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    Moving with a Monster

    Discussion in 'MFK Articles' started by HarleyK, Sep 5, 2007.

    1. HarleyK

      HarleyK Canister Man
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      ABSTRACT

      The US Consensus bureau published that approximately 16% of all Americans move each year. Many of them are Monsterfishkeepers. Most people move within the same county, however, an astounding 15% of all moves go out of state. This article is for those who take their Monsters with them.

      Documented herein is a 1300 miles trip half-way across the United States of America, from the Heartland to the East Coast. A 1 foot (30 cm) long common wolf fish, Hoplias malabaricus, was temporarily housed and then transported on the backseat of a sedan over the course of three days, with two over-night stays in hotels. All equipment used for the successful relocation was photographed and is detailed in this article. The wolf fish was transferred into its original 75 gal tank at the destination site. Feed intake resumed one day after arrival, minor scuffs suffered during transport healed within one week.


      INTRODUCTION

      Hoplias malabaricus is a member of the Erythrinidae family. Native to Central and South America, it lives in a wide range of waters and can reach a total body length of 20 inches (50 cm). Habitats extend across all conditions, from fast-flowing to standing waters, from lakes to streams only 3 inches (7.6 cm) deep. Hoplias were even found to thrive in drying puddles, using a special breathing organ that allows survival in oxygen-depleted waters. Based on this diversity of environments, wolf fish are highly adaptive to different water chemistries. They tolerate a wide range of hardness levels (4-25ºGH), are fairly pH-tolerant (6-8), and are also resistant to lower temperatures (68-79ºF, 20-26ºC).

      Wolf fish are exceptionally dedicated predators, rarely tolerating smaller co-habitants in captivity. Their natural diet consists of fish, but also shrimp, crayfish, and other invertebrae such as worms and insects. Being nocturnal ambush hunters, they often appear passive to the unapprised hobbyist. However, once acclimated, they can be active swimmers at times, even during daylight. Wolf fish can store air and moisture and have been reported to move over land in their native habitats. They often jump, and thus easily escape from aquariums with insufficient covering or with canopies that are not weighed down.

      Taken these specifics, a wolf fish might not appear to be the best subject of an article on how to relocate fish. Its hardiness and ability to breathe atmospheric air set it apart from many other monsters. However, its sheer size qualifies the wolf fish as a prime candidate for monster logistics. Furthermore, goal of the transport mission was to provide optimal conditions for the fish, even if it meant to exceed this particular species’ requirements. A Monsterfishkeeper settles with nothing less but the best for the fish.


      MATERIALS AND METHODS

      All equipment was procured from BigAlsOnline.com or PetsMart if not stated otherwise.

      Fish & Original Set-up: A Hoplias malabaricus measuring 12 inches (30 cm) was housed in a 75 gal (48x18x20 inches, 122x46x50 cm) grow-out tank, filtered by a 265 gph Eheim 2217 canister filter (Eheim GmbH & Co. KG, Deizisau, Germany) with original media set. The aquarium was maintained at 78ºF (26ºC) by means of two 150 W heaters (Jäger Eheim, Deizisau, Germany). Daily diet consisted of market prawns, spiked with TetraMin Tropical Tablets (Tetra, Blacksburg, VA).

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      Preparations prior to Transport: Six weeks prior to departure, two Hydro-Sponge V Filters were introduced, each rated for single filtration of a 125 gal tank.

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      Both filters were powered by a dual-outlet Whisper 100 air pump, via silicone tubing with check valves. The air pump was rated for the aeration of 100 gal aquariums.

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      The connectors on the Hydro-Sponge filters proved sensitive to movement, as created by the wolf fish or later during transport. Therefore, Teflon tape was used to create tighter seals between parts.

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      Four weeks prior to departure the canister was dismantled, and a 400 gph AquaClear 70 powerhead was introduced for water movement. Feeding was ceased five days prior to departure to empty the gastro-intestinal tract of the fish and thereby avoid pollution of the water during travel. On the day of departure, a canister was filled with 6.5 gal (25 liters) of water for tank set-up at the destination.


      Transport Vessel: The wolf fish was transported in a 30x20x20 inches (76x50x50 cm) plastic tub at a water level of 8 inches (20 cm). This amounts to a volume of 21 gal (78 liters) of water. Together with the fish, two apple snails (diameter 3 inches (7.6 cm), some cork bark and Hydrocotyle leucocephala were transported in the same tub.
      The lid was strapped on with a bungee cord at all times. The tub had previously been used as an outside pond and was, thus, extensively watered. In case a new tub is purchased for the transport of fish, it is strongly recommended to wash and rinse it thoroughly to reduce levels of leachate.

      Temperature Control and Filtration during Relocation:
      In the car: Both Hydro-Sponge V filters were transferred from the tank into the bin, and each was powered by a battery-operated Silent Air B11 air pump. Batteries were changed daily. The transport vessel was heated by Warm Gel Instant Heat Packs. Two heat packs were placed underneath the plastic tub on top of the seat surface. They lasted for a day’s drive. Temperature was monitored by a digital aquarium.
      During overnight stays: Relocation included a wolf fish, but also two apple snails, a guinea pig and a cat. Pet-friendly accommodations were identified using the AAA PetBook Traveling With Your Pet. All animals spent the nights in a hotel room.

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      The operation of sponge filters was switched from battery power to plug-in air pumps (Whisper 100). Heat packs were discarded and a 100 W plug-in heater with Tronic Heater Guards was installed for overnight temperature control, set at 78ºF (26ºC). A 58 gph Elite Mini Underwater Filter increased water circulation and guaranteed equal distribution of heat throughout the bin.

      Upon Arrival: The 75 gal tank was set up in its original conformation but without canister filter, and the wolf fish was slowly acclimated to the new water parameters. A stock volume of 6.5 gal (25 liters) of water from the old place and half of the water from the transport bin were added to ease transition. Hydro-Sponge filters were transferred to the main tank and set up in combination with AquaClear powerhead. After one week, a 450 gph Eheim 2080 canister filter was added and the powerhead was removed. One week later, the sponges were installed over the two filter intakes and remained there for approximately two months.


      RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

      The operation of sponge filters only can be detrimental to aquatic plants as observed in a second (220 gal, 800 L) tank, which was treated equally as the described aquarium prior to departure. It had been densely planted with Cryptocoryne, Vallisneria, Hydrocotyle, and Echinodorus. All plants suffered dramatically within four weeks after decommissioning of the canister filter and mere operation on sponge filters.

      In order to vacate the old house, all pets had to be moved out one day prior to departure. They were packed and transported to a friend’s place in a fashion described above.

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      Packing the plastic tub in the back seat of a sedan required two people. But once packed, transport of the fish proved non-problematic.

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      Some water was spilled during driving despite low water level and lid. Temperature remained within a range of 72-80 ºF (22-27 ºC). Occasionally, the wolf fish jumped against the lid and sides of the tank. This was aggravated by radio music but also happened in the middle of the night in a hotel room. It is important to mention that the heater guard was another critical piece of equipment in the prevention of fish damage. Heating a travel bin with heat packs only throughout the entire trip is uneconomical, and exact temperature control is not possible. Therefore, a low-wattage heater is ideal for temperature maintenance when power outlets are available. However, when stressed in an unknown environment, fish naturally seek hiding spots, such as provided by a heater. Burns would be inevitable, but are easily prevented with a heater guard.

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      Apple snails spawned over night in the plastic tub.

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      Overnight stays at selected hotels (Holiday Inn, Richmond, IN, and Best Western/Hershey Hotel and Suites, Harrisburg, PA) proved extremely pleasant. The bell hop at the Holiday Inn helped lift the tub out of than car and transported it to the room on a cart. All pets were taken care of immediately.

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      The bell hop left us the cart, so that reloading the next day was as easy as it could be.

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      No bell hop was on duty at the Best Western, but a cart was available, enabling the same straight-forward transport to the room and back to the car the next day.

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      At its destination, the 75 gal tank was set up as described above.

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      Only minimal cycling was observed after three days, manifested in slightly cloudy water. Seeding the new set-up with beneficial bacteria transported in the two sponge filters was successful.

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      The wolf fish quickly acclimated and ate one day after arrival. It had suffered minor scratches during transport, all of which healed within one week.

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      The two apple snails initially refused feed intake and hardly moved. Without a transition period, they returned to normal behavior one week later.

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      CONCLUSIONS

      Moving Monsterfish is an undertaking that requires thorough planning. With all logistics in place and all material and equipment necessary for life-support obtained, the move itself is easily conducted. Proper heating and aeration are two key components on the road. The third key to successful relocation is the transfer of beneficial bacteria from origin to destination tank to immediately offer operational bio-filtration to the well-traveled Monster.

      With the best for our Monsters in mind, our aquarium should be the last piece of furniture that leaves the old place, and it must be the first piece of furniture that is set-up at the new home. Even for a trip spanning over several days, a few hours still make a difference in our fishes’ well-being.



      ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

      I really thank my wife for her support. It is a blessing to have a spouse who is so understanding of pets.



      LIST OF EQUIPMENT

      • 1 plastic tub 30x20x20 inches (76x50x50 cm)
      • 1 AquaClear 70 powerhead (Rolf C. Hagen Corp., Mansfield, MA)
      • 1 Elite Mini Underwater Filter (Rolf C. Hagen Corp., Mansfield, MA)
      • 2 Hydro-Sponge V Filters (Aquarium Technology, Inc., Decatur, GA)
      • 1 dual-outlet Whisper 100 air pump (Tetra, Blacksburg, VA)
      • 2 battery-operated Silent Air B11 air pump (Penn-Plax Inc., Hauppauge, NY)
      • silicone tubing with check valves (Topfin, Phoenix, AZ)
      • 1 case Warm Gel Instant Heat Packs (catalog #20420, Prism Technologies, San Antonio, TX,
        procured thru Fisher Scientific (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, MA)
      • 1 100 W plug-in heater (Jäger Eheim, Deizisau, Germany)
      • 1 Tronic Heater Guard (Rolf C. Hagen Corp., Mansfield, MA)
      • 1 digital aquarium thermometer (Zoo Med Laboratories Inc., San Luis Obispo, CA)
      • teflon tape (PTFE thread seal tape, ACE, Oak Brook, IL)
      • 2 bungee cords
      • 1 AAA PetBook Traveling With Your Pet (9th edition, AAA Publishing, Heathrow, FL)
      • 1 6.5 gal (25 liters) container to transport extra water


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      Good luck moving your fish,
      HarleyK



      THE END
       
    2. neoprodigy

      neoprodigy Administrator
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      that must be some ride !! :)
       
    3. Gr8KarmaSF

      Gr8KarmaSF 1 is the magic number
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      Nice write up Kristian, im glad that all the pets made it, written like the true PhD that you are...

      Ummm, Ive always wondered whether or not my loud music aggravates my fish in transport...
       
    4. sncboom

      sncboom MFK Members

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      Great information. Bookmarked
       
    5. HarleyK

      HarleyK Canister Man
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      Thanks, guys :cheers:

      :grinyes: It's the Monstermobil :grinyes:

      Besides the fish on the back seat, I was also towing a trailer...
       

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    6. masteroffish

      masteroffish MFK Members

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      Nice article. I just moved to AZ from the East Coast with 3 cats/2 dogs/and about 40 fish. I used styrofoam containers and the portable pumps. I think I only lost four to five fish.
       
    7. Danh

      Danh MFK Members

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      Maybe I didn't read closely enough, but starving the animal for a few days prior helps too. I made three similar moves recently. One 1 hour drive with a 30" silver aro, a 3.5 hour drive 3 5" temensis and a 3.5 hour drive back with a 15" black aro. Fun stuff. I do believe next time I will try to include the sponge filter as well as the air. Especially for the bigger fish. It also helps to get a power inverter rather than battery powered. At least for while you're in the car and it's running.
       
    8. redtailfool

      redtailfool MFK Members

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      awesome article Kris ! Now i understand why you are so attached to that fish.
       
    9. HarleyK

      HarleyK Canister Man
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      Howdy,

      That is a loooong trip. What fish did you move?

      Good point, and that's what I did (see article). You are absolutely right, that is very important in preparing for a long trip.

      For the short trips you described and even for my 1+3 days relocation, battery-powered pumps are quite sufficient. I used two pumps, about $10 each. Batteries are cheap. It also allowed me to get out of the car and grab lunch and ice cream on the way (Skyline and Graeter's :naughty: , just in case anyone here ever drives thru Cincinnati). If you regularly move fish in your car over extended periods of time, then your advice is dead-on: More heavy-duty equipment, moooore poooweerrr! :thumbsup:


      HarleyK
       
    10. beachman22

      beachman22 MFK Members

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      Cool article. Will be helpful to alot of us. Thanks
       

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