Backyard Aquaponics

I Got a Bag of Fish. Now What?
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Author:  janethesselberth [ Jun 27th, '07, 04:47 ]
Post subject:  I Got a Bag of Fish. Now What?

The system is all set up, it cycled with a few feeder goldfish, you selected your species, and found a supplier. So what happens now? How do you get the fish from the supplier into your system?

When you purchase the fish, the supplier will be able to bag them with one third water and two-thirds oxygen. Double-bagged is better, because every now and then a dorsal fin will puncture a bag. Reputable suppliers will double-bag with oxygen as a matter of course, and will often add a tranquilizer like clove oil to the water if the fish have a distance to go. It doesn’t hurt to check, though.

Once the bag is sealed, the fish continue to respire, and the ammonia level will slowly rise. At the same time, the pH drops and available oxygen is consumed. Depending on how long the fish are in the bag, the pH and ammonia changes can get pretty significant. So even if you know the conditions that the supplier maintains, that isn’t necessarily what you will have by the time you get the fish home.

When you get the fish safely back to your system, the time you take to transition them to their new environment will depend on how different the pH and temperature are between the bag and the system. Float the bag of fish in their new home to start to equalize the temperatures. After 15 minutes, open the bag, and add a little of the water from your system to the bag. The amount should be equal to about 20% of the volume in the bag. Also take a moment to feel the temperature difference. Continue to float the bag, securing it if needed to keep the now-open bag from sinking. After another 10 minutes, add a little more water from the system to the bag. If the fish have been in the bag only an hour or so, and the temperature difference feels minimal, you are ready to release them in another few minutes. If they were bagged longer, or the temperature doesn’t seem equalized, you can add a little water to the bag every 5 or 10 minutes. Regardless, you should be ready to release the fish within an hour.

When you release the fish, there is a temptation to just dump the bag into the system. However, that could introduce excess ammonia, tranquilizer, or even pathogens from the supplier. It would be better to pour the fish and water out through a net, discarding the bag water. Then gently place the netted fish into the system, or even better, a quarantine tank. Get help if you need it to keep from pouring fish onto the floor.

Emergency procedures. Sometimes bags get punctured or dropped. In my case, I had a box of tilapia shipped cross country in the dead of winter. Halfway here, the box was dropped, and both bags ruptured. When the heat packs got wet, they stopped working. By the time the box arrived, I had 165 cold tilapia fingerlings in 3 cups of water. What do you do? Get the fish into a large fish-safe container with whatever of the shipping water you can salvage. Ideally, you’d have de-chlorinated water at just their body temperature to add to them, but it doesn’t work that way. Work with what you have, and remember that even though the situation might not be ideal, you don’t want to shock the fish by suddenly changing their temperature. Tip the container if you need to, to give them a little depth. A little at a time, start adding water from the system. I only added water a cup at a time, even though I had so little water in with the fish that they could only lie there. Go ahead and try to revive all the fish, even the ones that look dead. Add a little water every 5 minutes. Monitor them closely. As they start to revive, they will realize the extremely poor quality of the water they are in, and may try to jump. It helps to have a pretty deep container, but if you start getting too much water, remember you can pour some off and then keep adding fresh. Transitioning fish in an extreme condition like this may take a couple hours. At the end, net them out of the container to put them into quarantine or the system. After severe conditions like this, run 2-3ppt of uniodized salt for a couple weeks as a preventative for disease. Monitor carefully, as severe stress from a rough transition will make the fish more susceptible to disease. In the case of my 165 tilapia, I was able to salvage 126 fish from the shipment. About 35 had been dead on arrival.

Transitioning fish isn’t really hard if you remember that you want to avoid shocking the fish with sudden changes. As cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism is directly linked to the temperature of their surroundings. A little patience and preparation will go a long way towards getting fish into your system with minimal problems.

Author:  bio-farmer [ Jun 28th, '07, 08:07 ]
Post subject: 

hey janet,

you sure have a way with words. i'm loving your work. keep it up. your somewhat of a pioneer.

Author:  janethesselberth [ Jun 28th, '07, 09:15 ]
Post subject:  Re: I Got a Bag of Fish. Now What?

:oops: :)

Author:  DownRiverDan [ Jun 28th, '07, 17:29 ]
Post subject: 

great write up Janet

I am not sure I would have been able to save that many fish from such a dire situation.

Author:  twintragics [ Jun 28th, '07, 17:51 ]
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excellent expose of the "P" word.

Author:  EllKayBee [ Jun 28th, '07, 18:09 ]
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That needs to be made a sticky...good work and "muscles Monya" will have a social word with EB for ya :thumbup:

Author:  gnash06 [ Jun 28th, '07, 19:48 ]
Post subject: 

Great write up JP I am impressed, next time I get some fish and go into HSM I will re-read.

Author:  jessy [ Apr 13th, '09, 19:59 ]
Post subject:  Re: I Got a Bag of Fish. Now What?

It has been a long time written :cheers: ( all of 2 years ) and very well written.....but I think appropriate in refreshening...and teaching some younge minds :cheers:....have fun...and good luck

Author:  shayanjameel08 [ Nov 9th, '13, 13:12 ]
Post subject:  Re: I Got a Bag of Fish. Now What?

Strong straps will mean that you can carry your fishing bag with you wherever you need to go, and you won't have to worry about anything snapping or breaking.

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