Cold Weather Fish Shipments

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Do you realize that many people receive fish and actually throw them out thinking they're dead when they're still very much alive? It happens all the time. They don't understand how temperature affects a cold-blooded animal, and they make a big mistake. Don't make that assumption yourself.

There are a few things you need to be aware of when receiving fish in cold weather. First and most important, they can arrive alive and yet appear dead if the temperature in the box gets low enough, especially if there is also a tranquilizer present in the water. They can actually have almost zero gill movement and be completely motionless and still be in a state where they can be revived rather quickly. Being a cold-blooded animal, their metabolism is controlled by the temperature. Low temperatures mean they need very little oxygen to remain alive. It also means they will move less and less until they don't move at all and fall to their sides. Tropical fish can only handle the low temperature for so long before they actually do die, so speed is of the essence when they come in motionless on their sides.

The key is to warm them up quickly. We suggest putting bags with hot water in them (about 120 F), next to their bags. Try to get their temperature up to around 75 F as quickly as you can. Going slow is not only unnecessary, but it is detrimental to their chances. Once the temperature is warmed up, you should start to see gill movement. If not, they may truly be dead. If you have gill movement, then proper acclimation will not only keep them alive, but they should act completely normal within about 24 hrs.

The best thing about fish that recover from almost being frozen to death, is that the cold does no damage to the fish. They will recover completely and in all aspects. To help them along, do the following: Acclimate slowly, keep water movement to a minimum, keep any tank lights off, make sure the tank bottom is dark, keep other fish away from them and do not feed them. So, don't be afraid of getting fish in cold weather. Just be prepared to give them critical attention right away.

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