Moving Tanks Blog

Shaina

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There seems to be a lot of questions about moving fish and tanks, so I am going to attempt to do a picture blog of moving my fish two states over on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week (I promise the rest of the pics will be better quality than these initial ones).

Here are the "before" pictures and info:

10 Gallon Tank
Animals: 4 Ghost Shrimp, 2 Oto, 1 Betta
Plants: Java Moss
Substrate: Gravel
Filter: 1 sponge and 1 Aquaclear 20
242.jpg

I just moved the 10 gal to the kitchen yesterday (the dresser it was on will be moved before the tank is), and Hollywood likes it much better than the bedroom...more action. I'm going to try to put him in a busier part of the house this time around.

29 Gallon Tank
Animals: 3 Bolivian Rams, 4 Otos, several Ghost Shrimp (initially 4, but there are more now...not sure how many), 8 Neon Tetra, and 1 true SAE
Plants: Java Moss, Anubias Coffeefolia and Nana, Echinodorus amazonicus and tenellus, Vallisneria Spiralis and Americana Gigantae, Sagittaria Subulata, Pennywort, Bacopa Monnieri, Cobomba Caroliniana, and Water Wisteria
Substrate: Eco-Complete
Filter: 1 Aquaclear 50 and 1 Aquaclear 20
243.jpg


Wish me luck...hopefully all these are alive, well, and in one piece at the end of the week!
 
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Shaina

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Well, we made it and everyone's alive. Pics and such will be up later...busy doing water changes right now as I have just a touch of ammonia in both tanks. Colors are still a bit dull, but much better than they were last night, and everyone appears to be responding to surrounding and active.
 
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Shaina

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Wow...I realized just now that I never actually finished this thread...oops! Had all the pictures loaded on to photobucket and everything, then forgot in the craziness that follows a big move and starting a new job.

Time to remedy that



It was 6 hours from point A to point B. I had to fit 2 dogs and all my aquarium accessories, along with my overnight bag, sleeping bag, and a pillow, into my car for the trip. I had to load everything myself. I was pretty sure, based on what my tape measure told me, that the 29 would fit into my trunk, so all of my fish stuff was going to ride back there to avoid the sun and hopefully maintain better temperature control while leaving room for the dogs in the back seat of the car.

One major advantage that I had was that when touring the new place a month before, I had filled up my water bottle at the tap and tested the water when I got home, so I knew what to expect. Namely, a pH drop from 8.0 to 7.2 and reduced hardness as well (don't remember the hardness numbers). While my fish are SA and a Betta and this would ultimately be in their favor, it was still going to be a huge change. On the other hand, I did not have the means or space to transport water as well, so I was just going to have to do the best I could.

Supplies:
- 2 Coolers
- A lot of 1/2 gal ziploc bags...the type with the crimped bottoms so they are less likely to tip over and tend to provide more horizontal space.
- Garbage bags for the driftwood
- Lots of plastic bags suitable for plants
- Paper towels for cleanup and for keeping plants moist
- Container to hold water-filled bags awaiting fish
- Several fish tank buckets
- Water siphon
- Prime
- Fish nets
- Python No Spill Clean & Fill (optional)

121.jpg


The 29 gal stand had already been moved to Point B...the tank had been moved to a board directly on the floor a few days prior during a major waterchange to allow it to stay behind with me.

6:30 a.m.

First I drained the top 6" or so of water into my ziploc bags and added a small amount of Prime to each bag to prevent ammonia issues. While the trip itself was only 6 hours, with dismantling and setup I was expecting the fish to spend a good 12 hours in those bags, and decided to play it safe.

122.jpg


Netted all the fish I could get to easily. Each Bolivian Ram, the Betta, and the SAE had an individual bag. The other bags: 2 bags with 4 Neon Tetras each, 1 bag with 6 Ghost Shrimp, 1 bag with the 3 29gal Otos (I thought there were four but apparently one vanished during the previous month or so...they are hard to keep track of in a planted tank) and another with the 2 10gal Otos. I didn't bother bagging any snails (I do actually like the MTS variety)...those things would find their own way, I was sure.

Removed the filter media and bagged each set separately in used tank water to preserve beneficial bacteria colonies. Placed bags in cooler:
123.jpg


Removed the Anubias from the driftwood (because of the way I was transporting the driftwood, they would likely have been seriously injured/crushed), wrapped them in tank-water-soaked paper towels, and bagged them:
124.jpg

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(don't worry, the nana really was in this bag, even though the first pic is a coffeefolia )

Removed the driftwood with Java Moss still attached and triple-bagged it in clean garage bags:
126.jpg


Netted and bagged remaining fish. Placed all fish bags in the coolers.

Uprooted and bagged all remaining plants according to species in the same manner as the Anubias. Placed plant bags on the fish bags and closed the coolers.

Drained remaining tank water. Prevented dogs from drinking said tank water by discarding it. Placed remaining tank equipment in buckets (heaters, thermometers, etc.) or boxes (lights, lids, power strips).

Scooped each tank's substrate into its own bucket and covered to keep moist. Residual substrate was left in the bottom of each tank...not even enough to cover the glass. Wanted to do everything I could to prevent strain on the aquariums while preserving beneficial bacteria colonies in the substrate.

Wrapped bubble wrap around both tanks since I had it handy and taped it in place.

Carried the 29 gal down the 2 flights of stairs and to my car...breathed a sign of relief when it fit in the trunk, and was even able to fit the board it was on upstairs under it in the trunk so that the tank was on a flat, even surface. Continued to load all the other fish stuff.

Loaded everything else, the dogs, and myself.

9:00 a.m.

Left Point A

3:00 p.m.

Arrived at Point B

Enlisted hubby to help unload car after moving 29gal tank stand to desired location. Replaced the substrate in both aquariums. Unable to find my Prime back, I used the dechlorinator from my pre-move LFS which is effective for that purpose and protects slime coat, but does not detox ammonia. Used a plastic lid to reduce substrate disturbance while filling both tanks with the Python.

Went to install heaters only to realize that the plug I had planned on using near the 29gal was not grounded. Feeling like an idiot, I drained tank and renlisted poor hubby again to help me move tank and stand to a new location. Refilled tank using same method as before. Installed heaters, filters, thermocouple, etc.

When the temperature was confirmed safe, the driftwood and plants were placed in the tank. Once the water cleared sufficiently, the filters and heaters were turned on.

7:00 p.m.

Put the fish bags into their respective tanks to float and equilibrate, temperature-wise.

Once the temperatures were stable, added small amount of tank water (~1/8 cup) every 10-15 minutes or so (was unpacking other stuff during this time). When bags were full, dumped out half their water and continued the additions as before.

127.jpg


11:00 p.m.

Once I was satisfied that no one was going into shock due to the new water parameters, the fish were released into their tanks.

11:30 p.m.

After making sure my water test kit had been unearthed, I collapsed and slept like a baby.


Aftermath

The next morning I had a trace amount of ammonia in both tanks and performed immediate water changes. That evening I retested...ammonia was just barely registering, so I performed more water changes. The second morning there was no ammonia, no nitrite...just ~10 ppm nitrate which I found acceptable. While getting groceries I happened by a LFS and picked up some Prime. For the next week I did ~25% daily water changes on both tanks, adding Prime each time.

The only casualty I have sustained in the 5 months since moving is a single ghost shrimp. Everyone else has been counted and accounted for. Not sure why I lost the ghost shrimp, except that it was an adult when I got it nearly a year ago, so it may have simply died of old age...the others are still thriving so I doubt it was contamination.



So there it is...moving two small/medium-sized freshwater tanks, one fully and the other partially planted, from Ohio to Illinois. I'll try to get 'now' pics posted later tonight (hopefully it doesn't take my another 5 months to pull that off).

p.s. The snails most definitely found their way



ETA:

Things I would change for next time (oh yes, there will likely be a next time...):
  • Have another rubbermade type container for the driftwood so they Anubias can stay attached
  • Make sure that the location has the proper power supply readily available (as well as access to water, etc., depending on your needs)
  • Make sure that more than one fish net is left unpacked...catching fish with one net among plants and driftwood is difficult and unnecessarily stressful for the fish compared to the simplicity of two nets.

Special Notes:
  • I made sure all my fish were healthy and well-fed prior to the move, then gave them no food for 48 hours prior to bagging to reduce waste in the water.
  • Before moving I sold off any stock that either wasn't doing as well as I hoped or that I wasn't very attached to, namely 3 albino cories (didn't like them) and a gold blush superveil Angelfish (wasn't thriving...too passive to compete with the Rams)
  • Because the house temperature was 80 when I arrived (July + a/c on low due to all the in&out activity associated with moving) I placed the fish bags in the rubbermade and opened the ziplocs to allow for air exchange. Probably not really necessary considering the time line. Would not do this if the room temp is different than what the water should be or large amounts of evaporation would take place (in addition to reducing water level, evap would cool the water)
  • Had two battery-powered air pumps, line, and airstones with me in case of emergency.

I can't think of anything else...feel free to add advice, criticisms, or whatever. The idea is just to give people an idea of how to approach such an undertaking.
 

Lucy

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That was a really well detailed account of how to move a tank.
I'm sure it will come in handy for a lot of people.
Thanks for taking the time to post this.
 

pinkfloydpuffer

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Wow, thanks for posting this!
I'll have to move my tanks eventually (I'm a single 19 yr old living at home right now, lol), so this will definitely come in handy!
 

Red1313

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Wow, nice job! I'm going to be keep thread in mind, (6 tanks, rented house that I'm moving out of in 4 months likely.
 
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Shaina

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You're welcome guys...good luck in moving your fish if/when you need to

As much as I hope this helps people, I hope even more that nobody needs to move their fish at all, lol. It's doable, but it's a pain.
 

GouramiGirl1221

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Thanks Shaina! Like PFP said, I'm a 19 year old college student, and when I go to pharmacy school I'm going to be moving my tanks (much larger than yours, but a much shorter distance as well I hope). I move fish between dorm and home tanks for breaks, but I haven't had to move a whole setup yet, so this really gave me a good idea of what I need to be prepared for.
 
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Shaina

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Well looks like I'm moving again in just over a month.

The upsides: 20 miles instead of 300+ miles, and I don't have to do the whole thing in one day. I also downsized from a 90g, 2x 29gs, 3x 10gs down to the 90g and 1x 29g a few months ago when my puppy came home and have only added the 10g with my baby shellies since then, so it's not as bad as it could be.

The downsides: The 90 gallon RR tank with solid wood stand and canopy currently residing down a steep and narrow set of stairs. Last time I moved I just had the planted 29g and the betta's 10g. Also, the pictus are about 6" now and their barbs and speed make them a devil to catch safely. I did it when they were about 4.5" to replace the tank's substrate and am not looking forward to doing so again.

I am planning to redo my sump system and durso overflow at the same time, having everything ready to go ahead of time. It's going to be a busy few months or so, especially with packing up everything else, the dogs trialing, travelling for work, etc.

This is going to fun
 

Red1313

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hehe I hear you on the moving thing. I'm moving from a 3rd floor apartment to a basement suite across town. I just moved into my current place this time last year... :S
 

inari

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Well I don't know how much this will help you guys, but in my experience if you have a smaller tank 10 gallons or lower what I've done is just drain off about 50% and throw it out, then drain about 25% of the total (so half the remaining) water into a bucket of some sort for transportation. (I did this in order to reduce the chance of mini or full cycling with fish) When I got to my new location (usually across campus) I treated and added the 50% missing water tested the water for ammonia, pH, nitrate, nitrite, etc over the next week if it was stable you're golden....these are fully planted tanks, I left the fish in there, fed them before and didn't feed them until about mid day the following day. Now this was to move them at MAX two hrs, if you need more than this you might want to follow the original posters directions. Best of luck,

~Inari

Also just out of curiousity, what did you do about the gravel? Did you keep it in a bag with the fish or some aquarium water? Just wonderin.
 

FLGirl

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Thanks for writing & posting this. The pictures are awesome too. I will too be moving at some point but I mostly was directed to this because someone is giving me 2 smaller tanks with fish and I was looking into how to transfer them properly to my home. Thanks again!


P.S. I hope you next move goes smoothly, thats a large tank to move but It looks like you will do a great job!!
 
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Shaina

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Also just out of curiousity, what did you do about the gravel? Did you keep it in a bag with the fish or some aquarium water? Just wonderin.
Clean buckets with lids. 5 gallon buckets work great since they are sturdy inexpensive, and lids can easily be found for them, but beware the potential for extreme weight...only fill as much as you can lift!

Thanks for writing & posting this. The pictures are awesome too. I will too be moving at some point but I mostly was directed to this because someone is giving me 2 smaller tanks with fish and I was looking into how to transfer them properly to my home. Thanks again!


P.S. I hope you next move goes smoothly, thats a large tank to move but It looks like you will do a great job!!
You're welcome, I'm glad it helped!



The move to the new place was done essentially the same as the above, with a few major deviations:

While the smaller tanks were easily done, I decided to treat the 90g a bit differently due to the size of the tank, the shorter move (30-40 minutes) and having a moving crew to help with a SINGLE trip, I elected to set things up so the moving crew could (under supervision) move the incredibly heavy stand, tank, and the lighter-but-still-bulky canopy.

To this end I purchased and cleaned two new 26g Rubbermaids with lids. I moved the driftwood and sufficient gravel to cover the bottom to the two Rubbermaids, filled with half tank water and half new water, and set up filters with media from my DIY baffled sump for each container. My 90g is heated by two heaters so I split those as well, one/container. At that point I could empty the 90g, put the gravel and rocks in 5g buckets, and it was ready for the movers the net day. This also removed the stress of trying to accomplish such a large project in one day.

At the new place we put the tank back on the stand and, honestly, let everything remain as it was for about 48 hours as we dealt with the chaos of getting the new garage fixed up to act as a holding area for most of our belongings as we painted and transitioned into the new place. I wanted to get the area around the tank's final location painted prior to setting everything up (for obvious reasons). In the meantime, I had also redesigned the 90g's DIY filter system for easier maintenance, so I put that in place with the exception of the media.

Once the tank was filled, I put in the hardscape from the 5g buckets and ran the whole system with carbon for another 24 hours. After removing the carbon, I returned to the old place and removed the driftwood from the Rubbermaids (didn't want fish injured by being sloshed against it) and drained the containers down to about 1/4 full. Since the new house was tied into a different water municipality, I was able to easily transition the fish by placing the Rubbermaids next to the 90g and employing a drip system directly into the smaller containers while the doing the final arrangement of the hardscape and placing filter media from the former sump into the new one.

Finally I drained the Rubbermaids again and used smooth plastic containers to catch the fish and place them into the new tank without needing to remove them from water. Everyone survived the trip, even my precious Royal Panaque, in all his prehistoric-looking glory.

And I hope to never ever move such a large tank again. But I'm not holding my breath lol.
 
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