upgrading 20 gallon to 55 gallon

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by bubblefish, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. bubblefishValued MemberMember


    This is the first post for me. all of the tanks that I have set up over the years has been from scratch using a fishless cycle. This is the first time I will be upgrading a 20 gallon to a 55 gallon and was wondering what I can expect in terms of water perameters during the time it will take for the 55 gallon to get established. My roommate is moving out of town and has given me the tank.

    Currently, the 20 gallon has 6 panda corys and 10 neon tetras. This tank has been running for almost 2 years. Water perameters (API Master): Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5 to 7.5 and PH 6.5. The water perameters have always been pretty stable.

    What can I expect the perameters to look like after I upgrade this tank to a 55 gallon?

    I should add that I have been running the new Emperor 400 filter on my established 55 gallon for the past 3 weeks and will be transferring this and the Penguin that is currently on the 20 gallon to the new 55 gallon. Also, all gravel and decorations as well.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  2. harpua2002

    harpua2002Fishlore VIPMember

    I've done this many times and you shouldn't have any problem at all. The filter you are running on your 20 gallon is clearly sufficient to support the bioload that you already have, and the new Emperor that you're seeding is going to help as well. I wouldn't expect any spikes at all, but if it happens, you'll easily be able to get back on track with an extra water change or 2. Just keep your test kit handy so you'll know for sure. My advice is to start the upgrade when you have several hours free. It probably won't take that long, but allow yourself plenty of time to get it done. Your fish will be fine in buckets while you're moving gravel and decor- it shouldn't take so long that they cool off much. If you are concerned about temperature, you can stick a heater in the bucket.

    Hope this helps! Take a deep breath and relax before you get started- it's really not as difficult as it seems. :)
  3. OP

    bubblefishValued MemberMember

    Thanks so much for your reply. I will be keeping my test kit handy for sure. The 20 gallon is currently in the same room as the new 55 gallon and I have not made any plans this Saturday, which is the upgrade day.

    Wow, I was a bit surprised that there may be a chance that there would be no spikes.

    I want to make sure that I am able to catch problems as early as possible. How often should I test and how long before I can consider this new tank to be established and safe for the fish?

  4. harpua2002

    harpua2002Fishlore VIPMember

    Test daily for a few days to be sure. I really don't think you'll have any problems though. The bacteria that you're moving over will quickly multiply to the point where it supports your bioload (IME the biological filter is not as delicate as some say). You'll probably be ready to add more fish a week or 2 after the upgrade.

    Also, I forgot to welcome you to the site, so WELCOME! :)

  5. btate617

    btate617Well Known MemberMember

    I agree 1000%. You should be fine.

  6. redlessi

    redlessiWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to the Forum!!!! I just upgraded from a 35 gal to a 72 gal and I have not had any problems with water params so far. Its been about 2-3 weeks. Good Luck
  7. OP

    bubblefishValued MemberMember

    That's great and thanks so much to all for your input and welcome.
  8. Regal

    RegalWell Known MemberMember

    I just switched a 20 gallon to a 55 gallon a few weeks ago. I had no problems at all. When I moved my 75 gallon from one room to another I had just the teeniest bit of an ammonia reading but it went away quickly. I think in about a week. Good luck with the move. Your fish will be fine in a bucket.

    It's a lot of work but it'll be worth it!
  9. OP

    bubblefishValued MemberMember

    Great. I have Panda Corys in my established 55 gallon and they just love the swimming room and utilize the entire tank so I want to do the same for the P. corys that are currently in the 20 gallon. I'm now way more comfortable about Saturday's upgrade knowing that the transition for the little guys won't be as hard as I thought it would be.
  10. Regal

    RegalWell Known MemberMember

    I'll just warn you though it's one of those projects that ends up taking longer than expected. Have fun with the new tank!
  11. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Hello BubbleFish and Welcome to Fish Lore. I recently upgraded from a 155g to a 265g with no issues at all (other than swallowing too much tank water). Here is a link to my thread that hopefully you will find interesting and helpful:

    Normally I don't recommend transferring all of the water due to the fact that your good bacteria is not free swimming but attached to all surface areas of your tank. However, I had pH issues to deal with as my tap pH is off the charts.

    Make sure your temperature and pH levels are as close as can be between your 20g and the new 55g.

    Keep all of your filter media and substrate wet! This is where most of your good bacteria is located and you should be fine.

    Best of luck and keep us posted. We love photos and videos!
  12. OP

    bubblefishValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the thread. Very helpful. I did a 25% water change in the 20g last night as I thought this may help to acclimate the fish and will be transferring most of the water in the 20g to the 55g. I think the actual setup of the 55g and transfer should be okay. My biggest worry is really about what will happen after ie. new tank syndrome. From the responses that I have received, it seems that it's likely to be less of a worry than I originally thought. Thanks again to all.
  13. OP

    bubblefishValued MemberMember

    Hi All,

    Well, the move went better than I thought. There we no major problems at all and so far water para. look really good with Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate around 7.5 and PH 6.8.
    When I transferred the fish that my roommate had in his 20 gallon into the bucket, I found a little surprise in the tank. It seems that he had introduced 4 otocats into the 20 gallon at some point. I had never noticed them. they are rounded in the middle and look very healthy. Long story short, everyone was moved into the new 55 gallon and are all loving the swimming room. Thanks to everyone for their help in answering my questions.
  14. harpua2002

    harpua2002Fishlore VIPMember

    Great! I'm glad the tank upgrade went well for you. I'm sure your fish are happier in their new bigger home! :D

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