Home > Tips > Transporting Fish

Transporting Fish

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 28 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Tropical Fish Marine Aquarium Fish

Most articles about fish advise you on how to keep them in ideal environments. But sooner or later you may need to transport your fish, and this is never ideal. It's important to know what you can do to minimise the risks involved.

There are several reasons why fish may need to be moved:-

  • They have to travel from the shop where you purchased them to your home.
  • You're moving house and they need to travel with you.
  • They need to visit a vet or fish health specialist.
  • You are trading or giving away your fish.
  • You are exhibiting your fish in a show.
  • You are introducing your fish to somebody else's for breeding purposes.

Increasingly, fish shops are able to arrange specialist transport for fish to your home. Where available, this option is almost always worth taking. If it is not available, plan your journey carefully to minimise the time your fish will spend being moved and to make its journey as smooth as possible.

Travel Containers

The ideal way to transport fish, and the only way to do it if the journey is a long one, is using a special transport tank. These are metal containers with valves for cycling oxygen. They can be expensive, but they will keep your fish in good condition, minimising stress, and they're re-usable.

If you're transporting fish over short distance (with journey times of less than an hour), the best thing to use is a plastic bag. Don't use supermarket bags for this - they're less sturdy and may leak toxins into the water. Your local fish shop will be able to supply you with something suitable at a very low price. The bag should be filled about halfway up with water and the upper part should be inflated with air or, ideally, pure oxygen (available in canisters from specialist shops). This will ensure that your fish can breathe properly throughout the journey. Bear in mind that the warmer the water your fish needs, the less oxygen will be available in it, and the shorter you should aim to make your journey time.

Never just dump fish bags in the back seat of your car. At worst you should have somebody there to hold them upright. The best way to transport bags is to build a box for them out of old pieces of polystyrene. This will provide both support and insulation, helping to keep the temperature steady.

Although a plastic or metal box might seem like a better idea than a bag, because it's sturdier, it's usually a bad idea, as frightened fish can injure themselves when bashing against the sides.

Minimising Stress

There are several things you can do to minimise the stress your fish experience when being transported. This isn't just a matter of being nice to them - it can have a serious effect of their health.

Frightened fish tend to urinate more than usual, which means ammonia can build up in the transport container, poisoning them. You can reduce the risk of this by adding a special anti-ammonia agent such as Kent Ammonia Detox or AmQuel. You should also add antibacterial medication to reduce the risk of stress-related and injury-related infection. ParaGuard is a good choice because it also kills parasites and improves the mucous coating which protects your fish's skin.

Fish, like most animals, are generally calmer when transported in the dark, so if you're using a clear plastic bag find something to cover it with. When checking on them, try to look from the side, not directly above or below, as the latter are the directions from which predators are more likely to approach and fish are consequently more nervous about them.

Finally, make sure you've done your research on the type of fish you're transporting. Some, such as neon tetra, are highly gregarious by nature and will feel much safer in a group. Others, such as angel fish, are likely to become aggressive if kept together in a confined space and may injure one another, so it's better to transport them separately.

Transporting fish can be a bit of a nightmare, but with careful planning and proper attention, there's no reason why it shouldn't go smoothly for all concerned.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Nettie
    Re: Food Quantities
    Just noticed smallest neon tetra tail is missing and white on the edges. Another also has half of tail missing. They was OK a few days ago. I only…
    29 November 2020
  • KikiL
    Re: Providing Toys for Your Fish
    I have guppies and I think the ideas for toys might be too big, I have tried training them but they aren't responding.
    24 November 2020
  • Baby fishies
    Re: Caring for Baby Fish
    I have a albino and green dragon Pleco. I also have one Cory cat (the others died a couple months ago). A week ago I found 6 fairly big…
    21 October 2020
  • Marie
    Re: Caring for Baby Fish
    What should a Fry tank look like, what size should it be and how long do they stay in it?
    7 October 2020
  • Bob
    Re: Dealing with Bullying Between Fish
    Hi. Would like some advice,I am having to take out a male swordtail,as it is bulliying the other two swordtails,who are…
    10 September 2020
  • Lee
    Re: Dealing with Bullying Between Fish
    Hi, I'm hoping someone can help. My elliotti cichlids bred not long ago and I left them to raise the babies by themselves.…
    16 August 2020
  • Ruthie
    Re: Dealing with Bullying Between Fish
    Hello, I am taking care of my Dad's fish since he passed away back in January. I know how to clean the tank and such…
    3 August 2020
  • Wteach
    Re: Dealing with Bullying Between Fish
    So, I have this big blue gourami. A couple years ago he suddenly go aggressive in chasing and forcing all the other fish…
    7 July 2020
  • Jen
    Re: Dealing with Bullying Between Fish
    I’ve got 25ltr tank with 4 betta had them for months now , they were all doing fine ... omg one started to grow so big and…
    11 June 2020
  • Lynsy
    Re: Dealing with Bullying Between Fish
    I have rwo angel fish and I've just introduced another angel of similar size and its getting bullied should I buy another…
    7 June 2020