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Bagging Fish


Courtesy of: Calgary Aquarium Society
Author: Roberta Bremner
Original Publication: Website of Calgary Aquarium Society (original article)
Summary: Tips for preparing and bagging fish for auctions
Date first published: January 27, 2010

Please take the time to bag and label your fish properly to ensure their health / safety enroute to their new homes. Here are a few simple guidelines:

Avoid feeding your fish for 36-48 hours prior to bagging. This greatly reduces the amount of waste that will accumulate in the bag while also keeping harmful ammonia levels to a minimum.

Use proper fish bags and elastics when bagging your fish (ask for these items at your local aquarium supply shop). Ziplocks are not reliable for holding water and air under pressure so should be avoided. Use ziplock bags only for dry goods.

Allow for a ratio of approximately 75% air / 25% clean tank water in each bag for maximum oxygen levels and to keep your fish comfortable. The water should cover your fish while the bag is on its side… keep in mind oxygen is more important than water. At this point you could optionally add a small amount of conditioner (or de-stressor) to the water.

Use fresh air in your bag – avoid ‘blowing’ air directly into it. Simply open the bag as wide as possible and then quickly snap your hand around the top to seal in a good supply of fresh air. (An air pump could assist.) Use elastics to close the bag, and secure well. The bag should be taut like a balloon.

Double-bag your fish if they have sharp fins, teeth or bristles (i.e. anything ‘pokey’). Hint: medium-to-larger-sized cichlids, catfish, sucker fishes / plecos are all common suspects!

Always bag medium-to-large fish in separate bags. When deciding how many fish to put together in one bag, consider whether or not they all appear to have enough room (i.e. if the bag were accidentally bumped, would any fish collide with each other?) Fish that are naturally aggressive by nature should be bagged separately (i.e. each aggressive fish gets its own bag!)

For any unusually large fish, avoid using fish bags and instead choose a suitably-sized plastic container (pail or bin) with lid to be sold along with the fish. The lid should seal properly but be easily removable in order to properly show the fish.

Do you have fish that take great pleasure in jamming themselves into the corners of the bag? While stuck in a corner of the bag, they may not be able to breathe properly and could injure themselves. A quick-fix to this problem: turn the bag upside-down, and then double-bag for safety. Voila — no more corners!

Are your fish accustomed to living in a tank with aquatic plants? If so, adding a small plant, stem or a few leaves in your fish bag will provide added comfort and shelter for your fish while they wait.

When transporting your fish to or from the auction, use a foam container or cooler box (e.g. a camping cooler) to keep the air around the bags steady at room temperature. As an inexpensive alternative (though don’t use this method for extended periods of time as it’s a bit less effective), you can also use triple-bagged paper shopping bags (e.g. paper Co-op or Safeway bags) with extra newspaper inside, then and roll up the top to keep any outside cold air out. Whichever method you choose, it is especially important for your fish to be insulated when traveling on winter days.