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Seasonal transport of marine fish

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I was an active marine fish aquarium hobbyist for many years and love the hobby.   But, I am now challenged by my lifestyle.  I spend 4-5 summer months each year at my home in Upstate New York and the remaining 7-8 months at my home in Naples, Florida.  The lifestyle has its benefits so I can't complain BUT, it has also put a real damper on my marine fish hobby.


I'm wondering if there's a way to enjoy the hobby again.  Here are my thoughts.  The initial questions I have are "am I crazy?" and "is this idea humane?"  The marine animals must come first.


1.  Set-up the same size aquariums in each home (contemplating 150-200 gallon tanks), using exactly the same equipment, salt etc. and ensuring that the base water conditions are the same (there is a question (below) about the expected changes in conditions between a tank with fish and the one without). 


2. Transport the fish with me.  This would mean 2 trips per year.  One to New York and the other back to Florida.  This is my biggest concern.  I've been away from the hobby for about 5-7 years so, I am not familiar with today's technology.  My question is "are there transport containers that would minimize stress on the fish and provide the necessary oxygen/water conditions?"  My door-to-door travel is about 4 hours.  It would be better if such containers were "off the shelf" items but, If necessary, I am open to having existing products retrofitted or custom made, if necessary.  The "redline" issue for me, however, is if the technology doesn't exist or can be made to make this travel safe and humane for the fish, the idea ends.


3.  Two water condition questions:  1) Once the biological conditions are developed in the initial tank with fish, how can those conditions be preserved when the fish are removed for the time periods mentioned above, and 2) How can I biologically prepare the second tank (where the fish will be transported) so their introduction doesn't create dangerous nitrate, ammonia etc. levels upon introduction.


4.  I am not considering having any coral/invertebrates unless it is suggested that they can be left behind (not moved from tank-to-tank) and may, somehow, help with maintaining the biology of the tank when the fish aren't present.


I am open to having a maintenance company assist with 1-2 visits per month, in my absence, with keeping the "fish-less" tank biologically maintained (if that's even possible).


So, back to the beginning......"am I crazy?" 😀


For any of you that read this and have ideas, thank you.





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Crazy....yes, but then most of us are.


I had 13 addresses over 8 years due to work. I moved my fish with me.  I had two 100 gallon plus tanks and a whole bunch of smaller tanks.  I was breeding some cichlids at the time.  I did have one soft coral reef tank.


My longest move was from Panama City to Fort Myers.  So, not the same as you.


I see a couple options that might work:


  1. Stick with your plan of two systems.  But, I would add that you keep a bunch of filter sponges or bio balls in the sump and move those with you with each move.  Plenty of options, but each move is going to be a "cycle" as far as the tanks are concerned.  Lots of 5-gallon buckets with bubblers for the drive.
  2. Same as above, but pay someone to pack and ship your fish  (for my Panama City to Fort Myers move, I had a local shop do that with my corals). This takes away some of the stress of being rushed.
  3. Sell the fish before you leave and buy new after you move.

good idea to have a maintenance company check on your empty system from time to time.  My biggest concern here would be how often.  I'd make sure you have a good ATO.

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