Transporting fish in the proper manner can decrease the chances of the fish dying or become unwell once they are in their new tank. Before transporting fish either from where you purchase them or between tanks in your own home you should take into consideration the following points. Firstly you need to make sure the water the fish is taken from is as closer match to the tank it is being put into as possible. The main things to think about are water temperature, the quality of the water, and the nitrate levels.

Ensuring the water temperature is the same when the fish is released into the new tank can be done by floating the bag containing the fish in the top of the new tank for 20-30 minutes to allow the temperatures to equalise. If the outside temperature is very cold or the fish is transported for a longer period of time you may want to increase the time the bag is floated to make sure the water in the bag has time to warm up to the appropriate temperature.

Stores selling fish usually have very good quality water because they replace small amounts of water often, as they remove some water each time they sell a fish. They also change larger quantities of water regularly. To make sure the water quality of your aquarium is as close as possible to the store make sure you carry out regular water changes and maintain your aquarium properly.

Nitrate levels are higher in badly maintained aquariums than in those with regular water changes and this is one of the most common causes of problems with fish. To ensure the nitrate level in your aquarium are suitable for new fish you could take a sample to the store you are buying the fish from and most will test the nitrate levels in it for you.

Packing fish properly is very important to ensure they arrive at their new home safely and in good health. Most stores will pack fish in plastic bags when they sell them to you,but you can also use clear containers such as food storage containers. When packing in bags you must make sure they are a suitable size for the fish they will carry. As a minimum they should be 15cm wide and at least 30-40cm in height. Small placid fish can be bagged in small groups of 5 and larger fish and more aggressive breeds should be kept singly or in pairs.

Bags containers should be filled one third with water and two thirds with air. Water should be put into the bag before you start collecting the fish and should be from the tank the fish are being taken from. Fish should be caught with a suitably sized net, ideally you should use two and bring them together to catch the fish. Chasing a fish around with one net will only stress them out more than is necessary.

When you have caught the fish make sure your bag is open ready to put the fish into. Bring the net out of the water and gently push it through to guide the fish into the bag. Make sure the net is as far into the bag as you can in case a fish jumps as they are being put in and misses the bag. When all the fish are in the bag twist the top, trapping as much air in the top of the bag as possible and either tie an elastic band around the top or tie the top of the bag in a knot, ensuring it is strong enough not to come undone during transportation. Most stores will place the bag inside a paper or plastic bag to help minimise stress.

Make sure you are going straight to your destination after purchasing the fish, to ensure they are not transported any longer than necessary. If you have any other places to go to do this first. Keep the bag or container upright and try to minimise movement as much as possible by getting someone to hold the bag or placing a towel or blanket around it.

When you get home remove the fish bag from the other bags. Make sure the light in your aquarium is off and that any other noisy items such as TV’s are off to keep the fish as calm as possible. Place the bag into the top of the tank and leave it to float for the appropriate time to allow the water temperatures to equalise to prevent temperature shock. When the temperatures are equalised, undo the top of the bag and submerge the top of the bag into the water, allowing the fish to swim out. Do not pour the fish into the tank as this can make them more stressed.

Once the fish are in their new home they will normally hide away or sit on the bottom because of the stress of being transported. Leave the light off for at least 3-4 hours, if not overnight and try to keep activity around the tank to a minimum to let them settle in. If all is well they will soon settle in to their new home.

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