Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

How Long Can Fish Stay in Bag? Here is the Answer that You Are Looking For

How Long Can Fish Stay in Bag? Here is the Answer that You Are Looking For

Have you ever bought a fish from a store and wondered how long can fish stay in bag? Seeing your new pets being inside such a close environment with a little water and not much of free air can be quite concerning, especially if the ride to home is quite long. Such a simple question has a simple answer, which you will find out soon below. You can also read about what factors can affect their surviving period, what alternatives available there are for plastic bag to transport your fish, and even how to acclimate fish into your tank as a new environment.

How Long Can a Fish Stay in A Bag?

You may have brought a new fish home after purchasing it from pet store. Typically, the fish will be placed inside a plastic bag containing water and air, with water filling up around 1/3 of the plastic space. You find yourself wondering then, how long can fish stay in bag?

The answer to how long can fish stay in bag is actually really simple. In estimation, fish can survive by living in a plastic bag for around 7-9 hours. That being said, there are plenty factors that may affect their comfort and safety, which will be explained in the next section of this post.

What Factors Determine How Long Can Fish Stay in A Bag

As it has been said, how long can fish stay in bag is influenced by many factors, such as:

The amount of oxygen

Like other living creatures, oxygen is need by fish to breathe. How long can fish stay in a bag with oxygen obviously differ from how long they can stay in tank because in tank, the water is moved around by the filtration system.

The ratio of air and pure oxygen

Next factor that affects how long can fish stay in bag is the ratio between air and pure oxygen. A 1:2 water to oxygen ratio, calculated by the occupied space inside the bag generally is sufficient to ensure it can breathe well.

The number of fish inside

How long can fish stay in bag when they’re the only occupant of the plastic bag versus if the space is shared between many of them will certainly differ. It is because the more fishes there are within the bag, the quicker the oxygen is going to deplete.

The bag sizes

Another factor that has an impact on how long can fish stay in bag is the size of the bag. As you probably can guess, the bigger bag is generally better because it can hold more oxygen.

The type of bag

There are many types of plastic bag out there and some make better a slightly better fish container than the other. For example, thin plastic that can break easily is definitely a choice that you should avoid. Thick, air-tight plastic containers also sometimes don’t make a batter option because they can restrict the amount of oxygen or prevent you to acclimate the fish into the tank properly.

Circumstances of transportation

Last but not least consideration that can determine how long can fish stay in bag is the external conditions when transporting the fish. For examples, extreme temperature can cause the fish to feel overly excited or agitated, thus they will use more oxygen at faster pace than they should have and create a risk of oxygen depletion. One recommended way to transport the fish safely is using a small cooler that can prevent temperature fluctuation.

Alternatives to Bags and Containers for Transporting Fish

Now that you’ve learned how long can fish stay in bag and what are the influencing factors, you may read some available alternative to plastic bag below:

Ziplock bags

Some people see Ziplock bag as a convenient alternative to transport fish. While it is not entirely wrong, it’s not really recommended if you have other means available. Not only the cramped situation inside the sealed space can affect how long can fish stay in the bag negatively, but also the fact that most Ziplock bags are fragile and can leak easily.

However, if you don’t have other options, it’s best to limit keeping fish inside the Ziplock bag for maximum 40 minutes. Never reuse the Ziplock bags afterwards.

Poly (Polythene) bags

Poly bag usually makes the preferred equipment to transport fish by reputable aquatic stores and professional fish breeders. These bags are made of polythene with 1.5 to 3 millimeters of thickness. When it’s filled with water, the bottom part usually turns wide rather than flat, forming an ideal shape for fish transporting even for lengthy traveling distances.

So, how long can fish stay in bag made of polythene material? Approximately, you can stretch up to 3 or 4 times longer compared to the typical plastic bag. The wide form it possesses allowing maximum air and oxygen to be pumped inside. It needs to be filled and sealed properly, so no chance of leak is present.

Containers from hard plastic

Using a hard plastic container might sound like a great idea due to their sturdy characteristic. That being said, there are a few reasons why it doesn’t make the best alternative.

First, whether you are using a Tupperware-style container or a thinner, reusable hard plastic container, they are both more expensive in comparisons to Ziplock or poly bags, especially because you’ll always need to use a new container to transport the fish every single time. A plastic container for fish transportation purpose is meant for a single use. This is because plastic can absorb chemical and odor that may affect the fish water.

Second, it is hard to adjust the amount of water and oxygen because the size and shape of hard plastic containers is nonmalleable. It’s easier to use the standard plastic bag if you want to tailor the amount water and oxygen to the fish number inside.

Last, hard plastic container can’t help fish to acclimate to the new easily. Not introducing the fish to the new environment properly may cause them to be stressed, or worse, injured.

That’s why this type of container is not really recommended as plastic bag alternative. How long can fish stay in bag with hard material and sealable lid also decreases drastically. All in all, in case you have no other choice, you need to make sure that the container is not reused and discard it once you are done.

How to Prepare the Fish for Travel or Transportation Process

Before transporting fish properly according to how long can fish stay in bag, it’s important to prepare them for the travel. Below are some steps to follow when doing so:

Adapt the fish into the bag

Putting the fish inside the bag right away is not recommended, due to the chance of making them stress which may cause them to die early. Rather, you need to begin acclimate the fish into the bag first. This can be done by floating the plastic bag in their original tank, for approximately 15 to 30 minutes, to get them used. It also helps to balance the internal and external bag temperature.

Pour water into the bag

Once the fish are acclimated to the bag, you need to pour water inside. Make sure that the water added is clean and fresh, preferably already de-chlorinated before. The water temperature also needs to be adjusted to the tank temperature. Afterwards, add the water slowly until it fills 1/3 to 3/4 part of the plastic bag. Leave some space for air inside.

Oxygenate the water

After the water has been successfully added, it needs to be oxygenated. This can be done by using an oxygenation pump or an airstone, depending on what the fish breeder or store owns.

Secure the bag

Now that you have filled the bag with water and aerated it, it’s time to seal it. For the most maximum result, it’s recommended to use a heat-sealant or zip-top. If the bag doesn’t have opener at top, it can be closed by using a rubber band or a string.

Afterwards, put the bag within another bag that has larger size. This is optional, but highly recommended because it can prevent unwanted accident in the event that the first bag gets leak.

Bring it on travel

After you’ve made sure to follow the steps above properly, it is now time to travel. As suggested by the explanation of how long can fish stay in bag before, you can be rest-assured that the fish is safe and secure up to 9 hours. If needed, check the fish from time to time to observe its behavior. If it shows signs of stress or breathing trouble, simply open the plastic bag to add oxygen. Make sure that the bag doesn’t sit directly on the sun or other source of heat as well because it might result in overheated water.

How to Acclimate Fish to A New Aquarium Tank

Acclimating fish is important when it’s about to get into a new environment, but have you even wondered why? If you ask pet store owners, chance is, they will say that it allows the fish to adjust to the new temperature of the water, so it doesn’t get shock.

Now, the answer is not wrong at all, but it is actually not the only answer. Temperature of the water is only one of the many factors that your new fish needs to adjust, such as the level of hardness and pH. Properly following the guide of how long can fish stay in bag will be a vain effort without acclimating it the right way as well, which you can do by following the guide below.

Know how long it takes to acclimate the fish

Not only it’s important to know how long can fish stay in bag from pet store, but also the amount of time to acclimate it. In general, 20 minutes of floating the fish bag in the aquarium and then slowly add water from the tank will be sufficient. This needs to be done several times in span of an hour.

After that, you can use a fish net carefully to capture the fish inside the bag and move them to the tank. By now, the fish has already adjusted and its stress level will be lessened.

Another tip worth to follow is to not add the water inside the fish bag into the tank, but to simply discard it. This can help to prevent parasites or diseases that might be carried by the water into the aquarium.

Step by step to acclimate the fish

As it has been mentioned, acclimating a fish to a new environment typically take roughly an hour. Read the guide below, which require you to use a clip or other similarly functioning item that can prevent the fish bag of slipping into the aquarium throughout the process.
  1. Put the secured plastic bag to float in the tank for approximately 20 minutes.
  2. Unseal the plastic bag and pour a half to a full cup of water from the tank.
  3. Secure the plastic bag into the tank’s side so it won’t float away or slip.
  4. Let it sit for 20 minutes before adding water again in the same measurement as the previous step and wait for another 20 minutes.
  5. Now it’s time to release the fish. Use a fish net to catch the acclimated fish.
  6. Release the fish into the aquarium tank carefully.
  7. Discard the water inside the plastic bag instead of pouring it into the tank back.


Given that the plastic bag is well-oxygenated, fish can survive inside it to be transported to another place for hours. Now that you already know how long can fish stay in bag and other important details such as how to prepare it for travel and how to acclimate it properly, you can be rest-assured that your fish is going to have low stress level and ready to thrive in your tank happily and healthily.

Post a Comment for "How Long Can Fish Stay in Bag? Here is the Answer that You Are Looking For"