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moving fish

Moving Fish

Fish are colorful and add calm to our environment. They are also delicate creatures and can survive traveling for about 48 hours. With proper preparation and containers, they can safely be relocated to your new home.

Professional moving companies are not permitted to move pets. See Non-Allowable Items. If you will be driving and your journey is 48 hours or less, you can transport your fish with you in the car. Never leave the fish unattended in the car overnight. If you will be on the road for longer than 2 days, consider alternate options, such as flying or having a pet store board and air ship your fish. UPS, FedEx or USPS can also be used to transport your fish.

If you will be flying be sure to read the airlines policy, as each airline has it own rules and regulations and not all of them mention fish. Although the size of your fish may differ considerably from that of other animals, they will still be required to pay all applicable fees. Booking early is recommended as each flight has a maximum number of pets allowed.

Make sure to check state regulations prior to your move, to ensure your breed of fish is allowed into your delivery state, or any stateliness you may cross. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has informative guidelines and information.

Prior To Traveling

  • For about 5 days prior to moving, change the water – switch 20% of the water in the aquarium. This will provide clean water in the tank.
  • 1 – 2 days prior to moving and transporting do not feed your fish. Fish can survive up to about 7 days without food. This will lessen the chances of the water getting too messy.
  • Your fish should be the very last thing to be packed. They should not be waiting while everything else gets packed or loaded. They need to be in transit for as little time as possible.

Your fish should also be the very first thing to be unpacked once they have reached the final destination.

Transportation Options For Your Fish

  • One way to transport fish is in plastic bags. Special plastic fish bags can be obtained from pet stores.
  • Fill the bag a third of the way using water from the fish tank or aquarium. Use a separate plastic bag for each fish. Do not put more than one fish in each bag.
  • For extra protection and to reduce leaking, use a second plastic bag to cover the first bag.
  • Using a rubber band, close the two bags securely.
  • If the fish will be in bags for more than one hour, place pure oxygen in the bags.
  • If you have multiple fish, transporting them in buckets is an easy way to move them.
  • Using a 5 gallon bucket is advised.
  • Use a new bucket. Do not use a bucket that has had, or may have had chemicals in it.
  • Make sure the bucket has a water tight lid.
  • Fill the bucket with water from your tank or aquarium.
  • A container could also be used to transport your fish. Make sure it is strong, durable and has a lid.
  • Use water from the tank or aquarium and ensure the lid is secure.
  • Using a container may be a good way of transporting fish with sharp fins.
  • If your fish are in a small aquarium, it is possible to move it with both the fish and water. A large fish tank should not be moved with the fish inside.
  • All objects – filter, rocks, plants, and any decorations should be removed.
  • Empty some of the water.
  • Tanks are fragile, it could drop and you may loose some, or all of your fish.
  • If your tank or aquarium has live plants and you want to move these as well, they should be placed in plastic bags using water from the tank or aquarium. This will help in keeping alive the essential bacteria on the plants.

Whether you are using a plastic bag, bucket or container to transport your fish, there should be room for them to swim around. The water needs to have enough oxygen for the fish, therefore the vessel being used to transport them should be large enough. One third of the container should be filled with water, the remaining for oxygen.

Packing your fish in a secure carrier is vital if you are moving them in either plastic bags or small containers. A Styrofoam or picnic cooler could be used, something that is insulated. To stop them moving around, it is recommended that bubble wrap be placed between the plastic bags or containers.

Traveling With Your Fish

  • It’s very important to Travel Safely With Your Pets and that the water stays at its normal temperature while moving. If traveling by car, place the fish where they can benefit from the air conditioner or heater, if needed.
  • Creating a dark environment for your fish can help them be less active for the duration of the journey. You could cover the container using a sheet or piece of fabric. Anything that will prevent light from entering.

Arriving To The New Home

Unpacking your fish should be the first thing you do once you arrive at your new home. Put the tank or aquarium back together and place all objects, such as rocks and decorations into the tank. Replace any filters, pumps and heaters. If you have live plants, they can now be entered back into the tank.

If you used a bucket to transport the fish, pour both the water and fish straight into the tank. You could also use a net to move the fish if you prefer.

If the fish were moved in plastic bags, let the bags float in the new water. This will help to regulate the temperature of the water in the bags. Once the water of the tank and the bags are alike, you can introduce the fish into the tank.

Now that the calm is back in place, you can unpack the rest of your belongings.

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