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How-to: Moving Aquariums During a House Move

February 24th, 2013

I’m happy to post a how-to article from a guest author, Ricky Peterson. Ricky is a fish lover and a writer; he also loves the sea, travelling, and he writes for Swallow Aquatics, who sell aquarium & tropical fish supplies in the United Kingdom.


As an aquarium owner, moving house isn’t something that you are likely to look forward to. It is certainly tempting to stay put and just avoid the hassle. Moving a fish into the next room is stressful enough!

Unfortunately moving home is often necessary; so how can you do it as stress-free as possible?

It will take some preparation, but with the right approach there is no reason why you can’t take your fish with you wherever you may be going…

How To Prepare For The Big Move

There are two sets of things you need to move:

  • Your fish tank (plus accessories)
  • The actual fish

Moving the whole lot at once isn’t sensible, so you are going to need a spare tank to store your fish in while you arrange to move everything.

A hospital tank or a quarantine tank would be ideal, but as an alternative, any large see-through plastic tubs will suffice just so-long as they have tight-fitting and secure lids.

Top Tip:
If your fish are going to be spending much time in these temporary tanks, you may need to set up some aeration to keep them healthy in the mean-time. You can rig up a simple aeration system using a battery-powered pump and some plastic aquarium tubing which will suffice for a couple of days.

Timing The Move

If possible, move the fish last so that they spend as little time as possible in their make-shift accommodation. The less time they spend out of their home the less stressed they will be.

While they are waiting to be moved, make sure to keep your fish away from any noise or dust. Also, make sure those lids are secure (to keep the fish in and anything else out!)

The commotion of moving can easily cause undue stress to your fish, so planning ahead and having somewhere safe to keep them is essential.

Draining The Tank

Many aquarium owners will simply pour away the old aquarium water, but this is a mistake. This is the water that your fish are acclimated to — with its specific balance of chemicals, PH, bacteria, etc…

Try to keep as much water as you can. Some of it can be used to house the fish while they are in their temporary tanks and the rest can be stored in any suitable, clean containers that you have available (such as a few thoroughly rinsed out water bottles or 5 gallon buckets).

Drained Aquarium

Drained Aquarium

Keep the substrate from the tank a little wet and store it securely. The substrate contains a wealth of essential bacteria and preserving these will help the whole tank to spring back to life when you put it all back together.

The Actual Move

Moving the tank is actually the easy part, after-all it’s just a glass box. Wrap the tank as carefully as possible so that it doesn’t get damaged in transit.

Any decorations can be rinsed-off and dried; this will generally be anything man-made (hardscape items and the like).

Remember that some items need to be kept in water. Biological filtration systems contain micro-organisms and bacteria and if allowed to dry they will stop working. Live plants will also need to be kept in water of course, otherwise they will die.

Moving The Fish

Moving the fish is probably the most stressful part of the process and unfortunately there isn’t a lot that can be done to make it easier on them.

If possible, transport the fish in your car with a passenger to keep them secure. Before you leave, double check those lids and make sure they are secure.

A loose lid and a sudden bump can cause things to splash out of the tubs, so be vigilant and drive carefully. If you have a long journey, plan to make some stops along the way and take your time.

Setting It All Up – Again

Your first priority after the move is to get the tank set up again. Don’t put the fish back in yet, just put the substrate back in along with the water (and top up if necessary), plants and filters etc…

Once set-up, the tank will need some time to cycle and the water will need to settle before you put the fish back in.

Top Tip:
If possible, try to move the tank a few days before moving the fish, so that the tank can start cycling in advance. With a bit of planning you can then put the fish back in their home as soon as they arrive.

For a few days after setting-up the tank, test the water each day for PH level, chemical levels etc… Once all of the readings are back to normal (whatever normal might be for your particular aquarium), you can reintroduce your fish!

 

 

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One Response to “How-to: Moving Aquariums During a House Move”

  1. Nick Says:

    I used polystyrene boxes borrowed from my local fish store to transport my seahorses. They kept in the heat and the lids stopped any water from coming out during the drive. I then used it as a temporary aquarium until my main tank was re set up

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