09-05-2008, 07:26 PM
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Clean buckets that have not had detergent in them will work.
When I acquired my 29 gal from a friend, we put the fish in one 5 gal bucket (there were only 3 fish so there was plenty of room). I took a second 5 gal. full of water and a third with the filter, decor, etc. We drained all but enough water to barely cover the gravel, and that was a huge risk for breakage.
I put it all back together at home, refilled with fresh water and the salvaged water, and was done. Fortunately, we didn't break the cycle, but also since there were only 3 fish, the bio load was pretty small. When I tested the next day I had 10 ppm of nitrates. My friend had wanted to clean the tank and the filter and give it to me all pretty and was astounded when I almost shouted NO!
So, keep as much water as possible. Keep the filter pads, gravel, decor wet, and drain the tank.