Moving house with a 20 gallon tank


New Member
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Hi Everyone!

I have a 20 gallon tank set up with a bristlenose and 6 rosy tetras. I will be moving in the next couple of months it won't be far but I'm wondering how much of the tank water I'll need to take with me so that the fish are safe and I don't need to cycle the tank again? I have moved everything previously and just put the fish in two separate transporting bags and took 50% of the tank water in buckets but moving the water was a lot of work. How much tank water is actually necessary to take with me for my next move?

Thank you for your help!


Well Known
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5 to 10 years
It’s more about your filter media and substrate rather than tank water. If you can keep your filter media wet and the substrate, you should be just fine even if you replace 90% of your tank water. Just make sure to treat the new water with a conditioner. A method I used once before that worked well (to transport an Oscar) was a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. I was able to put a few gallons in and his splashing was negated by the lid. I drilled some holes in the lid as well


Active Member
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East coast Australia
4 years
Hi Onlinefish.
Let me say first bacteria live on all hard surfaces not in the water.
Only a very small amount of bacteria is ever in the water at any one time.
To answer your question.
You will need to keep the filterS gravel ornaments and rocks wet to keep the bacteria alive .Even the heater and plastic wires have bacteria living on them .
Do not clean anything. All that slime and bio film on everything is part of the bacteria.
In a weeks time you can start cleaning 1/3 of the gravel each week again.

You can put the fish in a plastic bag with 3/4 air and 1/4 water.

If you are not moving far and have water from the same Water supply company the parameters will be the same. If the water is from a different supply company you will have to acclimate the fish like bringing them home from a shop.

Having said you really don’t need much water. If you can take 5 gallons the fish can go straight in and will be at home as soon as you get the temperature back to what they are used to.
Adding 5 gallons of fresh temperature matched conditioned water is just like a weekly water change. Waiting 2 or more hours before adding another 10 gallons is just like a second 50% water change on the same day.
The way you ask the question it seems you have been getting advice from the old school people that talk of “ good water”. 40 years ago nobody knew of the nitrogen cycle and good water was kept as if all the bacteria were in the water.
Now it is understood by those that want to know that bacteria live on hard surfaces.
Sadly there are people that don’t want to know or change what works for them.

A polystyrene box might be of help transport the fish in the dark . A hot water bottle can be used if you are going 4 or more hours? And it’s a cold climate.

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