With proper planning, moving a fish tank does not have to be an impossible task.
Moving can be a stressful process but moving your fish tank doesn't need to add to that stress. With proper planning, moving your fish tank can be relatively hassle-free.
Moving – How to Prepare Your Tank for a Move
Life can be unpredictable at times and there may come a day when you need to pack up and move. When that day comes, you may begin to worry about what to do with your fish tank but there is no need to worry – you can take it with you! Moving your fish tank does require some careful planning but it is not as impossible as you may imagine it to be. As long as you disassemble your tank properly and take care of your fish during the transition period, you should have no trouble successfully moving your tank from one residence to another.
Preparing for the Move
The first step in preparing your tank for a move is to find a temporary tank for your fish. If you have a quarantine tank or a hospital tank already set-up and functioning, you can use it as a temporary tank. If you do not have a quarantine tank, try separating your fish into large plastic tubs. Depending how long the fish are going to be in the tubs, you may need to install an aquarium heater and an air stone or filter in each tub. You should also be sure to put a tight-fitting lid on each tub to keep the fish from jumping out and to keep dust and debris out of the tubs during the move. If you have a friend with a fish tank, you might also ask them to keep your fish for you temporarily during the move.
The next step in preparing to move your tank is to empty it. You do not just want to drain your tank into the sink, however – you should save as much of the tank water as possible so you can use it to refill your tank in the new location. Your fish are already used to the water chemistry in your existing tank so, by filling the new tank with the same water you can make the transition process much simpler. You should also plan to transfer the substrate from your existing tank to the new location, keeping it wet during the move if possible. The beneficial bacteria responsible for maintaining the nitrogen cycle in your tank are most heavily concentrated in the substrate. If you keep those bacteria alive during the move and simply transplant them into the new location, your tank will cycle quickly after the move and you will be able to re-introduce your fish into the tank that much sooner.
Moving the Tank
Once you have emptied the tank of water you should wrap it carefully in blankets so it does not crack or break during the move. Transfer your tank water and substrate to the new location in large plastic buckets. If you have live plants in your tank, simply put them in the buckets of water so they stay submerged during the move. Tank decorations and equipment should be rinsed and packed carefully so they are not damaged during the move. If your aquarium filter has a biological filtration component it is important that you do not let it dry out – simply place it in one of the buckets of water along with your live plants so it stays wet.
After the Move
After you move you should plan to set up the tank as soon as possible so it can begin cycling. If you are simply moving to another residence within the same area, you may want to consider setting up your tank ahead of time in order to minimize the stress of the transition period for your fish. In any case, before you set up the tank you should already know where you are going to put it – when you are looking at houses, be sure to consider where you are going to set up your tank. As soon as possible after you move, get your tank in place and refill it with the substrate and water you brought along.
After using up the tank water you brought along you may still need to use some fresh water. Be sure to treat the water with an aquarium water conditioner to remove harmful toxins like chlorine and try to match the temperature of the water already in the tank. Once the tank is full, replace your decorations then set up and turn on your aquarium equipment. Even if you are using some of the water and substrate from your old tank, you should still give the tank time to cycle in the new location. Test your tank water once or twice a day to check its progress – when the test stops showing a reading for ammonia or nitrite and begins showing a reading for nitrates it is safe to assume the tank has cycled. At this point, you can re-introduce your fish an resume regular tank maintenance.