The Organized Fish Room - Bagging Station

By Kyle May
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Kyle May
Posts: 1512
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:43 pm
Location: NothEast Ohio, USA

The Organized Fish Room - Bagging Station

Post by Kyle May »

I've written many posts on how to drill tanks, wire your fish room, as well as making a cost-efficient lighting plan.
We've talked about ventilation, humidity, and pre-planning for maximum use of space.
This time I'd like to talk about an addition that to some sounds frivolous, but in fact is
a critical part of any multi-tank set up. A Bagging Station.

Once you've gotten to the point where you've got more tanks than fingers to count them on
you'll see the value of a bagging station. Sooner or later something you own is gonna spawn
and you'll have a surplus of fry that you are going to want to sell. As time goes on, this will happen
more often and suddenly you'll find yourself wishing for a dedicated area to make this process easier.
My fish room is no different. My fish room is 1/3 of my basement and is shoehorned between my man cave
and the laundry room I built for my wife so I could cordon off the rest of the space for fish. I've got 36 tanks,
a significant number of which are over 120 gallons. This means that the area I inhabit must be efficient and
well organized. This has taught me to use every inch of available space for my greatest benefit.

Here is my bagging station:


This bagging station uses just 4.5 feet of space (1.3 meters) and is tucked into a small space
between racks of 125 gal aquariums (454 liters). There are some very basic components that I consider essentially for any successful bagging station: a sink, a wet surface, a dry surface, and quick access to bagging supplies.
I'll take you through each of these components.

The Sink.

Wholly unimpressive in the world view, the lowly slop sink is the most underrated component in the fish room.
It's seen as a necessary evil, however this is a luxury to me. Mine is about the cheapest slop sink you could buy
and I think I paid less than $30 US for it. Mine has a basic brass faucet with a splitter that allows water to go to
the tank filling hose and a branch so I can still rinse filters simultaneously. The splitter is a $2 item that is for your garden hose. An old deli container keeps my dechlor handy, although I don't use Jungle Dechlor anymore (I make my own). I'll save that for another post. Next to the sink, I've built in a small counter top that has been angled enough so that any water that drips onto it rolls into the sink. The angle is not so steep that you cannot use the counter top. This counter top is plywood topped with a scrap piece of corian solid surface laminate. This is my wet area. When I bag fish, all of the splashing is done in this area. Aside from handling the splashes from bagging, the slanted counter top is helpful when cleaning filters and holds the parts after I rinse them off in the sink. The solid surface counter top material is easy to clean and finding a scrap piece to fit your needs is easy.

Dry Area

This area is about two feet square (.6 meters) and is a small piece of plywood I got at a home center topped with a 1/2 scrap of insulation foam left over from placing tanks. The foam keeps the plywood dry and is removable for cleaning. This table is actually mounted to the wall on a hinge and has one leg underneath that props the table up. This allows me access to the pumps in the corner of the room that power the filtration for a pair of 125 gal aquariums just out of the frame to the right. I simply remove the leg and the counter top folds back to the wall.This is the perfect size table because it will hold a Styrofoam fish box perfectly. This allows me to bag fish on the wet counter top and then place them right into the styro for shipping. This is a huge time saver as I'm not lugging the bags all over the place stressing me and the fish.
Here's a pic with the styro in place.

Bagging Supplies
Just above the sink and to the right I've got two shelves that I got at the home center. These are about $5 each
and install into the wall with just two screws. You can see that my bagging supplies are conveniently located to be within reach as I'm bagging fish. I've got four different sized bags, each in their own box, plus rubber bands, bag buddies, and even two different sized markers zip tied to the bottom of the shelf. This is an incredible time saver as all the supplies I need to bag fish are right at my fingers tips.

Just a couple of steps away is a vat of makeup water that is constantly circulated. This 32 Gallon vat (121 liters) is stored in a corner between two racks of tanks. It has a plastic pitcher floating in the water, so all I have to do during bagging is grab the pitcher an add a splash of fresh water to each bag during packaging. This helps add longevity to the conditions within the bag. I use the make up water for my fry rack that is also about two steps away from the vat, so I always have fresh water handy for them too. It encourages me to keep the fry water very fresh even though I force feed them for fast growth.

Nets and Specimen Containers

I have tons of nets. Those I use most frequently are located directly above the sink. Once I've used a net the dripping mess drips right into the sink so the nets dry very quickly. I've also got a cheap bathroom light bar left over from a bath remodel that I have over the bagging station too. This gives plenty of light to the area so I can be sure of what's going in the bag. You need to check the quality of your fish during shipment to ensure that you are bagging only the best fish you've got. Good lighting helps you to see how many fish are in the bag too.


I used an old piece of airline and tacked it across a window bay to turn unusable space into a specimen container holder. It keeps the containers close and allows me to store them without stacking. Stacking these is when most of them get broken. I've also got my glass cleaners stowed up there too. I have household window cleaners up there as one of the raw ingredients in my own personal mixture for use in the fish room. I've never poisoned a tank of fish which is a testament to the mix. I tend to be heavy handed with the glass spray. Reclaiming unusable space without spending money is a win-win in my book. The plastic pipe is a good choice because it is rigid enough to hold the containers without being affected by water.


So there you have my version of the compact bagging station. The only item you cannot see is an AP-20 pond pump that is in a corner off frame to the right. I use it to add air to my bags during shipping. Eventually I'll graduate to oxygen and I've left a space in the corner for the O2 bottle and hose.
Having all of the essential items needed during the process of shipping fish, or even just getting them ready for your clubs auction is a big help. Nothing is more frustrating than having to juggle bags, fish, rubber bands, etc, all while trying to keep your home dry. If you build a fish room for yourself, I encourage you to make a bagging station/cleanup area part of your scheme. You'll find that it pays big dividends come auction day.

Kyle May
Ohio Cichlid Association
Northern Ohio, USA
Posts: 265
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:28 am
Location: Medina, Ohio

Re: The Organized Fish Room - Bagging Station

Post by deeda »

Great article Kyle! You sure crammed a lot of stuff into a small area but all of it is easy access for bagging fish. Thanks for sharing your set up.

OCA member thru 11/2019
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tom evers
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:33 pm
Location: Brunswick Hills, Ohio

Re: The Organized Fish Room - Bagging Station

Post by tom evers »

Nice set up Kyle !!!
you can never have too many cichlids!
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