Need to move your fish?

If you have collected a bunch of pretty, exotic fish, it can be very difficult to sell them because you have to move.  Fortunately, though moving fish to a new home is difficult, it is still possible.

If you decide to take your fish with you on your move, you will need to create a safe, temporary fish tank that’s easily transportable.  Here’s how:


  • The Container – It should be big enough for your fish to have swimming space. If you have more than a few fish, purchase more containers. Suggested containers are clean ice chests, rubber maid storage containers, Styrofoam picnic baskets, or 5-6 gallon buckets.
  • Plastic Garbage Bags – Purchase quality garbage bags big enough to line the inside of your container with about 12” extra.
  • Rubber Bands – You’ll need rubber bands that are thick enough to hold the bags closed.
  • Battery operated pump – Optional, but recommended, especially for long trips.

Preparing & Moving Day

  1. Line the moving container with a plastic bag as a layer of protection. Make sure the bag hangs over the rim of the container.
  2. Clean the tank and change the water as you normally would three days before the move.
  3. Stop feeding your fish 48 hours before the move. You want to keep their water clean by minimizing discharge during the road trip.
  4. On moving day, fill the container(s) half full with water directly from the tank, which the fish are already acclimated to.
  5. Catch the fish using a net, and place them gently in a container.
  6. Set up the battery powered pump according to the manufacture’s instructions, if you are using one.
  7. Seal the container or bag with a lid or a rubber band.  Leave plenty of air between the seal and the water.
  8. Carry the containers out to your car, and place them in a safe spot within the passenger area of the car. Do not pack your fish in the trunk as it might get too hot or cold.

Note: During your drive, open the lid or untie the rubber bands every 4 – 5 hours to let in fresh air.

Leaving Your Fish Behind

Sadly, because of the unique needs of fish (i.e. clean water), not all fish can survive a lengthy move. If your move is more than a day’s trip away, it might be best to leave your fish behind, for their sake.

If you make the decision to find another home for your fish, you have options:

  • Ask friends or family members if they want your fish.
  • Check with your local pet store to see if they are willing to accept them.
  • Donate them to a school. An elementary school teacher may love to have an aquarium display in his or her classroom.

Return to: Moving with Pets

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