When people move, pets move as well. Cats and dogs and rabbits are fairly easy to move, but underwater creatures require a whole different set of strategies. Fish tanks are one of the more challenging items to move, not just because they’re heavy and fragile but also because fish don’t handle travel very well. Even under the best of circumstances, you may lose a few of your fish. So how do you proceed with moving your aquarium? You’ve come to the right place.
Moving an Aquarium Requires Two Steps
Never move the fish inside of their tank. When moving aquarium fish, you need to think of two different phases: moving the tank and then moving the fish. Trying to move them both at the same time is dangerous. It’s too heavy for the movers and it’s too dangerous for the fish.
Moving the Tank
The toughest part about moving an aquarium is managing the filtration system. As soon as you stop the flow of oxygen into the water, aerobic bacteria start to die, upsetting the healthy conditions in your aquarium’s water. If you’re moving locally, you might be able to tear down the aquarium, pack it up, move it, unpack it, and set it up within a couple of hours. In this case, you may be able to preserve the bacteria. If it will take you longer than a couple of hours, you’ll need to follow this procedure:
- Place your fish in a holding container.
- Drain the tank. If you’re going to be able to set the tank up again within a few hours, save some water to help preserve the bacteria colony.
- Disassemble the tank. If you have live plants, place them in a bag with their roots in water.
- Pack your filter. If your move is relatively short, put your filter medium in a hard-sided sealed container. For longer moves, either discard your filter media or clean it thoroughly and pack it after it’s dried.
- Pack the aquarium’s pumps, heaters, and other accessories like you’d pack any other fragile appliance.
Move all of these parts separately, and then set the tank up as if you were setting it up for the first time. If you were able to salvage enough of the old water to get the water moving through the filter after you set up the aquarium, you can reintroduce your fish to their tank right away.
If, however, you had to discard all of the water before moving the tank, you’ll have to refill it and then wait a week before reintroducing your fish. When you do reintroduce your fish, put the hardier fish in first to establish the nitrate cycle. Once the aquarium is stable, put the rest of the fish back in.
Moving Your Fish
There are several ways to move your fish, and you’ll probably base your decision on how long your move is. The simplest option is to keep your fish in sealed bags that are half-filled with air. This method works well if you’re just moving locally and they’ll only be in transit for a couple of hours at most. To keep fish safe during this kind of transport, put the bags in a padded, compartmentalized container. You could also put bags in sealed, hard-sided buckets.
If the tank is going to be unavailable for a week or more, consider boarding your fish at a pet store. This can be costly, but pet stores are already set up to handle this kind of job, and most pet stores can pack and air-ship your fish to you once your aquarium is up and running again.
Travel is stressful for fish, so don’t be surprised if they stop eating. Fortunately, fish that have been well-fed previously can live for about a week without eating.
Do your best to maintain an even temperature for your fish during the move. If you’re moving during a hot or cold time of year, consider packing your fish in a sealed cooler during transport. For long car trips, a battery-powered air pump and air stone can keep your fish healthy.
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If you have further questions about moving an aquarium, or if you are looking for moving and storage Brooklyn, feel free to contact us at U.Santini. We’ve been helping New Yorkers move for generations, and we can help you solve your trickiest moving problems. Call us at 718-768-6778. Ask for Dan.