Shipping & Terms

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MiniWaters.FISH Terms & Policies

Please see the How To Order Page for a brief summary on the www.MiniWaters.FISH ordering process, as it is different, and a more personally-tailored experience, than most online webstores.

The current minimum order for online retail purchase is $99. Smaller orders may be considered on a case-by-case basis; please inquire. This minimum order is subject to change without notice.

While we charge only actual shipping charges (see the shipping section below) we wanted to be quite upfront with the shipping costs most customers can expect.

In brief; for overnight services, SpeeDee typically ranges $5-15 per box. If you are in MN, WI, IL, and portions of other neighboring states, this is the ideal shipping method!

We are now offering FREE SpeeDee shipping on retail orders of $99 or more to customers who can utilize this service.

FedEx quotes in 2018 for standard 17 X 17 X 10″ fish boxes are now typically coming in around $90-$100 following the 2018 rate hike, and are only marginally less for smaller boxes.

2-3 day shipping options through FedEx are less expensive and are available when appropriate and safe for the fish.

Folks in the SpeeDee overnight delivery region (upper midwest, MN, WI, IL, and portions of surrounding states) can expect overnight shipping to really never run more than $15 per box maximum. The vast majority of these shipments are $8-10, with single fish in smaller boxes running as low as $5-7. There are certain customers that are in the 2-day range for SpeeDee Delivery; this is usually OK for freshwater fish. We’ve shipped marine fish 2-days via this service without any losses, although we do not guarantee live arrival when these shipments are requested.

FedEx raised their rates in 2017 and raised them another 4.9% at the start of 2018. It is, frankly, unsustainable in our opinion, and the discounts given to large-scale companies effectively price out small businesses like MiniWaters.FISH. With our discounts, most customers are now looking at estimates ranging from $65 to $100 for a single box via FedEx, some more, for overnight services. If you’re on the coasts, don’t expect less than $80-$100 quotes. We understand if that’s a deal-breaker…it would be for us as well, particularly if ordering only a single fish.

For freshwater shipments in moderate weather, 2-3 day shipping options with FedEx are much more affordable and are preferred over USPS. They are a reliable choice and are still reasonably affordable.

USPS is our shipper of last choice. Express Mail, when overnight is available, is no less expensive than FedEx. Flat rate Priority Mail can be used for certain freshwater shipments, although due to our local USPS routing, most “Priority Mail” shipment now take 3-4 days to reach their destination. So by and large, USPS is not a viable option for most customers.

We do not offer UPS options; historically they have proven to be an unreliable shipping of live fish, and by and large our worst shipping experiences have occured with UPS, although we know other companies routinely use them.

For large orders and wholesale orders, air cargo out of Duluth International Airport (DLH) is an option. Air freight is billed at a minimum 100 lbs. While prices vary greatly, most national shipments arriving in Duluth, under 100 lbs, are as inexpensive as $67. If you are willing to deal with an air-cargo pickup, air freight may be the most cost-effective option for you.

If you’re having any trouble with the website, or simply have questions before you order, I welcome orders via email via matt@miniwaters.fish.

When placing an order on MiniWaters.FISH, you are not required to enter payment; all orders are personally handled and shipping options calculated prior to the completion of a sale. You are welcome to place an order through the website to reserve fish, and then decline to move forward with the order if shipping options and fees don’t work for you.

Retail orders delivered to the state of MN are subject to a 6.875% State Sales Tax, and may also be subject to a 0.5% St. Louis County Sales Tax, and a 1% Duluth City Sales Tax. Therefore, the total sale tax rate to be collected on taxable merchandise and shipping fees may be as high as 8.375%.

MiniWaters.FISH reserves the right to refuse a sale to anyone for any reason.

MiniWaters.FISH will never knowingly make delivery of a species which is prohibited in the state in which you, the customer, resides. While we have a generalized understanding, it is technically impossible for to be aware of every arcane ban (in particular at the local level). There is no centralized repository regarding individual state bans and local bans. Therefore we ask that every customer please check with your individual state laws and local ordinances and be fully aware of any prohibitions prior to making any purchase from MiniWaters.FISH. When placing an order, you acknowledge and agree that should you knowingly utilize our service to circumvent federal, state or local laws, will be held liable for any repercussions MiniWaters.FISH may incur.

Some outdated but still potentially helpful lists of state-by-state bans and prohibitions are available at the following links:

To further understand what’s at stake, and why it’s not OK to ignore your state and local laws, please consider this commentary from Ted Judy.

MiniWaters.FISH serves the lower 48 States / Continental US. We welcome inquiries from potential customers outside this area, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis, with fulfillment possibly being possible through intermediary 3rd parties.

Shipping 101

Live in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, or Northern Iowa? Eastern North and South Dakota? Customers in these areas are eligible for non-guaranteed overnight shipping via SpeeDee Delivery which often costs $15 or less!

For retail customers eligible to utilize SpeeDee Delivery, we are now offering FREE shipping on orders of $99 or more.

The white areas on this map from SpeeDee Delivery represent our overnight delivery areas; for you lucky neighbors, say goodbye to extremely high overnight shipping charges! Residents in the blue areas are in a 2-day delivery region…believe it or not with proper packing marine fish can make these trips during the right time of year, and freshwater fish are more than fair game as well!

New 2017 SpeeDee Delivery Zones with expanded service areas! White on this map = overnight. Blue = 2 day. Average cost was $7 last year! Retail orders in these regions of $99 or more get their SpeeDee Delivery shipping for FREE!
New 2017 SpeeDee Delivery Zones with expanded service areas! White on this map = overnight. Blue = 2 day. Average cost was $7 last year! Retail orders in these regions of $99 or more get their SpeeDee Delivery shipping for FREE!

Shipping with MiniWaters.FISH is a bit different than you might come to expect. For starters, I don’t ship 5 days a week. You won’t’ get your fish in some fancy custom-printed box either; I’m a strong proponent of the “reuse” aspect of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Note that the shipping terms and policies are definitely subject to change, but for now, remember, you’re ultimately dealing directly with me, Matt Pedersen, when shopping MiniWaters.FISH

Do not order from me expecting an instantaneous shipment; if you want that, please deal with some of my wonderful friends for whom online retailing is all they do.

Orders from MiniWaters.FISH are typically shipped on Tuesdays (formerly Mondays), in the case of bad weather, shipping disruptions, family duties or holidays, shipping may occur on other days of the week. Your order is personally packed and shipped by Matt Pedersen, and shipping schedules will be arranged prior to shipment.

At this time, I only ship to the lower 48 US States. I do not ship beyond, nor do I export to international customers. I follow all applicable local laws. If it’s something illegal where you live, don’t even ask me for it (eg. no Lionfish are going to Florida..obviously).

MiniWaters.FISH will work with you to determine the best shipping options available. I can utilize USPS, FedEx, UPS, SpeeDee Delivery (truly preferred when and where available) and Delta Air Cargo (where available or required). It is my goal to find you the fastest and safest method at the lowest cost.

Once again, I’m a bit unconventional in this department as well; I charge only actual shipping fees. The process is simple; we will estimate shipping fees beforehand with the desired carrier, and this is the fee we will collect from you, our customer. If the actual fee incurred is higher, we’ll eat it. If the actual fee is lower, we’ll refund the difference after the shipment is completed successfully to whichever payment method you’ve chosen.

Some customers have requested shipments using their accounts; I am happy to accommodate such requests.

I do not charge for bags, boxes, or heat packs, unless there is an extenuating special circumstance. Any such fees would be discussed with a customer prior to finalizing the shipment.

A repeat of the section above: While we charge only actual shipping charges (see the shipping section below) we wanted to be quite upfront with the shipping costs most customers can expect.

In brief; for overnight services, SpeeDee typically ranges $5-15 per box. FedEx tends to range $65-100 per box, and will be 4.9% higher in 2018. 2-3 day shipping options are less expensive and are available when appropriate.

Folks in the SpeeDee overnight delivery region (upper midwest, MN, WI, IL, and portions of surrounding states) can expect overnight shipping to really never run more than $15 per box maximum. The vast majority of these shipments are $8-9, with single fish in smaller boxes running as low as $5-7. There are certain customers that are in the 2-day range for SpeeDee Delivery; this is usually OK for freshwater fish. We’ve shipped marine fish 2-days via this service without any losses, although we do not guarantee live arrival when these shipments are requested.

For retail customers who can use SpeeDee delivery, we are now offering FREE SpeeDee shipping on orders of $99 or more.

FedEx has raised their rates in 2017 and has raised them another 4.9% in 2018. It is, frankly, unsustainable in our opinion, and the discounts given to large-scale companies effectively price out small businesses like MiniWaters.FISH. With our discounts, most customers are now looking at estimates ranging from $65 to $100 for a single box via FedEx, some more, for overnight services. If you’re on the coasts, don’t expect less than $80-$90 quotes. We understand if that’s a deal-breaker…it would be for us as well, particularly if ordering only a single fish.

For freshwater shipments in moderate weather, 2-3 day shipping options with FedEx are much more affordable and are preferred over USPS. They are a reliable choice.

USPS is our shipper of last choice. Express Mail, when overnight is available, is no less expensive than FedEx. Flat rate Priority Mail can be used for certain freshwater shipments, although due to our local USPS routing, most “Priority Mail” shipment now take 3-4 days to reach their destination. So by and large, USPS is not a viable option for most customers.

For large orders and wholesale orders, air cargo out of DLH is an option. Air freight is billed at a minimum 100 lbs. While prices vary greatly, most national shipments arriving in Duluth, under 100 lbs, are as inexpensive as $67. If you are willing to deal with an air-cargo pickup, air freight may be the most cost-effective option for you.

Sadly, I came to learn in 2017 that the shipping charges on taxable items are also taxed in the state of MN. I didn’t collect those taxes in my first year of retail sales, so I get to pay them out of my own pocket! So, if you reside in MN, don’t be surprised if you see sales tax on your shipping estimate. Sorry, it’s the law, so I have to collect tax on the amount I collect from you, even though I only charge exactly what they charge and I don’t make a penny on it. If I undercharge the shipping, nothing changes, and if you are getting a refund for an overcharge, the appropriate portion of the collected tax will ALSO be refunded.

Fishes shipped from MiniWaters.FISH are well-prepared for their journey. Where appropriate, fishes are fasted for 24 hours prior to shipment. Shipping water is prepared to be clean, and ammonia control agents are utilized in transit. I do not jam fishes into the smallest possible bags or use the least amount of water possible simply to save you shipping costs. Livestock is instead given ample water, and bags are inflated with oxygen. Depending on the size and type of livestock, heavy duty and/or double or triple bagging may be implemented. As a general rule, all marine livestock is packaged one animal/colony per bag. We avoid gang packing, except in fishes where we would not expect any problems or when single packing simply isn’t feasible (mainly juvenile freshwater fishes). In times of poor weather, additional bags of water may even be added to help moderate temperature changes within the box; heat packs and cool packs are used based on anticipated transit conditions.

All of these practices make shipping a more expensive proposition, and yes, you the consumer will bear those costs. These measures increase survival rates, reduce stress, and help add a margin of safety when there are shipping snafus. I’d much rather you receive a healthy, live fish that cost more to ship, than a dead one that cost you less (or was free to you).

Live Arrival Guarantees

While I am by no means the most experienced shipper, we have a SOLID track record. We had a < 1% DOA rate for 2015, and we’ve now closed out 2016 with a 99.99% alive arrival rate, < 0.01% DOA. As in ONE $4 Cherry Shrimp blew our perfect season.

Then there are stories like a shipment of Angelfish being lost in transit for 13 days but ultimately arriving 100% alive and thriving. I am very confident in my ability to ship fishes safely to you, provided you don’t request risky shipments. This means we pack the fish with the fishes’ best interests in mind, not to save a few dollars on shipping costs.

By default, I guarantee live arrival of the livestock shipped by overnight methods. Multi-day shipping methods are generally only suitable for freshwater fishes, and for the most part, I offer a live arrival guarantee on such shipments as well. On occasion, we have completed 2-day shipments of marine fish at the request of our customers, and although we don’t offer live arrival guarantees, our success rate currently stands at 100%.

There are circumstances and times where I will not offer a live arrival guarantee on a shipment. This may include species which are known to be sensitive to shipment, or shipments of fishes through extended time periods (multi-day time periods), particularly at times of inclement weather. I will notify you up-front, before any transaction is finalized, if I have any qualms about the shipping and/or will not be offering a live arrival guarantee; it will be your decision whether to continue with the transaction.

If there is a problem of any nature, whether a fish is stressed, dying, or dead, I must be notified within 2 hours of shipment drop off time as reported by the carrier, and clear video and/or photographic proof of the loss or issue, in the unopened shipping bag, is required. If you wait all day, sorry you’re out of luck.

If your fish arrive alive, but in bad shape, please still notify me of the problem within 2 hours of shipment drop-off time as reported by the carrier, and include clear video an/or photographic evidence as well as a description of the problem. I will be personally on hand to help troubleshoot the issue.

I do not issue DOA credits for fishes that are not “dead”…but if there are extenuating circumstances (for example a shipment is excessively overheated or chilled), I may, at my sole discretion, make accommodations or offer compromises if I believe that a post-shipment mortality was due to a mistake or shortfall on my part, or problems with the carrier. If the box sat out at home all afternoon in the sun…tough luck (see Customer Responsibilities).

If a shipment of fishes is lost or delayed due to shipper error, I will honor DOA claims that may result. Shipments delayed due to customer error (for example, providing a wrong address, or a shipment returned as undeliverable) will not be issued any DOA credits.

When receiving fish that are part of juvenile, adult, bonded or mated pairs, when there is a DOA in which only one of the two in the pair dies, that DOA claim is only eligible for the appropriate portion of the overall purchase price. If the pair is of the same type of fish, say two Tomato Clownfish, both fish may be considered of roughly equal value regardless of sex and size, and therefore 50% of the purchase price will be refunded for the lost mate, particularly if the fishes were purchased/obtained as a pair. Or, where possible and deemed appropriate by MiniWaters, variances may be made if the known pricing of the fish constituting the pair was different; for example, if a juvenile pair of Tomato clownfish consisting of a medium and small fish were sold, then the value of the deceased fish is derived based on then appropriate proportional portion of the overall pair’s purchase price. If the pair is of disparate types, for example, a $600 Nebula Picasso paired with a $60 wild Percula, the appropriate portion of the purchase price will be issued based on the ratio of the cost incurred in the pair, again dependent on which fish in the pair did not make it.

When there is a proven DOA claim, I reserve the right to offer any one of (or all of) the following options.

  1. Credit for the purchase price of the DOA livestock towards future livesock purchases (DOA credit cannot be used for shipping fees).
  2. Shipment of a replacement fish of comparable or greater value, when and where available; shipping fees are again your responsibility.
  3. Refund issued to your payment method.

Traditionally, I am most willing to simply refund the cost of your loss, rather than having to keep track of a credit. That, and I may or may not have a replacement fish, or you may not desire a replacement fish (nor want to risk or incur the costs of another shipment).

do not credit shipping fees for any reason unless they are credited by the shipper to us. No exceptions. I view the ordering a shipment of fish as a partnership agreement; when you request fish be sent to you, you understand that even if everything is done perfectly, there can still be a loss, and in such cases, had the fish stayed here, the loss wouldn’t have happened. I accept the risk of covering the fish, which would be alive had I not sent them to you. Therefore, you accept the risk of losing shipping fees if a shipment is unsuccessful.

I reserve the right to refuse any sale for any reason, and that includes shipments that I feel are simply too risky. I would rather not risk the fish vs. send them to you via a cheap, but risky method.

I may also cancel a shipment should sudden circumstances change expectations for a safe arrival. Any shipment canceled can be rescheduled.

I do not offer extended guarantees beyond live arrival. In a nutshell, once the fish arrives at your door alive, it is your responsibility. I make no guarantees that the fish will live for any amount of time beyond its arrival. To date, the few post-shipment moralities I’m aware of can be summed up people trying to pair fish and having them get killed, or placing clean fishes into a system carrying disease and watching as they fish break down. In other words – “not my fault.”.

With few (if any) exceptions, I do not turn and burn livestock. That is to say, nothing arrives here and is sold the next day, or probably even the next week or two. I make sure any fish I’m selling is ready for sale, and odds are I can tell you just how long it’s been alive here. In some cases, years. For fishes that are raised locally, they may have lived their entire lives in only one system.

Given these circumstances, the health of a fish I ship should be exceptionally high. Certainly, there could be a split fin or some other minor issue that may well be the result of catching for shipment or aggression in a holding tank. However, since every fish is selected by an aquarist who has 33 years of experience, and since virtually every fish has been on hand for weeks if not months, the chances for shipping “diseased” or otherwise unhealthy fishes are extremely low. I will not ship you a fish I would not be happy to receive myself (and since I don’t bring in fishes I wouldn’t tolerate living their entire natural lives here, basically I’m shopping for myself first…then you!).

Despite the realities that disease problems should be low to nonexistent, I would never suggest any of my fishes be introduced into an active community aquarium, but instead that they all undergo proper observation and quarantine. Just because a fish has been outwardly disease-free during its time here does not mean it is absent any pathogens; I’ve received wild fishes from certain sources that always appear pristinely healthy. They go into sanitary quarantine tanks that haven’t seen a fish for months, and yet I’ve still seen them break down with disease. It wasn’t in the tank, it certainly did come with the fish.

So proper quarantine IS vital.The stress of shipment can be what takes an otherwise healthy fish and creates a disease issue. Where a disease came from is irrelevant; it is your responsibility to take corrective measures to prevent a loss. I will absolutely offer my assistance, but I have found it to be incredibly difficult to diagnose a fish disease with, say, cell phone videos and a vague description of the problem.

Customer Responsibilities

I implore you to research before you buy; the information is out there and readily accessible.  If you have any doubts or questions, contact me directly. I will gladly provide you with whatever insights and knowledge I can.

Once you buy, you’re responsible. MiniWaters.FISH has no liability or responsibility to ensure that the livestock you order is compatible with what you already have.

It is your responsibility as a customer to provide the proper shipping address and to be on hand to receive a shipment when it is scheduled to be dropped off.

For example, this means not having fishes shipped to your home while you’re at work. It is also your responsibility to make accommodations for the pickup of livestock should there be changes in a shipping schedule made by the shipper. Shipments left outside, or otherwise unattended beyond the 2-hour reporting window, will not be covered by any live arrival guarantee. Livestock must be checked immediately upon arrival for any DOA claims (see Live Arrival Guarantee above), and DOA or other shipment issues must be reported within the first 2 hours following arrival. Contact me to report any shipping problems ASAP so we can help you deal with them.

I may follow up with you to ensure how a shipment arrived when it is reported delivered. It is, however, your responsibility to monitor tracking data and to recognize when a shipment is reported “delivered” yet you have not received it. As a consumer, I have definitely had my fair share of livestock simply being left at the wrong house. Yes, I’d go prowling the neighborhood in search of them and start calling the shipping company. I expect that you’d do the same.

As outlined above in “The Health of Our Fish”, the fish I offer through MiniWaters.FISH are, for starters, all well-conditioned. But beyond that, they’ve generally been on hand for weeks, months, or even their entire lives. The fish we personally raise in Duluth, MN, may have only seen one aquarium their entire lives; effectively they may be the cleanest, “pre-quarantined” fishes you could ever hope for.

That said, shipment is stressful to fish. Fish that haven’t been exposed to disease can easily contract disease once exposed to it.  New arrivals placed into an existing aquarium are at a double-disadvantage…they’re stressed out AND the bottom of the totem pole. If ever there is a worst case scenario you can put on a fish, it’s to dump it straight into an established community after a day in transit.

I expect that you’ll be able to properly quarantine all new arrivals, and encourage you to dos. I expect that you have the ability to deal with the problems that may arise (for example, if ordering un-paired fish, and trying to pair them, have breeder nets or other suitable methods to isolate partners if need be). Rushing out to buy a hospital tank after the fact is only setting yourself up for failure.

Of course, you have the final call, once they leave the door they’re your fish. But if you play fast and loose, my response to problems may well be, “well, you could’ve avoided all of this with quarantine.”

You are also fully responsible for being able to provide an aquarium system which is established and ready to receive the fishes you’ve ordered. If you have any concerns about your ability to meet these obligations, don’t order.

I’m Not Perfect

If there is a glaring mistake or problem with your shipment, and it is properly documented, I will attempt to address it. I haven’t established MiniWaters.FISH in order to screw people over, far from it in fact. But…if I were to ship you the wrong fish, or heck, I didn’t notice that one of several fish you ordered is missing a fin or something, absolutely, I will find a way to make it right. I definitely am not of the opinion that the customer is always right (in fact, frankly, most often probably not), but I’m not a person beyond reason.

A Note About Extra Fishes

There are times when I may include extra fishes in a shipment; this is solely at my personal discretion. If you ASK for extra, I guarantee I won’t send anything extra! Heck, I might even short your order just to hit the point home! So don’t ask…it’s greedy.

Extra fishes are typically included, at my discretion, with larger orders of multiple fishes (eg. a dozen or more of the same variety). Generally, I include something extra to help defray shipping costs and/or to account for any personal differences of opinion on the conformation or patterning of a fish (eg. misbars, designer variations etc). Generally, anything “extra” is simply going to be more of what you already ordered (eg. I’m not going to send you a bonus Yellow Tang if your entire order was rare clownfishes). I only send extra fishes when I know there won’t be any issues with the surprise extras on the receiving end. If I’m considering sending you something extra and I’m not sure, I may ask before I send.

Any extra livestock I send with an order will be used to offset any DOAs before any credits or refunds are issued. For example, if you order 12, and I ship 13 and 1 dies, you have no DOA claim. If 2 die, you have a DOA claim on 1 fish.