Shipping Live Fish


Team Rayman
MFK Member
Mar 30, 2005
staten island new york
:clap: great post


Staff member
MFK Member
Jul 23, 2005
Quarantine Tank
very nice and helpful, hope it inspires people to ship more often...

any thoughts on the drip method when receiving new fish???


Staff member
MFK Member
Apr 27, 2005
Acclimating Saltwater Fish the Drip Line Way
The Pros, The Cons, Instructions and Tips
The Pros

* The drip line or trickle acclimating method is a safe and gentle way to introduce saltwater fish into a new home, and is a fairly simple one to perform.
* Once the drip line is started and the flow rate is set, it pretty much takes care of itself.
* This procedure can be used to acclimate all types of marine as well as freshwater livestock.

The Cons

* This method can take some time to complete, often up to two hours, depending on the size of the acclimation container being used.
* Setting up is a little more involved than with other acclimation methods.
* If you are acclimating more than one fish, this means you have to either use a seperate acclimation container for each one or put them all together in the same one. If you combine the fish, they may fight and injure each other even before you can get them into your aquarium, especially if they are of the same or similar species.
* Moving too fast and not allowing adequate time for proper acclimation.

Acclimation Instructions

1. Put the fish with all the bag water in a bucket or container of sufficient size for the fish to be reasonably covered with the water.
2. Set the bucket on the floor next to the aquarium you will be placing the fish into when done.
3. Using some plastic air line tubing and an air gang value, set up and run a siphon drip line from the aquarium you will be placing the fish into, to the bucket.
4. Start the siphon and slowly allow the tank water to drip into the bucket, using the gang air valve to adjust the drip rate.
5. When the water dripped into the bucket equals about two to three times the volume of the bag water you started with. If you want you can test the pH, salinity and temperature of the bag water to see if these parameters match that of your tank water at this point to check if acclimation is complete.
6. Gently remove the fish and place it into the same tank the dripped in water came from.


* It doesn't hurt to add an ammonia buffer or destroyer such as AmQuel to the bag water in the bucket with the fish in it prior to starting the procedure, as ammonia build up may still occur while the fish is kept here, no matter how long completion of acclimation takes.
* You don't want to set the water drip in rate too fast, like drip-drip-drip, nor too slow, like drip-----drip-----drip-----, but in between, like drip--drip--drip.
* If you are acclimating several fish at one time and any are of a toxic releasing or poisonous stinging nature, it is best to acclimate such species individually in a container of their own!!

Acclimating Saltwater Fish the Measuring Cup Way
The Pros, The Cons, Instructions and Tips
The Pros

* The measuring cup acclimating method is a gentle, safe and easy way to introduce saltwater fish to a new home, and usually takes less than an hour to complete.
* This technique facilitates re-oxygenation of the bag water during acclimation and introduces the fish to the unique pH and other chemical properties of your system.
* If you are acclimating several fish at one time and any are of a toxic releasing or poisonous stinging nature, such species are individually confined.
* This procedure can be used to acclimate all types of marine as well as freshwater livestock.

The Cons

* Moving too fast and not allowing adequate time for proper acclimation.

Acclimation Instructions

1. Open the bag, and if it is fairly full of packing water, pour off about half and discard.
2. Fold over or cut off any excess bag material at the top.
3. Place the bag inside the aquarium and secure it to the top rim of the aquarium with a clothes pin or other device, making sure no bag water gets into the aquarium or the tank water gets into the bag.
4. Drop an airstone into the bag for a few minutes to assist with re-oxygenation.
5. Add an ammonia buffer or destroyer to the bag water. Our preference is Amquel by Kordon, because it only takes a few drops, acts immediately, and cannot be overdosed.
6. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of tank water, pour it into the bag and wait 10 minutes.
7. Repeat this process.
8. Now scoop out about 1/2 cup of the tank water, pour it into the bag and wait 10 minutes.
9. Repeat this process.
10. If you want you can test the pH, salinity, and temperature of the bag water to see if these parameters match that of your tank water at this point to check if acclimation is complete. If not, or you are concerned, repeat the last step again.
11. Gently hand scoop or use a small perfferated container to lift the fish out of the bag and put it in your tank.
12. Discard the water in the bag.
13. Sit back and enjoy your new tank treasure.


* Holding the measuring cup one to two inches above the bag each time the tank water is poured in provides re-oxygenation throughout the acclimation process.
* Using a very soft mesh net to remove the fish from the bag to place it into the tank is ok, but not recommended.

Transport Container Acclimation Method
Before Starting Tips and Instructions
~ Debbie & Stan Hauter

Whether moving fresh or saltwater fish and other aquarium animals, upon arriving at your final destination after having followed our 8 Easy Steps to Pack-Up and Move Aquarium Pets, here's how to easily acclimate the animals right inside the transport container before introducing them into their new home.

Before Starting Tips

* If at all possible, it is best to prepare in advance for your arrival so that you will be ready to acclimate the animals as soon as possible.

* Both a portion of the transport container water and new saltwater will be used for this acclimation procedure. However, the transport water should only be used if it is clean.
* To simply filter the water right inside the transport container before or during the acclimation process, or in another container for reuse after it's been removed (see Step 1 instructions below), just run a compact hang-on-tank canister or similar type filter for a little while to clean it up. If you cannot do this, a fine-meshed net can be used to gently scoop up and remove detritus or animal waste that may be present.

* If you cannot reuse the transport container water because it is just too dirty, you'll need enough new saltwater to complete the acclimation process for the number and sizes of transport containers you have. Preferably the saltwater should be mixed ahead of time and stored, or be in an aquarium already set up for use.

* If you are not ready to begin the acclimation process right away when you arrive, it is important to keep the water in the transport container oxygenated, ammonia-free, and as waste-free as possible.
* To provide re-oxygenation of the water, either drop an airstone in for a few minutes, or scoop some water out with a large plastic container, then pour it back into container from about 12 inches or higher above, repeating this procedure several times.
* Add an ammonia eliminating product to the water. Our preference is Amquel by Kordon, because it only takes a small amount, acts immediately, and cannot be overdosed with.
* Keep the water clean or filter it as described above.

* If you run out of room to put more new saltwater into the transport container during the acclimation process, remove enough that will enable you to continue on.

Transport Container Acclimation Instructions

1. Remove enough water from the transport container to bring the level to about 1/2 full, saving this water if it can be reused.
2. Put a quantity of the new saltwater into a plastic container (about 1/4 the amount that equals the volume present in the transport container), pour it into the transport container from about 12 inches or higher above, then wait 15 minutes.
3. Repeat this process.
4. Put a larger quantity of the new saltwater into the plastic container, (about 1/2 the amount that now equals the volume present in the transport container), pour it into transport container from about 12 inches or higher above, then wait 15 minutes.
5. Repeat this process.
6. Once acclimation has been completed, remove all but enough water in the transport container to keep the animals comfortably covered, and pour the water into the set up aquarium.
7. Remove the animals from the transport container and place them into the aquarium.
8. Top-off the tank with more new saltwater it needed, or the saved transport water if it can be reused, and get the tank running.
9. To assist with removing any unwanted waste or matter floating in the aquarium water rather quickly, run a compact hang-on-tank canister or similar type filter on the aquarium for a while.
10. The next day perform whatever portion of a water change you feel is safe or needed for the aquarium.
11. Treat the aquarium as you would a newly set up tank.

Get a Bucket & Drip!

When you get your fish from the local store,
you should acclimate them OUT OF THE BAG
no matter what the store told you!

A bag can be depleted of oxygen in an amazingly
short period of time. Though water parameters
are not generally all that different, your fish
still should be acclimated properly. I suggest
getting a small plastic container of some sort,
of about a gallon or two gallon size. Take a piece
of airline tubing, cut it in half and reconnect
the two halves with a plastic air valve in the middle.
Start a siphon by sucking through the airline
(now a drip-line) from your tank, into the
"bucket" you will be placing the fish into.

Cut the bag the fish came in and pour both
the water from the bag and the fish into the bucket.
Now, using the valve, adjust the drip to a very
SLOW, but steady "trickle" of water
from the tank into the bucket.
Sometimes I will put an airstone in with a
VERY LIGHT stream of bubbles to keep
the water "oxed up".

Now is the hardest part ... to wait patiently, taking
an hour or two, slowly getting the fish acclimated
to your tank's water. Most fish will come home in
a quart of water or so. So, when you've doubled the
water volume (which should take at least an hour),
the water is now 50% store water and 50% your water.

If you haven't noticed by now,
your tank is undergoing a slight water
change in the amount of water it will
lose during this process ...
so, be sure to have some new water
ready to replace it with.

When you've quadrupled the original amount of water,
it's 75% your water now. After some time past this
point it will be OK to put the fish in your tank.

NEVER put any store water in your tank!
Net or hand hold (if you're good with handling fish)
the fish and introduce it gently to your tank.

If it is an established setup, where several fish
have territories, it is best to do it in the dark,
after "lights-out". Also, moving a piece or two of
coral or live rock will cause a rearrangement of
territories, eliminating much of the beating
newly introduced fish often take.

Of course, it is always preferable to use a
quarantine tank at first to eliminate the chances
of introducing diseases into your established system.
But, remember when you buy a coral or piece of live
rock, there is a chance of "ick" or something else
being carried into the tank on it. If you have no
quarantine tank, it might be a good idea to give the
fish a medicated bath before you put it in the tank.

There are several good dips available for
this purpose, as well as old-fashioned, but
tried-and-true methods like a quick freshwater bath
(watch for distress), or a formaldehyde bath
before putting a fish into your system.

The main thing is to GO SLOWLY when
acclimating, and dip the fish to sanitize
it before you put it in your system if you
are not using the quarantine tank method.

When I move a freshwater fish from one tank to
another, I acclimate it with a bucket and drip line.
It is essential equipment if you intend on building
a live fish collection!


Staff member
MFK Member
Apr 27, 2005
Saltwater Fish And Critter Acclimation For Dummies
From Stan & Debbie Hauter,
Your Guide to Saltwater Aquariums.

Reasons for Acclimating

Properly acclimating any new fish or other critter addition to your saltwater aquarium is probably the most important thing you can do to ensure a smooth transition from the bag to your tank. Although fish or invertebrates, such as shrimp which are very sensitive to rapid water parameter changes, may not be under stress and might do just fine without acclimation, why take the chance?

Proper acclimation takes little of your time and will eliminate the disappointment of having to watch any new fish or other marine livestock introduced to struggle or just sink to the bottom of your tank and lay there after you drop them in.

Even bringing home a new critter from a LFS (Local Fish Store) that may only be minutes or hours away can create stress.

A saltwater hobbyist once told me of bringing home a shrimp from his LFS, hanging the bag in his tank until the temperature of the water in the bag was the same as in his tank, he put the shrimp into the tank and a few minutes later the shrimp was laying dead on the substrate. He took the shrimp back to the LFS and was given a replacement. He took the new shrimp home, followed the same acclimation process as before and ended up with another dead shrimp.

Once again puzzled, the hobbyist decided to check his tank pH, which came out at a healthy 8.2 reading. Following that he went back to the LFS and tested their pH, that came out at 7.7, the difference of which was obviously more than enough to cause pH shock and kill the shrimps. His third try with another shrimp was successful after taking the time to properly acclimate the shrimp before introducing it into to his tank.

Fish and critters which have been shipped by mail order will be under additional stresses, as they are usually in the bag for at least one day. From the time they are put in the bag, the pH of the packing water will start to drop. Add to that the factor of ammonia build up in the packing water if the shipper doesn't use an ammonia buffer and you have a fish that is under stress when you get it.

After years of receiving a great number of fish from the South Pacific, we found that we could successfully acclimate fish which were gilling heavily and laying on the bottom of the bag. It only took a few minutes (O.K., more like an hour in the worse cases), but it was very satisfying to see a near death fish up and swimming happily around in the bag, ready for introduction into our system.

Acclimation helps to reduce the changes of stress inducing diseases like saltwater ich to pop up.

A choice of acclimation should be be made before bringing any new additions home, and whether you decide to use our measuring cup method for dummies , or one of the others, each procedure allows your precious new critters to adjust to four basic things that causes stress: Lack of O2 (oxygen), drastic pH and temperature differences, and in most cases ammonia build up in the bag.

Tips for Pre-Acclimating Saltwater Livestock
Both at the Fish Store and Before Beginning Acclimation at Home
When it comes to bringing new fish home for your saltwater aquarium, prior to going down to a local fish store and buying anything you should already have an acclimation procedure of choice picked out! No matter what method you decide on, aside from this most important point, here are some other useful pre-acclimating tips for planning ahead at the fish store and before beginning acclimation once you arrive home.

At the Fish Store

* Before the fish store bags anything, ask if they add any type of ammonia buffer or destroyer to the packing water. When saltwater fish are confined to an area of water for even a short period of time without biological filtration, ammonia build up will most likely occur, and this can cause side effects in fish such as burnt gills and fins, which most often appears several days after getting them home.

* Most fish stores do not inject oxygen into the bags, but simply use ambient air instead. This will work fine for livestock in transit for short periods of time, say for several hours, but if at all possible, oxygen is a far better choice.

* You may want to consider putting a cardboard box, or in the dead of winter or the peak of summer, a styrofoam or plastic igloo type cooler in the car when you visit the fish store in case they do not have a spare sytrofoam box to place bag(s) into to keep them upright and insulated for the trip home.
* The issue of preventing the bag(s) from getting too cold or overheating is important, so the obvious thing to do is try and avoid bringing fish home during extreme weather conditions at any time of the year.

Before Beginning Acclimation at Home

* No matter what acclimation method you choose to use, tt is especially important to ventilate (open) the bags as soon as possible, because even though a shipper may use an additive to reduce or eliminate ammonia build up in the bag water, CO2 (carbon dioxide) accumulates as well. If the shipper did not add any type of ammonia buffer to the packing water at the store, it doesn't hurt to add some as soon as the bag is open. Our peference is AmQuel, because it works immediately, takes just a few drops, and you cannot overdose with it.

* It is strongly recommended that any new fish be placed into a QT (quarantine tank) first! This allows them to recover from the stresses of transporting and shipping without having to deal with harrasment from other inhabitants already established in the main aquarium, and you can monitor any fish's health for several weeks to insure there are no diseases present.

* Water for acclimation will be removed from an aquarium you plan to place the new fish into, so top-off water will need to be adding when done. This is best performed an hour or so after you have introduced the fish into their new home.

* Fish that are brought home in any kind of container with a lid that allows no light exposure, since they may have been in the dark for some time, it is best to turn off the tank lights before beginning acclimation into the aquarium.

* You may want to perform tests on the pH, specific gravity and temperature of both the bag and your tank water before you start acclimation. This is not necessary, but if you are interested to see what the differences are between the two, this gives you an idea what you're working with. If the test comparisons are drastically different, this means you should take a little extra time to acclimate slower to let the levels adjust to each other.

* Your aquarium system's unique chemical properties will differ from that of the shipping water. Therefore, it is recommended to not allow any of the dealer's shipping water to get into your aquarium. If for some reason a bag is leaking, due to say a fish poking a hole in it, you can always slip another plastic bag around the outside of it before hanging it inside the tank to collect any water that may be leaking out.

* If any fish appears to be overly stressed, such as not swimming upright and is laying on the bottom of the bag gasping or gilling rapidly, this may be due to oxygen depletion. As soon as the bag is open, it doesn't hurt to aggetate the bag water or drop in an airstone for a couple of minutes to supply immediate relief.

* The only exception for bypassing proper acclimation procedures is during a critical situation, such as when a fish has poked a hole in the bag and almost all the water is gone or their is none, but the fish is still alive. The only thing you can do to remedy this situation is to immediately hang the bag in the tank, pour in tank water, insert an airstone to provide oxygen relief, and pray the fish doesn't go into shock. We have revived many a near death fish using this method, even a very delicate juvenile Regal Angelfish once. NEVER just dump a stressed fish in this type of situation into a tank where other established fish are present unless it can be seperated, because harassment is sure to occur and this lessens it changes for survivability.


Staff member
MFK Member
Apr 27, 2005
Before anyone asks: ...

KORDON Breathing Bags

Breathing Bags are a completely new approach to the shipping of live fishes in plastic bags. The special plastic film used in the walls of Breathing Bags allows the transfer of oxygen from the atmosphere though the bag wall and into the water. The unique plastic film also allows carbon dioxide to pass through. Breathing Bags have excellent resistance to tears and punctures.



The Kordon ® Breathing Bag represents a new approach to the problems of shipping live fishes and other aquatic animals over long distances or for extended time periods. The product development staff at Kordon, teamed with plastics chemical engineers, have taken a technology first developed in space/military research and refined it to produce the bags being offered today. The Breathing Bag allows the transfer of simple and complex gas molecules through the plastic wall of the bag -- carbon dioxide and oxygen in particular, as well as other gases - providing a true "breathing" bag in place of a "barrier" bag. As long as there is a normal breathable atmosphere outside the Breathing Bag, the animals inside will not run out of oxygen. Carbon dioxide exits the bags at 4 times the rate oxygen enters the bags, thereby constantly purging the water of toxic carbon dioxide, and allowing oxygen to replace it in the water. Kordon has shipped millions of bags (termed "Sachets") of living foods (tubifex worms, brine shrimp, daphnia, glass worms, etc.) for aquarium fishes using the Breathing Bag technology.

Prior to this invention, the only plastic bags available for shipping fishes were made of polyethylene and had no mechanism to allow the passage of gasses through the bag wall. When using these "barrier" bags, any oxygen must-of necessity-be added as a gas inside the bag prior to sealing. This process has many problems. High concentrations of oxygen can cause flammable conditions. The presence of oxygen inside the bag takes up a lot of valuable shipping space. Once the supplied oxygen is used up there is no more available. Toxic carbon dioxide from the fishes' breathing builds up in the water, displacing the oxygen. The oxygenated air in the bags may not be satisfactory for fishes' breathing, because (particularly from sources in underdeveloped countries), the bottled oxygen may be contaminated. A bag partially full of water with the rest filled with oxygen allows the contents to slosh during transport, stressing fishes.

After adding water and fishes,seal the bag with as little airspace as possible.

Except for those few kinds of fishes that are made uncomfortable by the lack of an air space at the surface, fishes adapt readily to the lack of an airspace and it is not needed. It is best if there is no air pocket in the bag so that there is no water movement, keeping the fishes calmer. An unneeded air space also uses up valuable shipping space.

Breathing bags can be sealed using all of the current methods: rubber bands, twist ties, metal clips, etc. An excellent way for fast efficient sealing is with a bar type heat sealer. The plastic used in the "Breathing Bags" readily seals with heat. Heat sealing can be done much more quickly than other methods and greatly increases the speed with which bags can be handled and sealed. For those sealing many bags for shipment the change will be a dramatic reduction in labor.

The proper use of certain water conditioners will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the Breathing Bags. Either a combination of AmQuel ® and NovAqua ® or AmQuel and PolyAqua ® with a suitable antibiotic (Kordon has found Neomycin to be among the best of the antibiotics for universal usage) has proven the most effective. All the Kordon "Sachets" have special combinations of additives to increase the well being and survival of the inhabitants. These additives are in the process of being marketed under the general trade name of "Kordon Aquatic Life Saver". There are separate products for freshwater and marine conditions.

The plastic in the "Breathing Bags" is very tough and flexible. The thickness is 1.5 ml for the regular bags and 3 ml for the liner bag. Small punctures such as from fish spines often do not penetrate the plastic, and if they do, the molecular structure of the plastic tends to realign and reduce the size of the holes or reseal itself. Some fishes may damage the bag film enough to cause leaks. Only experimentation and experience will determine which individual species of fishes are safe to transport . Kordon is experimenting with a heavier walled and perforated liner bag to fit inside the Breathing Bag to help with the puncture problem. For most smaller spiny fishes it is sufficient to multiple bag them, Breathing Bag within Breathing Bag, preferably with the inner bag wrapped in one or more layers of newspaper. There is a proportionate loss of breathability (up to approximately 50%) for one bag inside another, which will affect different animals differently. The user should experiment to find acceptable conditions for multiple bagging.

Breathing Bags function well when packed in conventional foam plastic or corrugated boxes. Foam and cardboard boxes have a high rate of breathability, even if these containers are sealed with tape. Air is normally over 20% oxygen, which is over 200,000 ppm (parts per million). Aquatic invertebrates and fishes normally have only about 4-14 ppm oxygen available to them in water. It takes only a small amount of air passing through the packaging materials to sufficiently oxygenate the water in the Breathing Bags. This is even true for shipping boxes in an air cargo space that is not pressurized. There is usually sufficient oxygen at higher altitudes for the aquatic life in the Breathing Bags. If it is required, additional oxygen can be added to the Breathing Bag as is done in the traditional barrier bag. The Breathing Bag will retain the oxygen for several days.

Higher temperatures increase the "breathability" of the bags, the rate at which oxygen and carbon dioxide is exchanged.

When packing individual bags in shipping containers, it is best to separate each bag, such as with flat pieces of corrugated cardboard or layers of newspaper, so that as much bag surface area as possible is exposed to the air in the shipping container.

Breathing Bags should not be shipped inside a "barrier" type liner bag. The barrier effect of the outer bag will prevent the Breathing Bags from performing properly.

During tests, fishes, both freshwater and marine have survived for several weeks and successive flights. However, there is no uniform answer as to how long any individual shipment will survive using Breathing Bags. There are far too many variables. It is suggested that tests be conducted at the user's facility to determine the proper parameters for successful use of these bags.

Kordon's Breathing Bags are highly recommended for transporting aquatic plants. Plants need to transpire just as animals do, and they expel toxic gases during shipment that, if not eliminated, are injurious to them. Breathing Bags eliminate this problem. It is recommended that the plants be dipped in diluted Kordon PolyAqua to keep the plants moist and to help them in their respiration.



Staff member
MFK Member
Jul 23, 2005
Quarantine Tank
wow! some good info here...this feels alittle "sticky" imo



Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jan 9, 2007
Thank you very much again Oddball. :thumbsup: