As if moving house was not stressful enough…for the owners of well established aquariums it’s even worse! The thought of disturbing and unsettling your lovingly nurtured tank and all of the inhabitants is dreadful…but fear not! There are many ways in which you can make the move smooth for all of your marine inhabitants and even plants and corals.
The most important tip to remember is that you will need to set aside a day to move your aquarium so that you are not overly involved with moving furniture in addition to coping with the upset of dismantling an aquarium. Choose the day before or the day after…but do not try to do it all in one day!
You will need a few things to help you make the move as smooth as possible;
- Fish bags and elastic bands
- Lidded containers for water
- Lidded containers for plants and other décor
- A jug
- Padding such as old quilts or towels
- Insulated fish transport boxes
- Test strips
First things first
Unplug the heater around half an hour before you plan to begin the job of taking everything out of the tank. This gives it some time to cool…if you remove a heater without taking this step it could crack due to the sudden drop in temperature.
Next, begin to remove the plants and other décor. If you simply lift them out, any fish which are hiding within them will swim away as the plant hits the air. Check very carefully for any small creatures which may be stuck or hidden in cracks or crevices. Do not attempt to shake them free but store the whole plant in a bag with tank water. This is far less upsetting for the animal but be sure to seal in air along with the water.
Rocks and other ornamentation can go into plastic buckets or lidded containers but plants need to be kept in bags so that they retain their moisture.
Removing the fish
Before you begin to catch the fish, you should remove a good portion of the water with a siphon. This is easy enough and you should have some sturdy containers with lids in which to transport the precious water. It is precious too…it will mean that when you set everything back up, your fish and plants will suffer less as their environment will remain almost the same as before.
Once most of the water is out of the tank you will find it much easier to catch the fish. Place them in their fish bags…again ensuring that plenty of air is caught up before you seal it with an elastic band. Do not bag fish together as the stress can cause many species to become aggressive.
Tips for catching your fish like a pro
Use slow movements…this is more effective than darting around the tank which alarms fish
Cover the net with your hand as you transfer the fish into it’s bag
Double bag each fish in case of puncture
You should always use an insulated fish box to move fish or they will suffer from the elements
Now it is time to remove heaters, pumps and filters. Your filter should be kept moist as it is full of useful bacteria which will die off if allowed to dry out…the same goes for your substrate; use fish bags if possible.
Now it’s time to go! Secure your boxes with the padding which you have prepared for them and if possible arrange for someone to sit next to them in the back seat of a car. As soon as you get to your destination, it is important to set up immediately. Place the substrate back into the tank and then the preserved water. Once this is done, you can reassemble all of the equipment and turn it back on. Place a few plants and pieces of décor back into the tank…but not all. It is important that you allow things to settle back down before landscaping the tank properly. Keep the majority of plants in their bags for about two days and then reorganise them.
Reintroducing the fish
Add the fish to their tank much the same way as you would with a newly purchased fish. Turn all of the lights off…this is important as it will help to minimize any stress. Float the bags on top of the water for a while, slowly adding a little tank water to the bags now and then.
With the lights still off, allow the fish to return to the water and then leave them well alone. Do not attempt to feed for a day as the bacteria levels in your tank will be off kilter for a while and waste products need to be kept down.
Test your tank regularly for at least a month to ensure that all levels are healthy…and if not, are at least going in the right direction. Do not feed the fish every day during this period but stick to every other day.
The process of moving an aquarium is only stressful if it’s not managed properly. If you plan the move well and ensure that you take extra care of the fish for a month or so after the move, everything should be just fine!
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