Pet fish care in a severe weather storm, part 3

For part 2 of taking care of fish during storms, click here: Part 2

Plants: If you have live plants in your tank, and no power (hence no lights), remove them and place them in their own bucket of water. Plants compete with fish for oxygen in the darkness, and the last thing you want is any more oxygen being used. Be gentle when taking the plants out-some plants may not tolerate moving, and others may not grow for a while afterwards, but better dead plants than dead fish in my opinion.

Moving your fish: I stayed near my house during the hurricanes, so I chose to keep the fish right where they were. If I lived in a trailer or on an island and had to evacuate, I would have taken the fish with me. I would have simply placed them into separate buckets (with lids!) full of their tank water. I keep a 10-gallon tank handy for quarantine, so I would have brought that and put them into it (would have been crowded!). I would have brought along their filters, media and all, and set them up immediately (keeping the media wet in a Ziploc bag). If bringing them were not an option, I would have simply left the fish in their tanks with the pumps running (see above for information on covering the tanks).

To stress: unplug everything so that the sudden power surge does not cause any fires, check for any possible siphoning (check all filters and all air lines should have one-way valves installed in them!), protect the tank against breakage, feed very little, try not to stress the fish. If a tank breaks, watch for glass and any resulting mold from wet carpet (trust me it will mold!). Do not plug anything back in until you are sure it is safe.

After the storm: Once power is restored, do a partial water change. Keep and use the old filter media, if it stayed wet there is a good chance of bacteria surviving. My tanks only did a mini cycle, even after being without power for 10 days! Bring the fish back up to normal feeding levels over a few day period so they do not bloat. Check all equipment for damage, replace anything suspect. Remove any dead fish immediately and praise any survivors. Enough cannot be said about keeping tanks under stocked-over stocked tanks died out, while under-stocked tanks survived.

In the end, all you can do is hope. Hope that your house stays in one piece, hope that the ceilings stay up, hope that the fish do not go crazy, hope that the power is restored quickly. As important as your fish may be to you (and me!), keep yourself safe above all! You can always find more fish, but you have to be around to do it.

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