Betta fish are graceful, multi-colored pets you could easily fall in love with. That’s why most owners don’t want to leave them behind when they move long distances. You want to move across the country with all your family, including pets.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows domestic travelers to travel with their fish as carry-on luggage. However, they don’t allow fish as checked luggage. In most cases, airlines will not bother you as long as you’ve been cleared by the TSA agents.
Betta fish are small, just about two and a half to three inches long. Thus, they don’t represent a size and weight problem. They aren’t known to spread disease and are not on the endangered species list. Hence, most airlines and airports will allow passengers to travel with their betta fish. However, some terms and conditions always apply.
Is It Allowed to Take Live Fish on An Airplane?
The TSA allows the transport of live fish as carry-on luggage in airplanes. You can’t transport your fish as checked luggage. The TSA accepts live fish on board if:
- Transported in a clear container.
- The fish is alive.
- The container is spill proof.
- A TSA officer visually inspects the container.
However, the TSA agent can prohibit you from boarding with your fish or subject you to additional screening. The final decisions on whether you proceed rests with the TSA agent and their supervisor.
Often, you might encounter a TSA agent who has never come across a passenger who brings along a live fish. The TSA agent may not be familiar with the law permitting travel. It could save you time if you printed out the section in advance before getting to the airport.
In most instances, the cabin crew will not bother you since you’ve already been passed by the TSA. However, once you pass TSA inspection it would be better if you put your fish in a container which doesn’t attract attention. Also, decide in advance where you will put your fish, whether that’s under the seat in front or in the overhead bin.
How Can I Take My Betta Fish on An Airplane?
There are several ways you can bring your betta fish on an airplane:
Breathable bags are probably the best way to bring aboard your betta fish. These are aquatic bags which allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through without leaking water.
The bags are made of permeable material that’s strong and resistant to tearing or pinholes. The strength means you don’t have to double-bag. The bag can’t be punctured by fish scales, dorsal spines, fins, or invertebrate claws.
Because they are permeable, you don’t have to leave space at the top for oxygen. You can fill up the bag to the brim. This decreases the sloshing around of liquid. It also means you don’t need to carry an oxygen tank for a long flight.
With breathable bags, you can store your fish in the overhead bin instead of under the seat in front of you. That way, you get more leg space. However, to protect your fish further you’ll have to put the breathable bag inside a sturdy solid container.
Clear Plastic Container
You can transport your betta fish inside a clear plastic container. Unlike breathable bags, you will have to fill only up to the two-third mark to allow oxygen. Get a container with a screw-on lid rather than a Snap-on lid. A Snap-on is easier to accidentally open.
Avoid any plastics that have been previously used for human needs. They may contain residue of soap, food stuff, oils, and sprays. For longer flights, you may need to get an oxygen tank. However, simply opening the lid periodically works to let in oxygen and let out carbon dioxide.
A clear plastic bag works much the same as a plastic container. It has to be clear so the TSA agent can make a visual inspection. You also may want to peep occasionally to monitor your fish’s activity.
With a plastic bag, you will have to double bag to protect against leaks. You’ll also have to put the bag in a sturdy container to protect against contact with sharp or hard objects. Because the water is only part way and not to the brim, it’s likely to slosh around violently especially where there’s turbulence. Thus, it’s only practical to store it under the seat in front of you and not in the overhead bin.
Whichever storage you choose, transporting a fish can allow you to go above the 3.4-ounce limit. At the TSA checkpoint, remove your container and the printout before you let the other bags go through the x-ray scanner. Wait on the side as the TSA agent inspects your fish and your printout. You may have to remind the agent that the TSA allows live fish to exceed the 3.4oz limit.
Will My Betta Fish Survive Airplane Transport?
Your betta fish can easily survive airplane transport without stress or trauma. To make the trip safe and comfortable for your fish:
- Transfer the fish from the aquarium to the container at the very last minute before you leave home.
- Take extra care not to injure the fish during transfer. You may accidentally drop it or leave it out of water for too long.
- Ensure the transport container is sturdy and secure. Eliminate any chances of pinholes, tears, and spillage. A breathable bag inside a picnic box would be best.
- Don’t add your aquarium decorations inside the container. The container should only have the fish and water.
- Pack only one fish per container. Multiple fish in one container may lead to aggression, depletion of resources, and an increase in toxin levels.
- Transfer the fish to an aquarium immediately when you arrive at your destination. Keep the aquarium shrouded in darkness so the fish can relax and get used to its new surroundings.