FAQs about Moving Marine Livestock
Related Articles: Moving and Transporting your
Livestock and Tanks By Amy Janecek, Moving Aquariums,
Related FAQs: Moving Livestock 1, Moving Livestock 2,
FAQs on Moving Livestock: Plans, Techniques... Success Stories, Troubles/Fixing, &
Aquariums 2, Moving Aquariums
3, Moving Aquariums 4,
Moving Aquariums 5, Live Rock Shipping/Moving,
Water Conditioners for Live Fish
I am a licensed commercial fisherman and am interested in the use of
water conditioners to aid live fish transport. Anything that reduces
mortality would be helpful.
<There are a few... a fave and available w/o paperwork is Jungle
Lab's "Hypno"... http://www.junglelabs.com/
there are other "fishy anesthetics", oxygen-generating
The said additives need not be food safe, as this would be for
hauling live saltwater baitfish. I am familiar with the use of
additives to reduce ammonia toxicity,
<Never seen any of these that were actually effective>
but are the "slime" type products such as Seachem
I ask because typical hauling densities are fairly high, on the order
of 1 - 1 1/2lb of fish per gallon, or approximately 24-36 fish per
gallon and abrasion can possibly occur. Anything that would reduce post
haul losses would be useful. I would appreciate any thoughts or
experiences you might have in transporting live marine fish.
Thanks in advance!
<Best to keep such fishes as cold as practical, the water
well-oxygenated, the light excluded, and prep. the animals in advance
(no feeding for a few days, baths to eliminate external parasites...),
ship in "new" water of low/no metabolite content... to reduce
mortality. Bob Fenner>
Re: Water Conditioners for Live Fish Transport?
Thanks for the prompt response! I'll look into tranquilizers, thank
you for pointing me in that direction.. I do have some further
questions - the ammonia binders on the market (Chloram-x, Amguard,
Amquel, etc) are not effective in your experience?
<They are not>
They are marketed as having some utility for live hauling.
<The operative term here is "some"... very limited>
Some of what you've mentioned as good practices I have
incorporated into my routine; my transport tank is insulated and the
transport water cooled by 10F from the ambient water temp. Aeration is
as strong as practical via venturi pump, spray bar and diffused air. I
am considering incorporating diffused O2 as a backup oxygenation
<This last, sparging liquefied oxygen in particular, is a superb
Lowering temperature while providing super saturated oxygen and water
I do not always have the opportunity to hold and condition/prep the
fish prior to sale, though. Whenever possible I do so, but many times
they will be on their way less than 6 hrs after capture. These fish are
captured in a trap fishery and tend to have a full stomach from
munching on bait; as you imagine, they puke their guts out and just
make a huge mess.
<Yes... would be immensely beneficial to flush the water our almost
completely, continuously for a day or so>
Significant metabolic waste could be an issue; they're tough little
guys and I can't say that I've had any major losses from
ammonia poisoning yet (knock on wood) but I am investigating various
ways to reduce stressors under my control and improve the product
delivered. Delayed mortality crops up every now and then and I am
looking for ways to reduce it.
Thanks again for your advice, much appreciated.
<Welcome Alan. BobF>
Moving Large Tanks, and occupants/reefs
You guys are the best. Always the best advice which has led me to 4
years of success. Now I've got a challenge with lots of variables
which I know you have answered separately in the posts, but I have had
hard time to fully finding. I will be moving to a new home at the end
of the month and will be transporting my 125G and 110G tank with me.
Good news is that the new home is only 1/4 of a mile away, bad news is
that I only have 2 days to completely break down and rebuild in that
short amount of time.
<Some good planning, getting together of tools, friend/s called
I can begin moving in on Friday, May 28th and need to be done by 3pm
Monday, May 31st of my old place. While moving normal items on Friday,
I was going to set-up my RO/DI to hopefully produce "clean"
water aerated and heated up until the first tank move late
Saturday/early Sunday. My plan was to move my 125G first by removing
all the fish and placing each one (with the exception of the Chromis)
in their separate 5G bucket with 1/2 - 3/4 of them filled with tank
water. I was going to drop a tablet in each of "Bag Buddies"
as read in previous posts.
<Mmm, I'd leave these out... I would ask a store or other
advanced aquarist to lend you an oxygen tank, regulator... and
Styrofoam boxes and 4 mil plastic bags (or 2 mil or so doubled) instead
of the buckets for your fishes>
Next was to place all of the live rock, corals and sand in other
separate 5G buckets.
<Which are absolutely clean>
My first main question is if I have to cycle the tank given that from
stopping the pumps to begin the disassembly to restarting them in the
rebuild should be no longer than 6-10 hours...maybe even much less if
<Very likely will not have to cycle>
How long can my fish be sustained in these buckets with "Bag
Buddies" given that some are as big as 6" tangs?
My second question is if I should keep or get rid of all my sand?
<Is there something wrong with it? I'd either leave as is for
the move, or rinse it and re-use if not>
The sand is approx. 3-4 inches deep and is about 3 years old. If
complete replacement is advised, I may just change the setup to be only
1/2 deep and forgo the cost of a DSB.
My next question has to do with green hair algae, live rock and glass
anemones. My 125G tank that I am moving has an extreme amount of green
hair algae. While some rocks are completely engulfed with it, some have
medium amounts of the stuff. Some I can pull off, and some I cannot for
some reason. My question is if there is any way to completely remove
the algae if I were to put these affected rocks in a quarantine type
<Mmm, no... only takes spores to regenerate. You need to discern and
solve the causative issue/s here>
I know the reason for the heavy growth is cause my nitrates are very
If I replace the bio-balls (which I'm sure are the main cause for
the nitrates) in the sump with the live rock infested with green hair
algae and glass anemones, would those die without light while still
biologically filtering the tank?
<Over time, yes>
I know the glass anemones will probably spread back into the tank, but
can the green hair algae re-command the main tank if left in the dark
multi-chambered wet/dry sump?
<By spores... strands, yes>
Otherwise, my last option would be to remove the rock from the water
permanently and let it die off until those nuisances are gone, then
re-introduce them later on to be "re-seeded" as live rock.
Any other ideas on how to completely kill off that algae separately
from the tank?
<I wouldn't do this... Too much in this one move. Get all to
your new place safely, and address these issues later>
I also want to re-confirm that the use of Bag Buddies is safe for my
<This product is not IMO>
Thanks to All,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Livestock shipping - heat packs
I wanted to ask what the temperature limit is, below which reef fish
& invertebrates should be shipped with heat packs. More concretely
it's about overnight shipping in Styrofoam boxes. I searched in the
business section of the site and only found one related question which,
however, dealt with fish imports (which as far as I know take more than
a few hours of shipping time).
Thank you in advance, cheers, Alex
<Mmm, a few "qualifiers" here... IF the Styro boxes are
"decent", and a cardboard liner is used, and not taped too
completely (the heat packs need oxygen to work)... any temperature
below 50F. I'd use them. Bob Fenner>
Re: Livestock shipping - heat packs
Thank you for your fast reply, Bob!
<Glad to share Alex. BobF>
Anesthesia, or any other type of drug used for
fish transport? 4/22/09
Hi, love your site. I've learned a great deal from your forums. My
question has to do with the sedation of fish before transport.
<Mmm, there are, but...>
Is this a common practice?
<It is... in the use of high/er concentrations of Oxygen used in the
I've received a couple fish from a supposedly reputable dealer
(Saltwaterfish.com), and the fish arrived near death. Can a drug cause
<Mmm, could, but it's use is unlikely....>
I'm afraid to buy any more fish from a web site to have shipped,
the only success I've had with fish is from purchasing from a
store. Can you recommend a store that ships quality fish?
Thanks for your time.
<Not a "store" but etailers like That Fish Place, Dr.s
Foster & Smith, the Marine Center and more are highly regarded. Bob
Moving a Puffer 9/25/06 Hi Again!
<Hi Suzie, Pufferpunk here> Thanks for your help in previous
times. In the next month we'll be moving across town, not a big
drive. Read through your moving aquariums handout. Found it very
helpful. Just wanted to ask if there are any specific parameters on how
to move pufferfish himself--whether to bag him or bucket him. I
understand netting is not a great thing with pufferfish. Just want to
make sure his travel is safe as possible. We'll most likely set up
a new house for him and cycle it before his arrival instead of
transferring the old. We will transfer the old media and all that jazz.
Thanks so much for your insight into puffer moves! Take care, Suzie
<I would catch him in a container & transfer in a
bucket. More than likely would bite through any
Novalek Breathable Bags - 03/09/2006 Hello WWM crew,
I have a question regarding the breathable
bags from Novalek. I own an aquarium installation
and maintenance business in New Hampshire where we
quarantine all of the livestock for our clients tanks for 30
days prior to delivering. <A very good practice. Our service
business used to do the same> The systems are small now
to fill our needs, but as we grow I would like to consider
offering some QT livestock online. <Mmm, am compelled (by myself) to
mention that this is very unlikely to prove profitable... too much cost
involved...> I read an article on these bags recently
and it seems that if properly cleaned out (not fed.) prior
to shipping, that most fish could last a considerable amount
of time in these bags. In order to function properly the
bags must not touch, and will work better if not double
bagged. Would this be a good tool for shipping
fish? <Not IMO/E... as much as I am a fan of Dr. Rofen's work,
company, these bags are not appropriate technology for the vast
majority of applications in the pet-fish interest... Other factors,
mainly temperature fluctuation, greatly discount their utility. Still
best to seal insulated boxes, utilize pure oxygen...> My main
concern is that if the bags work as well as Novalek claims,
and one could perhaps save on shipping by not using a
next day air service, how could the temp. be properly
regulated in the shipping box? <Bingo...> Also, can a
breathable bag, or multiple bags for that matter, continue
to function in a sealed shipping box? <Mmmm, don't see
how...> Thank you in advance for your advice,
you're web site has been an extremely valuable resource. Thank You,
Myk. <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>
Oxygen for shipping 8/15/05 Howdy folks, <Fred>
I've scoured the FAQs and the forum, and still come up empty-handed
with an answer for my question. I've started shipping out a lot
more fish and corals lately, and feel it's time to invest in an
oxygen system to bag up most of these with. The problem is that every
company I've found offers a rather wide variety of mixtures
available, all varying in their oxygen purity. <There are a
few...> Now, I would assume (but hate to assume) that since most
livestock will ship just fine with good old' air, that anything
more "pure" in oxygen than that would be beneficial, at least
to some degree. <Yep> But, I don't want to lose anything due
to not asking the question, so here it is: What grade/purity of oxygen
is accepted for use in the industry? Should it be the highest grade?
Medium? Low? Any idea on a certain % of oxygen? <The higher the
better... and the cost difference nowadays isn't much... medical
grade is about best> I'd be surprised if most
facilities/shippers used the purest form available, as it's also
likely the most expensive (forgive me, it's Sunday and I
haven't actually been quoted any prices yet, so there may be an
insignificant difference price-wise in purity levels). <Here in S.
Cal... it's nominal...> Any insights you can offer, as always,
are appreciated. Thanks! Fred <Price out what the welding outfits
have... including leasing the bottle/s... look for handy options like
long flexible hoses, single hand (pistol-type) actuators for helping
you fill the bags... even (in the longest haul) combo oxygen and
bag-clip machines. Bob Fenner>
Moving, completely cleaning out a fish tank I want to do a
100% water change. I have seen these little Aquarium Tote things that
little kids use. Can I put my Fish in some of those while I am cleaning
my tank? For how long can I keep them in there? Jahner <Can use...
as these are chemically inert... How long? Depends on how much life...
maybe add a mechanical aerator (airstone, pump...) and DO keep the top
screened over to prevent your livestock exiting stage up! Bob