Changing to a new tank
If I can find a 15 gallon tall tank (same footprint as 10 gallon) so that I can use the same filter, heater, hood, etc; what is the best way to get all the plants, gravel and most importantly fish into the new set up without having the tank go through a recycle?
Start by taking half of the water out and put it into the new tank. Your filter should still be able to run like this unless you have a really short intake. The move all your plants, decor, and heater over (unplug 15 mins before moving and leave unplugged for 15 minutes after), do not let anything dry out. Then, being very careful and not dropping rocks on the fish or back into the bottom of the tank, scoop up your gravel little by little and move it to the new tank. If the water gets a bunch of junk in it let it filter out for a few minutes. Decorate how you want it, and then very quickly move the filter over. You can at this point move the fish over, I'd suggest getting a few plastic bags from the LFS so you can at least float them with the top open and proceed to acclimate them like you usually would but you don't have to net the fish out. Once you have them in there you can move the rest of the water. This shouldn't cause any more than a mini-cycle, just keep an eye on your parameters and try not to handle the decor more than you need to. Don't rinse anything.
However...if the tank if going in the same spot as the 10 gallon, I'd go buy a couple of those 5 gallon rubbermaid totes, rinse them real well, move everything into those (hang the filter on the side) and then set up the 15. A bit more stressful but oh well. People have moved fish farther than that like this.
Just be thankful you're only moving everything a few feet! As long as you keep all of the substrate and filter media wet, and you don't take a long time to make the swap, you should be just fine.
I have to move two 30-gal tanks 10 minutes down the road next week, and I'm dreading it!
A mini cycle is possible because you are gonna lose some bacteria. The new tank won't have any on the glass so how bvig of a cycle depends a lot on the filter you use. If it has permenant biological media in it then the cycle will be minute and easily managed.
I'm running a Marineland filter that has a biopad behind the filter cartridges. I guess I should keep that wet in the old tank until the new tank is ready for the filter to run?
Keep *everything* wet, especially the filter media and substrate. Obviously, it would also be good to retain as much water as possible.
It's also a good idea to do a gravel vac about 3 days before changing tanks. It means that you can get most of the gunk out of the gravel so that it doesn't cloud up your new tank, but the bacteria will have time to build up again.
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