Moving House With Goldfish

by Yvonne
(Rye, Sussex, Uk )

I have a small pond with approx 15 goldfish, the two biggest about 5 inches long. The pond has a pump and filter and plenty of plants.

We are soon to move house and I’d like to take the fish. I have a green plastic feeding trough approx 36 x 24 inches and 30 inches deep.

Could I put some pond water in this and transport the fish. It would be at least a 3 hour journey.

How long could they survive in this tank until I had installed a new pond for them?

Would they need a pump and filter in the tank once we had got to new destination?

Could I cover the tank during transportation?

Would all this be too much trauma for the fish and would it be better to leave them here with new owners and hope they continue to look after them?

I hope you can give me some advice please

Grant's Reply

Hi Yvonne
Having moved many thousands of fish over the years when selling to wholesalers and pet shops, I did developed methods that ensured the fish arrived safely to their destination.
Admittedly, the wholesalers were within an hour of home base, but a consignment usually numbered in the 50s or 100s.
The ideal way to transport the fish would be in large plastic bags filled with a gallon of water, pure oxygen added before placing them in polystyrene boxes. That is how the professionals do it.
I wouldn’t use the trough with water in it as during braking, accelerating and cornering, you would be amazed how much water will surge.
I would use the trough to hold several plastic bags of fish. The bags should be tied off creating a large pocket of air, so the bag would be 1/3rd water, 2/3rds air.
The size of the biggest fish at 5” is what measurement, total length including tail, or body length?
If it is body length, I would put two that size in 2 gallons of water, total length, 3 in two gallons of water, so you would need some reasonably large plastic bags.
The other option is to use 5-gallon buckets, but they would need to come with lids. I would half fill them.
I would not use pond water for transporting the fish, use fresh de-chlorinated water as it will have a higher oxygen level. Fill the trough with water a day or two before departure.
Can you use the pond filter for the trough as I calculate the trough is 93 gallons, and 15 fish will need some sort of filter or lots of water changes?
You would need to keep the filter damp during the journey otherwise the beneficial bacteria will die and you will get an ammonia spike in the trough.
As long as good water conditions are maintained, they could stay in the trough for some weeks. The biggest danger is an ammonia spike.
You will need to purchase water de-chlorinator and a water test kit to be able to monitor the water quality.
Don’t feed the fish for a day or two before departure, they travel better on empty stomachs, and produce less waste.
Read my e-Zine number 113 regarding un-bagging fish after travelling for some time. I don’t think it is such an issue in your case, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
The last issue is temperature. You are having record temperatures over there at the moment, and it poses the greatest risk to the fish. Hot water has less oxygen in it. If the vehicle that is transporting the fish has A/C, keep it as low as comfortably possible.
Lastly, keep monitoring the fish on the journey, say every hour. If they look like they are in distress, a water change can be made, which is why you need the de-chlorinator on board.

Good luck.

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