How to Safely Move a Fish Tank or Aquarium

Moving can be a complex, difficult process. When you’re moving with a fish, that process can get a little bit harder. Of course, we’re here to make that process simple, easy, and hassle free. And that’s why we’re here to walk you through the process of how to move a fish tank. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss how to prepare, how to transport fish in a car, and everything else you need to know to get your fish from A to B safely.

We understand that your fish is part of your family. That’s why we aim to detail every single step of how to move an aquarium whether you’re moving across town or across the country. Let’s get started right now!

Step 1: Prepare All Supplies

Moving a large fish tank or any sort of home for your fish means you’ll need to be well prepared. You’ll be moving the tank when it’s empty, so much of that preparation will involve getting ready to house your fish and tank accessories during the moving process.

First of all, gather all your fish-related items that don’t go in the tank and place them in a box or bag. This will include fish food, test strips, the table for the aquarium, and more.

Now it’s time to gather some supplies so you know precisely how to move your fish tank.

  • Grab a siphon hose in order to remove the water from your fish tank.
  • Purchase a fishnet, which will allow you to safely move your fish from the tank to a transportation container.
  • Gather necessary packing supplies, including air-filled padding, moving boxes, foam board insulation, and packing tape (to secure lids).
  • Get buckets in which you’ll transport the plants. Make sure that your plants are submerged in water from the tank when in those buckets.
  • Most importantly, get the container(s) for your fish. For short moves and small fish, you can use a plastic bag or small containers. For longer moves or bigger fish, purchase 5-gallon buckets with lids to complete the moving process.

Step 2: Move the Fish to Its Temporary Home

During the transportation process, your fish will have a new home—the plastic bag, container, or 5-gallon bucket you purchased in Step 1. Keep in mind that you’ll need to move the fish into its temporary home well before the move begins in order to give you plenty of time to empty, clean, and disassemble the aquarium. However, you want to find a sweet spot so that your fish doesn’t have to be out of its habitat for an unnecessary amount of time.

To keep the environment as close to normal as possible, fill the temporary home (container or bucket) with water from the fish tank. Be sure to leave room in the top for air.

Due to the fact that healthy fish can easily go a day without food, stop feeding your fish for 24 hours prior to the move. This will help you keep the temporary home clean during the moving process.

Using the fishnet, carefully collect each fish and place them in their respective containers. For appropriate sizes and types of fish that are normally living alongside one another, you can place multiple fish in the same bucket.

Step 3: Prepare the Fish Tank

Answering the question of how to transport a fish tank begins with preparing that fish tank for travel. So, once the fish are out of the tank and in their moving containers, get started on the aquarium itself.

Start with the plants. Move them into separate containers filled with water from the tank. Once again, allow room for air at the top of the container.

Now it’s time to siphon out the water in the tank. If possible, keep this water. Use sealable buckets. This allows you to refill the tank with its original water, which is good for the fish.

Any pebbles or sand in the tank can now be moved into containers for the transportation process.

Dry, clean, and pack up the items within the fish tank, such as decorations, structures, and more.

As you take out equipment and wipe it all down, make sure to keep the filter damp. You can use packing materials designed for fish tank equipment to make sure everything is safe.

Finally, dry the tank completely. And as you pack everything up, be sure to label the boxes so you know precisely where everything is when it’s time to put it all back together.

Step 4: Pack and Load

How do you move a fish tank? Carefully. Moving a fish aquarium is a delicate process with fragile parts, so be sure to handle those items with care. As you already know, a crack or any type of damage can make the tank usafe for your fish.

Begin with the lid. Wrap it up in air-filled plastic padding.

You can fill the tank with packing paper, towels, or other protective material. Cut foam board insulation and insert before filling the tank.

Before placing the tank in a box, put foam insulation around all sides. You’ll also want to wrap plastic padding around the tank. The box used needs to be large enough for the tank AND the insulation. However, you also want a tight fit to keep the tank from moving around within the box.

Seal, label, and mark the box to show which way is up.

Make sure the aquarium boxes are clearly marked so the movers know to handle these boxes with care and not place other boxes on top of them. 

When it comes to how to transport fish when moving, either keep the fish (and their containers) in your own car or in the cabin of the moving vehicle.

Step 5: Reassembly

You want your fish in their temporary containers for as short a time as possible. So, putting your aquarium back together should be among your first priorities when you arrive at your new home. If possible, make it your first task.

The first step is deciding on where the tank will go. Pick out the room and general idea of where you’ll place the tank, even if you aren’t sure where it will be once everything is set up.

Remove the tank from its packaging and inspect it to make sure it will provide a safe home for your fish.

Begin reassembly by refilling the pebbles, sand, or other similar material.

Now add in the decorations or structure, as well as the plants.

Pour in the water you housed in buckets (both for the plants and in separate containers).

Using the fishnet, carefully transport the fish from their temporary containers to their permanent aquarium. Before pouring the water from the temporary containers into the fish tank, be sure to remove any waste.

You can also add in any additional water at this stage, as needed.

Be sure to give it a few hours before turning on the pump and heater so the water can achieve room temperature.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully moved your fish from one home to the next. Hopefully this guidance gives you peace of mind and the confidence you need to experience a hassle-free moving process alongside your fish. When it comes to preparing for your move, be sure to let us know that we’ll be moving a fish tank. That allows us to properly prepare and give those items priority when it comes to packing, unloading, and more.

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