The baby steps of getting a fish are pretty simple. You go to the store, you buy a fish, and they hand you a little plastic bag with water in it and your new friend swimming around inside. But then what? Do you just dump them into your tank when you get home?
While that is exactly what many people do, is it the best thing for fish? How long can fish stay in a bag, and is there a better way to acclimate them to their new home?
Your fish can survive for 7 to 9 hours in a fish bag depending on the water conditions. But for their long-term health and happiness, it’s best to acclimate them gradually to their new home.
In this article, I’ll go over the amount of time that fish can live in a bag, what water conditions are best for them, and how to acclimate them to their new tank.
How Long Can My Fish Endure Being in a Bag?
When it comes to survival, fish are pretty good at it. They can survive in a bag for 7 to 9 hours as long as the oxygen levels are high and the water temperature is stable.
To ensure that the fish have enough air to breathe, some pet store owners add oxygen to the water in the bags. The fish can then survive for 48 hours without issue.
However, just because they can survive in a bag, doesn’t mean it’s good for them. In fact, it’s actually pretty stressful for fish to be in a small space with little water movement.
That’s why it’s important to acclimate them to their new tank as soon as possible. It will help reduce the stress of being in a new environment and make them much happier in the long run.
How Many Fish Can Fit in a Plastic Bag?
You should keep only one fish in a bag. Keeping more than one fish in a bag at a time is asking for trouble.
The extra fish creates an increased demand for food and oxygen, quickly depletes the resources in the bag and makes it difficult for any fish to survive.
What Are the Standard Requirements for Fish Bags?
You can’t just put any fish in any old bag and hope for the best. Certain requirements must be met in order for the fish to have a chance of survival.
The bag must be large enough for the fish to move about freely. It should have a thickness of 3mm and a width of 18″ and a height of 32″. Also, it should be made of a material that is safe for fish, such as polyethylene.
Further, you should remove the extra air and replace it with pure oxygen since a properly sealed bag is the greatest remedy for the most common issues. After that, wrap it in an insulating closed container that is safe and secure.
What Factors Influence How Long a Fish Can Live in A Bag?
The Fish Size
Larger fish need more oxygen than smaller fish. This is because their high metabolic rate depletes the oxygen in the water more quickly.
Therefore, huge fish such as oscars, arowanas, and peacock bass can’t live in a bag for more than a few hours. For longer transfers, you should place them in an oxygenated container with a filter if possible.
On the other hand, smaller fish like guppies, neon tetras, and bettas can survive for up to 48 hours as long as their bag has proper air circulation.
The Fish Age
Think of humans- do seniors have the same capabilities as youngsters? Similarly, the fish’s age is a significant factor that affects how long they can live in a bag.
Older fish have a harder time acclimating to new environments and may not have the stamina to survive the trip. On the other hand, younger fish are more resilient and can adapt better to change.
The type of water can also affect how long it can stay alive in a bag. If you use dechlorinated tap water as a filler, your fish will only last for a few hours because chloramines and chlorine are still present and will slowly poison them.
To make your fish safer, use aged water. Aged water has had time to get rid of dangerous chemicals, making it better for your fish. Also, you can add an airstone to the bag to help circulate the water and add more oxygen.
The Total Number of Fish in the Plastic Bag
As we mentioned before, it’s best to only put one fish in a bag. More than that is just too much for the fish to handle.
Not only do they need more oxygen, but they also produce more fish waste. This creates an unhealthy environment for all of the fish in the bag and makes it more difficult for them to survive.
The Stress of Transportation
Imagine being crammed into a tiny space with no food or water for hours on end. It would be pretty stressful, right?
Well, that’s exactly what it’s like for fish when they’re in a bag. They’re stressed out and uncomfortable, which can take a toll on their health.
That’s why it’s so important to minimize the stress of transportation by using a properly sized bag and providing them with food and water.
The Food Present in Their Intestines
One of the most neglected aspects is the food in the fish intestines. If a fish overeats before traveling, it will create more waste and require more oxygen. To prevent this scenario, don’t offer your fish any food for at least 24 hours before shipping.
The Bag Type
There are different types of fish bags, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.
For instance, a transparent plastic bag will let a lot of light in, which could cause your fish discomfort. However, a white opaque bag prevents sunlight from coming in, making your fish feel safer.
Additionally, you should stay away from bags made of PVC or other substances that might seep toxins into the water.
What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing a Fish Bag?
Before making your deal with the pet store, here are some factors you need to consider when choosing a fish bag:
- Size: Make sure the bag is big enough for your pet fish to swim around with ease
- Material: Avoid any material that might carry toxins or chemicals
- Oxygen: Use an airstone or oxygenated water to keep your fish alive for longer periods
- Waterproofing: Make sure the bag won’t leak so your fish doesn’t die of dehydration
- Insulation: If you’re transporting your fish in hot or cold weather, use an insulated bag to keep them comfortable
- Durability: To determine if a bag is durable, try to puncture it with your finger. If it’s difficult, then the bag can probably withstand being dropped or bumped around
- Weight: The bag should be light enough to carry without being too flimsy
- Price: Don’t choose the cheapest option. Look for a good balance of quality and price
- Extra Features: Some bags include extra features to make your life simpler. For example, some come with a water pump so you don’t have to aerate the water
How Should I Prepare My Fish for Travel?
Now that you know what to look for in a fish bag, it’s time to learn how to properly transport your fish. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Getting Them Adapted to the Bag
You don’t want to put your fish straight into the bag on the day of travel. This will only stress them out and make them more likely to die.
Instead, you should start acclimating them to the bag before you plan on traveling. To do this, float the bag in their tank for about 15-30 minutes so they can get used to it. This will help to equalize the temperature inside and outside of the bag.
Add Water to the Bag
After the fish have had time to acclimate, it’s time to add water to the bag. Ensure that you’re using clean, fresh water that’s been treated with a de-chlorinator.
Also, adjust the temperature of the water so it matches the temperature of their tank. Then, slowly pour the water into the bag until it’s about 3/4 full. Make sure not to fill it to the top because your fish will need some air.
Add Oxygen to the Water
Once the water is added, it’s time to oxygenate it. You can do this by using an airstone or an oxygenation pump.
If you’re using an airstone, simply place it in the water and let it run for a few minutes before sealing the bag.
Close the Bag Tightly
After the bag is filled with water and aerated, it must be sealed. For optimal results, use a zip-top bag or a heat-sealed bag.
If you’re using a zip-top bag, ensure it’s securely zipped. If you’re using an open-top bag, you can close it with string or a rubber band.
Another tip is to put the bag inside a second, larger bag. This will help hold in any water if the first bag springs a leak.
To ensure your fish’s safety and freshness, make sure to pack the bag properly and insulate it from extreme conditions such as hot or cold weather.
It’s Time to Travel!
Now that your fish are safely in their bag, it’s time to hit the road! If you followed the steps above, your fish should be able to survive for up to 48 hours in their travel bag.
Just make sure to keep an eye on them and monitor their behavior. If they seem stressed or have trouble breathing, open the bag and add more oxygen. Also, keep them away from any sun or heat sources as this can cause the water to overheat.
How To Adapt a Fish After Shipping to My Tank?
Open the Bag and Float It in the Aquarium
The first step is to open the bag and float it in the aquarium. This will allow the water inside the bag to slowly adjust to the temperature of the aquarium water. It’s important not to add your fish to the tank until the water temperatures are equalized.
After about 15-30 minutes, you can start adding small amounts of aquarium water to the bag. This will help your fish get acclimated to the new water conditions.
Once the water levels are equalized, you can start releasing your fish into the aquarium.
Monitor Your Fish Closely
After you’ve released your fish into the aquarium, it’s important to monitor them closely. This is because they may be stressed from the travel and could be more susceptible to diseases.
If you notice any strange behavior or signs of illness, remove the fish from the aquarium and treat them accordingly.
With a little bit of preparation, you can successfully transport your fish without any problems. Just make sure to take your time and be careful not to stress them out. With a little TLC, your fish will be back to their old selves in no time!
Is It Okay to Ship Fish in a Ziplock Bag?
You can put your fish in a Ziplock bag. However, this is not the real issue. The real issue is how long you will keep your fish in the Ziplock bag.
The Ziplock bag differs from other plastic bags in a significant way. In this situation, fish can only survive for 30 minutes. If you have saltwater fish, they will only survive for 15 minutes.
The main reason for this is that the Ziplock bag does not allow as much air to circulate.
Also, the Ziplock bag is not as sturdy. It can easily leak, and it’s too narrow at the bottom to comfortably hold most types of fish. Your fish will likely be stressed and cramped in a Ziplock.
Is It Safe to Ship Fish in a Closed Container?
You can ship your fish in a closed container. However, it is never worth risking their safety since they could die within just 2 hours if they are kept in a sealed space.
This is because closed plastic containers get damaged easily, and they do not allow for much air circulation. If the container is not properly ventilated, your fish will suffocate due to a lack of oxygen. You won’t like it when you get home with your dead fish!
If you’re going to travel for long periods of time, make sure to invest in some plastic bags. They are cheaper and your fish can survive a little bit longer in them.
Can Fish Survive in a Container of Vodka?
Fish species cannot survive in a container of vodka. The alcohol will kill them.
Can Fish Make it Through on a Flight?
Fish can survive a flight. However, it must be kept in a transparent insulated container that is 2-3 ounces in size and is visually examined by security personnel, ensuring that it is carried on as a carry-on item.
How Do I Add Oxygen to a Fish Bag?
You can add oxygen to a fish bag by using an air pump or by filling the bag with air and then sealing it.
I know that fish shipping can be tiring and stressful. Just remember to use new containers, add oxygen, and don’t keep your fish in a sealed space for more than 2 hours.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your fish will arrive at their destination alive and well.
I hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Happy shipping!