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  • Shipping Corals, A conversation

    I subcribe to a broadcast email list.
    Over the last several days there has been a disscusion on shipping methods.

    To make the separate emails easier to keep apart I'll only post one per post here.

    The first one......
    Greetings,
    Is there a best method for the shipping of acropora long distances? A number
    of pieces that I have seen transported bleached within 12 -48 hours. The two
    methods I have seen are wet packed (completely covered by water) and dry
    packed (wrapped in bubble wrap with 50ml of water at the base for humidity).
    Dry packing seems the best. Also have people come across thermal shock when
    acropora is cooled to 20-22 degrees C then placed in water at 26 degrees C?
    and what acclimatisation process are people using?

    Cheers

    Dion Trevithick-Harney
    “People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.”
    ...Charles F. Kettering

  • #2
    The next one...
    Dion,
    I am assuming you're dealing with cold shipping in the northern hemisphere
    during the winter. Ship overnight in a styrofoam container using your shipping method of choice, however, in the coral reef hobby, shipping wet using a bag of 50% water/air with the specimen rubber-banded to a styrofoam block (enough to float it upside down) and using one of the disposable chemical heat packs wrapped in a piece of newspaper and taped to the underside of the styrofoam lid of the shipping container works well during the cold weather. For the heat ack, see products like Super HotHands by HeatMax, in the USA at P O Box 1191, Dalton Georgia, USA 30722 1-800-432-8629 or check www.heatmax.com ) These heat packs are used by outdoorsmen in the winter to keep their hands warm. Once activated, these last 18 to 20 hours, and are enough to prevent the temp drop you may be seeing.
    I have had packages of frags get accidentally diverted for 48 hours and had
    pakages still arrive with warmth in the package. Good insulation and shipping
    at the last minute for OVERNIGHT DELVERY seems to be close to 95% effective
    for the US shippers like FedEx and UPS, but I cannot speak for outside the US
    shiping areas. When I acclimitize incoming specimens, I open the bags and
    place water and specimen in a pticher and begin to drip tank water into the
    container with an airline (1/8th ID flexible lastic line) with a single not tied in
    it so that it delivers around 400cc/hr (20 drops=1cc) I also place the
    specimen container so that it can overflow into a drain ( so as to not add the
    shipping water to the specimen tank), but done so that there is a bath around the container to minimize temp loss (I imagine that another styrofoam container would work as well though). This usually brings the specimen up to tank temp and salinity/pH, etc within 3 to 4 hours unattended. Set an alarm clock and check back in 4 to 6 hrs, specimens treated this way have very low loss rates (less than 5% in my group, and not all those may have been acclimitization problems), I have not lost ANY winter shipments this last two years using this method.
    This usually involves fewer than 10 colonies per box (or multiple stony coral
    fragments) where overall package size is less than 80cmx40cmx40cm. You may want to check with some of the hobby supply importers for their methods on shipments to the west USA coast from Indonesia for larger quantities.
    Hope this helps.
    Tom
    “People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.”
    ...Charles F. Kettering

    Comment


    • #3
      The next one...
      Just a word of addition to what Tom wrote. I can think of no quicker way to ensure the death of shipping Acropora than to wrap or even
      include strips of plastic or bubble wrap. The plastic forms a tight
      adherence to the tissue where it touches and basically "suffocates" the
      coral. It will die quickly where there is prolonged contact - and this
      is despite the propensity of many shippers to use this method. Every
      wet plastic attempt we have used with many species of coral has
      resulted in stress and slower acclimation (at best) to bleaching
      (usually) to complete tissue death (too often to count) - often within
      2-6 hours with a good plastic/tissue contact. OTOH, if done damp
      shipped or as Tom described, you could potentially go up to 48 hours,
      though I would suggest an oxygen cap in the bag for this long and not
      just air. Generally, I would try to get a properly packed colony to its
      final destination in less than 12 hours if possible. Rebagging and
      water changes help a lot, if possible, too. Also, during collection,
      minimal handling and a twenty four hour period after any breaking of
      the colony will slow mucus production which can foul the shipping
      water. I have tied strings around the colonies and just suspended them
      in the water, or mounted them on a shipping base prior to shipping with
      24 hour acclimation in the ocean prior to bagging. This helps a lot,
      too. Finally, a surface sterilization doesn't hurt - brief dip in
      diluted Lugol's solution, low dose tetracycline, or cold flushes with
      seawater will reduce surface microbes that tend to pull down oxygen in
      the bag and at the coral tissue surface during the shipping process (
      but the cold flush and Lugol's have the undesirable efffects of
      increasing mucus production...not so much with the tetracycline though
      AB use has its own downsides including creating resistance in a diverse
      population). If this is done, another period for the coral to slow
      mucus production in freshly mixed seawater or sterile ocean water
      helps. Do not allow the heat packs to come in direct contact with the
      shipping containers - it will raise the temperature too much, which is
      why they are taped to the underside of the styrofoam.

      Here are some additional refs with methods to be considered:

      Fitzgerald LM, Szmant AM.Biochem J. 1997 Feb 15;322 ( Pt 1):213-21.
      Biosynthesis of 'essential' amino acids by scleractinian corals. (for
      the sterilization techniques)

      Bronikowski EJ (1982) The collection, transportation, and maintenance
      of living corals. AAZPA Annual Proceedings: 65-70 (old but still true
      and still not widely used)

      Carlson BA (1999) Organism responses to rapid change: what aquaria tell
      us about nature. American Zoologist 39: 44-55 (dittos above method)

      Petersen Dirk, Michaël Laterveer David van Bergen Maureen
      KuenenTransportation techniques for massive scleractinian corals Zoo
      Biology 23: 165-176 (good methods, but involves large heavy colonies
      for prolonged transport)

      Hodgson G (1990) Tetracycline reduces sedimentation damage to corals.
      Marine Biology 104: 493-496 (for dose levels of surface sterilization)


      Best,

      Eric Borneman
      “People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.”
      ...Charles F. Kettering

      Comment


      • #4
        And the last so far...
        At 05:08 AM 2/4/2005, you wrote:
        >Just a word of addition to what Tom wrote. I can think of no quicker way
        >to ensure the death of shipping Acropora than to wrap or even include
        >strips of plastic or bubble wrap. The plastic forms a tight adherence to
        >the tissue where it touches and basically "suffocates" the coral. It will
        >die quickly where there is prolonged contact - and this is despite the
        >propensity of many shippers to use this method. Every wet plastic attempt
        >we have used with many species of coral has resulted in stress and slower
        >acclimation (at best) to bleaching (usually) to complete tissue death (too
        >often to count) - often within 2-6 hours with a good plastic/tissue contact.

        Not to dispute the experiences detailed above but having shipped over 2,000
        fragments over the years of Acropora, Montipora, Caulastrea, Pavona,
        Stylophora, Seriatopora, Anacropora, zoanthids, and anemones using the
        "dry" method as outlined by Bronikowski and in Delbeek and Sprung (1994), I
        would have to say there are a number of factors involved in its success or
        failure. Things such as container size and shape, pre-handling of
        fragments, size and type of plastic used and species variation in tolerance
        of this method, all play a role in its success or failure.

        >OTOH, if done damp shipped or as Tom described, you could potentially go
        >up to 48 hours, though I would suggest an oxygen cap in the bag for this
        >long and not just air. Generally, I would try to get a properly packed
        >colony to its final destination in less than 12 hours if possible.

        The submerged method works best for larger fragments or small colonies of
        branching corals. It is also less prone to rapid chilling during shipping,
        but longer shipping times do require the use of heat packs. When I ship
        larger fragments I send them in bags with 1/3 water and 2/3 oxygen, some
        plastics strips included for cushioning and the frags wrapped in plastic.

        >Bronikowski EJ (1982) The collection, transportation, and maintenance of
        >living corals. AAZPA Annual Proceedings: 65-70 (old but still true and
        >still not widely used)

        Delbeek, J.C. and J. Sprung. 1994. The Reef Aquarium. volume one. Ricordea
        Publishing, Coconut Grove, FL.

        Aloha!


        J. Charles Delbeek M.Sc.
        Aquarium Biologist
        “People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.”
        ...Charles F. Kettering

        Comment


        • #5
          I just know I hate to ship. I have had best luck placing them in a smaller bag with water and oxygen, oxygen does nothing for the corals IMO, it helps with fish, but I still hate shipping. I have only lost 4 corals in shipping in 2004, 2 were due to a poor packing job on my part, and the other 2 were due to FedEx deciding not to deliver the package until 3 days later .. I will look into a few of those, thanks for the info bro

          Comment


          • #6
            something I have noticed to make a difference in whether the water holds it's temp well is if they are shipped in whole styro boxes vs sheets of styro cut to line the inside of the box. Probably a little bit of savings for the companies to pack this way but I would have no problem paying a couple bucks for box charge if it helped corals make the trip.
            Chad

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Chad W
              something I have noticed to make a difference in whether the water holds it's temp well is if they are shipped in whole styro boxes vs sheets of styro cut to line the inside of the box. Probably a little bit of savings for the companies to pack this way but I would have no problem paying a couple bucks for box charge if it helped corals make the trip.
              Chad
              You are correct, I use to use the 6 piece box, but if the water leaks you have no chance, and it doesnt keep heat so I use the one piece box.

              Comment

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