How to move a fish tank

Moving a fish tank

  • Whether you are moving your fish tank from one area of the house to another, or to a distant location, you must properly prepare to make this experience less stressful on your fish.
  • Travel can be highly stressful on fish. Correct handling alongside proper packing and moving supplies will help your fish to make it to their new location with minimal upset and increased survival rate.
  • Things can get messy, but if you follow our tips on how to move a fish tank, you will know what to expect and can begin to properly prepare for the move.

Preparing your fish for the journey ahead

  • Discontinue feeding your fish two days before the move.
  • Prepare a clean, holding container for your fish. One that has not housed chemicals or detergents.
  • To reduce stress, try placing them in a holding container that is as similar to their regular one as possible.
  • Use the water from your original tank for transport.
  • Prepare your fishnet by soaking it in water for at least 10 minutes, this will soften it and minimize damage to the fish.

Catch the fish from your tank

  • Place them in the holding container. You may want to use a loose-fitting cover to prevent the fish from jumping out during transport. An opaque cover will help minimize the stress, as fish tend to be less active in the dark.
  • For short trips and particularly aggressive fish, you may bag them individually, as they would in a pet store.
  • Once bagged, keep the fish in the dark.
  • For longer trips that may last up to 6 hours you’ll need to add pure oxygen to the bags. Contact your local pet store and make arrangements in advance.

Preparing your tank for the move

  • Unplug and remove all external attachments that may get in the way when you are moving the tank.
  • When taking down the aquarium, save as much of the water as you can to help preserve the bacteria colony.
  • Reusing your water cuts the cycling time considerably once you restart the system, and decreases the likelihood of a toxic ammonia spike.
  • You will need to have clean containers to hold the water until the new tank is in its new place. You may use 5-gallon buckets with lids to transport water.
  • If you do not have lids for your buckets, using plastic grocery bags should prevent your water from splashing while still allowing air to get in so that your fish and plants can breathe.

Remove live plants from the tank

  • Place them in a bucket or two of water for the trip. Plants will likely survive if you keep their roots wet.
  • Leave only enough water in the tank to keep the gravel bed and landscaping undisturbed.
  • Use 5-gallon containers to transport gravel as well. Be sure to fill them with some tank water.
  • For longer trips, you should remove the gravel from the tank to alleviate the stress on the aquarium seams during transport.
  • For short moves, keep your filter media and sponges in some of the aquarium water.
  • This will minimize disruption of the bacteria colonies within them, while reducing cycling time. For long moves, either clean or discard your filter media.
  • Pack pumps, heaters, and other accessories like you would fragile appliance.

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