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Freshwater Aquarium/re: Transporting Yellow Cichlid


I am going to be transporting an electric yellow cichlid by car within the next few weeks. The drive is around five hours long. I was hoping to find out the best way to transport fish via car. I have heard multiple different opinions, bagging or in a bucket, and I was hoping to hear an expert's opinion on the matter. I am more than willing to go out and buy whatever needs to be done as long as to better ensure my fish will survive the journey.
Thank you for your help!

ANSWER: Hi Michelle,

Thank you for your question. In my opinion, the bagging method works best. Most buckets don't have lids that stay on tightly, and water sloshing around in a bucket on a bumpy trip isn't ideal. A clear, sturdy plastic bag similar to the ones your local fish store uses after purchasing fish would be just fine. There are some larger ones as well, which would be preferred (some grocery stores have larger clear plastic bags for produce; just don't use the thin ones). The day prior to the journey, either skip feeding your fish or feed them a smaller amount than usual. This is to prevent the fish from soiling the water during the trip and causing problems due to the small water volume.

When you are ready to transport the fish, fill the clear bag about halfway with tank water. Then, using a soft net, net out your cichlid and place him/her into the bag. Secure the top of the bag tightly with one or more rubber bands, ensuring you leave a pocket of air at the top (around 1/3 to 1/2 the bag's volume). Lastly, double-bag the fish, placing and tying a second plastic bag around the first.

If the area you are travelling is has a relatively mild climate, I would not worry about getting a heating pack or anything for the trip, as it is only 5 hours. Regardless, you should pick a container to place the fish in such that heat will not escape as easily, and that will keep your fish secure. If you own a small Thermos bag, or similar portable cooler, use that. Place soft items around the fish bag (towels, etc) so it does not bounce everywhere inside the cooler! Avoid placing objects with sharp edges that might otherwise puncture the bag.

If possible, leave the container somewhere in the interior of the car, as the ambient temperature (regardless of if you are using heat in the car or not) is higher than that in the trunk.

I assume you will be transporting your empty tank and re-establishing it in your new location. Couple extra tips: Although this might be obvious, make sure you empty the tank of all water before transporting it! I highly recommend you save the used filter medium (sponge, any "bio-material") and take it with you in a container of tank water to preserve the established bacteria that remove toxins, and continue using this media in your re-established tank for at least a couple weeks to allow new beneficial bacteria to grow. Many people make the mistake of "starting fresh" and causing the whole "New Tank Syndrome" where levels of ammonia reach dangerous levels due to the lack of biological ability to remove it.

I hope this helps. I wish you all the best for you and your fish!
Please feel free to leave a rating or a comment for feedback.

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QUESTION: Thank you so much for all your feedback, it has been especially helpful. Do you have any recommendations for the thickness of the bag (2-4mil) or where to purchase them?
Thank you for your advice again,

Hi Michelle,

The 3 or 4 mil bags should be fine. You could try asking your local fish store where you normally buy your aquarium supplies if they might be able to give or sell you a couple of them, but otherwise the only places I could think of would be online. If you are using a household-style clear plastic bag, just ensure it is clean (never used before) and to double-bag it.

This is just one example of a possible site that sells specialty fish bags.

Hope this helps!

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I can answer all questions related to freshwater aquariums. Fish care, fish behavior, feeding, and diseases are my specialty. To be specific, I am most familiar (though I am familiar with most species) with Livebearers, Tetras, Barbs, Danios, Loaches, Goldfish, Angelfish (freshwater), Catfish (corydoras, plecos, etc.), Bettas, shrimp, and aquatic snails. I can help out with questions regarding new tank setups, the cycling process (nitrogen cycle), acclimation of fish, and general care. I can also answer questions regarding many species of freshwater plants, including fish compatibility with plants. Additionally, I can lend a hand when it comes to aquarium support equipment questions, such as those regarding filters, heaters, and thermometers. Questions about aquarium water conditioners and products are also accepted. I will try to answer your question to the best of my abilities, and if I do not know an answer, I will do my best to find out. I do not have much experience in saltwater aquariums, advanced breeding techniques, or pressurized CO2 systems, so I cannot answer any such questions. Best wishes, and good luck to your fish!


I have kept freshwater fish tanks for many years, and I am experienced with a variety of different freshwater species and invertebrates, such as Tetras, Barbs, Danios, Livebearers, Goldfish, Bettas, Catfish, Shrimp, and Snails. I am very familiar with aquarium products and equipment. What makes a good home for tropical fish? Well, all tropical fish, like guppies and Bettas, require filters, heaters, and a good-sized tank. Healthy fish should be actively swimming and feeding, with defined fins and clear eyes. Take a random check of some of your fish daily, to make sure they're thriving!

I own a collection of aquarium-related books and magazines, and have read all about, and I am experienced in, many aspects of humane and proper fishkeeping. Through these books and other articles, from reliable internet sources, and from personal experience with fish, I have a thorough knowledge of freshwater aquariums, fish, and freshwater plant species.

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