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Moving Your Fish
When You Move from Here to There.
This page discusses how to move your fish. Several people have sent emails saying that they were moving and want to take their fish with them. Most folks wrote that they'd never moved their fish before and needed some advice about how to do it.
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Disclaimer! We consider the information on this page to be good advice. But we do not guarantee it will work for you, and we disclaim all responsibility for any losses, direct or consequential, arising from the use of this information. Click here to read our complete disclaimer dealing with the information on this website.
Pet Fish Talk, an MP3 PodCast, is a weekly internet talk show about keeping pet fish, such as tropical fish and goldfish, in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds. The shows were hosted by the Bailey Brothers, DrTom and Nevin, Click on this image for more information.  
Click here to listen to a Special Pet Fish Show hosted by The Bailey Brothers about Moving Your Fish and your aquarium from one room to another, or across town, or across the country.
1. Here's What You'll Need ...
a container, some trash bags, and some rubber bands. Here are more details.

(1) The container.  It should be the right size. Not too small, or it will cramp the fish and not contain enough air. Not too big, or you may not have enough water to cover the fish. It's best, if the container is insulated. You might be able to get a box with a Styrofoam liner from your local fish store. Actually an insulated plastic picnic cooler, like the ones used by people to keep food cool, is ideal.

(2) Some plastic trash bags. Get several bags. Make sure they are big enough to fill the container, when you inflate them. Thirty-five gallon black trash bags will usually work. The translucent trash bags are better because they allow you to see a little bit about what is going on inside the bag. Of course, these trash bags should be new and not used trash bags with a lot of old coffee grounds inside that will pollute the shipping water.

(3) Some 1/4" thick rubber bands. You'll need these rubber bands to seal the bags.

2. Change 20% of the Water ...
in your aquarium each day for several days before you move. Click here for more about changing water. You can clean your fish's home too. Click here for more about cleaning. But don't do too much at one time. Click here for more about that. Be patient and do a little bit each day for several days before you move your fish.

3. Don't Feed Your Fish ...
anything for the last 48 hours, before you put them in the shipping container. Make sure there is no left over food of any kind in their home. We want their stomachs empty, when they go into the bag.

Do not feed your fish, while they are traveling. We want the water to stay as clean as possible.


4. Put One of the Plastic Bags ...
inside the container. Then put another bag inside the first, so you have a double bag. that way if the first bag leaks, the second will hold the water. You might want to add a third bag inside the other two.

Get a ruler or tape measure and measure the distance inside the container from the bottom of the container to the top. Lets say it's 12 inches. You want to fill the container with 1/4 to 1/3 water leaving 3/4 to 2/3 for air. So if you measured 12" then you'd fill it with 3 or 4 inches of water and leave 8 or 9 inches for air.
Get a clean pan, cup, or ladle and scoop water off the surface of your fish's home and pour it into the plastic bags inside the container. Be careful not to scoop water off the bottom that may be contaminated with waste from the gravel. Do not use tap water from the faucet. Use good clear water from the surface.
Move the fish from their home into the container. Large or aggressive fish should be packed one fish to a container. Don't crowd the fish. Less crowding will mean more surviving.
Set the container with the plastic bags, water, and fish on a table. Bunch the top edges of the bags. Try to get all of the air out from between the bags. It's good if there is air inside the inner-most bag, but try not to trap air between the layers of bags. Squeeze the top edges of the bags together in your hands. Now lessen the pressure and maybe gently poke a finger in the opening so it's about 1" in diameter.

Keep your mouth about 12 inches from this opening and blow air into the bag. Don't put your mouth right on the opening, because the air from your lungs contains excess carbon dioxide. You should be blowing the air between your mouth and the opening into the inner most bag.

Fill the bag with air and then twist the top and fold it over. Put at least two rubber bands tightly around the top, making several loops to tightly seal the bags. Make sure the sealed bag will fit into the container, so you can close the container. Also make sure the bags fill most of the space inside the container.

Close the container. It is best if there is no light inside the container during the trip. The fish will be less active in the dark.
It is very difficult to say how long the fish can survive in this container. Using similar methods we have had fish survive for 48 hours. You should try to minimize the time the fish are in the container. Under no circumstances should you feed the fish in the container. Wait until they are released into their new home after the move before feeding them.
Be sure to keep the container warm but not hot during the trip. About 72 to 75 degrees F. would be ideal for most tropical fish during the trip. Cool water fish like goldfish might do better between 65 and 70 degrees F.

Cooler water will slow the fish's metabolism, so the fish will produce less waste and keep the water cleaner. But of course the water cannot be too cool or that will harm the fish.

5. Keep 80% of the Water ...
from your fish's home when you move. Discard the last few inches of water in the bottom.

Of course this will not be practical with a 1500 gallon pond! But you could do it with a 40 gallon aquarium. You'd need to take 32 gallons of the water with you, which would require several containers. Some of the containers will have water with fish, and some containers might have water without fish.

After your move, set the aquarium back up. don't open the containers with the fish. But open the containers that have the extra water without any fish. Pour that water back into the aquarium, and let the aquarium's filter run for a couple of hours. Open the containers with fish. Pour the water and  the fish into the aquarium, and top the aquarium up with at most 20% fresh tap water.

The airlines are not enthusiastic about accepting boxes of fish packed by novices. The information on this page is not intended for packing fish that will go on airplanes, because there are many other considerations, such as the pressurization in the planes, that make it more difficult to pack fish going on planes. If you must ship your fish on a plane, get a professional fish person to help you pack your fish.
Click here now to go to another page in this web site that contains Customer Comments and our Replies about How to Move Fish.












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 About our Fish ...
Almost all the photographs and videos, shown on this web site, were taken by us of our fish in our aquariums.
Compare the healthy, beautiful, energetic fish in our beautiful aquariums to the fish in our competitors pictures. Their fish often look thin with clamped fins and poor color.
We buy the highest quality fish, produced by the best fish farms or caught by the best collectors of wild fish, then we take incredibly good care of our fish in our beautiful aquariums.
If you compare the pictures on this site to our competitors pictures, you can instantly see, our fish and aquariums are better!  ;^ }
Will the fish you get from us look like the fish in our pictures? No! This is similar to buying kittens and puppies that will change as they grow to become cats and dogs.
We stock and ship fish that are the ideal size to sell. Not so small that they will not do well when shipped. Yet not so big that they have become much more expensive.
The fish in almost all of our pictures were young fish like the ones we have for sale that we raised up, and you can too! 
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This page was updated on August 26, 2014.