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Safe Ways to Transport Your Fish

By: Dr. Greg Lewbart

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If you need to take your pet fish to another location, such as to the veterinarian or new home, here are a few tips to help you do it safely.

  • Try to handle your pet fish as little as possible. Use a fine mesh net or even a plastic bag to catch your fish from its aquarium or pond. Once secure, you should transfer your fish to a clean plastic container that has never been exposed to toxic chemicals like bleach, fertilizer, detergents or pesticides. Large yogurt or ice cream containers work well. For larger fish like koi, five-gallon frosting buckets (available from your local baker or doughnut shop) or picnic coolers can do the job.

  • The transport vessel should contain approximately one-third water and two-thirds air and a secure lid to prevent your pet from jumping or spilling from the container during transport. Clear, strong, plastic bags – tied shut with rubber bands or duct tape – can take the place of a plastic tub or bucket.

    Special Veterinary Visit Concerns

  • It's a good idea to bring along a few extra gallons of your aquarium or pond water in case your veterinarian decides to anesthetize your pet. This way, there will be plenty of "clean" water for recovery and the ride home.

  • Even though your fish will be packed in his own aquarium or pond water for transport, you should still bring a separate water sample (about one pint) with you, since the transport water may have unusually elevated ammonia levels. This way, your vet can accurately check water quality.

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