How to Transport Fish: A Step-by-Step Guide

Moving is already a tricky time, especially when you have pets: and, if you have fish, things can get even more complicated.

When it comes to your beloved fishy friends, you need to be extra careful as they are highly delicate and need special attention, not to mention caring for their tanks and the equipment in them.

But, no worries! If you’ve got a finned-family member, then our guide on how to transport fish to a new home is what you’re going to need.

Moving Fish Process

A Worker Moving A Fish Tank In A Room Under Renovation

Before The Move

Getting The Fish Tank Ready

Prepping the tank for the move is one of the most complex aspects of the job, so after you’ve sorted out a temporary home for your fish (in the form of a special fish bag, which you can buy from pet stores), it’s time to get to work.

Give It A Good Clean

Since the fish is not in the tank, this is a great time to scrub away accumulated algae, debris, and other waste. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can contaminate the water, and be gentle on the glass.

Check The Equipment

Fish tanks often have equipment such as heaters, pumps, lights, ornaments, filters and so on. Remove any that may become dislodged during the move, wrap them up securely, and put them in clearly-labelled storage, ready to be unpacked.

Acclimatise Your Fish

To prevent shock or stress for your fish, you’ll need to get them accustomed to their temporary home during the move. Do what you can to make the temperature and pH levels of the water as close to their normal environment, which will go a long way in reducing distress as they join you on your journey.

When Packing And Transporting Your Fish

Goldfish In Aquarium With Green Plants, And Stones

Bag It Up

Your fish bag will need to have enough room for movement, and some space for air. A Ziplock back can work, but it’s always best to use a container that is designed for transporting fish. Use water from the existing tank, and double up on the bag itself for extra protection.

Don’t Forget The Oxygen

Oxygen levels within the bag is crucial, as fully closed environments can deplete O2 levels at high altitudes or in warmer temperatures. You can use battery-operated air pumps, or, if you bought your bag from a pet shop, they will be able to fill it with pure oxygen before sealing the bag up.

Don’t Rock The Boat

You don’t want your fish to feel every bump on the road. Secure the bag in a stable and insulated container such as Styrofoam or drinks cooler, which will also help to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the journey.

After The Move : Settling In

Fish Tank With Various Fishes And Water Animals, Orange Fish, Bl

There will be a lot of things you’ll need to take care of when arriving at your new home, but sorting out your fish should be at the top of your list.

Tank Setup

Take a look around and find a good place for the tank, away from heat sources, direct sunlight, drafts, and other things which can affect the water temperature. Set up your filters, pumps, heaters, lights and ornaments, and then start filling up fresh water with all the usual conditioners to get the pH and other chemical balances just right. Then, allow the tank to run for a few hours to check that all the systems are working properly.

Check The Water

Make sure to keep an eye on the water parameters such as ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels, as well as the temperature and pH. Use strips or water test kits to make sure that everything is just right for your fish and make any necessary adjustments for a healthy environment before plopping them in.

Keep A Lookout

Observe your fish closely after the move and look for signs of illness or stress. These indicators can include loss of appetite, lethargy, discolouration, or clamped fins. If you spot any of these symptoms, isolate the sick fish, check the water again, and talk to your local expert on how to nurse them back to swimming strength.


Pro Tips On Proper Planning For When Moving FishWoman Holding Round Aquarium With Goldfish On Blue Sky Backgroun

Prepping is just one part of moving a fish to a new home – you need to get the timings and all the little things spot on as well.

Time It Right

Try to move your fish and other cargo when the journey is most likely to be at its easiest, avoiding holidays, peak hours, weekends or bad weather that can cause traffic jams, or make the road more difficult to navigate. The less time it takes, the better for your fish.

Be Efficient

As mentioned above, the less time your fish has away from its tank and normal conditions, the better. If they have to spend too long in their temporary home, they will get increasingly stressed, so aim for a quick a journey as possible. If you have to travel interstate or internationally, you might want to consider finding your finned-friend a new family to safeguard their wellbeing.

Food Factors

It’s a good idea to refrain from feeding your fish immediately ahead of the move, as this will reduce  the chances of regurgitation and water pollution from waste. Stopping their food about 24 hours beforehand is a good idea, but please remember to feed them as soon as you get to the other side.

Fish Moving Tips Summary

Fishes are living things, so if you are at all uncertain about how to go about moving them, please seek the help of experts, such as vets or aquarium shop employees, who can give you the proper assistance and advice to get them safely from tank to tank.

Stay in control

Moving is stressful at the best of times, and with your finned-friend in tow, you’ll have to stay extra cool. Avoid driving too fast, sudden movements, loud noises and anything else that can unsettle your fish.

Be patient

Once you’ve moved your fish, you’ll need to give it time to settle in. As mentioned above, keep a close eye on them and act quickly if they are behaving strangely for a prolonged period of time.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully moved a fish to a new home. To reward them, why not buy a new ornament, upgrade their tank and buy some premium feed. And for you? A sigh of relief. By following these steps, you can help ensure that your fish arrive at their new destination safely and in good condition.

Read more

It appears you're using an old version of Internet Explorer for safer and optimum browsing experience please upgrade your browser.