Success and cost of shipping to California ?


New member
I'm been lurking around here and may be approaching the time when I'll start setting up a 20g (plus 20 gallon basement sump) aquarium. I've decided to give my tank a natural start with some uncured live rock, and have been seriously considering the 20g package from TBS. I live about 15 minutes from the Oakland airport in California, but was curious to hear from people that have had their packages shipped to them as far away as the west coast. Also, the cost seems a bit high... is it really $70 - ish for each of two shipments? It seems sad to have to pay $140 for a package that only cost about $240!

Any comments either way are appreciated!
Aloha e jsilver,

I'm in Seattle, WA and received the first half of my 'package' from TBS a couple of weeks ago. Here's my experience...

I phoned in the order and Mary gave me a tracking number for SWA. I used that to watch the status of the package as it traveled from Tampa to St. Louis to Las Vegas to Boise to Seattle. Roughly it spent about 10 hours travelling.

I received three boxes, two for LR, one for LS. (This was part of a 40g package.) Shipping was approximately $85. The airlines charge a minimum (I think it's 100 lbs), so by ordering anything less than that, you're kinda getting hosed. This is the airlines, not TBS.

The boxes were all pretty wet. I was a little bit concerned that something had pierced the contents, causing them to leak. The folks at the cargo facility said that it's pretty common for those boxes to come in wet - apparently there's enough commerce between Seattle and TBS that they recognized the boxes! My fears were unfounded. Inside the box is a styrofoam container, inside that are thick plastic bags within thick plastic bags within thick plastic bags. The bags are secured with rubber bands, which are obviously not water tight. I'm assuming that changes in air pressure pushes water out.

Got everything home and we unpacked the boxes into a large horizontal bin. This allowed me to make a mental plan for aquascaping and gave a couple of mantis shrimp and hairy crabs a chance to crawl out.

It's been two weeks (tonight) and we're still discovering new things.

That's been my experience, now I'll add an editorial comment...

It is unfortunate that we use the term 'Live Rock' to refer to everything from aiptasia-encrusted bricks from the lfs to coraline-encrusted dry rocks from the South Pacific to Life-encrusted, water-shipped rocks from TBS. It really confuses the debate. People should look at how porous a given rock is, what kind of life enhabits it, and how it is shipped when considering 'Live Rocks'.

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Right On!! Yes, TBS rock makes the LFS 'live rock' look like dead rock!!

I live in Flagstaff, AZ which is somewhat rural. I have picked up 3 shipments from TBS in Phoenix, AZ all this summer. Phoenix is very hot in the summer 100-110 usually. After picking up the rock I drive 2 hours to my home to unpack:

beautiful super live rock that has be packed very well for the travel, usually with water in the bags and in the styrofoam too! And yes, wet boxes.

If you are paying 'the package' price you are scoring great deal even with the shipping.

For me shipping costs, roughly

$48 for 30 pounds LR
$78 for 30 pounds LR and 50 pounds sand
$58 for 30 pounds LR

One guy at the LFS told me the water in shipping made it too expensive. I thought he was crazy!!! What about the life!!!

All the life is AMAZING and very worth the $$
I meant to add...

we've had VERY little die off!

Thanks EVERYONE at Tampa Bay for providing such a brillian product.

Thanks for the feedback on your shipping experience...

I just wanted to add that if you go to the airport to pick up your shipment and the boxes are all wet and leaking/dry, do not be alarmed as the rock will be fine.

We shipped our rock dry for over 20 years with no problems, but found that shipping underwater from our warehouse reduced any die off as the rock is submerged when we tender it to the freight house at the airport.

If it is a direct flight there is usually little to no leakage...but if it is a connecting flight, the freight goes up and down the baggage ramps two times, is handled two times by the airlines, and is then delivered to its destination.

You have seen how they handle your baggage at the airport, thank goodness they handle our freight in a more gentle manner, but no matter how you pack it, when a box is dropped, or tossed, the bags are going to puncture, and you will have wet boxes.....

But the good part is the rock is underwater for most of the shipment, and arrives in good shape. We use 3-4, 8 mil bags when packing rock, which we had specially made , which usually does the job without leakage.
Richard TBS

:rollface: :rollface: :rollface: :rollface:
Thanks for all of the comments, everyone! I am somewhat reassured about the creatures making the trip, but will have to decide about the money (for shipping) factor when it comes time to buy. I know this hobby costs money, but spending that much on shipping seems a bit much! And I know it's not TBS's fault... more mine for living so far away from them :)
Hey richard, hows the rock looking this time of year?

I have bought from TBsaltwater twice and it is very nice rock.

edit: wanted to add that I live about 5 hours from them so I road trip it down there. Talk about hitchikers! The bad ones are easy to deal with but you would have to pay a ton just for the good ones.

I read on RC that some guy had a gobie hitchiker on his rock from TBS!!!
Rock is at its best this time of year, has summer growth, and looks like were are not going to get hit by the Hurricane.
We are fully stocked, so make a road trip!!

Richard TBS:rollface: