Moving aquariums three hours away - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-07-2013, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Moving aquariums three hours away

Hi everyone,
Well, it's time for us to move again... three hours away (I think might be 3.5, not sure, but no more than that). Of course, the first thing I thought of is how in the world am I going to move my freshwater tanks? One is 56 gallons planted and hosts 1 betta, 10 neon tetra, 8 rasbora, 4 hatchetfish, shrimp and snails. Another is only 10 gallons but with lots of dwarf shrimp, babies and all. There is no way I could catch all of the shrimplets to transfer into the travel container, they are simply too tiny. I really don't know what to do. I would love to keep at least my betta fish, I know he will be fine for three hours in a plastic bag, but what about other inhabitants? Should I rehome the fish and restart the tank? Can I get away with just keeping media in some tank water and fish in a travel container and cooler (how many per store sized bag?) for such a short trip? Never did that before, and any recommendations are very welcome.
P.S. I know I don't have enough hatchetfish for a proper school, but that was all they had and I do plan on obtaining more in the nearest future :)

Last edited by ukrworld; 07-07-2013 at 04:13 PM.
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-07-2013, 05:28 PM
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You are lucky in comparison to what I have recently done ... having moved from the banks of the Mekong River at Nong Khai to banks of the Chao Phraya River at Nakhon Sawan in Thaiiland. A distance of 540 kilometres but with a traveling time of nearly 8 hours. Apart from a large number of tanks I moved over 400 fish of varying sizes and numerous crustaceans without any losses. Smaller community fish of less than 2 inches I doubled bagged and kept them together in species and used an air poump to bloat the bags. One bag had over 60 Neon Tetras in it. These were then packed into polystyrene boxes with empty bags of air as buffers where space allowed. My largest fish 45-48" Silver Arowanas and freshwater Sting Rays had their own large containers with internal air cushions to prevenyt any injuries. Remember when fish are shipped to your LFS they may have been in transit for 24 hours or more to the wholesaler. Providing they are given qood water quality, lots of air and you do not feed prior to travel, they should be ok. Ensure you have your tank(s) ready to accept them, prepared as soon as possible. Plants can be bagged easily with water to prevent them from drying out. Filter media can be bagged so can can substrate. No need to lose all your shrimp either, caught with a fine mesh net and bagged properly they should travel well.
You have a short journey time, but pack them carefully and get them acclimatised to their new home as soon as possible.

Store size bags are relative to the size and number of fish ... just use the biggest bags you can find to give the fish some comfort.
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-07-2013, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I feel for you. It must have been some worrisome trip. Glad it turned out okay. I will definitely follow your advice and double bag my fish and shrimp, as well as plants and substrate. I hope the bacteria will survive and the fish will not die from stress, however, this is my first experience moving these gentle animals, and I am a bit nervous. Are there any ways to ensure the tanks do not crack? I am just planning to move them in the back of our truck and literally wrap in in blankets for buffer and secure with cable ties. Any other suggestions?
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-07-2013, 07:20 PM
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Several years ago I moved over 200 fish and three largish tanks (70g, 90g, 115g). What should have been a couple hours turned into more than 12. And it was in the cold winter. Amazingly, I only lost 12 fish, and that wouldn't have occurred had the moving van not developed trouble and thus the delay. I brought the fish with me in the car, but of course had no where to put them without the tanks and stuff.

The 10g tank you could move with a bit of water in it, so the shrimp might be best left in there. Just place the tank on a solid sheet of plywood so you can lift it without any "give." The larger tank must be completely emptied. Bag the substrate [this is heavy stuff]. Fish and plants as Jarowa said. When you get to the new place, set up the tanks first. Moving is usually convoluted, depending upon your circumstances. In my case, knowing I would not be setting up (aquascaping) the tanks for a couple days, I used the 70g as a common tank, and filled it with dechlorinated water, started the filter/heater, and floated the fish bags for a few minutes before opening them and letting the fish swim out. Normally wouldn't add the bag water, but this was a special situation and it was less stress than netting the fish again.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-07-2013, 07:23 PM
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I've moved with tanks several times, once with close to 20 tanks. It's really not as big of a deal as it seems. Just make sure that you have things planned out, and don't rush yourself. The fish are not going to die from stress in the time it takes to move them I'm not saying that to minimize your concern, but rather to reassure you that everything will be okay. Honestly, the biggest threat to your fish is you rushing and making some mistake or forgetting something, like adding dechlorinator.

3-4 hours is not a long time. I would throw all the fish from the 56 gallon in a bucket (betta bagged and floated). If there is the threat of temperature fluctuation, then you can bag all the fish and put them all in a cooler for insulation. If you have plants, put them in a bucket. For the 56, you may want to remove the sand before moving the tank, so put that in a.... bucket Buckets are your best friend when moving fish and fish stuff. Make sure to get lids.

For the 10 gallon, you can bag up what you can for shrimp. They'll make more after all, right? You wouldn't need to remove the substrate of the 10, nor would you have to remove all the water (if you are concerned about shrimp that are still in the tank.

And as was mentioned, make sure you keep the filter media wet.

You're gonna do just fine

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-07-2013, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ukrworld View Post
Are there any ways to ensure the tanks do not crack? I am just planning to move them in the back of our truck and literally wrap in in blankets for buffer and secure with cable ties. Any other suggestions?
Yes, aquarium tanks are a major cost factor and the slightest crack can ruin your day. I bought some thick sheets of polystyrene from a builder's merchant and laid these flat on the truck bed as this compensates for any uneveness in the truck bed or slight imperfections in the tank base and then placed more around the sides and on tank tops. You should be fine with your tanks and maybe using thick blankets will be fine. There is some excllent advice above from Jaysee and Byron. I was lucky in being be able to prepare temporary plastic circular tanks a week before the fish arrived with similar water quality.

My biggest glass tank is 144" x 50" x 50" so it was critical this travelled well. I am presently building a new concrete base for it. If there is any interest I will post photos of it when completed.

Good luck with the move.
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