21/07 Thanks for the contact Bob! And welcome back !! <Thanks Bri> We currently do not export directly from Vietnam, Seems kinda like an area that I am personally not comfortable with nor have we made a contact there. If there was a reputable company there that was exporting with MAC standards and didn't have children diving and or using cyanide or TNT then we would consider the opportunity. I'm personally concerned with things also coming out of areas that are not farmed due to CITES. <We are in confluence here> If you have a contact that you are comfortable with Bob then I'll trust ya! <Mmm, none that I trust exclusively, unfortunately> I plan to go to MACNA next year (2008) Hopefully I'll see you there! Or if there are any large events going on soon on the eastern sea board that are going on I could make the trip to meet you ! Thanks again Bob :) Brian <None that I know of... See you in Atlanta! BobF>

Supplier/Tranship question -- 09/08/07 Howdy folks, I own a small marine LFS in Salisbury, NC. Generally all my stock comes through vendors I've done business with in the past (managed other stores, now opened my own in July '06). Recently I was contacted by phone and asked if I would like to receive a price list for livestock. I said yes and was sent a huge list, what I didn't realize until getting it that it's for a transshipment, not from wholesale distributor. My question is multi-part: Does anyone have any personal knowledge/experiences with these guys (good, bad, whatever), is the savings of transshipment worth it from perspective of cost/stock mortality/cargo hassles? <All sorts... I've been one... been their customer, their supplier... Can be a worthwhile approach IF you have the knowledge, expertise, capital to risk AND the facilities to accommodate the volume AND the sales to make all make sense...> In past stores I always purchased from MAC certified wholesale distributors and local aqua-farmers which out of habit if nothing else I have continued to do. I haven't had to perform a transshipment before, what are the ins and outs? The prices are outrageously low compared to my normal wholesalers...BTW, the company is " Fish in the Bag, Inc."... Cheers, Logan ps. feel free to edit <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/Biz%20Index/Biz%20index.htm The files linked in the fifth tray down under "Livestocking". 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>

Clean vs. Dirty lists Bob---Do you know anything about this???? Suze Dear Ms. Crews, I am a subscriber to your magazine, a long time reader and enjoy every issue very much. I recently received a seed catalog from J. L. Hudson Seeds and read an article in the catalog about the proposed "White List" that supposedly is a plan by certain groups within the US government to ban all importation and possession of fish, plants and virtually any living thing. I find it hard to believe. Please tell me, what if anything do you know about it. Thanks, David Noll Harlingen, Texas  <Mmm, well, there have been occasions... revisions of the Lacey/Black Bass Act... that have proposed a "clean list" (as they have in Australia) versus what we currently have (a "dirty list") of organisms specifically disallowed... much easier for extremist governments to allow in just a few... in the name of "environmental protection" (we need to get rid of most government actually)... But have not heard this nonsense sprouting back up again. Bob Fenner>

Import question Is there a site, or a book, or a magic wand that gives ins and outs of importing marine species that doesn't take a PHD to understand??? <Mmm, no book or wand... but no need for a doctorate either> I'm trying to find out just what is holding up the importation of seahorses and seeing (since I cant get the cooperation from wholesalers) if its possible to just bypass the middle man and do it myself! <Possible, but expensive and time-consuming... Understand that the same sorts of economic restrictions apply to pet-fish biz as all others... the various governments are there to... control you and I, and pay for their civil servants through "taxes" (permits, fees...)... so, there is red-tape. And there are economies of scale at play as well... the wholesale sources need to sell a good number (usually hundreds) of organisms at a go to make the sale profitable... and the airlines charge much less per unit (volume, weight) in larger, regular shipments... and Customs is going to charge you a minimum fee whether you have one seahorse or thousands...> Can you point me in the right direction?? I've talked to my usual wholesaler, who blames it on Fish & Game. Fish and Game says its all about getting a license from the exporting countries..... <Fish and Game organizations at the state level have nothing to do with this... exporting countries/companies do need to have a few licenses to collect, export... e.g. CITES> .I know there is no easy answer but do you know who I can talk to either A) import myself or B) give the wholesalers a hand in getting it done?? Thanks! Jody Webb Frustrated Seahorse Addict <Do chat these issues over with the folks at syngnathid.com I suspect that the people there have much more pertinent information. Bob Fenner> Future transshipper/wholesaler I am beginning my transition from military to civilian life...I am sure of one thing I do not want to work for someone else.   <Everyone should be self-employed at least once... and married at least twice> I am interested in beginning a fresh water/marine transship/wholesale business in southern California. I wanted to have 100 freshwater tanks and 100 saltwater tanks.   <Okay> That I am sure about.  One of the things that is troubling me though is the tanks...I was quoted from SD Plastics each tank would cost me around $174.  Is that reasonable? <Mmm, how big are these? You REALLY should visit (you're welcome to come with me (we live in San Diego) and look over some existing operations... you do want "flat" tanks of a particular size (natural cuts of  4 X 8' sheets of acrylic make this so)... and your drains, stands that are sumps... made carefully> I don't think it is.  Is there a place where I could find equipment used? <Very possibly yes. Once again, the place to look, ask here is Los Angeles... the places still in business buy companies out who have closed, know folks who are going> I am trying to do this without financing any of my start-up costs. I hope you can answer my questions... Thank you for your time and help Ray Newlan <Let's keep chatting Ray, till you feel absolutely comfortable with this proposition. There are many critical things to know. I can/will help you. Bob Fenner, out in HI for the month diving for shells, running, drinking...>

Re: Future transshipper/wholesaler Ahhhh...Hawaii...the drunken sailor memories... The tanks from SD plastics were 24*24*12...that quote was actually from like the beginning of the year. <These tanks are too small to be of use. You will find that twice the gallonage can more safely accommodate three times as many organisms> Their quote kind of took my interest away from getting into the business. I would love to see how some of the operations here in the U.S. work.  You let me know when and I'm there... <I will be back in S. Cal. in early November> My wife and I have about 60 freshwater tanks in Tijuana, we run a wholesale business there.  A friend in Mexico City got us started.  Our set-up, in my eyes primitive, uses sponge filters where the fish don't pollute the water too much.  And my goldfish, guppy, molly set up is not a central filtration system but the water is constantly changing. <This latter is best> I am really eager to learn more and am all ears to whomever is willing to teach me something.   Thanks Ray <Help is available. Bob F>

Questions about importing Hello Bob. How's it going? My name is Brahm, I met you a while back at Octopus's Gardens down in San Diego (Before Jason moved to Florida). <Ah yes... and he may be coming back... maybe just flying with the hurricane winds!> We talked about my thoughts on opening up a store, well things are looking like they are moving in the right direction, but I had a question, and I was wondering if you might be able to help point me in correct direction.  I met somebody online, in Melbourne, Australia. Who came across some very nice Favias, and Acanthastreas lordhowensis & hillae. They are going to ship them to a friend of mine in New South Wales who can hold them for. She is also willing to ship them to me, but we aren't quite sure what we need to do on the Australian side to obtain the proper permits for a one time shipment if such a thing exists. <Yes... they do... there are some Customs forms to file and CITES permits... that hopefully can be filled out on the Australian end and used all the way through to (LAX?) here. A very good idea to actually see, ask around to see if you can "piggy back" your small order with someone in the area (LA likely) who will umbrella your few boxes with their "can" (airfreight container)... otherwise the cost for individually doing this is going to be quite high. I am going to cc a friend in the trade, Barry Neigut of Clamsdirect.com (who is, or has just opened a retail outlet in SD) and ask him for input here. Maybe he knows someone who will co-op your shipment.> What would be the best means to export these pieces from Australia? <The best? Don't know what you're looking for here... doubled 4 mil poly bags, clip closures, styros, cardboard liners... in cargo container quantities, with you receiving ASAP from customs, your freight forwarder... IF you have NOT done this before, DO go, chat with people in the trade who DO on a regular basis. Am going to cc another friend in the trade, Eric Cohen, who owns and runs Sea Dwelling Creatures in LA, and ask him if he'd help you here... Importing aquatic livestock is "not for the feint of heart" or "light of wallet" to put this mildly... "Things" go wrong... all the time... shipments delayed, re-routed, time lost and lost and lost... disputes with carriers... DOAs... You REALLY need a large, going business, holding facilities... to justify doing what you propose... unless you're "just experimenting" here or hoping to get some unusual specimens... all this is going to cost you a few to several times what these organisms will/would cost you by ordering, picking them up at a distributor...> Are there any coral export facilities that I might be able to go through (that are trust worthy with such rare pieces)? <Yes. Ask Eric here> Or would I be better of obtaining the permits on my own. I've talked to Dave over at Pacific Aqua, and I think I can use his Cities on Stateside, (or if you can point me to a broker). I would appreciate that... <This is very nice of the folks at PAF... if they will co-op with you and you feel comfortable dealing with them. They also definitely know what they're doing> Although I'm not too worried about the cost, I would like to look into maybe offsetting some of the expense by bringing over a larger shipment of other items (SPS, or hopefully more Acans if I can find them) which I can resale to diffuse the cost. <Bingo!> But my main goal is just to get the Acanthastreas lordhowensis as I have been doing quite well with propagating the current pieces that I was lucky to either trade for, or pick up at LFS mis-labeled as Blastomussa wellsi <I see> Included are a few pictures of the actual pieces. There are a total of 10. Thanks for your time. -Brahm Goodis. <Glad to be of assistance. Bob Fenner>

Re: Questions about importing Hey all, <Hi Eric, thanks for chiming in> From what I understand here, the corals are coming from Australia.  To  make this conversation brief, it's illegal to export corals from  Australia.   Unless you can get a cites permit from the government office  that works with cites permits...I think you are out of luck. If you find a way (a legal way), please let me in on it and we would be   happy to assist you and give you your best chances to get the corals here alive and economically. Best regards.....HI BOBBIE! Eric <Thanks mate. See you about. Bob Fenner>

Looking for feesh I'm looking for a marine fish transhipper I was wondering if you could help   me out thanks <... uhhh, from where? To where? Are you a large/small operation? Are you familiar with CITES laws, regulations? Have airfreight relations, an airport nearby? Please read here: http://www.ornamental-fish-int.org/mainpage-banner.asp?aid=9580&gid=4790 Bob Fenner>

Coral Distribution - Pitfalls and Perils Bob, <Brandon> Hi my name is Brandon Hill. I saw some of your posts in regards to owning your own business, and coral distribution. I am a small business owner for a coral company here in Utah. We are currently using PAF to get all of our livestock that we distribute. We are interested in spreading our wings just a little more though and using a transhipper or even contacting divers direct, and piggy backing the orders into the US. <A worthwhile consideration... though fraught with danger, hassles... You have enough room to store, business volume to justify this I take it> We, as in my business partner, Nolan Dobson and I are quite lucky to have access to acrylic tanks however large or small in size we want them, since Nolan owns Proplastics an acrylic company. I don't want to make this long because I know that you are SWAMPED with emails, but I was hoping that you could lead me in the right direction with some transhippers and divers, that we could go with, that have served others well in the past. Dave Palmer is a close friend of Nolan's, and has helped us out thus far tremendously. If you could help out in any way it would be much appreciated. Best Regards, Brandon T. Hill <I want to be understood here, and am fearful, as not knowing you, that I may be seen as being offensive (this is not my intent), but are you sure you want to do this at this juncture? As stated, there is MUCH to go wrong... with bad shipments, CITES trouble/s, air freight delays... And, I would have to know you MUCH better to make referrals as this... Please don't take this personally... as this would be my statement to any/all... Introducing you is tantamount to an endorsement in our industry (overseas)... Do we know other people in common? For instance, are you friends with Dave Palmer or Walt Smith of PAF? How to re-start, re-state what I'm getting at here?... IF your volume can justify this "savings", DO make it known how many boxes you might be ready to handle... and that you know how much actual money you'll have to outlay for a shipment, co-shipment... This IS a very big step... and I do NOT want to be part of hurting your business. Bob Fenner>

Re: Dave Palmer contact Well, you can pass this information along as well. We're debating bringing in 100+ giant clams as an additional supply for some of the stores I deal with. The debate is whether to get our own US F&W permit and bring them in directly, or to work with a transhipper. Thanks for passing this along. <Ahh! I think I can be of more use to you my friend, than simply making an indirect reference. For this number of clams I would deal with a U.S. intermediary... I will cc your note to friends/associates in the trade, asking if they will please contact you, introduce themselves, their services. For a hundred clams there is no real sense to trying to "DIY" importing them I assure you. If/when you can handle several hundred at a time, on a regular basis... Bob Fenner> Ed

Re: Dave Palmer contact (actually a lead for 100 tridacnids) It is actually several hundred. We plan on doing several hundred to thousand holding/grow-out at any given time, and move on average at least 100-200/month. It will take several weeks/months to stabilize the flow/delivery and everything else. As it is wholesale, margins are small enough as it is, that the only real options are transshipping and/or direct importation. I've already been in contact with a few Mariculture farms overseas and can satisfy their quantities. Just working the numbers from a transshipment point of view as well, and determining viability. <I'm beginning to see. Edward, do we know each other in the trade aside from here? Please understand me... I am guarded re getting folks (or aiding them on the path) into trouble. Have you worked in the industry? In a livestock distribution capacity? I would like to know how I might best help you at this point... two different individuals have sought my assistance re tridacnids in recent months. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clambizfaqs.htm and the links beyond... for similar input.> Also toying with greenhouse viability/grow out, rather than internal warehousing with MH lighting. <A possibility... many things (well only a handful principally) to consider... the relative costs of build-out, ongoing use/maintenance (energy costs, thermal insulation...), rents... Bob Fenner> Ed

Transshipping Hello Folks. Can Someone clear something up! Exactly what is a transhipper??? Are they middlemen behind a phone desk? Do they have a holding facility etc. etc.?? <This is more of a "lack of service" than anything. Transshipping involves "passing on" boxes, whole cans (air cargo containers) of livestock, often w/o opening (to change water, re-oxygenate) in efforts to save money (in piggybacking orders, batching CITES, Customs... charges, gaining breaks in freight costs by volume, constancy...) and passing on to your "customers"... Most transshipping is done by folks who otherwise have wholesale/holding facilities, but the present slip-sliding arrangement of dealers in the trade includes many variations on this theme. Most often it's retailers and etailers looking to save money who tranship. A note re this process: UNLESS one has the time, resources, expertise to acclimate, hold, take care of... transshipped livestock... and put up with the losses, tying up tank space, meeting late, odd flights/dealing with air-freight folks... don't go this route. Bob Fenner>

Re: marine business <Importing livestock> hi bob... hope you are doing well. <Yes my friend, thank you> Currently, being a shop owner, I get all my livestock from various wholesalers.  I was wondering though, if there are any restrictions on importing your own livestock for sales? <Just possible CITES permits, Customs paperwork... Your import agent (you can find them in the "Yellow Pages" in towns that the airlines ships in and through that do such work, like LAX or by calling U.S. Customs in those towns) can/will arrange for this documentation for you>   If you import, do you have to become a wholesaler, or can you resale directly to public?   <You can do both, either. You can sell directly to the public... just need to justify the volume, cash outlay... have the space, time for acclimating size orders that "make sense"... big wholesalers get the best deal on freight costs, etc...> I already done some reading, and I've found that a permit is required, along with a wildlife officer and some quote papers, etc...Just wondering if anything else should be mentioned? ...Is there somewhere I can go for further information on the topic...the resources I found online are somewhat limited.  Thank you in advanced...take care. h. bui <Don't know a "how to do this" site... If you're friendly with an existing wholesaler they might allow you insight, or possibly try an intermediate step and ask if they'd allow you to "piggy-back" your order with theirs. Much savings in freight... likely more than enough to pay them some sort of nominal (10-15%) pass-through charge. Bob Fenner>

Re: marine business hi bob, thank you for the reply... Just wondering if you had any experiences with these exporters:  Bali Aquatic, Aquatic Indonesia, & Quality Pets Aquatics? <Only know of the last... in L.A.>   Are there any exporters of marine fish, corals, clams that you may recommend?  thanks again...talk to you soon. h. bui <Unfortunately don't know of any well enough, that have any more capacity. Bob Fenner>

Re: marine business hi bob... had one more questions...do you know of any good exporters of marine livestock from Haiti or Caribbean? thank hoang bui <Mmm, not in Haiti, but once again, w/o knowing you better all I will do is contact folks, associates and ask that they consider responding to you. After you've been in the trade a good while you'll understand why it seems like such a "closed-shop" to outsiders. Most of the "A" players have established relationships that cover most of the business/world... and have little interest in shipping to unknowns... Hence a lot of new folks get burned by the "Non A" players (the second et al. string suppliers)... till they become more sophisticated. Have you worked in the trade long? For other businesses? Bought from transhippers? Piggy-backed orders with others? Bob Fenner>

Re: marine business hi bob... I've been in the marine business for a little over 3 years...but have worked with marine/fresh setups for over 20 years.  I order from Carelli, and other wholesalers, but I was interested in importing some livestock.  On occasion, I have piggy backed with D.R. imports in Miami.  If you have any ideas, please let me know...thanks again. hoang bui <About how many boxes could you take... an entire LD-3? Bob Fenner>

Re: marine business hi bob... right now, I can only fill 1/3 to 1/2, at most, of a LD3; I may be able to pool an order will another dealer to fill the LD3 space though...but personally, I'm looking for smaller quantities.  Any suggestions...?  thanks for any suggestions/help. take care hoang bui <Best to pool or for you to pre-sell part of a shipment to fill a can. Where are you located, what's the nearest airport with freight facilities? Are there enough folks in your area to co-op a shipment? Bob Fenner>

Re: marine business hi bob, we are located in Gainesville, Florida...hour and a half from Orlando (MCO airport) or two hours for Tampa/st. Petersburg (non-designated import port)  I have perhaps 1 or 2 other dealers that may help fill the order though.  thanks again for all your help...any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! talk to you soon. hoang bui <As I recall you were looking for marine livestock suppliers from where? From the Caribbean? You might try the folks that have emailed us: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/bizlvstkfaqs.htm and the next (linked) FAQs file. Otherwise, will you please refresh my memory: what sorts of livestock, from what localities are you interested in? Bob Fenner>

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