How to Move with a Fish Tank

Here is how to move with a fish tank so that the transportation has a minimal impact on the glass structure itself and its underwater inhabitants. Whether you're moving with fish long distances or locally, this guide will help your fish survive the journey. 

Can You Move a Fish Tank with Water in It?

Many people want to know how to move an aquarium with water and fish in it. The main rule is the following: under no circumstances should you move a glass fish tank with all the water and fish in it. Both the tank and the fish can suffer from this. The tank will sway back and forth spilling out the contents; its seams and walls may not withstand the load and will fall apart or crack.

Before you pack your aquarium for transportation, you’ll need to:

  • Drain the tank just at the substrate line so that the substrate stays wet. This will help keep all the beneficial bacteria; 
  • Detach all the equipment;
  • Remove all the decorative elements such as stones and castles, and pack them separately.
  • Protect the walls of the tank with thick cardboard, bubble wrap or Styrofoam and secure everything with tape. Small enough aquariums can be put in a cardboard box of the appropriate size and wrapped in bubble wrap to provide additional protection of the walls.

How to Prepare Fish for Moving 

Whether you are moving long distances or locally, follow these rules:

  • 48 hours before the move, stop feeding the fish. Also do not give them food during the trip.
  • 2-3 hours before the move, cool down the temperature to the allowed minimum for your fish species. This will slow down the metabolism.
  • Put the fish in their moving containers or bags right before transport.

How to Move with Fish Long Distances

Sensitive species of fish may not survive a move too big, so unluckily selling the fish and starting again might be the only option.

However, if you’ve decided to move with fish long distances, here are some essential tips how to help them survive:

  • Temperature. Make sure the water temperature stays the same AND at the lower end of the preferred range for your particular species of fish. This is needed to reduce metabolism. If it’s hot outside, then try to reduce the water temperature by a few degrees by putting some ice or gel packs inside. Most kinds of fish tend to handle short-term (2-3 days) temperature drops pretty well.
  • Portable pump. Use a battery-operated portable aeration equipment. This is very important to keep the water filled with oxygen.
  • Bucket. Use a non-glass shockproof tank such as a bucket covered with a plastic wrap and filled half-way. Change the batteries if needed — the need may occur in 8 hours or so. 
  • Plants. Put some plants inside to let your fish hide and feel secure. 
  • Keep the fish in the dark. Fish are photophobic, which means they are afraid of light. Darker conditions will reduce stress. 

How to Move with Fish Locally

You can use the same strategy as moving long distances, however there's a simpler way. The most recommended are transparent sturdy plastic bags for transporting fish. You can find such bags in a pet store. Fish are better to transport in the dark, so cover transparent bags with a light-tight wrapper.

The distance of your relocation will affect how you handle your fish during the move. If you’re moving locally, less than 7 hours, then it’s a short distance trip and you can easily use plastic bags filled with water and air in the ratio 2 to 1.

In the cold weather, bags need to be sealed, whereas in the hot weather on the contrary they should be cooled down with pieces of ice.

How Long Can Fish Stay Alive in a Bag?

It all depends on the amount of oxygen in the water. Overall, a small bag can hold fish alive between 7 and 9 hours. It is ideal for the oxygen to take up two-thirds of the bag. Fish consume more oxygen when they're excited. This means they use more oxygen while they are being transported.

Make sure the bag moves. The movement of the bag allows the atmospheric oxygen to penetrate into the water, making it possible for the fish to breathe.

How to Prepare a Large Fish Tank for Moving

Moving large fish tanks with a volume of more than 300 liters requires special knowledge and experience. You can carry large aquariums by holding at the bottom while it is highly undesirable to touch the walls.

If you are moving with a moving company, make sure to specify the size of your fish tank when placing your order. By the way, our professionals know how to move with a fish tank safely and without causing any damage!

How to Move a Fish Tank with Plants

To move aquarium plants safely, you need to keep the roots of the plants moist. Transport them in water-proof bags with some water. Put some of the plants in the portable vessels where your fish are. This will help your fish lessen the stress.

What to Do after Transportation

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, do the following:

  • Let your fish access aerated water as soon as possible — plug in your aeration equipment.
  • Add some fresh water to the old water that still is at the bottom of the tank. Make sure the pH level is right.
  • Before letting the fish in, pour some of the “updated” aquarium water in the portable container to equalize the chemical composition and temperature. Once you’ve done that, it is absolutely safe to transplant the fish into their new home.

Now you know how to move to a new place with a fish tank. On our website you can place an order and we will help you save your time moving an aquarium within Boston or interstate.