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  1. #1
    No freelancing! OrionGirl's Avatar
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    Moving an aquarium

    How to move an aquarium

    Some things will vary based on your setup, but here’s how I move tanks. This is also the procedure I use for upgrading tanks, though obviously there’s no loading of equipment. J

    1. Prepare the new location for the tank. Remember to have a clear path from the entrance to this location, verify that you have adequate power outlets, control of windows (shades, etc). Measure in advance so you know exactly where the stand will be placed, and that the stand will be level. If it’s not, have shims on hand.
    2. Have water, with any needed treatments or modifications, on hand in preparation to fill. A small powerhead with some tubing can make this go faster, but bucketing works too.
    3. Unplug the heater. Give it 10-15 minutes to cool down before removing it from the tank. Depending on location, you may be able to leave it in the tank while you continue down the list, or this might be a good time to load up the lights and hood.
    4. Remove water from the tank into either clean coolers, or tubs that will be easy to cover and carry. I usually only put in enough water to make it 2-3 inches deeper than the deepest fish going in (i.e., 2-3 inches total is fine for most tetras, but you want an oscar to have a bit more vertical space). I prefer coolers, based on the insulative properties, many have watertight lids, and they are easily carried.
    5. Remove all decorations and plants. I put plants in the coolers with fish, while decorations tend to end up in buckets with a little bit of water.
    6. Remove the filter and place media in with the decorations or in with the fish. I rinse off any loose debris first.
    7. Remove the fish from the tank. It’s easiest to do this when there is nothing left but some water—less room for them to run, no place to hide. Take care to split the fish up appropriately—if the fish argue in the tank, cramming them into a cooler won’t be a good thing. Fake and real plants are good to include in with the fish, to give them someplace to hide. Cover the openings if you need to step away or take longer catching some fish than others.
    8. Once all the fish are out, remove the substrate. Some people will say it’s okay to move a tank with the substrate in, but for anything above a 15, I disagree. Them more weight you’re moving, the more likely something will go wrong. A tank that has substrate in it will be much harder to move, and you run the risk of it twisting, which can crack a pane or break a seal. For tanks above 40 gallons, you should plan on having at least one person around to help. 55’s aren’t that heavy, and I have moved them by myself, but the 4-foot length is a pain to handle solo; I wouldn’t want to carry it far. Safety for the tank and your back requires a buddy.
    9. Load everything in the opposite order you’ll want to remove it—fish in first, then decorations, then substrate, then tank, then stand. This makes it easier, and less stressful on the fish.
    10. If the trip will be more than 3-4 hours, add Ammo-lock or another ammonia binding product in with the fish. For really long trips, have some clean water along and plan on doing mini water changes along the way.
    11. Once you’re at the new place, put the stand in place, put the substrate back in, add ¼ of the water, put in heater, powerheads, decorations and plants, fill the rest of the way. Add the filter, turn on the heater and the filter. Once the tank comes to temp, start adding the fish back in, putting in the timid/shy fish first. Put the canopy/hood/lights back on.

    If you plan on changing substrate, now is the time. This is also a good time to rinse the substrate, if you so desire. I’ve gone both ways, with no noticeable difference, but if you use RUGF or UGF, I definitely would rinse it to prevent any waste from clouding the water. Also, when using R/UGF, you want to make sure the substrate stays moist, to protect the bacteria.

  2. #2
    I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts NatakuTseng's Avatar
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    05-13-2007 10:50 PM
    I recently had to move many tanks, and agree overall with the proceedures that Orion has listed. One though that I think I could offer a better solution on is moving the fish themselves. I've done the cooler method and it does work, however during my last move I tried something else out and found it to be much easier and less stressful on the fish. Basically all you need to do is go to your LFS, and get one the large styro boxes that they recieve their fish in, ask for some bags of the appropriate size, the same ones they use to bag your fish in, you may need to pay for the bags and styros, but its worth it. Get enough bags to double bag each fish individually. May seem like more work, and it is, but it vastly reduces the stress on the fish themselves, and avoids injuries. The double baggin is for safety incase the fish punctures the first bag. Very straight forward process, add tank water to the bag, then add the fish, tie the bag off so it has as much air in the top as water in the bottom. Then put them in the stryobox, secure everyone so they won't go rolling around, and put the top on. Obviously doing it this way is more work, and more geared toward if you are actually moving from house to house, the cooler way is much easier if your just moving in house.
    The Truest Test Of Courage Is The Last!
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  3. #3
    MmMmM Cheese! NDferro's Avatar
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    10-07-2006 12:53 AM

    Moveing Fish

    When I moved my fish last I put together a 5 gallon tank with battery operated micro filter, air pump and just kept the car heater on low it worked great and your LFS has everything you need
    MarineLand 55 Gal
    Rocks, Caves & Fake Plants
    Small Multi Brown Shade Substrate
    Emperor 400B
    Bio-Wheel Pro 30/W 660 PowerHead
    300W Heater
    2 Congo Tetras
    2 Longfin Leopard Danio

    54 Gal Corner
    Black Substrate
    Penquin 150
    660 PowerHead
    Marineland 150w Heater
    1 Red Earth Eater
    2 Crimson spotted Rainbow Fish
    2 Eastern Rainbowfish
    2 Boesemann's Rainbow Fish
    1 Neon Rainbow Fish
    1 SAE

  4. #4
    Senior Member nursie's Avatar
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    07-20-2012 5:43 PM
    I have a 55 gal I'm planning on just moving a few feet. Do I still run the risk of cracking the panels or seals if I don't take the substrate out? How far would you take the water down for something like that, and would you take the fish out? I'm just moving it from one wall on an L shaped corner to the other.
    barrreport <--Tom Barr's site

  5. #5
    Registered User of Fish
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    08-16-2011 11:32 AM
    I also don't feed the day before the trip. Reduces the amount the fish will foul up their water while enroute and prevents any constipation from stress etc...
    My White Cloud Mountain Minnows can beat your oscar anytime. From the inside!

  6. #6
    Nano-Reefer FreddytheFish's Avatar
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    great article!! thanks!

  7. #7
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    Rachel O'Leary
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