Using A 2nd Tank When Moving House

Blue Phantom
  • #1
HI everyone.

I've been running a 230L tank successfully for 6 months now, which I started from new. I have about 85 creatures (fish, shrimps, snails, crayfish etc..). Everything has gone really well, and I'm fairly confident overall.

I'm now preparing to move house, and have read a lot of guidance but it always seems to follow the principle of either bagging up the fish for short journeys, or using insulated containers. My new place is only about 500 yards away, so a 1 minute drive. And I might have about 1 week to do the move, so no need to attempt to complete everything in a single day.

At present, my preference would be to use a 2nd working tank, but unsure as I've not read about anyone else doing this. My second tank is fully setup to go with new external filter elements (I've got it as a quarantine/breeding tank, but not had a need for it yet). My plan is to setup the 2nd tank (about half the size) using gravel/water from the existing tank, some of the ornaments and the plants, and let things settle a bit, and give the new external filter elements time to establish the nitrogen cycle. When my test-kit indicates things are ready, I would start transferring the fish one-by-one until they're all in the 2nd tank.

When I'm able to start taking things to the new place, I'll then remove everything from the main tank, putting gravel, damp, into a couple of buckets. I'll save about 50 litres of the original water into a container, in case I need it for bagging etc. I'll discard the rest of the water and clean the main tank. I'll then move the main tank to the new property, get it set in place on its cabinet, tip in the original gravel, and fill with fresh tap water (using dechlorinator, etc..). I'll get the original external filter/heater/air pump going, put some of the original plants, ornaments in leave it to settle.

Again, once my test kit indicates things are OK (could be a few days), I'll then start migrating the fish across. Now here's the bit that differs from what I've read. Instead of bagging everything, I'll just move a couple of fish at a time. I'll carry the bagged fish in a rucksack and simply walk to the new place, and transfer them into the original main tank (again following the usual methods). No car, no drama, just nice and easy.

As far as I can tell, the only risk would be moving all the creatures into a smaller living environment that has original water, but a different filter, for up to 2 weeks. And then moving them back to their original home, but one that's had a complete water change.

Hope this all makes sense, and apologies for the long question.

Please let me know your thoughts. I'm happy to be told my idea is daft and not to do it
Tony M
  • #2
HI Phantom, Welcome to Fishlore.

I think you’ve got it planned out very well. Don’t think you need to hike them over though. Car ride won’t bother them. When I switched from cichlids to community last year. I brought 12 adult mbunas to my LFS in a Tupperware container to trade them in and they did just fine.
Blue Phantom
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Thanks Tony, much appreciated.

I realise I didn't quite give all the reasons why I thought this method might be better, so I'll just add this now to help clarify my thoughts....

Given the fact I have around 85 creatures, I would need something like 25 bags to hold them all temporarily. If I tried to do the whole move all in one day, I'm worried it would take a long time to catch and bag everything, and then transfer them back into the tank once moved. There's a limit to how long you're supposed to leave fish bagged up, and if I got to the point where everything was bagged and I ran into problems during the move of the tank, I could get quite stuck as I'd no longer have an established tank to put everything in.

I'd also not need to find a way of transporting 200 litres of water.
  • #4
I like your plan . I don't think it should take as long as you think. Ditch old tank water when the original tank is without fish. Transport fish in water from the tank they are in.
Good luck
  • #5
I guess one concern that I have is... is the filter on the bigger tank at your new place robust enough to take the bio load that all the transfered fish will put on it. In other words, if it's a new filter that is newly cycled does it have enough beneficial bacteria to support all the ammonia you will be adding to the tank with the fish transfer?
  • #6
I'm not sure exactly what you mean when you're talking about your filter elements, but it sounds in general like you have the right idea and you're willing to do the work to make a smooth transition. I had to chuckle when I read the comment that it won't take as long as you think. That would be nice, but in my experience you should figure out how long you think it will take and double it.

To the extent you can move your cycle into a temporary holding tank for your fish, moving your filter media along with your fish is your best bet. However, there are significant bacteria colonies on surfaces other than your filter media. Your filter media just has the highest concentration. If you move the population into a second tank, whether it's all at once or a few at a time, your key to success is going to be daily testing and doing partial water changes to control the toxin levels. I'll bet your second tank goes into a minI cycle situation, where there's some ammonia spike, but not a complete crash of the cycle. Do water changes to keep ammonia at 1 ppm or below and your fish will be fine. Once the new tank is set up, move the filter media along with the fish, and do the testing/water change regimen to monitor and control the toxins.

I would strongly recommend against using any kind of bottled bacteria in this situation (well, to be honest I always recommend not using bottled bacteria). It will send your water readings wacky and you won't be able to tell what's happening with your cycle. You won't be able to control it with water changes. Also, the bottled bacteria can boost an ammonia spike because it has elements to feed the cycle. In my opinion monitoring with testing and controlling with water changes will produce the safest, most stable transition for your high population of fish.

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