Post-Travel Care - Flying Fish

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Post-Travel Care

Line bred Bettas are much more delicate than your local fish shop Betta. When they are imported they go through days in a dark box in the same water without any food, add in the possibility of rough handling and it’s not surprising they may not be feeling at their best when they reach the transhipper never mind the additional moving and re-bagging for another journey to you.

New fish should always be quarantined for at least 14 days if they are going into a community or a divided tank that contains other fish!

The transhipper will unpack the fish on arrival and put them into tanks until they are repacked and forwarded to the buyer. This can be the day after arrival into the country or it may be a few days. The biggest problem with acclimatising the new arrivals is pH differences. The bags of water they arrive in from Asia are usually between pH6-6.5 while the majority of people have tank and tap pH of 7 or more. If the fish is feeling poorly then a large pH difference can be enough to set off problems like fin rot and fungus or in the worst cases can cause death within the first few days of being in their new home.

Ensure your tank (if filtered) is fully cycled and don’t forget the dechlorinator!

Your fish have arrived
Open the box carefully and remove the wrapping from the fish bag.
Should the unlikely event occur that your new fish is DOA take a photo of it in the shipping bag straight away and email it to the seller. It is important that you are aware of their DOA policy.
Float the fish in their new tank for at least 15 minutes to let their water adjust to the new temperature.
Open the bag, if the bag is particularly small then pour the fish and its water into a cup that you can clip to the inside of the tank. You will need to add the tank water slowly to the fish’s water.

Adding tank water
Once the fish bag is to temperature you need to add tank water, the higher your tank pH the longer you should take over this process.
Use a syringe or small container to pour a few drops of water from the tank into the fish’s water, do this every 10mins until the bag or cup is full (preferably you want this to take a minimum of 30mins but don’t hesitate to prolong this process if you have very high pH)
When full let the cup or bag tip so it still floats but the water in the cup and the tank continue to mix. Let the fish out after 10 more minutes if they haven‘t already escaped!

What to expect when your Betta is released
Some will be more stressed than others, you may be lucky and they’re vibrantly coloured and active straight away but most will display some of the signs of their stressful trip. Try and have a good look over your fish while releasing, check for fungus, signs of white spot, velvet, pin holes in the fins and heavy breathing. Should any of these be evident over the first 2-3 days you will need to treat this ASAP.

Most will display one or more of the following symptoms on arrival/release.
Some will promptly swim straight to the bottom and lie there.
They may hang at the water surface and barely move.
They may look very washed out and pale.
There may be physical damage from tail biting.
They won’t eat (it’s recommended to not even try to feed them until evening of the arrival day).

The above are all common reactions and the Betta should start to get back to normal colour and activity levels within about 2 hours. If they take longer than this then they are very susceptible to further illness.

Keep Betta tanks covered, they are excellent jumpers!

Having a lid also keeps the surface air temperature warm and humid, like their homeland.

If your fish shows obvious illnesses like fin rot then treat with a commercial treatment like myxazin at the regular dose.

Your new import is most likely to get ill within the first 7 days of arrival so there are a few things you can do to help reduce the chances of this occurring…

Add a ¼ teaspoon of normal aquarium salt per ten litres of tank water. This helps ward off velvet and helps toughens their scales.
Add a piece of Indian Almond leaf or tonic to their tank. Dried Oak leaves also have a similar effect. They contain anti-fungal properties.
Add 1/2 strength of a general medicine on arrival day and let it dilute with water changes over the following weeks. (if you have carbon in your filter you should temporarily remove it when using meds for the first week). Meds containing malachite green and formalin are often used by Asian breeders all year round so the fish are less tolerant of bugs in normal water. Good ones to use are Tetra General Tonic or Myxazin.
Offer a variety of foods, many imports will refuse flakes or pellets all together to begin with and may only eat live foods during the first few days. They will gradually get their full appetite back and should take the dried foods in time.
Keep their water stats perfect. Any ammonia or nitrite spike in the early days can have serious consequences. If you don’t test your water then ensure you are doing adequate water changes!

If in doubt, do contact your transhipper or Betta forums for help and advice!

Article written and supplied by Kel, owner and administrator of Betta Bred

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