How to Add New Fish to a Fish Tank

Fish Tank
Fish Tank (Image: Angela Tague)

Every aquatic enthusiast enjoys increasing the number of fish in his aquarium. When adding new fish to an existing community, there are certain steps to take to ensure a successful transfer from the pet store to your fish tank. Whether you are adding community, aggressive or marine fish to your tank, acclimating the new fish to the new environment is essential.

Things You'll Need

  • Insulated cooler
  • Warming pads

Pack your fish for a ride from the pet store to your home. Most pet stores package fish in plastic bags. Once in the car, you will need to support the fish bag in an upright position, so they don't roll around in the car, causing the fish stress.

Put the bag of fish in an insulated cooler. If it is below 70 degrees outside, or in the car on the ride home, you will want to line the cooler with warming pads and towels, to help the fish maintain a warm temperature, and reduce their stress.

Drive home after your fish purchase. The amount of air in a fish bag can vary, but is rarely enough for more than 45 minutes of travel. Never leave a fish unattended in the car during summer. Interior car temperatures can soar much higher than outside air temperatures, causing damage to your fish. Avoid leaving the fish unattended in winter too.

Place the fish, while still in the plastic bag, into the top of the fish tank. Allow the bag to float on the top of the water for at least 20 minutes. This will allow the water in the fish bag to become the same temperature as the water in the fish tank.

Release the new fish into the fish tank. Throw away the water in the fish bag and the plastic fish bag. Observe the fish to make sure it is not being harassed by the existing fish. Watch to make sure the new fish swim normally and integrate into the community.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are adding fish to a brand new fish tank set up, wait at least a week to add fish. Allow the water in the tank to cycle through the filtration system, and to build up beneficial bacteria.
  • The first 48 hours after travel are critical for fish. An increase in stress, adjusting to new water temperatures and chemical levels is often difficult to survive. Learn about the return policy at the pet store for live products before you purchase fish.

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