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Moving your finned fish friends

With most pets, moving can be stressful. New smells, sounds and startling new noises. When it comes to your fish, the chemical makeup of the water is the biggest stressor they experience. As with any pet, you will want to transfer the fish from the tank as close to the move time as possible, and be sure they are back in their tank before anything else is unpacked or moved in.
Here we will talk about a few basics to get your finned friends all set up in their home.

Tear down

When moving, we can’t stress enough the importance of using as much of the same water as possible. You will want a couple of five gallon buckets – completely cleaned out, or new – and start taking out the decorations. You want at least two buckets because you will use one to transport the decorations and mechanics that do not need to be in the water and the other bucket will be for your fish and plants that do need to be in the water. (if your fish are too big for a five-gallon bucket, you can use totes; just be sure you can carry them without splashing the water out.) Also, as you are removing the decorations, pay attention that your fish or other creatures are not clinging to it.

Gravel, pumps, heaters and filters

It is recommended that the gravel should be completely removed from your tank during transport. The reason for this is stress to the tank. The weight of the gravel could cause the glass to break.

Anything motorized must also be cooled. The heaters and filters use the water in the tank to cool themselves, so do not leave them plugged in or plug them in without having appropriate levels of water.

Moving day

You have transferred the water from the tank into the buckets, having left some for your fish, and only filling the bucket about two-thirds full. It’s time to find the fish catcher and scoop them up so you can put them in the bucket. You have already made sure no one was hiding in the decorations, so count them as you transfer them. They may decide to try and hide among the plants or other items in the bucket with them. Also be sure to keep the more aggressive fish isolated, so perhaps they have their own penthouse suite in another bucket.

Dump the rest of the water out of the tank. The tank is put together with glue at the corners and is designed less for travel and more for flat firm surfaces. So use bubble wrap, moving blankets and tape to secure it if you are traveling a long distance.


Once you, the tank and the fish have arrived at your new home go slow at reassembly. Gravel first then pumps, heaters and filters. Remember what we said earlier though, they need water to work properly so do not turn them on yet. Decorations and water from the buckets. If you have to use tap water to fill the rest of the tank, do not reintroduce the fish until it’s been dechlorinated.

Use the net again to transfer the fish from the bucket. Pouring them in is added and unnecessary stress.

Lastly, let the water temperature adjust to the room temp and then turn on the pumps, heaters and filters.