Moving with a Monster


Jack Dempsey
MFK Member
Oct 21, 2015
Virginia Beach
Hey everyone. Just moved from Scranton PA to Virginia Beach. Total seven hours drive time with daytime temperatures in the mid sixties and night time in the low forties. The trip would include an overnight stay at a hotel due to office hours the next day signing the lease.

The plan:

Moving a breeding pair of Dovii (10inch male and about seven inch female)

flowerhorn ~6 inches

Jaguar 5 inches
Leaf fish 5 inches
three pictus cats 5 inches
Severum 7 inches
Jurupari earth eater 7 inches
4 Uaru 3 inches
Chocolate cichlid 3.5 inches
Bn pleco

The Dovii would each get their own styrofoam container. Uaru in their own, leaf and chocolate together, Flowerhorn alone. Everyone else in a bucket (I'll explain later). Each container except the bucket had a battery powered air pump and one hand warmer (to be changed after the ride). Each container lined with an outdoor trash bag. I would fill fish bags with as much established media as possible.

I had to load my big tanks first(180, 125) 75, 45, 20 gallon were all loaded last to be holding tanks.

Several mistakes were made by me in the planning phase of the fish move. I severely overestimated the cab room of the truck I got from Penske(ford 350 super duty 16 foot box truck). I also overestimated how big the box was (I ran out of room and had to throw out a tv stand and computer desk). The plan was to have all fish in the cab for the temperature controlled environment and smoother ride. I should have scoured the truck beforehand but I didn't. When I got the truck the day of, I opened the door and 'oh no' that's tight. I elected to load the smaller fish up front and larger in the back. Dovii, and Flowerhorn. I added an extra hand warmer in each container. All lids were taped shut with packing tape.

I was supposed to leave no later than noon. I finished shutting down tanks and packing fish at approx. 11am. My help arrived late and I ended up not leaving until 3:30pm. This is important because not instead of arriving around seven I would be driving well after the sun went down and the temperature dropped.

I stopped twice along the way for less than 10 minutes each. Total drive time was 7 hours 10 minutes. Got to the hotel at 11:45pm. This was at 12 hours since the fish had been packed WAY over my estimated time. Unloaded all fish into the hotel room and checked tempterures while hooking everyone up to an electric air pump and changing hand warmers. Dovii were a little sluggish but appear fine. As soon as I grabbed the flower horns container out of the truck it was wet. I knew that wasn't good at all. Upon inspection she was not moving listless at the surface. The water was 61F. Immeatly out her under the tub faucet at a slow warm water drip with prime added. Everyone else was alive and showed no requirement for emergency care.

Began moving in at 940am the next day (Office hours prevented me from being earlier). Once again, my help was late. It wasn't until around 11 that i started to drip the Flowerhorn who was still clinging to life. In the flurry of filling tanks and unpacking media from fish bags I noticed he Flowerhorn started to move her fins. After a short drip her container temp was now 77 and tank temp was 78. I dropped her in. She immediately acted as if nothing happened and started digging the gravel. By this time the Dovii tank had finished filling so I started partially filling their containers with new tank water while dripping the rest.

Everyone survived the ordeal so far. The leaf fish was housed with a chocolate cichlid of the same size during the trip. Apprently the chocolate attempted to nurder the leaf. His fins are shredded and has extensive damage to his dorsal area. For a while he just layed on the bottom of the tank but everyone is improving.

Now only time with tell. Down here they use chloramine in the water. I used prime on all tanks and my test kits are showing 8ppm ammonia 0ppm nitrite and 40ppm nitrate for the 75 gallon which had everyone but the Dovii(FH divided). Dovii are sitting at 10ppm nitrate and 5ppm ammonia I'm assuming because they barely ate anything. From what I understand 8ppm ammonia would be survive stress for the fish. If not lethal. However, my Flowerhorn dropped her breeding tube and is cleaning her pot to lay eggs. Everyone's gill function is normal. Everyone is swimming normal. I'm testing three times daily now and will be twice daily for the next week or two while I work. I understand that when chloramine breaks, ammonia is released and prime renders it non toxic and usable for the BB


I cannot stress the importance of prior planning. I thought I'd be able to buy heat packs one week out and have them arrive in time for the move. I couldn't get them...

If you have to put any fish in the back of a truck or anywhere that isn't temperature controlled INCREASE water volume no matter how big or small the fish. Insulated containers do work, but a small amount of water will still cool quicker than a large amount (this is why my Dovii water remained in the 70s. Tight fitting lid and more water).

Use extreme caution with the fish you put together. My chocolate and leaf fish until yesterday coexisted without any arguments.

Little end note:
I wasn't planning on keeping the jaguar, severum, pictus, or earth eater. At the absolute last minute the LFS backed out and wouldn't take them. The other wouldn't be open in time. They all got thrown together in a 5gal bucket with just hand warmers taped to the lid and they rode in the truck cab. So more advice, don't procrastinate.

Also, my internet isn't set up yet and my pictures aren't loading properly. I apologize.


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Canister Man
Original poster
Staff member
Global Moderator
MFK Member
Aug 17, 2005
Nice write-up, and good advice for those who need to move their fish.

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