Moving with fish is an entirely different matter than a dog or cat. A 20-gallon tank full of water weighs well over 200 pounds and doesn’t handle speed bumps all that well (unless you like a wet seat). If the journey isn’t going to be that long, the fish can survive in a plastic bag for a short move, up to an hour or two. That’s how you got it home from the local pet store in the first place, right?
Removing the Fish
There is a wide variety of fish that are tough enough to handle some time in a plastic bag. Zebra Danios, Bettas, Swordtails, and certain Tetras to name a few. However, throwing them in a bag full of tap water will cause undue stress on even the hardiest fish.
Since they’re already in comfortable water, just use water from the tank. Fill the bag about halfway up by dipping it into the tank, and set aside in a bowl so it doesn’t tip over. Then scoop the fish up with a net and put it in the bag. Make sure the fish bag is closed tightly so if it does tip over, all the water doesn’t leak out.
Most tanks are between 65-80 degrees depending on the fish. The water in the bag may dip in temperature on the ride, but most cars are within that range. For larger fish, you will probably want to invest in a 5-gallon bucket for more room to roam. The bigger the area, the longer they’ll last.
If you have live plants in the tank, make sure to keep them submerged during the trip, too. In fact, if you’re using a bucket, they can probably be kept with the fish. Just make sure you have a lid that can be securely tightened.
We recommend you wait until the last minute to move your fish. The longer they can stay in a familiar environment, the better. Many pet fish can survive for an extended period if they’re in a large enough area. But there’s no reason to keep them in a bucket any longer than they have to be.
Finally, stop feeding your fish 24 hours before the move. This will keep their traveling area clean. Don’t worry: depending on their health, fish can sometimes go up to a week without food. However, spending that much time in an unnatural environment may be too stressful.
Moving A Fish Tank
The fish are taken care of, now it’s time for the tank. Save as much of the water as you can so the finish won’t need as long to acclimate. Carefully drain the water by siphoning it into a sealable bucket. Then remove the decorations (including gravel), dry, and pack in a box.
When removing pumps, heaters, and other equipment, make sure the filter itself stays a little damp. Everything else should be cleaned and wiped down – including the tank. How often do you perform a real deep down cleaning of an aquarium? Here’s your chance.
Even though the tank can be quite heavy, it’s still mostly glass. If you plan on packing all of the aquarium supplies in the tank, make sure each piece is carefully wrapped in paper or bubble wrap. A hard turn could send a treasure chest into the interior wall of the tank and cause a crack.
Unpacking The Fish
If it’s been more than 12 hours, consider unpacking the tank first. You wouldn’t leave the dog or cat in the truck while you move everything else, right? Move the tank into position, place the gravel, and then start filling the tank with the water you saved.
To keep the gravel even, place a bowl in the bottom of the tank to disperse the water. Hook up the equipment and let the water start warming or cooling to room temperature. If the fish are in a plastic bag, place the bag in the water so the fish can slowly acclimate to the temperature.
For larger fish, put their water in from the bucket and then the fish. Wait a few hours before turning on the heater. Start the pump as soon as there is enough water in the tank to do so. Start feeding the fish again the next day and they’re not as stressed.
Work With The Pros
Keeping Fido, Princess, or Nemo safe and comfortable during a move can be stressful, especially considering everything else going on. Why not hire Smooth Move People to pack the heavy stuff while you tend to your furry or finned family member? Our prices can’t be beaten and we have decades of experience. Schedule your move with us today.