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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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33g – Rescape Debut!

January 29th, 2013

This weekend, I decided it was time to rescape my 33g cube. This aquarium has a few other changes, namely that I replaced the 4x24w HOT5 + 250W MH light with two Finnex Ray2 LED bars. It doesn’t take a mathematician to calculate the energy reduction from this change to “a lot.” The amazing thing is that as soon as I put the LEDs on top, the plants in my previous aquascape started pearling more than they normally did with the metal halides on.

33g Hardscape


For the hardscape, I’m using some new Manzanita from Msjinkzd.com that I got over the summer. If you’ve never looked at Rachel’s stocklist, check it out now, as she carries amazing nano fish and inverts for our planted aquariums. For this hardscape, I wanted to do something a little bit different than I’ve done before. I wanted to have the hardscape flow throughout the aquarium in a more artistic way, while still looking somewhat natural.  You can see the bare hardscape above. Since I didn’t soak the manzanita ahead of time, I tied all of the piece together using florist wire so that I could keep them from floating via angular resistance between pieces, and a large rock that I put on the largest pieces for a couple days.

33g Rescape


In planting the tank, I had a bunch of plants from the previous aquascape that I wanted to carryover, namely the Anubias barterii ‘nana petite’, Java Fern ‘Trident’, Cryptocoryne lucens, Limnophila repens ‘mini’, and chain sword. I also pulled some Ranalisma rostrata, Gratiola viscidula, Syngonanthus anomalous ‘Madeira’, Fontinalis hypnoides, Nymphaea micrantha, and Didiplis diandra to the tank. I’m still figuring out exactly what direction I want to take this time in terms of how the plants should fill in, but I’m happy that the first planting is complete and looking forward to see how the LEDs perform in their first aquascape. Comments welcome!

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Bookshelf Tank – Three More Weeks Growth

January 22nd, 2013

Below is a picture I snapped today while working in on my tanks. It’s been three weeks since I posted a picture of this aquarium, and as you can see, the Lilaeopsis is growing in very nicely. I’m getting a few leaves with fuzz algae, largely in areas that aren’t getting a ton of flow. That’s definitely one of the problems with this tank size. I have to used nano-sized powerheads, so they don’t push a ton of water. If I upgrade to the next size, the powerhead disturbs both the substrate and the water surface.

33g Update

So, I’m going to simply re-position the powerheads I have to try and fix the problem. I’ve also dimmed the LEDs just a tad to slow the growth a little bit. I have to say that I love that this is possible with many LED fixtures! Let me know if you like how it growing in. (Or if you don’t!)

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Bookshelf Tank Iwagumi

December 31st, 2012

I’ve been working on an Iwagumi scape in my bookshelf tank since August. Back then, I spent several days working on the hardscape, using ADA Aquasoil (powder and regular types) to create the mounds. Originally I planted the entire aquascape with an Eleocharis species that I found growing abundantly near my house. In nature, it looked very much like Eleocharis parvula, the 1-2″ tall dwarf hairgrass that makes such a nice foreground plant. Unfortunately, my lights must not be as strong as the sun, and so it turned out to likely be Eleocharis acicularis, the 4-8″ tall hairgrass that remains as my background plant.

Bookshelf Tank - First Stab at New Hardscape

Hardscape – Click for larger


About 6 weeks ago, I pulled most of the hairgrass and replaced it with two types of Lilaeopsis, L. brasiliensis and L. sp. ‘micro’. Below, you can see that it’s starting to take off. The hardscape itself has remained pretty much unchanged since the initial setup. I have added a frosted background to the back glass, and finally put a heater in this tank, which has definitely helped to speed the plant growth.

Bookshelf Tank Update

Aquascape – Click for Larger


I’m not currently using any filtration, but the two nano powerheads do a good job keeping the water circulated and my weekly large water changes keep it in good condition. The only livestock right now are a Dario hysgninon, a few rosy loaches, and a few baby bristlenoses that I pulled from my 50G. The hairgrass on the right background always seems to want to clump together and lay to the right. I need to figure out how to make it stay more like the hairgrass on the left. Otherwise, I’m really happy with how this is turning out, and am looking forward to it filling in. Comments/suggestions welcome!

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40G: Back from Trip

December 16th, 2012

I recently returned from a week of travel for work. Before I left, I did my water changes, dosed a little bit extra, and made sure that the fish would get fed. Most of the tanks were already in pretty good shape, but I had recently replanted my 40g farm tank, and it was still in the process of recovering from that shock.


40g Farm Tank

Click for larger version


Much to my delight, the farm tank (above) really rebounded and grew in beautifully while I was gone. In addition, I think the lack of dosing caused the plants to temporarily color up due to needing more nitrate. This is one of those times where I find myself sitting and starring at my farm tank constantly, even though it’s not really aquascaped. Healthy plants are mesmerizing!

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