How to Travel with Your Fish

Most of us will change home locations at some point in our lives. Whether moving from an apartment to a home or from state to state, the care of our animals is something that is foremost on our mind. How will they adapt, can they handle the stress? While fish are perhaps low on the list of priorities, they need not be left behind. Moving your fish is quite simple and can be done with relative ease.

Short Distance Moves (Less than 2 Hours)

What You Need:
Freezer Bag
Appropriately Sized Container
Rubber Bands
Fishing Net

1. Remember, you want to put different species in different bags and no more than 3 small fish in a single bag. Large fish should be bagged individually.

2. Open the freezer bag and carefully set it inside the container, folding the top edges of the bag over the edges of the container.

3. Fill the bag 3/4’s with water from the aquarium.

4. Gently scoop your fish up with the fishing net. Place the net over the bag and turn it inside out, gently plopping the fish into the water. Remember, DO NOT OVERCROWD. When in doubt, make a new bag.

5. Pull the edges of the bag off the container and begin twisting the bag closed about one inch from the top. Make sure to have a big bubble of air available in the bag. Fold the twist in half and secure with a rubber band.

6. Make sure that all your fish bags are secure so they don’t roll around during transportation. Keeping them, standing, in a small box should be sufficient.
Long Distances (Greater than 2 Hours)

What You Need:
Air Stone
Power Inverter- Portable
Fishing Net

Remember: Do everything you can to maintain water temperature for your fish. Do not place them in the trunk of your car or the bed of a pickup truck. Keep them in the passenger area.

Remember: Do not feed your fish 48 hours prior to transport, during transport, or immediately after transport. 24 hours after successful return to the tank you can begin feeding small portions of food while they regain their appetite.

Keep in Mind: If using a regular cooler seems a bit strange to you, consider talking to your local fish store about purchasing the shipping containers they receive fish in. Make arrangements well ahead of the move.

1. Once you begin fasting your fish, you should take the time to eliminate decorations from the tank. Leave gravel, but pull out any plants or decorations.

2. Put together your transportation device. Line a cooler with a plastic trash bag or aquarium liner and season it with some salted water (aquarium salt is best). Seasoning merely requires rinsing the liner with some salted water so that its suitable for your fish.

3. Fill your cooler 2/3’s of the way with water from your aquarium. Do your best not to stir up any more debris than absolutely necessary as you want to keep the water in your cooler as clean as possible for your fish. Set up a secondary container with aquarium water if you will be stopping overnight. This will allow you to move the fish from a dirty holding container to a clean one and prevent things like ammonia burn.

4. Add your air stone and water filter to the tank before adding the fish. Gently catch your fish. Try to cause as little stress as possible and then place them in the tank.

5. Clean your gravel out of the tank and store it WITHOUT cleaning it. By keeping it in its “dirty” state you will be able to get the new tank up to old tank standards quickly, which will help prevent “new tank shock.” This old gravel has all the beneficial bacteria that have built up over time.

6. Clean and carefully store your tank.

7. Move your cooler into a secure location in your vehicle and plug your air stone and filter into the power converter. Secure the container with a lid to prevent spills and jumping before travelling.

8. Periodically check for signs of distress, but do not bother them frequently. If they are in a light colored container, they should be covered with a blanket as darkness helps to settle them down and will decrease stress.

9. Set up the new tank BEFORE you consider adding your fish. They will do better in the cooler than they will in an under prepared tank. Add the old gravel and then fill with any extra and UNUSED aquarium water. Add decorations, any additional water, and water conditioner , then set up your filtration system, water heaters, and air stones.

10. Check your water chemistry before adding your fish. Add a few fish at a time, making sure that all the fish are in fairly good condition before adding any more. While paleness and some gasping are normal, hanging at the surface and lying on the bottom of the tank are not. If your fish do these things, remove them immediately and retest your water.

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