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When your fish are going to a new home, there are a few ways to make sure their move goes swimmingly.

Fish, and other pets, must always be transported in your own vehicle. Depending on the type of aquarium you have, sometimes you may be able to leave them inside the tank. Just take out all filters, lights and ornaments. Living plants should be put in plastic bags filled with aquarium water. This is fine since you’ll need to drain much of the water out of the aquarium—so long as you’re not crowding the fish. Place the aquarium on the backseat floor of your car. Rest nothing on top of, except for its secure-fitting lid.

If your travel time is more than 2 hours, you should break down the aquarium for easier transport. First place the fish, one by one with a small net, into a minnow bucket or ridded container (with air holes in the lid) filled with 3/4 of aquarium water. Be careful not to squish the fish; do not overcrowd the fish; and keep the different breeds separate.

You can also use leak-proof, clear freezer bags so long as there’s enough room for the largest fish to swim around freely. Fish need oxygen so make sure the bag is 1/3 full of aquarium water with a large pocket of air above the twist. To ensure the bags don’t roll around during transport, place them into a container such as a styrofoam cooler—which will also stabilize the temperature for up to 48 hours. Make sure to keep fish out of in direct sunlight or cold drafts.

Do not feed fish for two or three days before transport.

If fish are being shipped via air, they should be packed by specialized pet suppliers. It’s best to go over all your transport procedures with a tropical fish expert or vet on the onset of your travel to make sure your move is safe and easy without being all upstream.

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