Frequently Asked Questions

ORDERING

Questions that you may have before or while you are placing an order.
Do you have a physical store where I can browse/shop in-person?

No, we only sell online at the moment. We do offer curbside pickup at our address in Chicago for local buyers who would like to pick up their order instead of having it shipped. You can either select the "local curbside pickup" option at the checkout and you will be given instructions after on how to schedule a curbside pickup.

PLEASE NOTE: We DO NOT have a storefront and do not allow walk-ins/browsing, entry into the building etc. It is strictly curbside pickup by appointment ONLY.

Are your plants snail/algae/pest Free?

We do our best to remove any visible snails or any other unwanted pests, etc while packing plants, but we do not guarantee our plants to be snail/algae/pest free unless they are tissue-cultured. Most of the plants that we have for sale are kept with Pea Puffers, Assassin Snails, Nerite Snails or Shrimp to help keep them snail/algae/pest free but again, we cannot guarantee anything to be snail/algae/pest free unless it is tissue-cultured. Snails in particular are generally considered beneficial to an aquarium and will usually not eat live plants unless they are dying or are dead. Unfortunately snails/algae/pests are inevitable when dealing with live aquatic plants.

If you are concerned about snails/algae/pests getting into your tank, before adding the plants in, take 5ml of bleach (or hydrogen peroxide) and mix
it with ONE GALLON OF WATER. Dip the plants in that solution for 10 seconds. After that, rinse the plants in separate tank water and add them to your tank. This should kill anything unwanted that might be on them. We also recommend you quarantine any live animals/plants before adding them to your aquarium.

What is your Live Arrival Guarantee Policy?

Details about our Live Arrival Guarantee Policy can be found here.

Can I make a special request to receive specific ratios of male and female snails, shrimp or fish? Or request for a certain size or color, etc?

No, we unfortunately cannot take special requests to be given specific ratios of each sex, or request to be given only one sex, instead of a mix of sexes, at this time.

We also cannot help identify the sex of your snails, shrimp or fish (especially snails) after you receive them as not all species are easy to distinguish between the sexes.

All snails, shrimp, or fish, unless otherwise noted, will be a random mix of females and males, and we cannot guarantee you will get a certain number of each sex.

How does the "Buy 2 Get 1 Free" Promotion work?

If a listing has a "Buy 2 Get 1 Free" banner on it, you will automatically get a third plant/portion for free if you buy 2 of the same plant. E.g. if you order 2 x Frogbit you will receive a third portion for free.

Are your fertilizers Invertebrate (snail and shrimp) & fish safe?

Yes, unless stated otherwise. We have personally tested all of our fertilizers that we sell to ensure they are safe for all fish and invertebrates. Although some of our fertilizers may contain "Copper", which is generally regarded as not invertebrate safe, each dose only contains a very small amount needed by plants, and will not harm any invertebrates and will quickly be absorbed by plants. 

Do you ship outside of the United States?

No, we only ship within the Contiguous U.S. (All lower 48 states, including DC).

We do not ship internationally, or to Alaska, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories.

Can I stack my discount/promo codes?

The stacking of discount/promo codes is not permitted at this time. You may only use 1 discount/promo code at a time during checkout, so we recommend that you select the one that benefits you the most and save the other codes for future orders.

SHIPPING & DELIVERY

Questions that you may have after placing your order, or after your order has been shipped and is still in transit and has yet to be delivered to you.
When will my order ship? I paid for (blank) shipping!

Our goal is to get your order to you as fast as possible and in the best condition possible, but unexpected things may happen (e.g. unplanned emergencies we need to attend to, one of us falling sick, a large surge of orders being placed) and know that we are doing our best to get your order shipped out as soon as we possibly can.

Please note that any dates shown in the shipping methods at the checkout page are ESTIMATED Shipping Times (AKA once the order has been shipped out, it will take roughly (blank) business days for your order to be delivered to your address). It does not factor in the time it may take us to get the order shipped out after you have placed the order as we are a small business and do not have numerous employees packing and processing orders 24/7 like the bigger online retailers. We try to ship out packages generally within 1-3 business days.

We ship out on Mondays and Tuesdays usually, sometimes Wednesdays or Saturdays (for USPS Priority only). If an order placed before the cut off time on Sunday at 11:59pm, it will likely be shipped that week, if not it may be shipped the following week.

Order processing times can vary depending on the volume of orders we receive and we greatly appreciate your patience. Details about the different ship days for each type of good purchased and the shipping services can be found under our Shipping page.

THINGS TO NOTE:

  • - If you've ordered items that are pre-ordered, the order will only ship out once we have all items instock.
  • - If we realize we are out of stock of (blank) and are due for a shipment containing (blank) that week, we may wait until that shipment arrives to ship an order out.
  • - If there is extreme weather, with temperatures way below freezing (<20F) or extremely hot (>90F) in your area or in Chicago, we might decide to delay mailing your order to ensure your plants/animals have the best chance of survival, especially if weather insurance or a cold pack or heat pack was not added to your order, we may wait till temperatures in your area or Chicago are warmer/cooler.
  • - We may hold off on shipping out orders to the following week if there is a federal holiday that week which will mean packages may potentially get delayed or spend an extra day or two in transit, e.g. Thanksgiving or Christmas, or New Years.

We do our best to notify you via email or text if we check the weather in your area and find that it is not safe to ship without a cold pack or heat pack, and decide to hold off on shipping until more favorable weather conditions are forecasted, however, we may not be able to notify you if we are swamped with unfulfilled orders

Help! My package has been delayed/hasn't moved! (Or any sort of shipping related concern after receiving the tracking number via email, or while the package is still in transit)

We only generate shipping labels if we plan to ship the package out that same day (or the day after at the latest).

USPS may not always scan packages the same day that we drop them off at a USPS facility. It can take up to 24 hours for the tracking to update as tracking does not update in real time.

It is not uncommon for USPS workers to forget or forgo scanning items, especially during peak periods where there is a surge in shipping volume. We have seen cases where it's taken almost a week for a package to get any sort of scan (including the initial acceptance scan), and cases where the package was in transit to another facility in another state and did not get scanned until it is was out for delivery at the destination.

Once the package has been dropped off at the shipping carrier's facility it is considered FOB, meaning that we no longer have possession of it, so if you have any questions or issues with your package while it is still in transit, such as it being delayed or lost, you will have to contact the relevant shipping carrier's customer service as they usually have the ability to get to more information about the package than we do. We can only see what you can see using the tracking number, we are not supplied any more information than that.

The Customer Service Hotlines for each shipping carrier we use is listed below:

UPS: 1 (800) 742-5877

USPS: 1 (800) 275-8777

Fedex: 1 (800) 463-3339

If your package has been lost or arrives damaged we can help file a claim with the shipping carrier. For any issues other than that, your best bet is to speak with the shipping carrier's customer service. We usually recommend that you call them to see if they can help if your package is delayed more than 2-3 days. For delayed USPS shipments, you can try submitting a missing mail search request if the tracking hasn't updated in over 7 business days.

What can I do if I used the wrong shipping address?

Reach out to us immediately either via chat or by email (windycityaquariums@gmail.com) within 2 hours of placing your order with the order number and the correct shipping address. If you contact us after the 2-hour time frame, we cannot promise that we can change the shipping address. If your order has already been shipped, we cannot change the shipping address and you must instead contact the carrier and request to pickup your package at a USPS post office or FedEx/UPS store.

I am going to be out of town between (insert date range) or need to receive an order before (insert date). Can you ensure my order ships out after/before a (insert date) to ensure I receive it before/after (insert date)?

Please refrain from place an order if you know you are going out of town soon and there won't be anyone you can ask to be there on your behalf to receive and unbox the order at your address. or if you need us to guarantee that you will receive an order before a certain date.

We cannot guarantee that notes included in the order at the checkout or that emails/messages sent to us before or after an order has been placed will be read and acknowledged before we pack/ship an order out. Also, due to limited space we generally cannot accept requests to hold an order.

We understand that unexpected things may pop up, so if you have already placed an order, and discover you will not be able to receive your order. please ensure that you send us an email or message via the chat our website or the Shop App ASAP to let us know. However, we cannot guarantee we will be able to read your message/email in time. If we see your message/email before the order has been packed or shipped out, we may be able to hold the order for a short period of time, or a longer period of time for an additional fee. However, once you've received an email with the tracking number for your order, it is likely that your order has already been shipped out and we will be unable to retrieve the package.

In any case, we will not be able provide a refund for an order if it arrives before/after a certain date, or reship a replacement order if you discover your plants/animals are DOA once the time limit for you to be covered by our Live Arrival Guarantee Policy has passed, or after a failed delivery attempt has occurred.

Order Issues

Questions that you may have after receiving/unboxing your order.
Why are my Plants/Snails/Shrimp not as Colorful/Big as the pictures on your website?

Any photos we use are just an example representation and NOT the exact plants/snails/shrimp that you will receive. Every plant and animal is different and may vary in size/color slightly depending on the environment it is raised or grown in at the time, or seasonality and can vary batch to batch.

The color of a plant or animal may also differ depending on the light you are using. Some lights may wash out certain color hues, and some color hues may not be as vibrant under low light. We generally use high-intensity lighting with a variety of different colored LEDs, to ensure the pictures we have of our plants and animals look their best, and that our plants have the best lighting conditions to grow in while they are growing in our tanks.

My plant/animal is DOA (Dead on Arrival), what do I do?

Please ensure you have read the instructions we've included in your package for detailed instructions and a link/QR code to submit a DOA claim. If you did not receive any instructions in your package please send us a message via chat or email (WindyCityAquariums@gmail.com)

Why have my snails not emerged from their shells or/and are floating. Are they dead?

It is not uncommon for snails to hide in its shell when it feels scared as this is how they try to protect themselves from danger or predators. Your snail may still be stressed by the long trip it's had, where the box has been likely been tossed around or even dropped multiple times while in transit. It might take up to 1-2 days (or more) until your snail finally feels safe enough to come out of its shell.

A snail may also appear to be floating as they may have air trapped in their shell. Snails may sometimes "float" in an attempt to travel to a new environment quickly and more easily using the water current, in order to get away from potential danger or predators, or in search of food.

If you suspect your snail is dead, gently pick it up out of the water and give it the "sniff" test (AKA turn it over and smell the snail inside the shell. If smells really horrible (like a rotten egg), it's likely dead. If its body is tucked tightly in it's shell or recoils tighter into its shell when you pick it up, it may still be alive as a dead snail will likely have its body half out of its shell or may appear that its body is "falling" out of the shell and will be unresponsive to touch.

We recommend placing the snail in a separate container with dechlorinated water or tank water from a cycled fish tank, or in a separate cycled "quarantine" tank to allow you to you observe them and to prevent curious tank mates (like bettas or guppies) from poking or nipping at them while they try to acclimate to their new environment. This will help prevent Ammonia from being released into your main tank if a snail turns out to be DOA. Never place the snail into an uncycled tank as the ammonia may harm your snail and lead to its death.

I unboxed my order and realized that I am missing an item, what do I do?

Please double check the box the items came in as it may be hidden within the packing/insulation materials in the box, or may have fallen out while you were unboxing the order. If you are missing a plant, please check that it is not packed in the same bag as another plant (we might pack 2 different plants in 1 bag rather than 2 to reduce our plastic usage).

If you are 100% sure an item is missing from your order Please send us a chat or email (WindyCityAquariums@gmail.com) with a list of all missing items with a picture of all items received in their original packaging, with any labels clearly visible, and the invoice.

If the box your order came in looked visibly damaged/opened when you received it please send us pictures of the box so we can file a claim with the shipping carrier.

Do I have to acclimate my snails to the temperature/water parameters of my tank?

In the aquarium hobby temperature/water parameter acclimating your fish or shrimp is crucial as they cannot handle a sudden change in environmental parameters. However, aquatic snails are not that sensitive to environmental changes. Therefore it should not be an issue if you do not acclimate them to your tank's temperature/water parameters via drip acclimation or by floating them. We ourselves generally do not acclimate them, as we have not seen a reduction in fatalities by acclimating them. We may occasionally float them in the tank to acclimate them to the temperature, but usually we will just plop them into a cycled tank that is the appropriate temperature and within the suitable water parameter range.