Moving with a 55 gallon tank - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 02-21-2012, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Moving with a 55 gallon tank

Hi, all. We are moving only about 15 miles down the road from our current house but I'm still dreading transporting my 55 gallon tank. Any tips and tricks to soothe my nerves? It's a planted tank, any tips on preserving roots? Should I bag fish for such a short trip or can I transport them in buckets? Any tips on transporting LARGE driftwood pieces with plants (java fern) attached? Definitely won't fit in a bucket and I'm scared to let the fern dry out. Hate to remove it from the driftwood because it's very established. Also, should I use this as an opportunity to do a good cleaning of the tank (rinse gravel, etc) or should I try to keep as much media as possible and transport dirty gravel and current tank water? Thanks for any help you can provide!

Hi, my name is Lisa. I have MTS...
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post #2 of 11 Old 02-21-2012, 01:56 PM
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Ugh, I hate moving, there is nothing enjoyable about the entire experience!

Okay, now that I have that out of my system...

I would probably bag the fish, with possible exception for ones that would be too big for that, or could hurt them. Putting them in a bucket, or cooler, can cause them quite a bit of harm from the water sloshing around.

For your substrate, you will want to keep it wet if possible, you don't want to kill off any beneficial bacteria. If you have a densely planted tank that isn't as much of a concern, but if you uproot the plants it will likely put them in shock so you may see slow growth for a short period of time.

The hard part is supporting the weight without the bottom dropping out... you want to get as much water as possible out, and if possible transport the tank on something flat (move the tank and stand together, or put the tank on 3/4" plywood). That will keep the weight evenly distributed instead of all of it going to four points (hands). If that's going to be too difficult, put the substrate into buckets and empty the tank.

The ferns will be fine, nearly all plants can be grown emersed (out of the water) but as mentioned before it may be 'shocked' for a period of time, any change to their environment will cause that.

No matter what you do, monitor your water parameters like a hawk for a week or two, you may experience a mini-cycle that will require you to do more frequent water changes.
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post #3 of 11 Old 02-22-2012, 01:21 PM
you need to completely empty the tank. Plants need to be removed and substrates as well. DO NOT move it with weight in the tank. I've moved my 55 gallon high tech before and the gravel alone is 100lbs. You can not have that weight in a tank and try to move it. Its not the bottom of the tank that is the issue, its the shifting weight and it forcing against the sides. Practiacally all US standard tanks have floating bases so the bottom glass pane supports ALL the weight when full. Also tanks are awkward enough to move when empty. Moving one with a load is just asking for it to slip or get damaged.

For fish I would bag these then place the bags in a cooler to keep them warm and dark to reduce the stress.

Plants: pull them all up. Do this only once all fish caught as things are gonna get cloudy. Place plants in bags kinda like fish, except they don't need water. The bags will stay very humid with the wet plants in them. For the wood and attached plants put them in a big bag. Plastic grocery bag/trash bag. As long as its unscented and just a plain old plastic bag. If I remember right I used black garbage/yard bags for my driftwood.

Substrate: I would leave the tank full till you have all the plants and fish removed. If you have just regular gravel I would then give it a decent gravel vac. If the tank has been running for years there is gonna be a lot of mulm down there. You should suck up quite a bit of it so it doesn't cause issues when you set the tank back up. Don't over clean the gravel. Just get the worst of it and be done. Scoop the gravel into buckets. It doesn't have to say wet, but I highly doubt it will dry out anyway. Your bacteria is in the filter, not the gravel.

For setting back up add the substrate back to the tank when it is completely empty. Then fill it with water. Set up equipment. It will be cloudy and this is fine. Start replanting the plants. Once that is done start acclimating the fish to the new water. Ideally you should only release the fish once the tank is basically 100% up and running. That way they can settle down as messing with the tank is only going to add to their stress once they are back in it.

Most plants take moves pretty well. You will see some die back the first week or two. How much depends on how different the tap water is at the new location and the species of plants. Nothing is set in stone. When I moved my 55 gallon, my stargrass had a meltdown over the new water. On the other hand my huge number of crypts which are a well known species for melting were not phased by being uprooted and replanted in significantly different water .

Here is a simplified picture depiction of when I moved my 55gallon. It was also moved 15-20 minuets away.

1. Take pretty tank.

2. put all fish and plants in giant cooler. At least the ones you can fit lol....

3. Does tank now look like crap? If yes then you are doing a good job

4. remove water and substrate as much as possible. Strip down all equipment.

5. Try to fit everything into the back of an SUV.

6. get everything to new place and wonder how it all originally fit into a 1x4 footprint

7.Add substrate, refill, and begin replanting.

8. Acclimate and release fishes once you are done.

Total time from start to end was roughly 7 hours. Monitor water a bit IMO. Depends how planted you are. I never tested my tank after moving it, but fish will tell you if something is wrong.

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post #4 of 11 Old 02-22-2012, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great tips! Did you take any of the tank water with you or just fill the entire thing with fresh after the move?

These posts got me kinda excited, I'm kinda looking forward to the chance to redesign my tank now!

This is what I'm starting with. I think I'm going to use your idea, and do a photo journal of the tank move and rebuild. Hope my experience goes as smoothly as yours!

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post #5 of 11 Old 02-22-2012, 09:19 PM
nope don't take any water except what you need for the fish and things. Just remember you need to acclimate the fish to the new water.

Since you have a HOB filter only thing I would do there is to bag the filter media just like it was a fish. With a little water and some air. Just make sure it stays moist for the move.

Moving tanks isn't that hard. Its just a LOT of work. Do everything properly and there should be no issues.

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post #6 of 11 Old 02-23-2012, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
Your bacteria is in the filter, not the gravel.
I agree with everything you said, except that In a newly setup tank that is true, but in the established aquarium it is the substrate that houses most of the bacteria.
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post #7 of 11 Old 02-23-2012, 08:12 PM
If you want to be technical, as a whole ALL the bacteria in an aquarium, benifical/nuetral/bad then yes the greatest population is gonna be in the gravel. The gravel population does not have any significant impact on the cycle though. Most of the cycle bacteria are in your filter, these are the only ones we really worry about. You could kill off everything in the substrate and a tank would still be stable. You could swap substrates and its not going to disrupt the tank either. Bacteria is everywhere.... but the only ones we really care about are in the filter.

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post #8 of 11 Old 02-29-2012, 09:11 AM
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That dosen't agree with most sources I have read including the one I linked, the beneficial bacteria will be everywhere in an established aquarium, on every surface.

If it's mostly in the filter, why can people replace the cartridge in a HOB without having even a mini cycle?
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post #9 of 11 Old 02-29-2012, 09:19 AM
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I have to disagree with that as well.

I have seen people post on the forums that after changing substrate the tank has gone into a mini cycle. I can personally say as well, that it can and DOES happen.

I changed my 75g substrate from gravel to sand, placing the filter media in my sump from my 180g tank. When everything was back up and running, the tank went into a mini cycle which lasted for 3 days. The beneficial bacteria we speak of are not only just in the filter but all over decorations etc.

That is why people when seeding tanks place items to help speed the cycle, the majority of bacteria, I agree live in the filter but there are different types of bacteria which all contribute to waste removal / breakdown.
Disturb one and it disturbs the cycle and sends your tank into a mini one as the bacteria reestablish themselves. Bacteria can quite easily multiply in an established tank within 24-48 hours.

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75g Saltwater Reef, Ocellaris Clownfish, Lyretail Antias (baby), Lemon damsel, Longtail Fairy Wrasse, purple dottyback, snails, crabs and a few LPS corals.

220g Still sitting empty (come on Lottery I need the numbers to come up!)

Last edited by Tazman; 02-29-2012 at 09:23 AM.
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post #10 of 11 Old 02-29-2012, 09:23 AM
The major source of nitrifying bacteria is in the filter IMO because all the water in the tank goes through it every hour. Though the gravel does house a large amount of bacteia. It makes sense for it to higher in bacteria count to be in the filtert. If you want you could fill a spritzer water bottle (that's what I call them, the bottles that squirt water.) and periodically wet the gravel and such, of put it in mutliple buckets instead of one and with a little tank water in each.

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