Moving to a new place with your aquarium in tow can be a challenging experience for you, but even more so for your fish. Moving fish in and out of their comfortable environs for hours at a time can place them under tremendous stress, which in turn makes them more susceptible to disease and parasites. Here are several tips you can use to make the moving experience stress-free for aquatic pets.
Avoid Feeding Your Fish for a Day or Two before the Move
This may sound counterintuitive and perhaps even a bit cruel to some pet owners. After all, why wouldn't you want to feed your fish in advance of the move? As it turns out, putting your fish on a one to two-day fast gives them time to completely empty out their digestive tracts, which in turn reduces the amount of waste they'll likely produce while in transit.
As you prepare your fish for transport, this strategy begins to make perfect sense. Not only would your fish foul up travel accommodations while in transit if they had a hearty meal, but fish also tend to secrete more waste when they're stressed. The resulting waste can reduce their already limited oxygen supply, which could spell trouble on longer moves.
Use Poly Boxes to Preserve Warm Water Temperatures
If you have fish that are used to warm water environs, you'll need a way to maintain the temperatures essential for their survival. An expanded polystyrene or "poly" box can help keep your warm water fish safer during the move. Poly boxes can be found in most pet stores, and they're also available at sporting goods outlets.
Poly boxes work by insulating the contents within from drastic differences in temperature. In this case, the poly box will hold the warmth of the water in while blocking out excess cold and heat. It'll also keep your fish out of direct sunlight throughout the move.
Realize That Sealed Buckets Work Better for Longer Trips
If you expect your move to last longer than a few hours, then you'll want to use a large container to carry your fish instead of zip-locking baggies. A large bucket with a sealable lid works wonders for this type of task. With a bucket, you can also rig up a battery-powered air stone inside of the bucket to keep good circulation inside the bucket.
The bigger container will give your fish plenty of wiggle room, plus you won't have to worry about losing any fish during the move. The darkness will also encourage your fish to be less active, thus helping them survive longer during longer moves.
Reduce Environmental Shock by Keeping Your Fish in the Same Water
Various differences in the water, ranging from temperature to pH and salinity, can induce stress in many fish. For this reason, it's usually a good idea to keep your fish in the same water that was in the aquarium. In addition, you'll want to store the rest of the water in 5-gallon buckets and bring those along during the move.
If you're using zip-locking plastic bags, make sure you fill them with the same water that came out of the tank. Don't forget to fill the bag only a quarter of the way, leaving the rest of the bag for the oxygen. The familiar water offers the least amount of shock for your fish.
Lodge Your Fish with Friends or Make Other Plans for Longer Moves
Keeping your fish in bags and buckets might work for short trips, but if your move lasts for more than a day, you might want to think about taking more drastic measures. For instance, you could temporarily move your fish into a friend's aquarium until the move is finished. If you don't have a friend with an aquarium, your local pet store may be willing to hold onto your fish for a small fee.
If all else fails or if you're moving out of the country, you might want to consider the possibility of rehoming your fish and purchasing new fish when you arrive at your new location. If you need help with your move, contact a service like Walsh Moving & Storage.