About Marine Livestock Lists

There are two types of pricing for our products, "F.O.B. origin" and "F.O.B. LAX." The term "F.O.B." means Freight On Board. Origin refers to the source, such as Bali, Fiji, etc.   You will see these notations at the top right-hand corner of any of the Marine Livestock .pdf lists. It will always state at the top of the page if the list is F.O.B. Bali, Fiji, etc., or F.O.B. LAX, and in most cases at the bottom as well.

In either case, the domestic shipping from LAX airport to your local airport is paid to the airline by you when you pick up your shipment. We can generally give a good guess what the shipping cost will be, but that is never included in any pricing we give for our products. The "F.O.B. origin" international shipping and "inbound landing costs" is mostly what we'll discuss here.

The inbound landing costs per box are all the charges associated with moving a box from its origin to the U.S., such as the freight from the origin to LAX, the Fish & Wildlife and Customs fees, the box & packing charge at the origin, and the repack & drop-off at LAX, etc.

Details for the landing costs for each box are shown at the bottom of the .pdf pages for every source, except for F.O.B. LAX pages, which will only show a box & packing charge per box used. Corals cost more than fish in international freight as they weigh more, use more water, plus they have a CITES permit fee paid per piece. With F.O.B. origin pricing, you will generally see the price of the animal is very low, which is because the cost of getting it to the U.S. has not been figured in yet (i.e., the landing costs have not been added in yet.)

The term F.O.B. LAX (Freight On Board at LAX) means all of the inbound landing costs per box are already figured in. This can only be used for things that you know exactly how they will come, such as the Box-lot Specials for corals, which are F.O.B. LAX with the price of the inbound box and handling already added to the cost of the contents. Neat and easy, no additional charges. This works only when the contents of the box is pre-known exactly in advance.

Of course, this doesn't work whatsoever in making up fish boxes, or if you want the more expensive corals that are not part of any Box-lot Specials. It doesn't work for any custom order where you pick and choose your own selections. Some folks want twenty corals or fish that are $5, others want twenty that are $50. Everyone has a different list. But we do know what it will cost to get a box here and handled. So F.O.B. origin pricing allows us to offer you boxes packed specifically to your order at the origin. But if getting a sub will kill you, this is not what you should do. Sometimes if they have a space in a box, something might go in to fill it.

It can be difficult to determine exactly how many will be in a box for many items, so we have to "guestimate," and any over-estimate is promptly refunded via Paypal to the same account from which the order was paid from. Whether or not there will be 15 or 20 anthias with your angel and tangs cannot be known in advance. Most boxes are 18-22 pieces. Any size class of fish or coral can vary over the year for many species once you get past smalls. To exporters, a small, medium, or large, is relative to what they have on hand right then, which may be different at another time of year. Whereas the cost of getting the box here and handling it does not change much, that part is by comparison very predictable. So F.O.B. origin pricing allows us to offer anyone a way to order anything available.

An average box of fish or corals is 20 bags in a box. For fish, with a mix of small, medium and a few large fish. All smalls can be many more, 40 or 60 fish. From the Philippines, Brittle stars are 100 per box, damsels can be 150 in a box. A Bali XL show Angel or Sri Lanka XL Tesselata Eel can be one fish in a box.

The per box inbound landing charges are for the following costs ...
  • The origin box and packing charge (usually $20 - some higher), which more reflects the cost of getting a box, bags, rubberbands, etc., back out to an island in the middle of nowhere, than the flat actual cost of a box
  • Then the international freight is the biggest part of it, boxes often weighing 22 to 30 kilos
  • When it gets to LAX it has to go through clearance by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Customs at LAX
  • Coral boxes will have an origin CITES permit fee
  • After the clearances, it is taken to a warehouse where it is all acclimated into new water and then repacked into new bags, with all new oxygen
  • Finally, airbill and airport drop-off; most shippers have a separate fee per order just for that

All of these fees and costs of getting a box from the other side of the world to the U.S., handled and processed at LAX, to the airline for your flight to you the next day is what the per box inbound landing costs cover. We take care of everything, you don't need any permits, just the dough.  

We roll up these costs into one charge, then just add the cost of the fish or corals, the contents you choose. The domestic freight is paid by you to the airline when you pick up your order. Average for one box across the country is $100 or so for corals, a box of fish part way across can be $75.

You only ever pay for the original inbound box count. Sometimes high piece count boxes may expand at LAX during repack. What that means is that when you order a box of say Philippines fish, during acclimation and repack into new proper (bigger) baggage and (more) water for the last day of travel it may require what is called an expansion box. There will be a $12-15 charge for the expansion box, packing and heat or ice needed. The origin sources often pack as tight as they can, tight as will work, as they have to due to international freight rates and space restrictions. We have a bit of luxury domestically. It doesn't really cost squat more to add 20 lbs. of water to the shipment for the last leg of domestic shipping. Generally it all leaves L.A. in bigger bags with more water and ox than it got there with. Places with tight packs like the Philippines often require an expansion box to best ensure everything ships perfectly. Our guys are the best, they make the call, and you will be very impressed with the packing. We can never tell in advance if an expansion box is going to be needed, unless you order a box of damsels. The F.O.B. origin charges are only for original inbound box count, not how many it leaves as. That is why you may order a box and see when you track your shipment online it is two pieces. Know that the exporters want to put as much dollar value into each box as they can since they are limited by available air cargo space. They have down to an art and science how much water the fish needs to make the trip, both from the origin, and at LAX.

F.O.B. origin pricing is the only way to allow anyone to make up a list of what they want and have it packed at the source. My opinion is unless you are paying top top dollar for the crazy stuff, this is how to get the biggest best pieces for the least dough. We regularly hear of single pieces in the coral boxes being found for $100-200 and up online. Sizing varies but overall the origin source "mediums" get resized and called "larges" as soon as they land in the U.S.   As a general example a fish or coral that costs you $55 ($30 item + the inbound costs + $5 of the domestic shipping) can easily and will often be two to three times that in a store. And so it goes for many items. Acros are usually 3" fully grown-out colonies, not nublets. Larges are often what you and your LFS call extra large. It is dangerous to order large on some fish and corals. Remember big is hard to ship, and takes up a lot of room in a box.

So the main thing is to always check if the list you're looking at is "F.O.B. origin" or "F.O.B. LAX." The tranship fish or corals lists are all "F.O.B. origin." The only F.O.B. LAX sources are the Box-lot Specials for corals, and the Tanked Fish & Corals (when available), the latter of which is already sitting in L.A. and so have only box and packing added.

We hope this helps you understand the pricing better, and why it is the way it is. If you have any questions never hesitate to send an e-mail or call. Thanks!  


The following page gives an idea of number of pieces in a box from a few places ...

Sample Tranship Boxes

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