Moving Goldfish

Moving goldfish and Koi doesn’t have to be stressful

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Moving goldfish is very stressful on goldfish and humans alike. When you relocate goldfish, you are also relocating the beneficial bacteria that create the nitrogen cycle. Friendly bugs are just as delicate as goldfish, requiring the same water conditions. With some effort and know how, you can relocate both safely

  • Moving goldfish short distances; 1 to 2 hours

Feed your fish normally up until the time you remove them from their tank or pond. Do not feed them in their transport container unless you’re staying overnight at a hotel

Pack a travel bag for the fish with all of their necessities, and keep it with the fish

Choose a durable container that is suitably sized for your goldfish. A five gallon bucket with a lid, free of contaminants works well if you’re moving across town. Moving a few hours or even a few days away requires an insulated ice chest

Moving goldfish

Test KH and pH

The comfort zone for KH is 120 to 140 ppm. Buffer levels using bicarbonate of soda

If you’ve been following the 10 Steps, your set up includes pond pumps. If not, perform this 911 water change to assure the water quality is at its best

The less time your fish remain in the transport container, the better

Reduce water temperatures and nitrate levels in the main tank just before the move. Perform small and frequent water changes to reduce the risk of nitrate shock. One pitcher at a time; chill tank water in the fridge or freezer. Pour all around tank slowly. Refill and repeat until temps are close to 54f

The colder the water, the less oxygen the fish will require during transport. Goldfish use less oxygen in cold water being cold blooded

Fill the transport container with tank water. Remove just enough water from your tank or aquarium so that it’s light enough to carry. Leave as much standing water as possible so that the gravel remains in water. If your tank is a large one, place the gravel in a bucket with enough tank water so that it remains wet

After the fish have been removed from the tank, filters and pumps should be placed in a separate bucket partially filled with tank or pond water. If you have a top loading filter, place it so the mechanics are out of water and the filter box is covered. Beneficial bacteria live in our filters and pumps. If they dry, they will perish

Do not allow pumps and filters to dry

It may be beneficial to collect as much old tank water as possible or is reasonable to transport. Tank water contains the food source for our friendly bugs. If you have algae on the sides of your tank, it could die off if it dries, or nitrates aren’t available. Carry a mister filled with tank water, and moisten the algae every time you stop

Keep plenty of ice on hand if the weather is warm, and the traveling distance is more than a few hours

When you reach your destination; unload the goldfish first. Open the container so the surface is exposed to fresh air

Test pH, KH, GH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrates levels in your new home’s tap water. One or more of these parameters may need buffering. Refer to Test Water Parameters

Fill the main tank with cold, treated, fresh tap water to the halfway mark. Add gravel and decorations. Install filters and pumps. Let the pumps run at high speed until the water clears

Make sure to work fresh water over before adding to the tank. Large amounts of supersaturated gases can suffocate fish

Perform small and frequent water changes in the fish’s travel container using your main tank water as your fresh water source.

When you think most of the container water has been exchanged it’s time to take the new fish home. You may be able to lower the travel container into the tank; allowing the fish to swim out. If the container is too large, scoop the fish up in a plastic cup or bag to make the transfer. Add container water and other containers of water as well

Gradually fill tank over the next few days if necessary

With all of the excitement your fish may feel stress. When goldfish are frightened or nervous, they sit quietly in a cluster at the bottom of the tank. This is normal behavior, but within the hour; they should start exploring their environment; feeling at home

  • Moving goldfish long distances

When traveling great distances with fish, make sure to have plenty of Oop Boost on hand to oxygenate fish water. Add one half teaspoon per gallon of container water two to three times daily, or if fish show signs of oxygen deprivation; gasping at surface

Pack a travel bag for the fish with all of their necessities, and keep it with the fish at all times. The kit should contain water treatment that converts ammonia and nitrite, Oop, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and fish food

Choose a durable travel container that is suitably sized for your goldfish. Cut a hole in the top of the lid for pump cords. An insulated ice chest that sits short and square makes for the perfect traveling fish tank. Load the pumps in the container with the fish, leaving the cords dangling through the hole in the top. The hole also allows the water some exposure to air

Test water temperature, nitrates and pH every time you make a stop; add ice if the temps have risen above 55f. Add oop if pH falls below 8. ppm

Moving goldfish

When you stop over, plug the pumps in. Perform a 20% water change in the travel container when you first get to the motel. Use cold treated tap water, but first, test water parameters. Treat entire amount of water held in container with a double dose of Prime or Amquel Plus. Perform another water change before you leave

Feed fish regularly

Moving goldfish
Moving goldfish

The tank in the photo above has just been drained, and is getting ready to be moved. The think layer of algae you see will die if it dries out. Travel with a spray bottle of tank water to keep it moist

Goldfish are shipped in doubled plastic bags filled with freshly changed tank water and topped off with oxygen. This might be how you brought your goldfish home. Upon request, your local pet shop will bag your goldfish; two inches of goldfish per bag. Goldfish can survive up to 48 hrs when bagged appropriately. If you’re moving across country, and want to take your fish, consider having them shipped to your new address

Tap water can vary greatly from city to city and from state to state

Goldfish Behavior

I’s possible that your new set up might experience a mini cycle; nitrites and even ammonia levels could spike in small levels that are dangerous to your goldfish. Test water parameter regularly after arriving to your new home

To Catch a Goldfish

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Author: Brenda Rand


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