Packing Up Your House? Read These 9 Tips on How to Move a Fish Tank

How to Move a Fish Tank

Moving an aquarium might seem like an easy task: remove the fish and dump out all the water. But, the reality is that tank fish are incredibly sensitive to environmental changes.

Plus, the tanks themselves are large and usually incredibly breakable. As such, if you are not careful during the moving process, then you can quickly kill your beloved fish or break their tank during transit.

Luckily, in this article, we provide you with everything you need to know about how to move a fish tank (and your fish) safely so if you want to find out how then keep on reading.

What Are the Signs of a Cloudy Fish Tank?

Signs of a Cloudy Fish Tank

The first thing is first, let us make sure that your fish are safe and comfortable for the move before we move on to the fish tank itself. Here are some helpful tips for keeping your fish alive and healthy during the move.

Gradually Add Clean Water

Five days before the move, you will want to gradually start adding clean water to the tank and replacing the dirty water

A good rule of thumb is adding twenty percent of new fresh water each day before the move. This way, you will not overwhelm your fish and shock them with new PH levels. 

Do Not Feed Your Fish Before the Move

Around two days before the move, you will want to stop feeding your fish. Why stop feeding your fish? You want the water as clean as possible for your fish when you transport them. 

When you feed them, you get both food debris in the water and fish excrement. But do not worry about starving them. A well-fed tank fish can usually survive for up to one week without food. 

Transfer Your Fish Properly

You will use a clear plastic bag when transporting your fish. For smaller fish, you can use a low net for getting them into the container.

Make sure you fill the bag with one-third of water and two-thirds of air. Once your fish is secure, then tie up the bag and secure it with a rubber band. 

Also, never blow into the bag to inflate it — this will kill your fish. Also, this method only works if you move somewhere that is around one hour away.

For longer trips and more abundant fish, you will need a bag half filled with pure oxygen, or a battery powered air pump. 

You can get pure oxygen at a pet store for a small price. When filling a bag with pure oxygen, make sure the ration is one part water to one part pure oxygen.

Also, we recommend using two pockets for each fish. This precaution will help prevent things like punctures or spills. 

How to Properly Pack Up a Fish Tank for Transportation?

Properly Pack Up a Fish Tank for Transportation

Now that we know the proper way of securing your fish for transport we can move on to how to move the fish tank itself. Touching a fish tank is difficult because you cannot move an aquarium with water in it unless it to a different room of the house. 

What makes it more difficult is the fact that you must keep the water that remains in the tank. Your fish spent a long time getting used to the water in their tank, and you cannot simply fill it up with new water. 

The change in pH levels will shock and kill them. As such, you must transport the water in addition to the fish themselves. You can move the fish either in buckets or in bags. 

1. Prepare the Equipment and the Location for Your Tank

The first thing is first: gather together all the equipment you will need for transporting the fish. For safely transporting you first we recommend getting three five-gallon buckets with lids (more if you aquariums is larger). 

You will also need a net for the fish, a siphon hose, boxes with thick —preferably waterproof — walls, packing paper, and bubble wrap. You want to minimize the amount of time your fish spends outside of their tank. 

As such, moving the fish tank will be the last thing you do before you leave and the first thing you set up once you get to you know home.

It helps speed the process if you can scout out the new address beforehand and find an ideal spot for the fish tank. 

Remember to look for a spot that comes with good access to electric outlets, proper space and protection from direct sunlight. 

2. Drain the Tank

Using your siphon hose, begin draining the water from the aquarium into the five-gallon buckets. Do not fill the buckets up all the way — leave around three inches of headspace.

Otherwise, the buckets will splash around and potentially spill when you pick them up, or they move around in the car. 

3. Move the Fish

Before the tank is empty, use your net to transfer the fish into the buckets or clear plastic bags. You catch the fish by gently scooping them in the net and then quickly, but carefully, moving them from the tank to the carrying container. 

You can keep multiple fish in a bucket, but more than three and you will need to split them up.

Also, try and prevent any large fish in buckets of their own, or you risk overcrowding them. Once you move the fish count them to make sure everyone made it to the bucket and remain alright from the brief move.

how to move a fish tank short distance

4. Remove the Rest of the Water and Any Objects

Now that the fish are out of the tank, you can siphon out the rest of the water using the hose. You do not need to keep all of it — just most of it.

Next, take out any objects from the tank including decorations, pumps, heating units and anything else that might fall off during the move you. 

Will also want to remove any sand or gravel in the fish tank. However, do not throw it away — put it in a separate carrying case and reuse it once you get to your new home. 

5. Prepare the Tank for Transport

Once your fish tanks are thoroughly dried, cover the entire thing in bubble wrap and secure it using duct tape. 

Then move it into the car, van or driving trucks. If your aquariums are too large for two people to carry, then make sure you get some extra help when moving it. 

Place the buckets and tank in the moving vehicle. Make sure you do not put anything substantial on top of them and keep them as flat and leveled as possible. 

6. Set Up the Tank

Once you get to the new address, immediately set up your fish tank up in the new location. Make sure the service you place it on remains secure and level.

Then fill the tank up with gravel or sand and put the decorations and equipment like light, filtration system and similar pumps in the location you want them. 

Then fill the tank with one of the buckets that contain the original water and fish. Once you add that bucket then release the fish by untying the bag in the pool or with a net if you used a bucket.

Fill the tank up with the remaining water you brought in the buckets. After you finish this step, you can fill up the rest of the tank with tap water as long as it comes with no trace amounts of chlorine in it.

After you finish this step, then let you fish sit for a few hours before turning on any heating devices. This step will give them time to acclimate to their new environment.

Why You Should Care About Properly Packing Up Your Fish Tank for a Move?

Aquariums, primarily more substantial and higher quality models, are usually quite expensive. Glass can sometimes be a nightmare to move, and if you do not take the proper precautions, then you crack or shatter it during the transport. 

So, from a purely financial perspective, it behooves you to ensure that you pack up the fish tank properly.

However, finances aside, improper handling and preparing of a fish take can potentially kill you fish. A buildup of bacteria, dust and new water can provide conditions which stress out and kill your fish. 

When you combine this with difficulty involved in transporting the fish themselves, the likelihood that they could die becomes even more compounded. For many people, fish are just as crucial to the family as a cat or dog. 

As such, you want to make sure you treat them and their environment with the utmost respect and caution.

We hope this article taught you everything you need to know about how to move a fish tank. If the process seems complicated, then that is because it is. 

Fish and their tanks are not things that transport through long moves quickly. The most natural solution is to make sure you will not move anytime soon once you get a fish.

However, if you are committed enough, then it can work. It merely involves following these steps carefully.

Good luck during your move!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here