04/26/2021 | Aquaculture | 8 MINUTE READ

Ensuring a Safe Environment for Transporting Fish & Marine Life

transporting fish

When you’re moving to a new location, organizing every facet of the move is almost assuredly going to be time-consuming. If you have any pets, factoring these animals into your move is another thing that you’ll need to contend with. While moving a dog or cat to a new location is relatively simple and straightforward, transporting a fish tank requires its own separate process if you want to make sure that your fish are able to make the move without issue.

While transporting fish and marine life to a new location isn’t exactly a difficult process, there are some special steps that you should follow. For one, it’s important that you have the right materials and supplies for the journey, which include everything from plastic bags and buckets to a siphon hose and fishnet. When you’re trying to transport fish, you’ll need to be careful not to skip any of the following steps. For instance, if you don’t correctly prepare for the move, you may find that you don’t have the right supplies once moving day rolls around, which would only serve to add to your stress and frustration.

One of the most important considerations that homeowners often overlook when transporting fish is that they should save as much water as they can to make the transportation process more straightforward. By placing as much of the tank water as you can into five-gallon buckets, you can easily dump the water back into the tank once you’ve arrived at your new home. This also helps to minimize potential health risks for the fish you’re transporting. This article offers a detailed guide on how to properly transport your fish to a new location.

Planning To Transport Your Fish

When you’re preparing to transport your fish, it’s highly recommended that you take the time to create a comprehensive plan that will allow you to safely transport your fish with ease. The first step of planning the transport is to obtain the necessary supplies. The main pieces of equipment that you should have on hand include:

  • Plastic bags
  • Large five-gallon buckets
  • Duct tape
  • Packing paper
  • Siphon hose
  • A fishnet
  • Foam sheets
  • Moving boxes

However, it’s also important that you have the tools and equipment needed to test the water and make sure that it’s healthy for the fish that are being transported. Keep in mind that fish require the water they swim in to have a specific pH level. When taking the needs of freshwater aquarium fish into account, the pH levels should be anywhere from 6.8-7.6. For freshwater applications, you can also use contacting conductivity sensors to identify the current quality of the water. If the water becomes too contaminated during the move, the fish that you’re transporting may not survive, which is why regular monitoring is recommended.

To make sure that the moving process goes smoothly, you should stop feeding your fish for at least 24 hours before the move is set to take place, which ensures that they pass all of their waste beforehand. Keep in mind that the majority of fish are able to survive for upwards of one week without food. If some of your fish are smaller in size, you could transport them in plastic bags with some of the water from the tank. Make them more secure by placing the bags in a cooler or sizable case.

As for larger fish or lengthy moves, it’s better to place the fish in large buckets. Keep in mind that the buckets should be completely clean and free from any harsh chemicals. Once you’ve placed some of the tank water into the bucket, consider taking the time to test the quality of the water for contaminants or chemicals. Each bucket should contain anywhere from 3-4 fish. Spills can be prevented by placing tape over the lids.

At this time, the tank should also be prepped for the move, which begins by removing any plants and accessories that are found in the tank. To keep the plants healthy, pack them in buckets with water that’s taken from the tank. Any accessories that were taken from the tank should be dried off before being packed as well. Be careful when removing the light, heater, and pump. These pieces of equipment are necessary for the proper function of the tank, which is why they need to be handled with care.

When you get started with draining the water, the easiest way to remove the water from the tank is with a siphon hose. Try to save most of the tank water so that the tank can be quickly refilled once you get to your new location. Once all of the water has been removed and placed into five-gallon buckets, the tank itself can be packed. Make sure that you pack the lid separately in bubble wrap. If you can find a box that’s large enough for the tank, pack the tank in the box before placing insulating foam around any gaps. If you pack the tank correctly, it won’t shift too much during transport, which reduces the likelihood that the glass will crack or break.

Protecting Your Fish When Transporting

Once moving day arrives, your most important consideration should be to protect your fish while they are being transported. To make sure that the bags or buckets retain enough heat during the move, you should wrap them with towels. These measures will provide your fish with enough protection for a journey of one hour or less. If you need to transport your fish across longer distances, consider buying a lidded polystyrene box to store your fish. These boxes are better able to maintain inside temperatures, which will keep your fish protected during longer journeys.

It’s also important that you place your fish in the right areas in your vehicle. Make sure that you avoid the trunk of the car, which may become too cold during the winter and too hot during the summer. Along with keeping the bags upright during the move, any empty space surrounding the fish should be filled with inflated bags and towels. At this time, your main goal should be to keep the bags from shifting during transport.

If you’re placing some of your fish in bags, it’s important that you maintain the right air/water ratio. Around 33 percent of the bag should contain water. The rest needs to consist of air. It’s also recommended that you take this opportunity to test the water to make sure that the pH levels haven’t dipped below 6.5. Once the water becomes more acidic, this means that the water likely contains too many contaminants. In the event that the water is contaminated, your fish may not survive long. Keep in mind that the contaminants in the water could include harmful bacteria, which is why it’s essential that you test the water before you make the move.

Once You’re Settled

Once you have arrived at your new home and have settled down, it’s time to set up your fish tank so that your fish can be placed back in the tank where they can swim around freely. The tank must be set up properly to ensure that your fish survive once you transfer them to the tank. The step-by-step process for setting up a fish tank involves:

  • The first thing you should do is return all of the accessories to the tank
  • Refill the tank with the water that was saved during the move
  • Install heaters, pumps, and filters
  • Place any live plants in the tank
  • Either pour your fish in the water or use a net for the transfer

Keep in mind that any unnecessary movements during transportation only serve to stress the fish, which means that it can take longer for the fish to become acclimated to their new environment. In the initial days following the move, keep an eye on your fish to make sure that they’re doing alright and aren’t too stressed. It’s also essential that you properly maintain the water conditions.

Before you think about adding your fish back into the tank water, it’s important that you check the water temperature, chlorine levels, ammonia levels, and pH balance. With the right sensors, all of these measurements can be obtained without issue. As touched upon previously, the pH levels of the water should be around 6-8-7.6. If you obtain readings that are higher or lower than this range, you’ll likely need to treat the water or replace it altogether if you want your fish to adjust to their surroundings and get acclimated to their new environment.

In order for fish to survive and thrive, they require a healthy and consistent environment. Any changes to this environment add stress, which is why traveling to a new location is known to add ample amounts of stress to most species of fish. As long as you keep the aforementioned tips and guidelines in mind, you should be able to ensure a safe and healthy environment for your fish while you travel to your new home.

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Posted by Dominic O'Donnell on April 26, 2021

Sensorex is a global leader in the design and manufacture of quality sensors for water quality and process applications. The company offers more than 2000 sensor packages for pH, ORP, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, free chlorine, chlorine dioxide, UV transmittance and other specialty measurements, as well as a full line of sensor accessories and transmitters. Its expert technical support engineers solve analytical sensor challenges with custom designs and off the shelf products.

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