Things come up in life that may require us to move from one home to another, or perhaps even across the country to another state. A big move can be stressful, especially if you have pets.
But what if that pet is a Betta fish?
Can you safely travel with this type of critter?
The answer is, yes!
Read on for some helpful tips and hints on how to transport a Betta fish.
Before You Leave
Transporting your Betta in the car does not have to be stressful or detrimental to your fish. However, there are a few things you will want to do before your departure;
1. Water Change
Do a partial water change (about 30%) to ensure the habitat is optimal. This should be performed the day before you leave and will help reduce any built up ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. It won’t hurt to check your pH levels just to be sure you are hitting the target range (between 6.8 and 7.5).
2. No Food For You!
Fast your Betta for at least 12 hours before you intend on leaving. Too much food can cause constipation and bloat (which on their own can be detrimental to your Betta). Feeding your Betta right before you transport him can increase the chances of bloat because of the added stress. Even if your Betta does not get bloat, his added waste can quickly toxify a small container.
3. Pick a Container
Have a suitable travel container with a tight-fitting, well ventilated lid. These may include those purchased from a pet retailer or Amazon, a plastic container (you may have to add ventilation holes to the lid), a travel cup, or a plastic bag.
Keep in mind that plastic bags and small travel cups will have a limited supply of oxygen available to your fish, so these should only be used for short trips.
If your tank is small (5 gallons and under) you can remove half of the water and place the tank in a secure box to help avoid it tipping over.
4. Extra Aids
Have a bottle of fish de-stressor to help remove impurities from your travel container and add a protective coating on your Betta. Follow the directions on the label and add what you need according to the size of your travel container.
For long trips in the cooler weather, you may also want to purchase disposable warming pads to place under the container which will help maintain a steady water temperature.
5. Give ‘Em Air
For long trips that require a stay-over, have an air pump, airline tubing, and air stone that you can hook up for added oxygen. Of course, if you are using a small travel cup or plastic bag, an air stone won’t work, so you will have to open the cup or bag and give your fish some fresh air.
Moving Day – Short Trips
If you are moving your Betta from one home to another in the same city, the task will be simpler than taking him on a long trip.
For short trips follow these helpful tips;
- Remove any ornaments that may tip over or cause injury to your fish during transport.
- Remove the filter and heater.
- Leave the live plants to help reduce stress
- Remove half of the water in the tank (or enough to make it light and safe enough to lift).
- Add the de-stressor
- Place the tank in a sturdy box
- Place the box in your vehicle and secure it with the seatbelt or have someone hold the fish tank during travel.
- Try to avoid bumpy roads to minimize jostling and stress on your Betta.
Once you are in your new home, place your Betta in the spot you have pre-chosen. Fill the tank up with dechlorinated water, plug in the filter and heater and replace the ornaments.
You may want to leave the light off to help your fish destress from the move. Keep an eye on him for the rest of the day. The next morning, turn on the light and resume his feeding schedule.
How to Travel With a Betta Fish on a Long Trip
If you have to travel a long distance with your fish, then you will need to take even more precautions to ensure he arrives at your destination alive and well.
If your tank is large, then you may want to consider getting a small travel container for your Betta. These can be purchased at a pet retailer. Choose one that has a tight-fitting lid with plenty of ventilation holes.
Depending on the time of year you are traveling, you may want to consider getting disposable warming pads. Place one under the tank to keep the temperature stable (you may have to change these out as they start to lose their functionality).
The Travel Container
As we mentioned earlier, the best way to transport your Betta is in a safe container. This would ideally be one with a tight-fitting lid with ventilation holes. Remember, to find a box this container will fit in. This not only keeps it stable in the car, but it will also help to cut down on bright light or sunlight that can overheat your Betta.
Keep your travel container free of decorations and substrate such as marbles that can roll around during transport. You will, however, want to add a live plant or two to help provide shelter and oxygen for your Betta. Some aquarists will also choose the addition of an Indian Almond Leaf for those beneficial tannins and to naturally darken the water.
Avoid any containers that have been used for other things like spices, food, or cleaning products. These can still carry the residue of their previous substances that can be detrimental to your Betta’s health.
Before you place your Betta in a new container, give it a good rinse to remove any small particles. Fill the container to about ¾ full using the aquarium water, so as not to shock your Betta. Add the de-stressor. Gently scoop your Betta from the tank (using a fish net) and place him in the travel container.
Pro Tip: Do not remove all the aquarium water from your Betta tank when transporting it. Leave as much as you can safely lift. Having some old aquarium water will keep the beneficial bacteria in place, making it less stressful on your fish when you re-setup the aquarium.
Feeding During Travel?
We may feel the need to feed the Betta a big meal the night before to help sustain him during the trip. However, fasting him is the best option. Twelve hours before you plan to leave, feed your Betta a normal portion of food. Do not feed him in the morning!
When Bettas get stressed, it can lead to bloat and constipation. Having a meal will only exacerbate this condition. Plus, the more food he has consumed, the more waste he may produce which can quickly toxify a small travel container.
When you stop for the night and are safely tucked into a hotel room, give your Betta a small meal (one pellet). It’s better for him to be slightly hungry than to arrive with bloat or a polluted environment.
Even if your Betta is in a community tank, it is best to transport him by himself in a single container. Bettas are territorial and can become very aggressive (this will be even more so during a travel situation). Not only can your Betta hurt himself, but he may also kill smaller fish if he feels threatened.
Travel is stressful at the best of times and having more fish in a cramped container will only add to it. Oxygen will also be limited without a filter, and toxins can quickly build up, so separate your community for the best chances of survival.
If you have more than one Betta to transport, do not place them together in the same box or where they can see each other, as this will create even more stress.
Two or Three Day Journeys
If you know your trip is going to take a while, there are some additional steps to ensure your Betta’s safe journey.
- Fill the travel container up to about three-quarters. This will allow more oxygen into the “tank” and will cut down on the sloshing.
- If you are traveling in hot weather, consider putting your Betta container into a cooler. This will help reduce the heat.
- When you stop for the night, plug in your air pump and run the air stone into the container. Never blow air into the container with your mouth (this will only add carbon dioxide). If you do not have an air pump and airstone, be sure to lift the lid of the container every few hours to exchange the air inside.
- For long trips, you may want to do a partial water change in the container. Be sure to bring some of your old aquarium water with you for this purpose.
- Continue to feed half meals to help prevent constipation, bloat, and over-polluting the environment.
Once you’ve parked at your final destination, set your Betta tank up. Plug in the heater, filter, and light. Add the decorations, live plants, and fill up with dechlorinated water (you may also add in any remaining water you used for partial water changes on the road).
Just as you did when you first brought your Betta home, you will have to float him in a travel cup or bag so he can acclimate to the temperature of the tank.
After 15 minutes, add some of the tank water to the bag or cup. Repeat a couple of times. Once you have finished this process, allow your Betta to swim free in his tank.
Keep the lights off and do not feed him until the next day.
How to Transport a Betta Fish Conclusion
Traveling with a Betta fish does not have to mean a death sentence for your pet. However, you will have to prepare him for the journey. Get a good travel container with a tight-fitting lid and plenty of ventilation holes. Minimize the amount of stuff in the container (just a live plant or two) and use the aquarium water to transport him in (also bring some with you for partial water changes involved in longer trips).
Fast your Betta 12 hours before departure and only feed him half meals when you stop at night. This is also a good time to plug in a bubbler for added oxygen and add a reusable heat pad for colder climates.
Stabilizing your fish in all ways possible is the best way to transport your Betta from one location to another.