Fish on the go

I often travel to various club meetings and trade shows where I am either showing fish in small aquariums or selling fish at auctions. Depending on the event, sometimes the fish are confined for several hours or even a couple of days or more. It is critical that certain precautions and steps be taken to insure that the fish are under as little stress as possible and will remain healthy during the ordeal. I want people to buy healthy fish and my prize fish to make it back home happy and active.


Bagging Fish

In my travels to various fish clubs, the most common problem I see at the auctions surprisingly is leaky plastic bags and bags with too little water. I have a standard rule for bagging fish: always use 2 mil bags or double bag if the bags are thinner than 2 mil. I also make sure that there is enough water in the bag that the fish can easily turn around in and that there is no folds in the bag that the fish can get caught in. If the bag is full of water and air to the point it is fully expanded like a balloon, there should not be much chance of the fish getting trapped in a crease. There are also various products available that are added to the water to help absorb/neutralize ammonia and calm the fish. I fill the bags with water from the aquarium they resided in.



Styrofoam boxes or coolers are the most ideal for protecting the bags from the cold of winter or the heat of summer, and if packed properly will keep the sloshing to a minimum.


Proper Display

If I am displaying fish at an event either in a very small aquarium/bowl or in a larger aquarium, I try to bring as much of the tank water from home as possible and a sponge filter from an aquarium that already has a well established bacteria colony. Small sponge filters are easy to transport and can be set up or taken down in just minutes. In addition to providing instant biological filtration, it also serves as aeration that will help calm several species in particular. The sponge filter may even provide a temporary food source for some fish species or invertebrates if it contains particulates. This is why I always make sure I have at least one active sponge filter at home in one of my aquariums, sumps, or quarantine tanks that will be ready when I need it. It is also nice to have a back up filter in case one of my large filtration systems go down.



It is important to acclimate the fish to the display tank just as you would a new fish at home. You should try and keep the temperature and pH of the water in the bag and the tank as close a match as possible. Otherwise add a small amount of the tank water to the bag every 15 minutes for an hour or so before releasing the fish into the aquarium.