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  1. #1

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    Default [How To]: Moving your fish and tank


    3 Not allowed!
    So I'm doing some redecorating around the house which necessitates me moving my tank for a short while, and I know that this query comes up from time to time, so I thought I would document and detail the steps.

    The Break Down

    Step one: Gather your materials



    Different types of moves (cross country vs cross the room) may require some variations, but here's a list of items you will need.
    • Temporary Holding Container - If this is a long trip type of move then you may want bags and a foam cooler. For my short distance move, I used a 15 gallon heavy duty plastic tote.
    • Siphon
    • Buckets and other containers
    • The final place to move your tank to. - A friend of mine built this stand using online DIY stand plans. Materials cost was about $50
    • Nets
    • Air bubbler (optional) - If you are going for a longer move, this is a great option to help keep the water oxygenated, but fish get shipped every day without one, so it really is optional.


    Steps Two: Do these in any particular order or you can multitask them if your set up allows.

    • Drain your tank 1/2 way down using your siphon. This is just like your routine water change process at this point.
    • Fill your temporary holding containers with dechlorinated water that is about the same temp as your current tank water. Be sure to leave enough room at the top for air! If you want to add an air bubbler, then go ahead and add it now.


    Step Three:

    Remove your hardscape items. Rocks, Fake Plants, Decorations, Driftwood, etc. Be sure to check them carefully for any stowaway critters and pack them in one of your buckets/containers you've set aside for this. Unplug and remove your heater. Remove the intake and output hoses of your filter. This should leave you with gravel and living critters in your tank.

    Step Four:

    Time to collect your critters! Depending on the size of your net, the size of your tank, and the size of your fish, you may want to drain more water from the tank at this point to help with the catching. I tend to have pretty good luck using a two net catching method where one net is more of a corral, and the second tank is used more to herd the fish along. DO have a plan of action that takes into account that your stressed and excited fish will want to exit the temporary holding container if possible. This can be as simple as having a lid, or bags that you can tie off. DO remember to take your snails out of the gravel if you want to keep them. This is also the time to remove your plants. I tend to leave mine as much as I can until after I get the fish out because taking out the plants does disturb the mulm in the substrate.

    Step Five:

    Finish draining the tank, get as much water as possible out. You may need to bail out the last little bit. Double check as you do that you got all the fish and snails out!

    Step Six:

    In a super small tank, you can skip this one, but its always a good idea, and may be required in a large tank: Scoop out your substrate.

    Now if this is a long move... pack it all up and drive away. Be sure to keep your fish at a reasonable temp (don't leave them in hot/cold vehicles overnight) Keep your filter media wet to help preserve the BB. For a short across the house move, you can leave it in the filter, for a longer move, you may want to sort it into bags or buckets.

    The Rebuild


    Step One:

    Be sure the stand or other place you want to put your tank is level. Be sure that all sides of the frame are supported. Get your tank "in place" Take a moment to do any tank housekeeping while you have it empty.

    Step Two:

    The pretties! Start with substrate, then add your hard scape items. Find where you want to place your input and output of your filter and your heater. (Don't plug the heater in or turn the filter on just yet though!)

    Step Three:

    Start filling slowly (use your siphon if you have the python kind) and get your plants where you want them if you had/are adding live plants.

    Step Four:

    Continue filling up past the intake of the filter until it is safe to turn on and ensure your filter is working properly. This will also help with the cloudiness from filling and substrate settling.



    Step Five:

    Time for fish! If this was a long period in the holding tank, you may want to temperature acclimate them like you would from the pet store if there is potential for significant temperature change from the holding water to the tank water.

    Step Six:

    The finishing bits... your lights, a canopy if you have one, and just wait for the water to settle and clear.



    Here's the tank about an hour later... starting to clear and fish are settling back in. I should mention that I'm going to have to do this again after the countertop is in and the painting done back where the tank was, so my substrate is minimal and my decor is kind of willy-nilly. (I picked this one cause the big ole' SAE rarely turns up for photo ops)


  2. #2

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    That is a good write up plus a lot of work for a tempory move. I still haven't figured how to move my Pleco yet? It would sure stress him out if I did.

  3. #3

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Well one of them was very co-operative on the first part. He was hanging out inside his log, so it was a pick up and move the whole kit. The other I moved via net. But between those, the angelfish and my big SAE, I need to buy a bigger net for next time.

    Otherwise... big but inexpensive net (you can cut the net if they get stuck) OR I know some people that catch by hand.

  4. #4

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    I have a big net but would need even a bigger one to catch him. I guess I could grab him by hand if it was needed and probley better than a net. Now the second time may be a different story?

  5. #5

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    Default


    1 Not allowed!
    Well they do make pond fish nets and even fish catching nets, so there is a much larger range of size than most people think.

    As for handling, use a temp holding container you can fit into the top of the tank they are going to. Then towards the end of filling, you can put the whole container into the tank to transfer it to its new home.

  6. #6

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Great write up Trill! Thanks! :)
    Increasing your biodiversity increases your stability.

    You know what this tank needs? ........................ Crypts.

  7. #7

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Very nice to have this detailed. For some people like me, it's intimidating to have to move fish around.

    I went through an upgrade several months ago where the new tank was going in the same spot as the old one, so I had to do a complete breakdown and then setup. I bought a 20 long tank at one of the sales for the transfer so I could keep my filter and heater going on the temp tank and the move went better than I thought it would. But I did research for information like yours before I attempted the move. I like the way you've detailed each step.

  8. #8

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    Default


    3 Not allowed!
    Great write-up trill !!!

    I do move tank moves a little different as I will use the old tank water in the containers to temporarily hold the fish. It just makes things a little easier for me as I don't have to worry about matching the temp of the water in the containers to the water in the tank. And I always end up replacing about 80% of the water (if not more) with water in the tank once moved. I will then acclimate the fish to the new tank water

    Quote Originally Posted by Plecos View Post
    That is a good write up plus a lot of work for a tempory move. I still haven't figured how to move my Pleco yet? It would sure stress him out if I did.
    Nets do not work the best for most plecos once they get larger. What I have done in the past to move a full grown bristle nose pleco is to wait and move him last. I took everything out of the tank first. I then placed a 2 gallon pale in the tank (the one I use for tank & filter maintenance). I then just used the lid to cash him into the pale and placed the lid on it while still in the tank. I have used this method a few times now and it has worked great each and every time.
    Last edited by Cliff; 10-01-2014 at 12:41 PM.
    If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
    "Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
    Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info [URL="http://saltwater.aquaticcommunity.com/"]

  9. #9

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Great "how-to" I have done this more times than I thought I would in the past 5 years. I also like to use the tank water for the fish and plants and decor, and if you are storing your fish for longer periods (even a day is long when your in a see-through storage container!) I like to try and get the opaque or black ones and then put some of the plants back with the fish. Matter of fact I currently have 3 storage containers in my living room with the contents of my 55 gallon aquarium; one container with 80% of the plants, 60% of the driftwood and my 3 plecos and 4 bamboo shrimp. Another storage container with my 7 corys, the 3 tetras and the remainder of my driftwood and plants (as well as my ceramic cave). Finally a third container with all of the substrate from the tank and one snail trap for the pesky MTS. I set up my canister filters to each container (currently have 3 canisters) and feed them every third day (my shrimp nightly) and do a 25% water change every other night.

    I am hoping to have them back home this weekend

  10. #10

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff View Post
    Great write-up trill !!!

    I do move tank moves a little different as I will use the old tank water in the containers to temporarily hold the fish. It just makes things a little easier for me as I don't have to worry about matching the temp of the water in the containers to the water in the tank. And I always end up replacing about 80% of the water (if not more) with water in the tank once moved. I will then acclimate the fish to the new tank water



    Nets do not work the best for most plecos once they get larger. What I have done in the past to move a full grown bristle nose pleco is to wait and move him last. I took everything out of the tank first. I then placed a 2 gallon pale in the tank (the one I use for tank & filter maintenance). I then just used the lid to cash him into the pale and placed the lid on it while still in the tank. I have used this method a few times now and it has worked great each and every time.
    Well I bought this big pond net before I read what you wrote. But now I have a big one that can catch fish with or at least move them in the tank twords a bucket.

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