When fish and motile invertebrates are in an aquarium there are plenty of places where they can hide to keep away from and avoid conflicts with other tankmates. However, if you are moving and have to transport aquarium pets to a new location, when placed into a container where they are freely-swimming about together with no cover present, harassment and fighting will occur amongst some species. To avoid this problem, here is an easy way to pack-up and keep the animals separated during transit.
Time Required: Varies per individual aquarist.
- Collect a variety of different sized disposable type plastic containers with matching lids. You can get these by going through your kitchen cupboards to look for food storage containers like saved 1 to 5 pound butter/margarine tubs, 1 gallon ice cream tubs, inexpensive throw-away Glad, Dixie, and other brand or non-brand name items you don't mind sacraficing.
- If you do not have any of the above type items, large grocery and super stores sell them, including cheaper generic products that can very often be purchased in bulk quantities. Another suitable item that can be used are 1 and 2 liter soda or beverage bottles.
- Once you have collected your containers, it's time to put some holes in them. You don't want the holes to be too large for tiny and smaller animals, as they may escape through them, or too small for larger animals, as this will reduce the introduction of oxygen into the container, and in both cases if the holes are too small, waste will get trapped inside. The "size" of a container determines how many holes to make in it, with 1/4 inch in diameter being a good size for most all containers.
- Holes can be made several ways. Although the simplest is to use pointed-tipped scissors and cut them out, this is a time consuming, the plastic may be too thick to cut, and trying to make small holes is difficult to do. However, for large containers made of thinner plastic, such as the soda bottles, this is an easy way to cut out bigger 1/2 to say 3/4 inch holes that are suitable for larger animals. Round-tipped scissors can be used, but you'll need a sharp-tipped knife to get a hole started.
- The other option for making holes is to "burn" them into the containers by taking a hand-torch and heating up about 1 inch of the tip of a 1/4 inch metal rod, or something equivlilent that will stand up to heat, then press it into the plastic, using a pair of pliers or vice grips to hold the rod with during this process. This method results in nice round, smooth-edged holes, and is a rather fast process. This is a smelly job, so it should only be done outside or in a well ventilated area.
- So how many holes should you put in each container? As an example, for tiny containers like 4 or 5.5 ounce souffle cups, which are ideal for putting small hermits, crabs, snails and such in, one row of 1/4 inch holes around the outside spaced about 1 inch apart, with say 4 holes in the bottom of the container, with as many in the lid is good. This applies to shallow containers as well, and of course if it is square or rectangular in shape, more holes will be needed on the bottom and lid.
- For small, medium, large size and deep containers, just start at the top or bottom of the container and make a single row of holes about 1 (small), 1-1/2 (medium), or 2 (large/deep) inches apart all the way around the outside, then move up or down about 1, 1-1/2, or 2 inches to make another row. Repeat this process until the holes are from top to bottom of the container, then put like 6, 8, 10 or so holes in the bottom of the container, and the lid.
- If you are going to use the 1 and 2 liter soda or beverage bottles as containers, which are good for putting larger fish such as Triggers, Wrasses, and Puffers in, just remove the cap, cut the bottle in half, and make the holes. When you are ready to put a fish in it, just take one half and scoop or allow the fish to go in, then slide the two pieces firmly together, one fitting inside the other like a sleeve.
- After all the individual livestock containers are finished, you can start planning for your move by using our 8 Easy Steps to Pack-Up and Move Aquarium Pets, paying particular attention to Step 6. This section not only addresses information on putting the animals into the prepared transport container when the time comes to do so, but explains the importance of using multiple transport containers, and how to pack the animals by "similar-in-nature" groupings.
- There are no set rules for the number of holes needed or how to make them. Just use simple common sense, keeping in mind that what you are striving for is to provide enough holes for good oxygen exchange, ones that are big enough to allow waste to come out, but are small enough not to let the animal escape, and you don't want the holes to have rough or jagged edges that can injure the animals.
- Containers made of thinner plastic are much easier to make holes in, and those made of a translucent material are best, because at-a-glance you can observe how the animals are doing during transit.
- Round containers are recommended over square and rectangular shapes, as they are space savers, and allow fish in particular to move around in a more comfortable, less stressful cicular motion.
- If after heating up the metal rod it will not go through the plastic, it's NOT hot enough.
- Fish should fit into a container comfortably with room to move around. If a fish is placed in too small of a container for its size, often injury may occur from being forced to stick its nose/mouth out of a hole. From one end to other, you should allow about 1/2 inch of space between a fish's nose and tail from the side(s) of a container.
What You Need
- An good variety of different sized plastic containers with matching lids.
- A sufficient number of containers, one for each fish and invert you are moving.
- Pointed-tip scissors, or round-tipped scissors and a sharp-tipped knife.
- Hand torch.
- A 1/4 inch diameter metal rod, or something equivalent that can be heated.
- A pair of pliers or vice grips.