Fish Tank Movers: Tips to Fit Your Lifestyle and Keep Your Little Buddies Alive


First off, you have to find the best fish tank to fit your lifestyle. No single aquarium is right for everyone. Some factors are needed to be taken into account for choosing the right one for your house or office. These factors include: location, size and construction. For location, your aquarium needs to be set up where you spend most of your time. Your aquarium also needs space around due to the required maintenance and cleaning. For size limitations, the minimum size you should consider is a minimum size your fish will thrive in. The bigger the better due to being able to dilute toxins and making a shorter stress period on fish.

Once you have all this set, what if you have to move the fish tank? One of the biggest challenges is moving fish tanks. Travel is highly stressful on fish. Some experts even suggest you sell your fish and buy new ones after you arrive. However, if you must move your fish, follow the procedures below to minimize your losses.Moving fish consists of two parts. First you move the tank. Then you move the fish. Never move the fish in the tank.


  • Discontinue feeding your fish two days before the move
  • Establish a checklist of items you’ll need at your new destination, such as pre-mixed saltwater or an ammonia-removing product
  • Acquire several clean 5-gallon buckets that have not housed chemicals or detergents
  • Designate a space in the moving truck closest to a door for easy access to your aquarium and equipment
  • Your aquarium should be the last thing you pack, and the first thing you take out and set up
  • Move your fish separately from the aquarium

How to move a fish tank

The biggest challenge in moving an aquarium is the filtration system. Without a flow of oxygen in the water, aerobic bacteria start to die in a matter of hours. It will take you a few hours to tear down, pack, unpack, and set up the fish tank. If you move a short distance, no more than one or two hours away, you might preserve the bacteria colony. Otherwise, you’ll need to restart it. When taking down the aquarium, save as much of the water as you can. Use 5-gallon buckets with lids to transport water. Reusing your water cuts the cycling time considerably once you restart the system, and decreases the likelihood of a toxic ammonia spike. Pack your pumps, heaters, and other equipment the way you would pack fragile appliances.

Remove the gravel and water and place in 5-gallon buckets to alleviate the stress on the aquarium seams resulting from the bumps and bouncing during transport. Keep your filter media and sponges immersed in some of your aquarium water, as well, to minimize disruption of the bacteria colonies within them. This, too, helps reduce cycling time.

For moves further than 6 hours, take out your gravel or substrate and bag it with some aquarium water. Either clean or discard your filter media, but if you do this please remember that your system will have to be treated as new when starting it up again. This necessitates a complete cycling, and only a few hardy species of fish will be able to withstand the cycling process. You should make temporary arrangements for your other fish until the aquarium has been properly cycled.

When moving the aquarium within your home, use the buckets as mentioned above. Leave enough water in the aquarium to fully cover the gravel. There’s no need to pack your pumps and other equipment, but it is a good idea to keep submersible filters in a container with some aquarium water.

For a short move, you should have enough dechlorinated and treated water to fill your tank and get water moving through the filter. If you make a long move, set your tank up as if it were a new tank. This includes waiting a week before putting fish in. Put in a few hardy fish in first to get the nitrate cycle established. After the tank is stable, put the rest of your fish in.

After the move, slowly condition your fish to the tank again, just as you would when adding new fish. With smart, careful planning, plus a little luck, your aquarium can thrive in your new home, and provide all the beauty and enjoyment you expect.