Preparing and Freighting Your Fish

Rabbit

Retired Staff
Apr 21, 2009
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Auckland, NZ
Preparing and Freighting
Your Fish




Intro

Freighting fish seems to leave a rather large question to most hobbyists namely “HOWâ€. This article has been written in order to help, as most hobbyists will find things that work best for them this is merely an outline to help both prepare your fish and package them for freighting.

Preparation

Preparing your fish will ensure that during the trip in the confined bag water quality, o2 levels and the fish in general remain in top condition, as its not likely the courier will open the bag up to let your fish have a quick breath.

It all start’s in the aquarium. Leading up to shipping your fish, water changes can be done to ensure the quality of the water being placed in the bag that the fish will travel in, as the fish will stress its oxygen intake will increase and the production of co2 will begin along with the increase of ammonia! Making water quality essentially lethal if this is not considered.
Feeding the fish heavily for the days leading up will help the fish acclimate to their new homes as it is typical with most fish but more so Plecs that they will not eat for the first few day’s. Do not feed the night before! This will lead to the fish disposing of waste in the bag again leading to un-favourable water quality.
Temperature, over time I have heard and read a lot in regards to lifting temperature before hand to maintain heat for the trip and those that disagree and lower to maintain high oxygen levels and slow the metabolism in order to make the docile fish use less oxygen,
i’m in favour of a lower temperature at around 24 degree’s Celsius or 75.2 Fahrenheit. This will have the benefit as explained above without venturing too far from the fish’s normal aquarium temperature, which would induce stress. The final issue would be catching, in order to freight fish from my end they need to be received by the courier quite early making it a nuisance catching them in the morning so this requires attention the night before without adding much if any stress to the fish. Dependent on species I find an appropriately sized smaller aquarium to hold them in to be the safest option but you may also use fry or breeder net’s making the morning a stress free transaction for both owner and fish.



Packaging


Bagging the fish is straight forward, I add water ager to the bag the fish are placed in and use pure oxygen. Some fish may require double bagging namely large fish and those that have sharp spines, rays or scales. It has been mentioned that Corydoras species may not find pure oxygen favourable and this should be considered.




Very little water is needed for bagging Plecs and only enough to fully submerge the fish is required (hence the reason for good water quality), leaving plenty of room for oxygen.





Using a foam box as a main housing for the fish will both protect them and maintain temperature during the trip.





Placing the foam box within a cardboard box is not a necessity but comes in handy as a fortification for the foam box, and will withstand a puncture more so than the foam could handle. Make sure to label the outside of your box with both "Live Fish" and this "way up", some courier companies may require you have these.


*Post offices in the UK provide 'fragile' stickers which would be worth using, other countries would need to ask at their PO




A large bag is then placed inside the foam box, this will hold any leakage
And hold the bags.





Heat packs can be added for longer trips to maintain temperatures but are often not required. These are simple cotton bags filled with crushed rock that are heated in the microwave, you can also purchase disposable pads which vary in length and degree of heat (eg 20 hours or 30 hours heat) or buy arthritis heat pads from chemist.





Place the bags in the formation that best suits the type of bag you use.





In cases where there are large spaces left within the box you can quickly fill the space using bags filled with air and tied off then secured with newspaper to absorb any shaking.





Tape down the foam lid, and tape the cardboard box and your done!


 

Brengun

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Apr 22, 2009
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I usually get my heatpacks from kensfish.com in the usa. Takes about 10 days to arrive in Australia and yes the freight is going to cost about as much as the actual packs you buy.
They are also available in the uk from online suppliers.
I prefer the 72 hour ones but shorter lasting ones would be just as good for overnight express. These are air activated and can only be used once but they do keep their heat so much so that I try to keep the pack more in the packaging rather than right on the fish bag.
 

zeebo

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Jun 11, 2010
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ct ,usa
great article , thanks. So my question is suppose you are on the recieving end of this , are there any necessary steps outside normal acclimation ? thanks ,
 

Brengun

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Apr 22, 2009
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Burrum Heads, Queensland, Australia
I see lfs float their bags in the tank all the time to get the heat transfer right and gradually they open the bag and let a little bit of tank water mix with the bag water. Couple times like that and they eventually release the fish out of the bag.

I prefer, if I have a warm fish room, to pour the fish out of the bags into a bucket and use an airline and flow adjuster to drip tank water down into the bucket. Depending on the differing ph of the two waters, I might drip half an hour or even 2 hours. I try to keep lights and moving around the fish to a minimum.
*Edit- I may not add any of that water from the seller. Instead I transfer only the fish once acclimatised, throw away the freight water and add a top up water change to the tank with my own water if necessary.

Ok I do snitch a couple of photos while they are captive dripping in the bucket because once released into the tank you might not see them come out again for a week or two. Photos gives me something to drool over and leave the fish in peace for a couple of days to settle in.

Oh and immediately pm the seller and tell them you got the fish A Ok because for some of us breeders its like selling off your children and we really worry about if they have arrived ok. :thumbup:
 
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