Whether you’re attempting to move a fish tank on your own or having a professional moving company help, you should know going in that this process has a lot of detailed steps. Naturally, many of these details are going to shift according to your fish and aquarium type, but what follows are the general guidelines for securely moving a fish tank.
Best Moving Tips: Everything You Need to Know about How to Move Fish Tanks Safely
The Proper Steps for Moving Fish Tanks
1. Do the prep work before moving a fish tank.
Don’t just start to drain your aquarium without the proper forethought. Planning is essential in this process.
Make sure you have the following before you start anything:
- Several large buckets (roughly five-gallon buckets).
- Fish net.
- Siphon hose.
- Sturdy cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and packing paper.
Also, scout out a favorable place for the fish tank in the new home. This will ensure there is a proper place, and it means you can set up that fish tank and allow for acclimation right away.
2. Siphon some water from the fish tank into your prepared buckets.
It’s best to fill them about two-thirds full. Overfilling can lead to spilling during transport.
3. Catch the fish carefully.
With your net, carefully catch each fish in the tank and place it in the bucket. Use common sense regarding whether there are too many fish in one bucket. If you own a lot of fish, you very well might need multiple buckets. Check behind any decorative features in the tank. You don’t want to accidentally miss a fish!
Secure the lids on the buckets, poking small holes to ensure the flow of fresh air. (This is especially important if the fish will be in the bucket for a long time.)
4. Remove everything else in the fish tank.
This includes rocks, castles, ferns, pumps, hoses, lights, filters, and so on. Dry them, wrap them carefully (depending on fragility), and pack them in the best moving boxes for the job.
Anything like sand or gravel can be dumped in a spare bucket to be put back in the aquarium later.
5. Drain any remaining water from the fish tank.
Fish tanks tend to be fragile, so you want all the water gone before attempting a move.
6. Prepare the aquarium for transport.
This is one of the most important steps, and it needs to be done carefully to prevent breakage.
- Wrap the entire tank in bubble wrap.
- Tape that secure.
- Wrap the entire tank in a moving blanket or furniture pad.
- Place the tank in the moving truck—on as flat of a surface as you can find.
7. Unload the fish tank and set it up.
You always want to minimize how long your fish are out of their natural environment, so unload that fish tank off the truck first. Put it up in its new location at the new house, making sure the area is sturdy and conducive to healthy fish (the right amount of sunlight and so on).
Put the sand, gravel, decorative features, pumps, and anything else you removed back in the tank.
Fill the tank with the water reserved in your five-gallon buckets.
8. Reintroduce the fish.
Catch each fish (in the bucket) and place it back in the tank. Place the remaining water from the buckets into the tank, and, if necessary, fill the tank to full with dechlorinated tap water.
9. Don’t turn that heater on yet!
Wait several hours before turning any heaters on. The water temperature should equalize to room temperature before turning on the heater.
10. Check on your fish periodically after moving an aquarium.
Keep a watchful eye on your fish regularly after the move. If you notice any odd behavior, consult a local fish expert or knowledgeable pet store employee to find a solution.
Special Moving Considerations for Freshwater Fish
Freshwater fish are particularly sensitive to environmental changes and can even fail to thrive or eat after a stressful move. This should play into your decision-making process for whether you actually want to move that particular fish tank or not.
Because you can minimize the impact on your fish by minimizing how long they are displaced, always make sure to make your fish tank the last thing you move out of the old house and the first thing you set up at the new home.
Especially if you have to undertake a long distance move and are concerned your fish simply won’t survive the disruption, you have a few last-ditch options:
- Give the fish away to a friend.
- After working out an agreement with the new homeowner, leave the fish and aquarium behind.
Feeling Overwhelmed by How to Move a Fish Tank? Consider Professional Moving Companies
Especially if your fish tank system is quite large or elaborate, you might want to consider hiring professional movers for this job. Moving aquariums entails a lot of steps, and missing one could put your fish in jeopardy. Just as you’d trust movers to do specialty work such as moving a grandfather clock, you also want professionals handling your aquarium if you don’t feel equipped.
If you do go the way of moving companies, make sure to go with experienced movers who’ve done this kind of work before. The last thing you want is a company working by trial and error when moving an aquarium that’s meant for your precious pets.