Preparing for a Tropical Fish Swap Meet

I’ve been involved in several tropical fish swap meets over the years.  Since I’ve never been physically close to the location of these swap meets, I’ve always had to get up very early in the morning to catch and bag the fish I was taking, and stay up late once I got home, putting away the fish that either didn’t sell or I had purchased.  Since I’m just naturally lazy and value efficiency, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could streamline the process.  I eventually came up with several strategies to make the process less stressful for me.

Deli  Container

Deli Container

My first attempt was to pack the fish in “deli” containers.  This was relatively fast packing and unpacking, and did provide a container where the contents were visible to prospective buyers.  There were several disadvantages to this method.  First was that the containers were round.  This resulted in some distortions in the image of the fish.  In addition, the size of the fish to be sold was limited to fish that would fit in the “deli” container.  Also, the round containers usually didn’t fit tightly in the Styrofoam except by accident.  There was a lot of wasted space in the insulated box.  This was an improvement over bagging fish, but still not what I was looking for.

I finally decided to try using square and rectangular food storage containers inside Styrofoam boxes to transport and display my swap meet fish.  While there are still some bugs to work out, I think this might be the solution to many of my concerns.

Styrofoam Container

Styrofoam Container

My first step was to decide which Styrofoam container I was going to use.  There are an unbelievable number of different sizes available, and just about all of them would work.  I chose boxes that were a little higher than some of the others, and the ones that were in the best condition.  Then I measured the inside dimensions of the box I’d chosen.   You do have to make sure the sides are perpendicular, and the box has the same dimensions on the bottom as on top.  You should write these dimensions down, just because you’ll be dealing with a lot of numbers as you decide what the best combinations of dimensions are for your box size.  I found for me that I’d keep forgetting what dimensions I was working with, or I’d confuse the dimensions of the various Styrofoam boxes when I tried to remember their dimensions.

There is no standard protocol for determining what might be the best combination of sizes to use in the box, just as there is no single solution to the problem.  Depending on what fish you think you may be taking to the swap meet, many configurations may work for you.  I went to many stores in order to find the appropriate sizes for what I needed.  Ideally you will use most of the available space in your box in all three dimensions.  I even took a tape measure with me when I was looking for containers.  Many of the labels on the containers don’t indicate the dimensions of the containers, and when they do, many of the dimensions given are not absolutely correct.  I also needed to make sure that I was measuring the widest point including the lid and any locking mechanisms.

Food Storage Container

Food Storage Container

This was the first Styrofoam box I worked on.  The size of the Styrofoam was such that stacking one size on top of another was the most efficient usage of the available space.  The only negative with these types of containers was the seal with the lid.  In the future I’ll have to make a decision as to whether to try using some sort of a gasket to better seal the containers, or possibility using a “rubber band” to hold the lid in place all the way around the edges of the container.  These types of containers do have a locking mechanism which holds the lids in place, but the lids are not watertight.  I did lose some water to “sloshing around” during transport.

Another Food Storage Container

Another Food Storage Container

The other Styrofoam box I used worked best with seven “cereal” boxes and one square, tall container.  In this case the containers were taller, and used the entire height of the Styrofoam box without needing to double stack.  The lids on these containers were also a “snap” fit, so I didn’t have any leakage problems in transport.

Final Storage Container Alignment

Final Storage Container Alignment

This shows the final fit in the Styrofoam box with very little room for the display containers to move around.  As you can imagine, there may be several correct solutions available for each box size.

 Another option I used was to utilize some larger containers by themselves without the Styrofoam boxes for insulation.  This works very well for displaying the fish, but only during warm weather.  During colder weather, a Styrofoam outer container would be advisable. 

Large Individual Containers

Large Individual Containers

Whenever someone would buy fish, I’d then place the fish into a plastic bag for the trip to their new home.  That way I also didn’t waste any of the plastic bags by having to take them home with me when the fish didn’t sell.  Of course this isn’t a problem if you sell everything you take to the swap meet.

I hope this article has been helpful, and starts you thinking about whether this method would work for you when taking fish to a swap meet.

Denny Rogers –  12/15/12
President, NWAAS
fishystuff42@yahoo.com

Article may not reprinted without permission from author

By Denny | December 15, 2012 @ 4:20 pm | No comments

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