Helpful Tips for Moving an Aquarium

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Packing up and moving an aquarium when relocating to a new home is not a simple task. Transporting your fish tank is much different from packing your belongings into cardboard boxes and loading them into a van. Since you are dealing with live fish and other types of aquatic creatures that you have become attached to as pets, care must be taken to help protect the tank on moving day. Here are some helpful tips and pointers on how to successfully prepare and pack your aquarium residents for transport.

Gather Necessary Supplies to Safely Transport Your Fish

Aquarium enthusiasts that are used to maintaining a tank are probably familiar with most of the supplies required to keep their fish happy and healthy. There are some items you may not necessarily have on hand as they are generally only needed when moving an aquarium to a new home. Make sure that your supplies are clean and free from chemicals or other residues that could potentially harm your fish.

Products you will need to pick up at your local pet supply store include polyethylene bags that are specially made to temporarily hold and transport fish. You will also need to get polystyrene containers or similar types of plastic containers to hold your bags of fish on moving day. The containers will help to insulate your fish from extreme temperatures and also serve to reduce stress.

If your move is a relatively long distance one that will take several hours, consider getting a battery-operated air pump. For this option, you will keep your fish within a clean bucket or plastic container along with an air pump that will keep the water oxygenated so your fish can breathe during transportation. Regardless of which option you choose, keep your fish with you in your climate-controlled vehicle during the trip on moving day. These pet products and other aquarium supplies are readily available at retail stores such as PetSmart and Walmart.

Preparation Checklist of Things to Do Prior to Moving Day

As you get organized and prepare for moving day, you will need to remove your fish from the tank and thoroughly clean it. If you have live plants and decorations that you want to bring with you, you can place them in separate polyethylene bags and move them along with the fish. Since breaking down the tank will likely stir up waste that has accumulated at the bottom of the aquarium, it is suggested that you do not keep the gravel and put in a fresh batch when you set up the tank in your new home. Follow this checklist to help you get prepared for moving your fish to a new home:

  • Your fish should not be fed just prior to moving day as it introduces waste into the water within their holding bags. The suggested waiting period is between 24 to 48 hours so make sure you do not place any fish food in the tank during this time.
  • Reserve a portion of the water from the aquarium tank to put in the special polyethylene holding bags that you will use to transport your fish. Your aquatic pets have become acclimated to the tank water which is important for reducing stress and keeping them healthy on moving day. Just how much tank water you will save and use all depends on the size of your aquarium and the number of fish you will be moving.
  • Place your fish within the polyethylene bags or containers that have been filled with an ample supply of tank water. If you bag your fish, place the bags within the polystyrene containers or similar plastic boxes. The containers will provide a protective barrier during travel, should the bags leak during the trip.
  • If you go the route of keeping your fish in polystyrene containers instead of bags for a longer trip on moving day, make sure you place a battery-powered air pump in the bucket with the fish to provide oxygen for them to breathe during transport.
  • After you have removed the fish and placed them in holding bags or containers, clean the tank and carefully pack the aquarium and all the supplies using bubble wrap and heavy-duty moving boxes, bins or crates to provide protection from breakage on moving day.

Move Your Fish into a New Home and Get Them Settled

When moving an aquarium into a new home, the next step is to get your fish settled into their new surroundings. Once you have set up the tank, put in the gravel, and added the water, you will need to plug in the heater and turn on the filter. The process of getting your fish acclimated requires that you float the polyethylene bags in the aquarium for a short period of about an hour, so that the temperature levels of the water within the bags is about the same as the water within the tank. If you transported your fish in containers with an air pump instead of the bags, you should place the fish in plastic bags with some of the container water and follow the same process before transferring them into the aquarium.

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