How to Move Fish From a Pond

Moving to a new home ranks as one of life's more stressful events -- even for our aquatic friends. Although many common pond fish, such as koi and goldfish, will eat out of your hand, when its time to transfer them, they may resist being handled and have difficulty adapting to a new environment. However, with good planning and attention to detail on moving day, you can take your fishy friends with you to your new pond.

You can move your pond fish, if you plan carefully.
  1. Stop feeding the fish three or four days before the move. This helps keep digestive waste from polluting the transport water and reducing its oxygen.

  2. Double bag the plastic bags for added strength. Each large fish needs its own bag, while groups of small fish, two to three inches long, can share a bag. The fish need enough room to move around a bit.

  3. Collect enough pond water to fill each bag 25 percent full. Catching the fish will stir up sediment and foul the water, so collect enough water before netting the fish.

  4. Net the fish one at a time and transfer each to a bag.

  5. Fasten each bag twice, leaving plenty of air inside.

  6. Place the bags in a styrofoam cooler and shut the lid. The fish can remain there for 24 to 48 hours.

  7. Open the cooler lid slightly upon arrival at the new pond, to let the fish begin to adjust to the change in light.

  8. Wait about 10 minutes and open the lid further.

  9. Wait another 10 minutes then remove the lid.

  10. Float two or three bags on the surface of the new pond for about five minutes, or until the water in the bag has reached the temperature of the pond.

  11. Open the bags that have reached the desired temperature and allow the fish to swim out into their new pond. Repeat this process until all the fish have been released.


  • Avoid chasing the fish in the pond. When stressed, fish use more oxygen and recover slowly.