Tip and Tricks: Getting Your Fish to the Show
Whether you are shipping or driving with your fish, best to prepare your fish by fasting/not feeding your show fish for three days prior to the show. This allows their stomach and intestines to empty, eliminating excrement from getting in the bag or container. This will help keep the water clean and help prevent ammonia from building up.
If you are shipping your fish, when bagging, remember that adult discus can poke holes in plastic bags pretty easily. Their hard Rays are sharp! Place the fish in one bag, putting some sort of a bag liner on the exterior of that bag (many people use newspaper), and then use two more bags. Also you want just enough water to cover the fish. Be sure to leave some room for the bag to expand if the fish are to be transported via plane, as a change in atmospheric pressure at high altitude will cause the bag to expand, and if there is no room to accommodate this the bag will pop. As long as the bag does not leak they will not run out of water. It is O2 that can be a concern. It is best to fill the bag with O2 but for short trips you can get away without it. Also after each fish is individually bagged, make sure to use a bag line in the box as well. If for some reason one of the bag leaks, this last line of defense will stop your box from getting flagged by the airlines (this happens when they see a box that is leaking water). Upon arrival to the show you, you first need to check in at the registration desk, you will then be directed by a member of the show committed where and how to tank your fish in the show room. Remember, you do not want to put any of your bag water into the tank. Please read this for a more detailed description http://www.discusnada.org/shipping-fish-101/.
If you are driving your fish to the Show it is really fairly simple. A 5 gallon bucket with snug fitting lid is ideal for transporting discus in your car. You can purchase new 5 gallon buckets and lids for a reasonable price at your local Home Depot or Lowes. Drill a hole (around 3//8” to ½”) in the lid of the bucket. This hole will allow movement of air in and out of the bucket and will also be the location you will insert an air hose should it be needed. When you will only be transporting your discus for several hours you will not need to supply any aeration to the bucket. When traveling for longer periods of time the addition of an air stone will be required. You will not need a filter, just an air stone. To supply the air, a simple battery operated pump will do the job if you are traveling with just a couple of buckets. If you are transporting a larger number of discus then using a power invertor and a 110 volt air pump is the best way to go. The addition of an air manifold with multiple air valves attached to your pump will simplify the process even more.
When ready to leave on your trip, fill the bucket between 1/3rd and ½ full with clean aged water, heated to the same temperature as your tank water. Since you will be transporting discus to be presented at the Show you will want to only place one discus in each bucket. More than one opens the possibility of fin scrapes or even some fin damage that would cause the discus to present poorly in the Show. If not being transported for a Show, then 2 to a bucket works just fine. It is very common for discus to lay on their side when transported in a bucket so don’t be alarmed when you see this.
It is not necessary to heat the water in the bucket. A decrease in temp to the mid 70’s during the drive will cause no ill to the discus. Keeping the car a little warmer than you normally do will help. Another option is to use an insulated cooler instead of a bucket. If you do want to add a heater, a 25 watt heater works great. You will only have 2 to 3 gallons of water in the bucket so a larger heater is not advisable. If your travel plans include a stop over night, a heater is advised for use in the hotel room. Remember to bring some de-chlor to use in the hotel for a water change. Make sure the bucket is securely placed in the car so it won’t tip and you are good to go.
What to Expect Once Your Fish Arrive at the Hotel
Rack and tank set-up at the Westin Lombard is scheduled for Wednesday evening which will allow for fish to be brought in for acclimation anytime on Thursday after 9:00 am. Upon arriving at the show, please check in at the registration desk and a member of the show committee will assist you in tanking your fish by showing you your assigned tank(s) and the proper procedure. It will be your responsibility to get your fish to the Lilac room and placed into its assigned display tank(s). However, there will be time when your fish might arrive at a different time then you do when shipping your fish into the show. In these cases MWDA members Wes Mazur and Brandon Trier who will be present and managing the fish room throughout the event, will offer assistance as a courtesy, however, they will not be responsible for anything that might possible go wrong during the process. Such accommodations that can be arranged are pick up and transportation of fish from the airport (if shipping airport to airport) and or tanking of the fish is they arrive at the front desk. In either of these cases, make sure to make arrangements prior to the show so Wes and Brandon can be aware of what to expect and to plan accordingly. Again, this service is offered as a courtesy, and NADA or the MWDA will not be responsible for any damages or incurred losses. Any assistance provided is done so by volunteer individuals and does not transfer responsibility for your fish. In the unlikely event Wes or Brandon are not in the Lilac room when you need them you can reach them on their indicated cell numbers. In advance of the show any questions related to this topic should be directed to Keith Perkins.