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Temporary(ish) housing for fish?

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Hey all! First post! ☺️ Apologies if I miss some formatting rule or something. 

So a bit of background: we are moving cross-country soon (about 1400 miles!) and so I’m seriously downsizing my tanks. I’ll be getting rid of allllllll of my fish in a 75 and a 20 long. We will also probably be forced into a hotel or rental situation for a time until we can buy a new home in our new place. This means we will be severely limited on our tank sizes for possibly an extended length of time. We are definitely going to keep my daughter’s pet betta moved in a smaller 5 gallon and I am going to keep some of my blue neo shrimp colony in a 2.5 gallon. 

Now for my questions:

1. I have two pea puffers that I want to try to take with me as well. They are currently in a 10 gallon together and doing well. Do you think I could keep them safely in a 5 gallon? It would be heavily planted with lots of hiding spots. 

2. We have an adult female bristlenose that we’ve raised from a tiny baby and none of us want to leave her behind if we can avoid it. She’s in a 75gal now. I’m worried about how small a tank I can safely keep her in. If we need to we would happily keep her in a tank alone and run ammonia pads & do frequent water changes if she’s in a less than ideal size. She poops so, so much. Also would be heavily planted. 

Thanks for your input! 

Also anyone else ever moved beloved fish cross-country before?? Any tips?

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1. Two pea puffers in a 5 gallon could be hard to keep water quality up but if I had to it would be a well planted tank with line of sight breaks. 

2. I havent kept bristlenose up here but plants and water changes based off of parameters can make many situations liveable. 

I would test the water at least daily until I had my water changes vs parameters figured out but go for as big of a small tank as i could keep in my temporary housing to make it easier on myself and my fish. 

I would consider fasting my fish up to for 48 hours prior if i were moving with them and then bag them in clean water as if i was shipping them to myself. I would pack that box in my car last and bring them with me inside to pimit temperature swings.

I have seen people buy fish and use storage tubs and usb pumps running sponge filters to bring them home before. That could be harder to work if my vehicle was filled with moving items though. The bonus of that would be the biological filtration could be sustained on the route and not need to be restarted on arrival to the new area.  

Edited by mountaintoppufferkeeper
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I've not kept puffers or bristlenose, so I can't help with their housing, but I HAVE transported fish across country before, though not quite 1400 miles. @mountaintoppufferkeepers comment on moving fish using a USB air pump and storage tubs is exactly what I did both times, once transporting fish home from a convention and the second time actually moving. You don't actually need to use the air pump in the car from my experience, but it's a good idea to plug it in overnight at the hotel/wherever you're staying if you stop mid-trip. 

You definitely want to fast them before - I actually began fasting 72 hours before moving and it's worked well both times. It's possible to get a single tub and divide it up so you can use one tub for all your fish, but I don't recommend it. When I tried we had bettas jumping dividers before we made it out of the parking lot. The tubs we used were around 5-10 gallon tubs, but you will not want to fill them more than half way or they will slosh around. You can also, particularly with your betta, look into plastic 32oz food carryout containers. Poke holes in the top, fill about halfway with water, and as long as they've fasted they're good for 3-5 days. (Not thrilled, but I didn't lose any of the 13 I moved doing that.) 

I would say expect to lose a couple of your shrimp, because I always lose two or three when I move them.They will handle the change in water parameters less happily than the fish. Drip acclimate them carefully and slowly when you add water at the new place. 

Super long rambling post, but I hope it helps! 


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I'd be tempted to re-home the puffers, they are popular so easier than most fish to get someone or a LFS to take. I only say this because of the level of uncertainty in the plan and the fewer tanks the better until you know your not going to be a hotel at least.

Also puffers are often very fussy eaters and breeding snails or keeping frozen foods might be problematic.

Sounds like things are going to be kinda busy for you for awhile so try and simplify as much as you can.

Could the bristlenose and the Betta live together in a slightly larger tank rather than having to set up multiple small tanks. This again because of potential space issues in hotels

I would also be tempted to use something like a plastic lidded box rather than a tank it will be more forgiving in being moved about and you could just drop the water level for traveling then when things are more certain get the right thing for your home. Irene used something like that in this.




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Sorry if I seem negative, I'm horribly pragmatic at times, I just want things to go well and be as we safe and easy for all of you. I understand pets are hard to leave behind but I'd rather that than lose them in a tricky and exhausting move. Best of luck with it all

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If you have to stay in a hotel I would use a dark non see though bin. I saw a few sat the clear. Hotels are so fond of water in there rooms. Just when you leave the room set to top on. I had to do this many times at one point. If you will be in the same area as your new living area storage unit has worked before. You have be sure the is a out let. Most fish can go a couple days with out food or an auto-feeder.

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