How can I MOVE my 20 gallon long?

andrew27
  • #1
Hello,
I have a 20 gal. long fish tank that is fully established, stocked and running beautifully.

I am moving apartments next week. It is about a 10 minute drive between the two. My question is, how in the world can I go about doing this in a way that 1) keeps my fish safe and healthy and 2) keeps the bacteria alive to prevent a mini cycle and severe ammonia/nitrite spikes?

I do not have another tank that I can keep the fish in. So the fish have to go directly back into the tank once I move it. Thanks for the suggestions in advance!
Tank details:
-am,ni = 0
-na = <5
- 2 honey gourami
- 6 celestial pearl danio
- 5 emerald cory cats
- Various nerite snails
- 1 Aquaclear 20
- 1 aquaclear 50
 

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AquaticQueen
  • #2
They way I always did it was wait until I did a water change and emptied about 50% of the water and dumped it out. Then I take some of the remaining water and put as much water as your comfortable putting in a 5 gallon bucket. You might want to put a lid or something on top of it to keep them from jumping out. They WILL try to jump out.
Carry the tank with a buddy to the new spot. Make sure to keep the water that the fish were in to avoid doing too big a water change, and put it back in the tank. You want to be saving at least 40%.
 

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FishGirl115
  • #3
They way I always did it was wait until I did a water change and emptied about 50% of the water and dumped it out. Then I take some of the remaining water and put as much water as your comfortable putting in a 5 gallon bucket. You might want to put a lid or something on top of it to keep them from jumping out. They WILL try to jump out.
Carry the tank with a buddy to the new spot. Make sure to keep the water and put back in the tank that the fish were in to avoid doing too big a water change. You want to be saving at least 40%.
not
thanks! this is helpful. I'll be moving 2 10 gallons in 6 months too. So I'm watching this thread.
 
Gel0city
  • #4
Basically what AquaticQueen said, but to avoid having to cycle your tank all over again, place your filter media in a bucket of your old tank water, so it doesn't dry out... unless you have a sponge filter of course.
 
SM1199
  • #5
Carry the tank with a buddy to the new spot. Make sure to keep the water and put back in the tank that the fish were in to avoid doing too big a water change. You want to be saving at least 40%.
I think you might have misread, OP is moving the tank to a whole new apartment, not just within the same buildling!

I've done it with a 55 gallon over 400 miles with no fish losses, so be confident, you can do it in a 20 gallon for a 10 minute drive! You can either bag the fish and snails or put them in a closable bucket less than half full of aquarium water. Unplug your electronics (filters, heater, etc) and store in a container you don't mind getting wet/won't leak. I like to wrap them in a towel and put inside a box/bucket so they don't get damaged and so the water has somewhere to go. I also like to keep the end of the cords sticking out so they don't get wet. Drain the entire tank. Put everything into your vehicle. Make sure you have a way to transport the stand, too - that'll be the biggest challenge.

When you arrive, set up the stand, put the tank on it, and fill it up with dechlorinated tap water that's as close to your original temp as you can get it. Plug in your heater first and foremost so the water can begin to get near what it should be. In the meantime, set up your filter and turn it on. You will not lose any beneficial bacteria in a tank move that takes less than one day, especially since the media will stay relatively wet even without being dunked in water. Once the water reaches the temperature you need it at, let the fish bags float and start your acclimation (or if they're in a bucket, start your drip acclimation/other mode of acclimation).

Don't stress it! It's really not that hard. For your livestock, it's just like being taken home from the fish store.
 
e_watson09
  • #6
Moving tanks is actually easier than you'd think! I've done a couple cross country moves and helped move multiple big 150g reef tanks (ok, those were a bit of a beast but still).

You do NOT need to save the water. Don't worry about it, beneficial bacteria does not live in the water, it attaches to surfaces like filter media, decorations, gravel. I'd get a 5g bucket and a lid, you can get them from any home improvement store. Take water from the tank to fill the bucket about 1/3-1/2 full. Catch the fish, put them in the bucket. Put the lid on.

Take your filter media out and put it in a big gallon ziplock bag with some water, you don't want it to dry out.

Drain as much water as possible from the tank, don't disturb the gravel too much. Once you get the water down to the gravel pick it up and put it in the car. Put all the electronics in a safe place.

Once you get to the new place set up the tank, put the filter media in, treat the water with WC as normal. Once its set up and at a good temp then float your fish (I transfer them to tupperware containers for this, I just prefer to move them in the bucket because its safer) then release. Easy Peasy
 

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andrew27
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I think you might have misread, OP is moving the tank to a whole new apartment, not just within the same buildling!

I've done it with a 55 gallon over 400 miles with no fish losses, so be confident, you can do it in a 20 gallon for a 10 minute drive! You can either bag the fish and snails or put them in a closable bucket less than half full of aquarium water. Unplug your electronics (filters, heater, etc) and store in a container you don't mind getting wet/won't leak. I like to wrap them in a towel and put inside a box/bucket so they don't get damaged and so the water has somewhere to go. I also like to keep the end of the cords sticking out so they don't get wet. Drain the entire tank. Put everything into your vehicle. Make sure you have a way to transport the stand, too - that'll be the biggest challenge.

When you arrive, set up the stand, put the tank on it, and fill it up with dechlorinated tap water that's as close to your original temp as you can get it. Plug in your heater first and foremost so the water can begin to get near what it should be. In the meantime, set up your filter and turn it on. You will not lose any beneficial bacteria in a tank move that takes less than one day, especially since the media will stay relatively wet even without being dunked in water. Once the water reaches the temperature you need it at, let the fish bags float and start your acclimation (or if they're in a bucket, start your drip acclimation/other mode of acclimation).

Don't stress it! It's really not that hard. For your livestock, it's just like being taken home from the fish store.
This made me feel a whole lot better. Thank you! Should I just leave the layer of gravel at the bottom? Its about 30 lbs of substrate so i dont want to damage the glass or compromise the seals!
 
Debbie1986
  • #8
This made me feel a whole lot better. Thank you! Should I just leave the layer of gravel at the bottom? Its about 30 lbs of substrate so i dont want to damage the glass or compromise the seals!

I would scoop out and place the gravel into buckets. You can get a 5 gallon Libman high power utility bucket at Walmart for around $9.00 it's pretty sturdy black utility bucket with red handled made of fairly thick plastic. I suggest the bucket just because of ease of mobility during the move, less weight to lift 5 pounds carried several times verse full 30 pounds. Just dump the gravel bucket by bucket into a much large tub and then scoop out after setting up tank on it's stand.

Tank should only be moved when completely empty!

good luck with your move.


btw, you save half the water because the PH etc may be different at the new place. less shock. if unsure, just buy some bottled spring water until fish adapt, slowly replacing it with your new tap water that's dechlorinated. I've had a lot of luck using spring water when I've run into water issues.

I moved my 38 long tank this past March. breakdown, placing plants in water, moving fish etc, cleaning and reassemble took 4 hours. Yours is a 20 gallon, so i'd guess around 2.5 hours to 3+ hours. But I cleaned everything including the gravel by soaking it and hosing it. I used beneficial bacteria and my media was basically undisturbed. it went smooth, just be ready for how labor intense it can be! Good luck!
 
SM1199
  • #9
This made me feel a whole lot better. Thank you! Should I just leave the layer of gravel at the bottom? Its about 30 lbs of substrate so i dont want to damage the glass or compromise the seals!
I will respectfully disagree with Debbie1986 about removing the gravel. I'd leave it in. I've never removed substrate while transporting tanks (from a 10 gal to a 55 gal for hours of driving) and I've never had an issue. I lay a thick, folded towel or blanket under the tank so that all of the weight is absorbed and evenly distributed on whatever surface you set it on in your car.

This is the way I think of it. Your tank's bottom pane of glass is designed to withstand the weight of 20 gallons of water (over 160 lbs) and you've got just 30 lbs of substrate sitting on it. You'd have to hit a pothole or bump so hard that the force multiplies more than five times just to reach the average force it normally holds, let alone its breaking point. Now, of course, if these were big uneven rocks, I would say no, because then it puts all that weight on a single point of stress. But it's substrate, so it is relatively evenly distributed.
 
mattgirl
  • #10
You have gotten some very good tips. I agree with keeping at least 40% of the original tank water. I agree that there is no bacteria in the water but it is the water your fish are used to. By keeping 40% of more of it your fish will just feel like they have had a good sized water change.

Just recently a member did everything just right for protecting the cycle but didn't think about keeping some of the original water. Sadly most fish were lost due to the very different water perimeters. The move was farther so a different water company. 10 minutes away may not pose the same problem but I always say, better safe than sorry.
 
SM1199
  • #11
Just recently a member did everything just right for protecting the cycle but didn't think about keeping some of the original water. Sadly most fish were lost due to the very different water perimeters. The move was farther so a different water company. 10 minutes away may not pose the same problem but I always say, better safe than sorry.
I didn't see that post, that's unfortunate! I had no losses when I moved my fish from well water in Maine to city water in PA. I guess I just got lucky. I have always seen it as it'll be fine and it'll be just like acclimating fish from the store or a shipment so long as you have healthy hardy fish and a good acclimation method, but I might need to rethink that.
 
andrew27
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
I truly appreciate everyones tips and suggestions and will for sure take them into consideration!

In a few days time I will be moving so ill have to update you all on how it went!
 
tuggerlake26
  • #13
I just went through this last week, with a new place a few miles away. It was stressful during the move (I moved two tanks) but just stay organized and you'll be fine.

I agree with the feedback above. I kept my filter media in place and in water, put the fish in buckets, and removed the gravel. I had to move the tanks up four flights of stairs and wouldn't trust the seams with it in. I bought six buckets at home depot and was glad I did. Wet heaters, lights, driftwood, etc made it easier to move and cut down on the mess.

I did lose a few fish in my second tank because my heater broke in my second bucket of fish, and the water got below 60 before I noticed. Make sure to keep a better eye on that than I did.
 

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