How Long Can Fish Stay In The Bag? (+12 Survival Tips)

Last Updated on 2023-05-24

Have you just got a fish and wondering how long it can stay in the bag? Or perhaps, you need to transport a fish from one tank to another. If so, you’ve found the right page. In this article, not only will you learn how long your fish can stay in the bag, but you’ll also learn what can cause conditions to be improved or deteriorate quicker!

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

How Long Can Fish Stay In The Bag?

Generally speaking, as long as the temperature doesn’t stop too much, then a fish can generally survive between 7-9 hours. However, conditions outside of the bag can often cause the time it’s safe to drop significantly. Because of this, you should try to get your fish out of their bag as soon as possible.

How To Help Your Fish Stay Alive Longer

If you’re transporting your fish in the bag for any length of time, then there are a few things you can do to increase their survival rate and keep them comfortable,

Bigger Bags Hold More Oxygen

First of all, the bigger the bag, the more oxygen it’s going to be able to carry. This is because there’s a lot more empty space in the bag. On top of this, the more surface area between the water and the air, the faster oxygen will enter the water. Both of which will keep your fish well-oxygenated.

Keep The Temperature Stable

You should also make sure that you’re keeping the temperature as stable as possible too. If the temperature changes too quickly, then it could result in temperature shock, which can kill fish incredibly quickly.

However, it’s not just the temperature shock you need to worry about. When water becomes too hot, it doesn’t hold oxygen as well. So even if the temperature itself doesn’t kill your fish, oxygen deprivation might.

So if you need to take your fish on a long trip, try using cold and hot packs to keep the temperature stable.

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Keep The Fish As Calm As Possible

When fish are stressed, they’re going to consume more oxygen, so you should make sure that you’re keeping your fish as calm as possible while you’re transporting them. One of the best ways to do this is to put them in the dark to make them feel safer.

As well as this, you can also keep the movement inside the bag to a minimum, so the fish doesn’t feel like it’s being jolted around.

Don’t Keep Too Many Fish In One Bag

You should also make sure that you’re not keeping too many fish in one bag. The more fish there are, the quicker the oxygen is going to run out. If you need to keep multiple fish in one bag, open it periodically to allow fresh air and oxygen into it.

But remember, even then, you can’t keep them in the bag for too long.

Remember that Ammonia Will Build Up

You have to remember that the longer your fish is in their bag, the more ammonia will build up. So if you need to transport them over a long distance, it’s a good idea not to feed them a couple of days before. This will drastically reduce the amount of ammonia they’ll produce.

Make Sure The Bag Is Moving Somewhat

You should also make sure that the bag is moving a little bit to ensure enough oxygen is getting into the water. When the surface of the water is still, it won’t absorb oxygen either. It’s when the surface moves that a lot of oxygen is introduced.

Remove Any Dead Fish

Sometimes, fish will die in the bag. When this happens, it’s important to remove them as soon as possible. Not only will a dead fish increase the chance of any other fish getting sick, but it will also cause more oxygen consumption.

When bacteria begin to multiply to deal with the dead fish, it’s going to consume a lot more oxygen. So getting the dead fish out of the bag as soon as possible is paramount.

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Fill The Bag With Pure Oxygen

If you know that the fish will stay in the bag for a long time, you should consider filling the bag with pure oxygen. Pure oxygen is going to drastically increase the amount of time fish can survive in a bag without suffocating. Remember, the air we breathe is only 21% oxygen.

Zip-Lock Bags Should Be Avoided

You should also avoid zip-lock bags. Zip-lock bags can often leech poison into the water, which is damaging to your fish. The best practice if you plan on moving the fish yourself is to ask a reputable pet store for one of their bags.

Keep Travelling To A Minimum

Just because fish can survive in a bag for a while doesn’t mean you should make them. Remember transferring your fish is going to be stressful for them. Even when they’re out of the bag, they’ll be more susceptible to disease and illness as their immune systems would have been weakened.

Keep Bullies On Their Own

And lastly, if you need to transport multiple fish, make sure you’re keeping bullies separate. And if one fish is a lot bigger than the others, keep them alone too. This way, you reduce the chance of fighting and even killing occurring.

Avoid Bag With Sharp Corners

If a bag has corners that are too sharp, then it could result in the fish becoming stuck. When the fish gets stuck, they’re going to suffocate or drown over time. So avoiding sharp corners is a must!


As you can see, with the right care, you can extend a fish’s time in a bag dramatically. However, keeping their time in a bag to a minimum is the best thing you can do for their health, as you’re going to reduce the amount of stress they feel and keep their immune system strong!

If you liked this article, make sure you check out the rest of the website! Otherwise, have a great day!

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