How Long can my Fish Stay in the bag?

Aquarium hobbyists claim that a fish can stay in a bag for up to a day. However, this is usually not the case unless you get lucky with your fish. On average, you want to keep the fish in your bag for around 4 or 5 hours at a time. The time can increase if your local fish store manually puts oxygen in the bag for you! The oxygen allows your fish to live in the bag for a longer period. Most fish can keep living without oxygen for about two days in stable water. However, this leaves a ton of stress on your fish in the aquarium. Never leave the fish in the fish store’s bag for a long time. As soon as you get home, start the adapting process for the fish.

Considerations for Fish in a bag

Here are several factors to keep in mind when keeping a fish in the bag. Leaving the fish store can be stressful for a fish. When you leave the store, the fish are changing environments and a home. The fish are moving from a tiny box that is for a display to a home aquarium! However, the most stressful part is transportation.

Oxygen Compared to Air

For advanced local fish stores, they may offer oxygen in your bags. The oxygen is crucial for long trips that are generally longer than an hour. The oxygen reduces the stress of the fish because it decreases the odds of the fish running out of oxygen. Typically on your way home from the fish store, you make several stops. The stops consist of gas stations, food, and other pet purchases! However, with the added oxygen, the fish can survive for much longer. When you visit settings such as Petco and PetSmart, they do not offer oxygen. The option usually correlates with the quality of fish. For example, at PetSmart, the fish are typically sick and unhealthy. That is why we always recommend visiting your local fish store!

The Bigger the bag, the More Oxygen

When you have a larger fish bag, there is usually more oxygen available. The increased rate of oxygen means that the fish increases the chance of survival during the transportation period! When you purchase a fish from your local fish store, always ask for the largest bag available! The concept may seem annoying to the employees at the store, but they will not refuse your request. You are spending a ton of money on the fish, and you should be treated with the best respect. When using a larger bag, it is best to have more oxygen than water in the bag. The concept increases the odds of the fish being stable during the transition.

Do not put More Than one Fish in a bag

When going to your local fish store, never put more than one fish in a bag. The only exception is if they are tiny fish and you have a short commute. When you place more than one fish in the aquarium, each fish takes up a ton of oxygen. The concept is similar to people being trapped in a room with no open air. After a while, the oxygen will run out, and people will suffer. When keeping a fish in a bowl, the same concept is applied to a lack of oxygen! You want to ensure that there is one fish per bag! The ultimate goal of transporting the fish from your local fish store is to reduce stress! Before purchasing a fish, map out the distance and minutes traveled to ensure the health of your new aquarium additions. 

Fish Under Stress Consume More Oxygen

Just like humans, fish breathe at a rapid rate when under stress. How would you react if someone took you out of your home and brought you to a new one? Would you be stressed like the fish? Keep that concept in mind when taking your new fish home to your fish tank!

When you leave the fish store, always ask for a paper or plastic bag to put around the fish. When you place blocking for the fish, they can not see the exterior environment. Them not seeing the environment helps reduce everyday stress when traveling. When you reduce the stress, the fish has a higher chance of survival in the aquarium. Instead of living 1 to 2 years, the fish can live up to 10 years with the proper accommodations! With all of these factors, it is crucial to keep stress levels down to reduce the used oxygen. Oxygen is a necessity when bringing a new fish home! 

Dead Fish Hurt the Oxygen Content

Some aquarium hobbyists purchase fish in large quantities. For example, if you purchase 100 shrimp for your freshwater planted aquarium, you have a ton of them in the bag. However, several of them may die on the commute home. When fish die in the bag, they contaminate the water and raise nitrates. The dead fish also takes away the oxygen source for the fish that are alive.

Therefore, if you see a fish that is dead in the bag, immediately go back to the fish store for a return. If you do not go back, the fish in the bag may die because of a lack of oxygen. If you notice a fish looking poor in an aquarium, do not buy that fish. Even if the fish is discounted heavily, do not take the bait from the local fish store. More problems will occur if you purchase almost dead or sick fish!

Be Cautious of Changing Temperatures

When bringing fish home in extreme weather, it can be challenging to ensure that the temperature does not fluctuate. If the water temperature changes during the commute home, the fish will become stressed. There are horror stories of people bringing fish home, and the fish develops ich in the car. At first, you want to blame the fish store. However, the reality is the commute caused the disease in the fish. The bag from an aquarium store is crucial for short travels. The thin plastic leaves the water open to temperature changes, which stresses the fish that you purchased. Therefore, keep the temperature of your car consistent with the water. The new fish that you purchase will thank you later!

Ammonia Levels in the bag

The leading cause for ammonia levels in the fish bag is waste from the fish! As funny as it seems, when frightened, the fish will produce waste. When the fish is placed in the bag, they are often stressed from swimming away. After being caught, the fish is stressed and scared. The stress causes the fish to poop in the water! Waste from the fish provides ammonia in the bag. That is why you should not keep the fish in the bag for a while. When moving the fish from the bag to your aquarium, do not mix the water from the fish store with your aquarium. The ammonia will fill your aquarium with unwanted parameters, which causes your tank to fail. Therefore, be extra cautious during the transition period.

Separate Large Fish

As mentioned before, avoid putting multiple fish in the same bag. The only exception is putting several of the small fish in the same bag. For example, when you purchase a large angelfish and a large Tang. Do not put them in the same tiny bag! The two aquatic animals will stress each other out and cause increased ammonia. The bag will also lose a ton of oxygen during this period!

The loss of oxygen will assist in the process of killing the fish. Bacteria and sickness will take over the body, and the fish will not last long in the new home aquarium. There is also the chance of the fish being aggressive towards each other. If you purchase two territorial fish, they will compete for the space in the bag. When purchasing large fish from your local fish store, ask to have them be placed in two separate bags!

In Conclusion

After reading this article, you now have a better idea and understanding of the commute for the fish! When purchasing a fish from your fish store, make sure to make the trip as fast as possible. The quick trip will reduce the stress on the fish and prevent any diseases from occurring. Do not make excessive stops on your way home to place the fish in your home aquarium. When running errands, make stopping at the local fish store last on your list. This will make your fish healthier in the long run and save you money. Do not overcrowd your bag when purchasing multiple fish. The overcrowding will result in your fish lacking oxygen and producing excessive ammonia. I hope that this article helps you when wondering how long can a fish stay in the bag!