It does not matter if you have a small or extra-large aquarium; if you are moving, this one object is likely causing you the most stress. It’s not like your moving and storage professionals can just load the tank into the truck and carry it into the new home all set up. This is something you are going to need to invest a little care and time into to make sure your fish make the move safely. You likely already know how temperamental fish are, so one wrong move could have very sad consequences.
Change the Water
To successfully move an aquarium, you are going to need to start two weeks prior. Since you are ultimately going to take about 80 percent of the water to your new home, you want to make sure it as clean as possible for the move. Therefore, you should change about 20 percent of the tank’s water every other day until the move. If you have a fully stocked tank, you probably already are doing this at least once a week, so it will take a little extra effort on your part. By the time moving day comes, the fish should have clean oxygenized water to make the trip in.
First, you are going to need a container for the fish. Insulated plastic picnic coolers work well, or some fish stores have boxes with a Styrofoam liner. Obviously, if you have a larger tank, you are going to need more than one box.
You will also need plastic trash bags. The clear ones are ideal, but make sure they are clean and unscented. The chemicals from scented bags could kill your fish. You will also need some thick rubber bands, containers for water and something to put your sunken ship, treasure chest, skull and other accessories in.
Preparing for the Move
The most important thing to do before a move is stop feeding your fish at least 24 hours prior. Some recommend 48 hours, but this will depend on your fish. You want to be able to keep the water as clean as possible throughout transport, because there will be minimal oxygen in it.
Layer a couple of garbage bags inside one another, place in a cooler, grab a cup and add some water from the tank into a bag until there is more than enough for the fish. Use your net to transfer fish from the tank to the bag. Never place aggressive fish in the same bag because it is a smaller environment. Leave at least 8 inches of space at the top for air. Blow air into the bag, but make sure you are blowing through air into the bag. If you put your mouth in the bag and create a seal, you will blow too much carbon dioxide into it.
Take a rubber band and seal the bag. It should look like a balloon on top. If you have more fish, do this however many times you need so they are all in bags. The cooler will help keep the water temperature regulated, but ideally you will do this close to when you are walking out the door. The sooner you can get them to their new home the better off you will be. You also want to cover the cooler with the lid or put a blanket over top. Fish are less active in the dark, so you want to minimize the light.
Fill the other containers with the rest of the water from the tank until you get down to having about 20 percent left. There is no reason to keep the bottom layer of contaminated water. Clean the tank and accessories as you normally would.
Setting Up the Tank
When you arrive at your new house, the first thing you want to do is set up your tank. As a special note, it is a good idea to fill the tank with pillows or blankets before the movers arrive just to offer a little structural support to the walls.
Pour in the containers of water and add the fish, along with the water they are currently in. Since they were never removed from the old water, they won’t run the risk of shock when being added back to the tank.
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