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How We Moved Our 5 Foot Arapaima Gigas

Discussion in 'MFK Articles' started by johnptc, Dec 20, 2006.

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  1. johnptc

    johnptc
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    How we moved our 5 foot arapaima gigas …

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    We began thinking about how to move the gigas several weeks before the move. We searched the internet for information which was sketchy at best. We emailed a few people and talked to a few on the phone. The first major decision was that we would have to anesthetize the fish in order to move him safely, both for his safety and our safety.

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    We decided on a tranquilizer for fish called Tricaine-S ( Tricaine Methanesulfonate) also know as MS 222. The next step was to decide on the dosage to add to the water. Since the gigas are air breathers the amount adsorbed through their gills would be small and most of the adsorption would be through the skin, it seemed that most guidelines would not be appropriate. The best expert we could find recommended 50 ppm and the fish should roll on its side in 2-3 minutes…..

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    A 6 foot stretcher was fabricated from 2x4’s and a sturdy beach towel. Rope was run through both ends and a lifting pulley was mounted on a steel beam between the two tanks.

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    Doing the math I calculated that by dropping the water level to 14 inches, that 68 grams of Tricaine-s would give a 50 ppm concentration in the tank. ( Note that you need to buffer the tricaine-s will the same amount of sodium bicarbonate ).

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    The date was set and helpers were recruited. The final team was Michael my son, two guys from the LFS, two friends of mine Gary and Alan, my daughter Danielle as photographer and yours truly. My in laws showed up as spectators. This may sound like a big team but everyone had work to do !!!


    The gigas tank was drained to fourteen inches, its pumps shut down and the interconnection between the old and new tanks was closed.

    With Michael in a protective wet suit, the forklift providing a working platform and the fish stretcher in place we mixed the first dose of tricaine-s , sodium bicarbonate and a gallon of tank water. The dose ( 50 ppm) was added and stirred into the tank…..we waited the allotted 3 minutes and found it had had no effect at all.

    We the repeated the first step adding another 15 ppm and waited three more minutes……and again there was no effect.

    So as naïve gigas movers we added another 15 ppm fully expecting a knock out in 2-3 minutes more.

    Well we thought he slowed down and coaxed him into the sling and began the lift. Nothing doing and with an explosive move he was out of the sling. Checking for injuries showed nothing serious for Michael or the fish. Zach from the LFS hopped in the tank to give Michael a hand.

    We now mixed up another 40 grams which added another 30 ppm to the tank. We waited 3 more minutes and moved the fish into the sling. Again with a flury the gigas refused and was out again.

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    Now wondering what we had gotten into we mixed up another batch of 40 grams which brought the total up to 160 ppm…….this seemed to make little difference.

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    Gary mixed another dose of 40 ppm which would bring the total concentration in the tank to 200 ppm. This dose was poured directly on the gigas head and about a minute later the gigas rolled on its side…. Now I worried that I just killed my pride and joy. He was slipped into the lifting sling and from the pallet on the forklift Rob ( LFS) and I hoisted the gigas out of the old tank and trying to keep everything level slid him into the new tank. Clunk….he slide from the sling to the gravel banging his nose a little…meanwhile I am really wondering if he is dead and Michael getting into the new tank and lifting the gigas head to the surface.

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    After a very tense minute for me, Michael reported a wiggle in the tail. From that point on it got better and better. Michael continued to walk and swim the gigas in the new tank. He took off a couple of times in a drunken fashion lightly banging the walls to be rescued by Michael….after about 10 minutes he was about 90 percent back and within the hour he no longer touched the walls.

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    As the gigas affectionately know as Sam enjoyed his new tank we drained the medicated water, washed the gravel and refilled the old tank. This was important as we needed to get the old biofilters back on line to filter the new tank while its biofilters age. Now about midnight we restarted the old tank’s pumps and heaters. By 6AM the water was warmed from 60F to 80F. The two tanks were interconnected once again. The Sam was being hand fed within 36 hours of the move at was eating floating food within 24 hours.


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  2. neoprodigy

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    great article John... did your heart drop on the floor when you thought Sam was dead? :) the fastest way to revived a MS-222 fish is put the a power head in mouth with air buble and water run through the gill... :)
     
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  3. redtailfool

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    Fish all twisted like that is a gut wrenching sight . . . I am glad everything turned out to be ok. :headbang2
     
  4. freeskierrocket

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    that is awesome....divers up!!!!!!!!:) :headbang2 :D

    btw...gorgeous fish and monster setup!! love it!!
     
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  5. ewurm

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    Amazing work. Scientists and doctors do not consider moving a 60" fish when developing meds, which made your move all the more difficult. I theorize that the scales protecting the skin broadly inhibited absorption of the mediaction, which is why the dosage had to be much higher than expected. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, or biologist, and hindsight is much more effective than foresight. I applaud your effort, and congradulate you on a successful project. When we move our fish, even as Monster Keepers, a large net and a plan is usually all that is in order. Great job.
     
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  6. Euge

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    wow that was a thumpin good read. i'm glad he made it. Beautiful fish
     
  7. jones

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    yup, seein those pictures of him 'sedated', i can see that being a brutally tense minute for sure!!!

    glad all worked out as planned...

    all the best
     
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  8. davo

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    Awesome article to read, cheers. Looked like an adventure. A lot of effort went into moving that beautiful gigas, but then again, this is MonsterFishKeepers.
     
  9. Loubard

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    Very interesting article! Thanks for sharing all this!
     
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  10. Joshy

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    I am so glad it all worked out! Well done on your planning, holding your ground and not dropping a brick through your pants during the very tense times. You are a flagship to our hobby!
     
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