If you’re a fish keeper then sooner or later you’re going to need to move your beloved pets. Whether that’s a short journey round to a friend’s house when you go on holiday or you’re moving half way across the country, it’s essential to understand the safest way to transport fish. Doing so will not only minimize any risks to the health of your fish but will also help to protect expensive fish-keeping equipment.
Choose Your Travelling Container
If your fish tank is reasonably small it may be possible to transport your fish within it. However appreciate not only how heavy glass tanks are but also how fragile they can be. Moving glass aquariums can be a recipe for disaster, leading to either crushed fingers or alternatively chips and cracks appearing in the glass. Generally speaking, a better idea is to transport your fish in an alternative container that is not just lighter and stronger but also easier to carry.
Buckets are a popular solution here though you should aim to buy new equipment especially for the task rather than attempting to re-use the bucket you wash your car with each week. This is because chemical residues may exist inside a bucket that has been used for other purposes, which could in turn cause damage to sensitive aquatic pets.
A further option is to use plastic bags to contain your fish. Clear bags can be particularly useful enabling you to visually check on your fish if you are travelling for an extended period of time. These bags can often be obtained from good aquarium stores.
Whatever container you choose, try to ensure that it is water-tight. That means that any aquarium or bucket you opt to use for transportation should have a closely-fitting lid to prevent any water spilling during movement.
Remove Any Décor Necessary
Fish should not be transported with any tank décor lest this moves during transit, causing damage to your fish. If using buckets or bags this is unlikely to be an issue, however if you opt to transport your fish in their aquarium all fittings and décor, from filters to rocks, should be removed for safety and only replaced upon arrival at your destination.
Reduce Water Volume to Eliminate Spilling
While it may seem cruel, when travelling with fish it makes sense to remove as much of the water as possible. This not only reduces the chances of spillage but also means your fish will move about less during the transportation process further keeping them safe.
Maintain a Constant Water Temperature
One of the most common causes of sickness in fish is a rapidly changing water temperature. In cold weather, tropical fish transported in formerly warm water may find the temperature dropping significantly. Equally, fish transported in a hot vehicle during the summer may experience a rapid and unpleasant rise in temperature.
When transporting fish try to take the ambient temperature into account by properly airing the vehicle, turning on air conditioning and/or ramping up the heating as necessary in order to minimize any rapid changes in water temperature.
Additionally, adding insulation to the carrying container can be a useful strategy. It’s normal, for example, for professional pet transporters to place bags of fish into polystyrene boxes for transportation so as to slow down any changes to the water temperature within.
Keep Your Fish in the Dark
Most commonly-kept fish are diurnal, meaning they’re awake during the day. At night they typically go into a torpor and are far less active. In this relaxed state they also tend to become less stressed. This can be useful tool. By keeping your fish in a darkened environment (such as placing a sheet or rug over a clear container) can help to minimize the stressful effects of moving your fish.
Treat Your Fish on Arrival
One final step worthy of mention are the number of aquarium additives available to help fish recover after an extended journey. These will generally help to treat any minor abrasions resulting from transportation; disinfecting them and speeding up the healing process. If possible, purchase one of these remedies before travel so that on arrival you can add the necessary dose, thus helping your fish to recover from their ordeal as quickly as possible. Your local aquarium shop should be able to recommend a suitable medication.