Moving a live tank, phase 1 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-17-2008, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Moving a live tank, phase 1

Ok, so I won the ebay auction and am now the proud new owner of two tanks, one that can be moved dry and one that has about fifteen residents who I'm sure would much appreciate surviving the trip.

I'm going to lay out my basic plan here and see what you all think. I did do a few searches both here in the forums and on Google and to come up with the basic plan, but like all plans, fine tuning is a good thing.

The tanks are, fortunately, about half an hour away from my house so we won't have too far of a drive. The live tank is a thirty gallon with about fifteen cichlids, a yoyo loach and a few danios. I'm figuring I'll need to separate the cichlids out into baggies. There are two trios in the group, I'm planning on bagging those together. Everything else will be bagged separately.

Gravel will be going into a couple of buckets and kept as wet as possible without soaking my car. Filter media will be bagged with some tank water and kept wet. No live plants to worry about, thankfully.

I am not sure if I'll be able to preserve any of the actual tank water, beyond what the fish are being transported in. I'm most concerned about this factor. I don't want to get everybody moved safe and sound, get the whole thing set up and then cause a 'do-over' on the cycle and kill the whole lot of them off.

How much tank water is enough to bring along?

Once we get everything back home main priority will be getting the tank up and running. There will be minimal aquascaping so the less dominant fish have someplace to retreat to, but mostly it's just going to gravel and water in, wait for temp to stabilize, then fish in. While the temp is stabilizing I am going to get the fish out of the baggies and into a few plastic buckets in the original tank water so they don't suffocate. I'll have some water here prepped to add to the old tank water when I fill the new tank, so the time to stabilize the temp should be minimal.

Anything I'm leaving out? I've never had to move an already established aquarium before so any input or suggestions would be appreciated.


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post #2 of 7 Old 06-17-2008, 03:40 PM
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I wouldn't worry too much about preserving a large amount of water from the tank - a change in water won't cause a cycle since the healthy bacteria are contained in the filter media, gravel and decorations.

If you are transporting anything in buckets of water though I'd suggest trying to get lids for them.
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post #3 of 7 Old 06-17-2008, 03:56 PM
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I recently moved and took all of my established tanks with me. I had a ton of containers (like Cool-Whip containers) that I rinsed really well in water. I filled them with water, netted the fish and put them in. The containers all had small holes in the lids. I even did this with my snails and the live plants.

For most of my tanks, I left about a half-inch of water in the tanks while I transported them to keep the gravel wet. I had driftwood and rocks in the tanks, so I spread these decorations around and pushed them down into the gravel to keep them underwater. I use only undergravel filters and HOB power filters, so the UGF's were fine. I left water in the HOB filters to keep the filter media wet.

At this time, one of the tanks had some really young kribensis fry. I didn't want to try to catch them, so on that tank I left about three inches of water (measuring from above the gravel). The tank was quite heavy but I managed to carry it out to the car and back into the new place. I had about an hour to drive, but all told I would say the fish were in buckets for about 2.5 hours before I could get their tanks set back up.

All of my fish survived the trip. I think you'll be fine...but I really suggest you try to keep the gravel in the tank and covered with water. A 30 gal with gravel and a little water is pretty heavy (not to mention long enough to be really awkward to carry), so you'll probably need a second set of hands to help you carry it. Even if the gravel was well-vacuumed on a regular basis (like mine was) it's amazing just how much stuff is down there. All of this would get stirred up and really mess up the water if you tried to move the gravel and transport it in buckets.

Edit: DEFINITELY use some kind of hard plastic container instead of a bag for that loach. You don't want him to go nuts and stab a hole in the bag with his eye spines.

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post #4 of 7 Old 06-17-2008, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Loaches have EYE SPINES?! (yes, this is a fish I will be rehoming...)

I have a bunch of old plastic containers that would work well for the transport. I can even put them in a cooler in the car to protect from the sun.

It's a 30 gallon high not long, but I still think I'd better get some help moving it. I live on the third floor!


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post #5 of 7 Old 06-17-2008, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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here is the ebay auction that I won, for reference:
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post #6 of 7 Old 06-17-2008, 04:32 PM
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Yep, they've got some pretty nasty spines. I don't think all loaches have them, but Yoyo's definitely do. Here's a picture of the spines on a dead yoyo for reference:

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post #7 of 7 Old 06-17-2008, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, see... I'm just not into the loaches. This loach is just one more bonus fish in this auction, but he'll be going to a better home once I get everybody here. He'll be much happier with some friends in a loach friendly tank.
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