Transporting/driving With New Fish


New Member
So about two hours south of me around where my folks live there is a rather nice and well-established mom-n-pop LFS that I was considering scoping out and comparison shopping versus my own LFS next time I'm down there to visit. I was just curious, what are the max limits to driving with new fish and what would be the best vessel/container with which to do so?

Obviously fish are shipped cross-country for mail order purchases and it seems to work. I'm just curious what the best approach would be if I were to say find fish down there and then want to bring them the two hours back to where I am... I can't imagine the solution would be to leave them in the little plastic bags the whole time, but a filled critter carrier doesn't necessarily strike me as optimal either.


New Member
I would suggest asking the pet store to add extra water and oxygen into the fish bags and possibly some stress coat or a similar product and then storing them into a insulated cooler type container for the drive home. I think 2 hours is not too long. Hopefully it is not a bumpy drive home though.


Fishlore VIP
I got some fish and haad to drive 4 hours to get them home.
Here's what I did
1. Once they're out of the shop take the bag with the fish out of the other bags (often they put the fish bag inside a paper bag and plastic bag) now put this bag with the fish in inside another fish bag and put it back in the other bags. I did this because a tiny leak on a 20 minute journey might not be so bad but on a 2 hour journey it's terrible.
2. Take a bucket or plastic box with you . I took a 5 gallon and a 10 gallon box. You can put the bags with fish in in these boxes to keep them upright. If you get enough fish you can pack the bags together in these boxes to stop them moving.
3. Keep the vehicle cool. Air conditioning, Windows down, the whole lot. If you get tropical fish then maybe don't do this but if you get cool water fish or fish that like a lot of oxygen then this is an idea.
4. If possible make the journey with another person. It makes it easier as they can hold the bags steady, make sure there's no leaks, ect.
5. Keep the fish in the shade. Throw a jumper over them if possible.
5. If the place you got them from did not fill the bag with oxygen, untie the bags. Only do this if you have a way of keeping them upright. Then tie them loosely or put a rubber bamd around them to minimise water coming out while still letting a little air in.

Anyway you may not find all these tips useful but that's what I did on my 4 hour trip with new fish. This was over a month ago and all the fish are happy and healthy. Don't be too stressed about it, remember they do longer trips getting to the shop. Also if you're worried about temperature put them in one of those picnic cooler bags.


Fishlore VIP
I did something similar yesterday. My LFS is 1.5 hours away, and yesterday I picked up some plants, snails, blackworms, and shrimp. Not fish, but still sensitive. I have a little basket in my car that I put them in, and it helps them from rolling all over.
Once I got home I unpacked the shrimp and plants, but had a minor emergency and had to leave the worms and snails for literally four more hours. Still the original bag and all, they were fine. No added oxygen.
The longest I've left a fish bagged was around 3 hours, so I don't think you have anything to worry about.


Fishlore VIP
Take a styrofoam box with you. Some shops will sell, or even give you a standard fish styro.

Step 1: pick up plastic bag with fish.
step 2: place bag of fish inside styro.
step 3: place lid on styro.
step 4: place styro in car where it will not get exposed to the sun too much.

For any trip under 12 hours, the above steps are all you need. Seriously. Don't stress yourself about it. I've done this for 50 years, it really doesn't have to be that complicated.

There are a few ways to have them packed a little better. More water is not a good idea. They should be bagged about 1/3 water, 2/3 air, or oxygen if the store has it. However, it is not a necessity. I don't like using oxygen because the molecules can seep through the plastic of the bag and deflate it; if you don't believe me, test it for yourself. And the amount of oxygen needed by fish is a tiny fraction of that required by a similarly size air breathing creature.

I usually carry some ammonia absorbing sponge in case I get super sensitive fish, but those are generally not found in stores. (Goodeids are very sensitive, for example.) It only takes a tiny piece of ammonia sponge, the stuff absorbs it like crazy just from being in the water.

Go. Shop, Enjoy. Buy something cool. And don't stress!

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