Moving your fish tank doesn’t have to be a horrible experience, for you or the fish. In fact, I’ve moved so many fish tank set ups now that I honestly don’t even think twice about it anymore – I just get it done. Although, I have to admit I still get depressed when I think about lifting them! Here are a few tips that will help you through your next move so that your fish arrive safely to their new home.
1. Preserve some of your bacteria colony. This is really simple – the key is to remember that the bacteria colonize on all of the hard, porous surfaces (i.e. filter pads, gravel, etc…). If you have a small enough fish tank set up you could realistically just keep an inch or two of water in the tank while you move so that the gravel remains wet. Please note that I am not saying that you need to move any of the old water over – you are not “cycling” a tank by adding “aged water” to it, you are only adding water that has a very concentrated amount of ammonia and other toxins. However, if you can’t do this just keep a few handfuls of your gravel wet, along with some decorations and your filter pad. Just remember to use a tap water conditioner if you place them in a fresh bucket of water.
2. Keep a lid on the transport container. This is pretty obvious, but easy to overlook at the same time! A stressed fish will try to jump out of its container, so just make sure you are prepared for that. The vibrations while you are in the car will be very new and stressful to them. In addition to keeping fish inside the transport container, a lid will also help minimize the amount of water that splashes out – if the container is small enough that someone is going to be holding it, I’ve found that holding it away from my body and leaning into the turns helps keep the splashing at a minimum.
3. Acclimate your fish to the new water temperature. This is the same thing that you did the first time that you brought your fish home – remember how you were told to float the bag for around 15 minutes? Just make sure you are not immediately dumping your fish into their new fish tank set up because the temperature will be very different from the water in their moving container.
4. Stop stressing! Moving a fish tank isn’t rocket science, and I promise you that it’s a lot easier that you making it seem right now – if it comforts you at all, think of it like doing one major water change. Just remember that you don’t want to transport your fish in any extreme weather conditions if you don’t have a working heater/AC in the car. I personally like using a well-insulated cooler to place the fish in because it helps keep the temperature from jumping all over the place, and it has a built in lid. For longer drives, there are battery operated air pumps available at most tackle and bait shops.
As long as you make sure you keep a large portion of your beneficial bacteria colony alive during the move you won’t have to worry about your tank completely recycling itself. Depending on how successful you were are transplanting it, you may have a small bout or two of cloudy aquarium water – this is normal, just don’t add any new fish during this time, or feed your fish heavily.
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