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

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, 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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2011 AGA Aquascaping Contest

July 4th, 2011

The 2011 AGA International Aquascaping Contest is open for entries!

All that is required are 1 – 5 photos of your aquarium, a simple entry form, and a signed photo release. You can enter entirely online. We will display all entries permanently on the AGA’s web site. You can also choose to have your tank entered in the 2012 Aqua Design Amano contest at the same time.

Winners will receive ribbons and cash awards
Closing date for entries: September 25
Winners announced: November 18

This contest just keeps growing and growing and growing! So fluff the plants, snap those photos, and enter your aquascape in the AGA contest to share with aquatic gardeners and artists around the world!

In an effort to aid worldwide economic recovery, there will be NO ENTRY FEE this year!

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Scape Fu – Planted Aquarium Podcast

September 3rd, 2010

I just discovered a new planted aquarium website today, Scape Fu, which aims to provide podcasts relating to the planted aquarium hobby. The latest podcast featured former GWAPA president and blogger from Kryptokoryne, Ghazanfar Ghori. I’m really looking forward to see what new topics and guests will be featured in the feature. Check it out!

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33G Rimless Aquarium Stand Built

August 13th, 2010

Over the past week, I finally built an aquarium stand for the Green Leaf Aquariums 33G rimless aquarium that I bought several months ago. The aquarium was just sitting in the box while I tried to decide whether or not to purchase a custom made stand, or build one myself. Eventually, I decided that it would be more enjoyable to build it myself.

GLA Rimless Aquarium and Custom Stand

In an effort to match what I did to pretty-up the metal stand my 75G sits on, I decided against wooden paneling for the facade; instead I sewed and velcro’d a 100% polyester sheet of fabric to give the museum exhibit look to the piece. The fabric exterior also allowed me to build the structural support fully to the outside edge of the aquarium so that vertically the transition from stand to tank was very much in-line. I’m still not 100% decided on whether this aquarium will go in my fish room or living room, so I needed something aesthetically appealing enough for living room use.

Velcro to hang skirt

The aquarium stand itself is built completely out of 2x4s, and completely over-engineered to hold several times the weight the 33G tank. Rimless aquariums need to be supported equally across the entire surface of their bottom panel, so I layed 2x4s across the top for support, tacking a piece of hardboard on top of that for a smooth surface. With extra scraps, I fastened a simple shelf inside of the stand for the filter and CO2 bottle to set on.

Aquarium Stand - Frame

On top of the hardboard, I cut-to-size a piece of green yoga mat to provide additional padding for the aquarium to rest. With rimless tanks, any minor difference of pressure could potentially lead to a stress fracture along one of the seams. By padding the bottom, you mitigate that risk significantly. I ran the velcro backing strip along the rim of the stand, making sure to cover up the yoga mat so that the bright green foam was not visible.

Yoga Mat for Padding

I spray painted most of the stand black to minimize the possibility of the yellowish wood color showing through the polyester sheet in bright light. I also applied a polyurethane  sealant to the wood since water drips are inevitable. The aquarium itself is beautiful, with extremely clear glass and good workmanship where the panes of glass meet.

Clean Edge on Aquarium

I’ve already had my 12G rimless aquarium from GLA setup for several months, and am very impressed with that tank. I’m looking forward to setting up this one, which will give me a little bit more room to aquascape than I have in the 12G. My current plan (subject to change) is to retire my 20H aquarium, and put this aquarium in its place. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that in the coming week or two.

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Whale Watching

July 16th, 2010

Yesterday, we were fortunate enough to have a friend take us out on their boat to do some whale watching. We left Auke Bay in the afternoon, and headed out looking for whales coming up for air.

Humpback Whale Blowing

The best way to spot them is to look for their spouts when they clear their blow-holes so that they can breath.

Humpback Whale

We only saw a small portion of the humongous mammals, but even their humped backs (hence the name, humpback whale) were large enough to appreciate their size.

Humpback Whale

During every surfacing, we always hoped that they would bring up their tail and splash it down in the water. We never got any huge splashes, but we did see several tails rise up out of the water.

Humpback Whale Tail

In addition to the tails, we saw one whale who was rolling in the water a little bit, stretching and waving one of its flippers up out of the water.

Humpback Whale

The highlight of the trip for me was probably when we saw a mother cow with her calf. We watched the pair swim together for a few moments before they vanished from sight under the water.

Humpback Cow and Calf

In total, we probably spotted 5-6 whales during our two hour trip, but combined with the excitement of the sightings and the beauty of the mountainous surroundings, it was a wonderful excursion.

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Polygonum Flowers…

July 13th, 2010

I was looking in my emersed setups the other day and noticed that a couple of the Polygonum species I had in there were flowering. The flowers on both of these species are in clusters on the end of a stalk. The flowers themselves are quite small, only a few millimeters across.

Polygonum hydropiperoides

This particular species is a North American native called Polygonum hydropiperoides. It’s a pretty nice plant that can get red underwater, with nice white flowers when blooming.

Polygonum hydropiperoides

Despite being rather small, these flowers are pretty attractive. I especially like the yellow centers. P. hydropiperoides is quite easy to grow and flower in captivity, and I would recommend giving it a try!

Polygonum hydropiperoides

The second plant that was flowering is Polygonum praetermissum, but is often sold in the hobby as Polygonum sp. ‘kawagoeanum’. This one can also get red under high light, and is a very nice highlight plant for aquascapes.

Polygonum sp. 'kawagoeanum'

The leaf shape is very distinctive, looking similar both submerged and emersed. Emersed, roots can sprout at every node, going into the soil as it creeps along somewhat horizontally.

Polygonum sp. 'kawagoeanum'

The P. praetermissum flowers are slightly pink with the flower stalks themselves being a bit more pubescent than the P. hydropiperoides.

Polygonum sp. 'kawagoeanum'

The flowers weren’t quite open yet when I took these pictures, but you can see that they’re still fairly nice looking.

Polygonum sp. 'kawagoeanum'

Both of these plants would make wonderful outdoor pond plants, that would have the potential to reseed themselves and come back after winter. Comments welcome!

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Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

March 5th, 2010

While out in Vancouver, we were able to take a short trip north to Lynn Canyon, a wonderful municipal park known for their suspension bridge.

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

Vancouver is blessed with a warm Pacific stream which makes the weather much more mild than other places around the globe at the same latitude. The Northwest has a number of temperate rain-forests, with Lynn Canyon being a second-growth forest, but still very much influenced by the weather.

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

The first thing you notice is that everything is absolutely covered with several different types of moss. Some trees are 100% covered from the base all the way to the top. It’s pretty incredible!


Besides the moss, ferns are prominent throughout the forest there. We were hiking with a couple of locals from Vancouver, and they said that this was the greenest they’d ever seen the ferns. Of course, it was pouring down rain while we were out walking about. (Our friends told us that if we let the rain stop us from doing things in Vancouver, we’d never see or do anything.)

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

We followed a trail up above the canyon, about 3-4 stories up from the water, for awhile before heading down toward the river.

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

As I mentioned, it was raining pretty hard that day, so the water was very high and very rapid. Large rocks lined the sides of the water, leading to some breaks with sandy and peddle bars near the still areas.

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

Moss even covered the rocks by the river, despite getting more sunlight than under the tree cover. It made for some very pretty scenes, that reminded me of Riccia fluitans stones used in an aquarium.

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

We spent some time exploring the various nooks and crannies along the river, and at times hit sections that were impassable. In several instances, we had to climb 4 flights of stairs up the side of the canyon in order to continue following the water.

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

The folks in Vancouver are really lucky to have such a nice public forest so close to them in North Vancouver. If we had more time, I could have spent several days exploring the trails throughout this park.

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, B.C.

Of course, that’s just reason to come back another time!

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Vancouver Aquarium

February 27th, 2010

I haven’t posted in almost two weeks, as I was vactioning in Vancouver for the Olympics. The Olympic experience was fantastic, but during my trip I also wanted to follow our tradition of visiting the public aquarium of whatever city we traveled to. The Vancouver Aquarium resides in a beautiful area of Vancouver called Stanley Park, which is full of walkways, huge trees, sea walls, and much more. The area around the aquarium is very nicely landscaped, and easy to navigate.

Vancouver Aquarium

One of the first areas that we toured inside the aquarium was a series of biotope aquariums from around British Columbia. They really did a fantastic job showcasing the different habitats throughout the province, providing excellent signage and information plates throughout. As someone who really appreciates native North American habitats and fishes, this may have been my favorite section of the aquarium.

British Columbia Biotope Tanks

One of the natives that I enjoying watching was this sculpin (below). Since sculpin don’t have swim bladders, they lay prone on the ground and dart around. To me, this tends to give them a little bit of personality, and this particular fish seemed to be posing for the camera.


Speaking of swim bladders, we got invited into a classroom area by a couple of interns to watch them dissect a salmon. All the while, they pointed out the various prominent parts of the fish anatomy, including the swim bladder, heart, liver, testes, gills, etc… They also talked about how the aquarium tracks various fishes in the wild using embedded transmitters that they surgically implant into the animal so that they can monitor their life cycles.

Dissected Salmon

Like most aquariums these days, they had a nice jellyfish exhibit, back-lit with the intense blue lighting.


One of the things I was most impressed with throughout the aquarium was the aquascaping ability of the maintainers for these tanks. In some public aquariums, they do a fine job showcasing the inhabitants of the tank, but in Vancouver, it was obvious that they were equally concerned with making the habitat equally as attractive without making it look artificial. A fine example of that is this reef “clownfish” aquarium where they used a combination of macro-algae, rocks, and anemones to really make a nice display tank. Well done!

Nice Reef Scape

Like the aquarium in Baltimore, the Vancouver Aquarium also has nice tropical exhibit which includes a rain forest area. The rain forest had a series of parrots, butterflies, and other animals from the Amazon on display.

Rainforest - Vancouver Aquarium

They had a rather large aquarium showcasing one of my favorite South American beasts, the Arapaima, an air-breathing fish that can survive very low oxygen levels. They can grow to over 400lbs, and are very prehistoric looking creatures. I very much enjoy everytime I’m able to see one.


The Aquarium also has a nice amphibian exhibit, including a whole set of terrariums featuring frogs from around the world. I thought that this particular terrarium was another nice example of putting together an attractive layout, while still showcasing the tiny frogs therein.

Frog Terrarium

It wasn’t just the small colorful frogs that were on display, however. They also included a few others, such as bullfrogs, which are an invasive species in this part of the country, which were originally introduced as a food source. (frog legs)


Outside, there were several much larger pools containing dolphins, whales, turtles, and other large sea creatures. While you could view all of the pools from above, each pool was also available to be viewed underground via a series of rooms that included more information and more views into the tanks. One area that was particularly interesting was an arctic fishes exhibit, showing fish and other animals that thrive in sub-zero waters.

Beluga Whale

Having been to several public aquariums throughout the U.S., I always hope that each new one will offer something different from the rest. The Vancouver Aquarium did that with theor B.C. set of exhibits, and their superior attention to presenting nicely aquascaped aquariums throughout. They also had an equally as impressive 4D theater which featured a short Planet Earth “Shallow Seas” film in 3D with water sprays, seat rumbles, and bubbles in the air during the show. It was a nice value-add to an otherwise exceptional experience. I highly recommend visiting the Vancouver Aquarium.

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Joshua Tree National Park

November 23rd, 2009

During our trip in California we spent a day in Joshua Tree National Park. This wonderful desert park is named after the tree below, which got its named from 19th century Mormon settlers who thought the tree looked like the Biblical character, Joshua, who raised his ends up to the sky in prayer.

Joshua Tree National Park

In addition to the very interesting trees, which are actually in the lily family, the park is home to some absolutely incredible rock formations. As such, we saw quite a few rock climbers trying to conquer the rocks.

Joshua Tree National Park

Inside of the park there is no water or gas stations, so you need to fill up before entering, and carry in anything you would need. Remember that this really is a desert, and the sun was definitely out, even though we were there during some of the cooler months.

Joshua Tree National Park

Just because it’s a desert doesn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty of life. The park is home to several different varieties of wildflowers, and of course, cacti and also succulents were present throughout.

Joshua Tree National Park

In addition, little squirrels and chipmunks were all over the place. You could see some of their holes dug out in the hard sun beaten earth.

Joshua Tree National Park

It’s really amazing that some of the rock formations were naturally formed. Take the one below (which would make a fantastic aquascape btw). How in the world did some of those gigantic boulders just happen to rest atop of the mass of other humongous boulders?

Joshua Tree National Park

Then of course, there were the larger “rock piles” that were just as striking. Again, if we could find an aquatic plant that looks like a Joshua Tree, this would be a great scene to try to replicate in an aquascape.

Joshua Tree National Park

The rock formations weren’t all boulder piles, however, as deeper into the park we came across these more water-shaped formations. We hiked a short distance to see a naturally formed arch, but I thought the rounded rocks were more impressive than the arch.

Joshua Tree National Park

During our hike, we would hear rustling in bushes as we walked by, and every time it was one of these lizards scurrying through. I was perfectly okay with this, however, as I wasn’t necessarily hoping to come across a rattlesnake.

Joshua Tree National Park

Proof that this desert has been traveled for centuries past is visible on several rocks in the form of Petroglyphs, inscribed by prehistoric Native Americans.

Joshua Tree National Park

Once we crossed out of the Mojave Desert, and into the Colorado Desert, the Joshua Tree ceased to grow, and were replaced by acres of these very spiny cacti. The Mojave Desert is slightly wetter than the Colorado Desert, which is why the Joshua Tree is able to survive in that area.

Joshua Tree National Park

Nevertheless, these cacti are still interesting to look at, exhibiting nice yellow flowers, which were also covered in spines.

Joshua Tree National Park

As we were driving the last 10-20 miles out of the park to the south, the sun was setting on our right, and on our left the moon was rising. We stopped the car, and enjoyed this beautiful scene below. All the while, bats starting flying overhead, and we eventually headed out of the park and to our hotel.

Joshua Tree National Park

We have lot of other pictures on Flickr here, if you’re interested…

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Maryland Aquatic Nurseries

April 19th, 2009

On Saturday, me and my friend, Cavan, took a trip up above Baltimore to Maryland Aquatic Nurseries, a wholesaler of aquatic and wetland plants, who also has retail hours on Saturdays. I had been there before, but recently I have become more interested in native plants that may be suitable in the aquarium. After looking through their stocklist online, Cavan and I decided it was worth the drive up their for a local “collecting” trip.


We were lucky to go before the true start of the pond season, as one of their staff members was gracious enough to spend a good 45 minutes helping us find the plants we were after. Sometimes, this even included “weeds” that were growing in the same pots as something else they were selling. Normally, they would just discard these contaminants, so we were happy to take them off their hands.

Rotala rotundifolia flowers

They fit at least a dozen greenhouses, with 4-5 being walkable, and the rest being flooded with water, having pots sitting in them. We started through the walkable greenhouses, searching for plants on their stocklist, as well as, keeping an eye out for a suitable weed. When we ended up in the back flooded greenhouses, Cavan took off his shoes so that he could wade (ankle deep) to see what was growing in there. While the temperature outside was quite comfortable, those flooded greenhouses were like saunas, and were quite uncomfortable to spend too much time in. That didn’t stop gambusia and tadpoles from thriving in them, however (in addition to the plants).

Flooded Greenhouse

It was quite apparent that lilies and lotuses are such popular pond plants, as they fully occupied several of their greenhouses. In addition to pond plants, the nursery also has a number of bog plants, including several different types of pitcher plants.

Pitchers Plants

We ended up coming away with more plants than we could fit into our tanks. Several of the plants we bought in pots, such as Mentha aquatica and Ranunculus flammula, while others were weeds, including Potamegetons and this Gratiola virginiana.

Gratiola virginiana flower

Now the fun part begins. I’ve planted all of plants we got throughout my aquariums, and will evaluate whether or not they’ll grow submersed for long periods of time at our normal aquarium temperatures. After that, we’ll have to assess whether they are desirable for aquascaping. I’d like to encourage everyone to check out their pond centers to think outside of box about what plants should be grown in your aquarium. Chances are, you’ll find something interesting that you’d never otherwise find in the aquarium hobby.

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