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richw46 12-19-2015 11:48 AM

Traveling with Fish
OK, no laughing :wally:
We are getting ready to leave on a 3 month outing. We have a small, 5-gallon fish tank that my wife likes and cares a lot about the fish (dwarf African catfish or something like that.) Our youngest son has always been home to feed them, or when in the dorm, we took the fish to him. Now he's in Japan on International study so no help there.

She can't find anyone to care for them for 3 months so I've decided we can just take them with us. My thought is to get a very large Zip Lock bag (they make them in 3 and 10 gallon sizes), move the fish to their cleaning tank, empty the 5-gallon tank, put the bag in the tank and fill it with clean water. Then I can put the aerator and heater in the water, put the fish in, zip 'em up (tubes area still open) and plug the aerator and heater into the 110 VAC outlet in the TV. We'll make a couple of stops on the way down and monitor as we go. If the bag was to break it would just leak into the tank anyway.

What could go wrong? :rolleyes:
Any better ideas? :flowers:

HowieE 12-19-2015 11:55 AM

My first thought would be to contact an importer and ask how fish are moved and if there is a time limit they can not survive past.

richw46 12-19-2015 12:13 PM


Originally Posted by HowieE (Post 1724876)
My first thought would be to contact an importer and ask how fish are moved and if there is a time limit they can not survive past.

Atlas Van Lines has an article on the web and their first suggestion is to buy new fish when you arrive. Well, that's not going to fly with the little lady. She's been caring for these fish for about 7 years, their life expectancy is 5 years. I think it's some kind of race or mission with her now. Our son won the tank in the 6th grade, she bought these 2 fish, and they've been in there ever since.

The Atlas article talks about plants but there are no plants, just marbles and some fake timber. It also talks about the aerobic bacteria that are necessary and they'll die if they don't get oxygen within a few hours. This is just a 5-gallon tank, nothing elaborate.

When the wife cleans the tank the fish are in a small holding area until she puts the de-chlorinated water back in. She de-chlorinates by boiling the water which I would think would also remove the oxygen, but the fish are fine with however she does it.

Keeping the oxygen and heat going seem to be the prime factors. The TV has a built in inverter for power. I think her biggest worry is if the bag breaks or the pump and heater not fitting into the bag. I can't think of any other way than "surf's up" in the commode and buying new ones when we return. She's very strong willed so that's not a viable option :rolleyes:

We have a few weeks, I think I'll spend the $10 on the bags and we can try it out at home and see how it goes. I couldn't think of any other way of doing this, thought maybe someone else had done it somehow but I guess I'm plowing new ground here :)

windfallsp 12-19-2015 02:19 PM

Rich -

I'd be very concerned about bumps and vibration during travel, in addition to the obvious issues of water supply, aeration and temperature control.

There are commercial firms that maintain aquariums, and there are at least two in Lexington. You might give them a call to see if they would consider maintaining your very small aquarium on their premises during your absence. Seems to me that the cost would be well worth being able to enjoy the trip without worrying about the fish. ;-)

thesignlady 12-19-2015 03:02 PM

I know when fish stores receive their live shipments they arrive in small styrofoam coolers, with the fish in baggies in the center and the perimeter packed with giant bubble wrap to insulate from movement. I would suspect the coolers help maintain the appropriate temperate for longer. If you could find a tank or adapt your tank to place a temporary waterproofing lid on it on set it within a bubble wrapped cooler I would think it would be less stressful for the fish than being constantly swapped back and forth into baggies. On a side note take a cell phone pic of the fish just in case they go visit the farm during your travels and you need to deek into a pet store for a replacement ;-)

markdoane 12-19-2015 03:33 PM

Don't bring any live exotic fish species to Minnesota.

Lily&Me 12-19-2015 04:55 PM

Would anything in ziploc bags be toxic to your fish?

What about leaving them with a local veterinarian?

It seems high risk to me, for treasured fish....tho I know nothing about fish, there seem to be a lot of unknowns. :innocent:


overlander63 12-19-2015 06:21 PM

I would look into a clear or translucent container with a screw-on, tightly sealing lid. Remove the lid and aerate after the day's travel.

Probably nobody else has the guts to admit their first thought when seeing the thread title was probably "fresh, frozen, or smoked"...:blink:

AnnArborBob 12-19-2015 07:26 PM

Since you are serious, :blush:, I would ditch the glass tank for the trip and find some small acrylic tank to use instead. Water, oxygen and proper temperature are your primary considerations for their survival. :)

HiHoAgRV 12-19-2015 07:56 PM


Originally Posted by overlander63 (Post 1725030)
"fresh, frozen, or smoked"...:blink:

"Oh Mr. Bauer, you had a million messages. I wrote them down here. You got calls from CBS, NBC, ABC, AP, UPI, Time, Ted Turner, Newsweek, Marineland, Ripley's Believe it or Not, and Mrs. Paul."...

Caffeinated 12-19-2015 08:05 PM

If your wife really cares about the fish she should give them to a aquarium or fish store or something. Fish are not designed for travel.


mandolindave 12-19-2015 08:13 PM

Money talks….Fish don't walk
Hire a dog walker to come feed the fish.

markdoane 12-19-2015 09:56 PM

Unless they're salmon they won't enjoy the trip anyway.

richw46 12-20-2015 12:01 PM

Wow, some great suggestions and comments. I never thought about the thread being confused for food fish. They are pretty small, wouldn't make even a half a sardine sandwich. :p

Some clarifications:
  • The tank is plastic (Plexiglas? acrylic?) not glass, very cheap, 5 gallon
  • The tank has a heater and aerator, runs on 110 VAC, SUV has an inverter I can plug into.
  • The fish are cory catfish, very cheap, at Petsmart everywhere, Minnesota too, I'm sure, but I understand the concern
  • Their life expectancy is 5 years, they are over 7 now. If they go, they go. I asked if she would replace them. She says "Heck no" so if they take a dirt nap then it's not a problem, but she'd like to keep them for as long as possible.
  • We have traveled with them locally for half an hour, in January, to take them to my son's dorm. Tank was not heated or insulated and rode in a cardboard box during the trip and from the van to the dorm room (and back). The dorm room was especially cold most of the time, about 68, but the heater keeps the water at an even temperature. We lowered the water level by 25% and kept the extra water in case of a spill. No water was lost in transit
  • Currently, the tank sits on the small table with the drawer used to store batteries. The drawer is opened frequently but not gently, closed the same way. It's also bumped by me from time to time. Vibration, at first, scared them, now they just lay on the bottom
Some good alternative suggestions here, but asking a dog walker would give someone access to the house. We found one kennel/pet store that might take them, but the charge is $5 a day for small animals. I told the wife the charge for our trip would be $375. That struck a nerve.

The wife says we'll roll the dice, saddle up the fish in the big 10 gallon Ziploc bag inside the tank inside a Rubbermaid tub with bubble wrap packing (thanks signlady). She's not sold on the Ziploc idea, now preferring to just leave them in the tank and reduce the water level like when we took them to the dorm. I'm still taking the bags, just in case. We can always use them for something else.

I thank everyone for the responses, concerns and ideas. I'll go with whatever the wife wants to do but it's sounding more like they're coming along on our snowbird adventure. I'll report back on how they're doing from time to time. I'm sure everyone is waiting to hear. :rolleyes:

I'm including a picture of the cory catfish. They are about 1.5" long and apparently quite sturdy.

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