Just Keep Swimming: Moving Your Aquarium With Less Stress

Moving is a difficult, stressful process for almost anyone. But when you have certain complicated items to move, it becomes doubly so. One of those objects that nearly any owner dreads having to move is a large aquarium. Filled with many moving parts and living creatures, a quality fish tank setup can represent a lot of money and love invested. So, how do you successfully move it to your new home?

Lots of Preparation

Forethought will help tremendously with your aquarium move. Planning out the stages of moving your tank is the best way to reduce stress on your fish and yourself as well as saving time and avoiding unnecessary delays. 

First, determine a good location for your tank in the new house. Ensure that it is both pleasing to the eye but also receives only moderate sunlight and is a consistent temperature. Otherwise, you'll be fighting algae and have higher maintenance work.

Now you're ready to start planning the breakdown of the tank. You'll need to bag the fish and may need to oxygenate the bags if the move will be longer than about six hours (to allow for acclimation time). If your fish are tropical, you should also use boxes to help maintain the temperature of the water. You should be able to purchase all these items at your local fish store. 

You'll need to store and move as much of the existing tank water as you can, so purchase enough clean water barrels or other containers to store as much as half of the tank water.

Finally, practice filling, tying and storing the bags so that you'll be able to quickly and carefully bag your fish on moving day. 


Now comes the big day. Fill the bags with about one quarter tank water and the rest air, then tie them off. Put living plants in other bags or small buckets with some tank water. Contact your aquatic retailer with any questions about transporting other aquarium animals. 

After bagging the fish and transferring any other living creatures, it's time to remove the filter. In order to preserve the helpful bacteria inside the filters, it's best to remove the filter media (such as carbon or sponges) and store them in a bucket of tank water. If you have a battery-powered pump, consider oxygenating this water during a longer move. 

Next, siphon out the tank water into your containers and prepare them for the move. Finally, you can remove the electrical components and box them in clearly-labeled boxes to be transferred with the aquarium itself. 


Once you're in your new home, start by returning the tank water and then setting up the filters. Refill the rest of the tank with clean, fresh water and turn up the heater a few degrees to speed up the process of getting the water back to the right temperature. When the tank is functional again, start floating the fish in their bags. Keep the lights off while acclimating the fish to their new home. After about 20 minutes of floating, let a little fresh tank water into the bags and repeat a few times before freeing the fish. 

If your tank is large or complex, it may be best to work with a professional moving company, like Caccamise Moving & Storage Co, who will help not only with the logistics but also with the heavy lifting involved in a large tank and its water. Whatever your decision is, be sure to spend the time to plan and prepare so that moving day is less stressful on both the aquarium owner and its residents.