Transporting - College Student Trying to Plan a Tank
I've been researching fish keeping for over a year now and am going to purchase and set up a tank this summer. My only concern is transporting the set up between home and school. The trip is an 8 hour car ride that is made multiple times a year for major breaks, and I was wondering what your opinions on the difficulty of moving different sized set ups would be? I'm looking at a tank between 10 and 20 gallons in size. Thanks for your help.
Are you going to be in the dorms or in an apartment? With an 8-hour car ride I would try to move it as little as possible. In an apartment, you would really only need to move it for breaks longer than a week. For me that was just winter and summer break.
I had fish tanks in college too (which wasn't that long ago). In the dorms the largest I could have was a 5 gallon with a betta which was very easy to transport. When I lived in an apartment I had a 29 gal loach tank. This was more of a pain. It was just large enough where I couldn't carry it myself. A 20 or 10 would have been much better.
Any ideas for what you want to stock it with? The water parameters will be different at your house and school, so you'd need something that can work in both. Live plants will probably help, too. With a move of 8 hours, you could easily get some dying off of the beneficial bacteria, and live plants will help mitigate the effects of these mini cycles.
Trust me, you'll find that moving tanks gets 'old' real quick. I'd really go small, a 5 gallon with a Betta, or a 10 gallon at most.
Anything under 1 week, just leave them where they are. Fish can go a week without food and not suffer from it. Anything longer than a week, you'll need to transport. Don't use vacation feeders. Keep small easy fish, and stock lightly. When moving the tank, try to keep both the filter media and the substrate wet, but do not leave the substrate in the tank while moving (the weight of the substrate plus water to keep it wet can damage the bottom/seals).
I'll be living in an on campus apartment and the tank will have a sand substrate and be well planted. In terms of stocking options I've been looking at bettas, small tetras, and cories as possibilities. The exact stocking set up will depend on the tank size, which I haven't decided on.
I'd be making this trip with them 4 times a year, back and forth for the 4 week winter break and for the 3 month summer vacation.
In a 5 gallon, you could keep just the Betta, maybe with some shrimp or snail.
In the 10 gallon you could do a school of tetras (need a minimum 6 with these, sometimes 8 depending on species), or a Betta and four cory catfish. Caution has to be taken with the Betta. They are not community fish. Chances are higher they will ignore substrate fish (cory catfish) but temperment varies in Bettas.
Do you know the water paremeters at the school? Mainly pH and GH/KH? You might be able to find it on the cities water department webpage, look for the water quality report. All the fish you have selected are soft acidic water fish. Chances are you'll have medium hard to hard water unless you are in the northwest or the east coast (some other areas, but this is just a generalization). A mix of tap and RO/DI can get you softer water if you need to and won't be too expensive in a small tank (need to do weekly water changes).
Moving the tank for just two breaks sounds like it can be doable, but your tank might have some trouble maturing as a result meaning you probably wouldn't be able to keep sensitive species. Because you do plan to move it so much (well relatively it is a lot for a fish tank) then I would try to stick to the hardier species.
If you do the tetra, I would get a 20 gallon. A lot of people seem to have trouble keeping betta in 10 gal tanks with 6 tetra. Judging from tetra behavior, I believe that upping the school size to 10 would alleviate most of these problems. It seems like people have more sucess with keeping betta and substrate fish like corydoras, oto catfish, bristlenose pleco, and kuhli loach than with column fish like tetra and danio.
While this isn't a definitive guide, this will help you narrow down the hardness of your home and school (assuming you are in the US). You just have to convert gpg in dH. United States Water Hardness Map, What is my water hardness?
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