Moving Your Fish Friends Safely
In an earlier post, we discussed moving pets. Now we’ll tell you how to move fish safely.
Moving your aquatic friends is challenging. If you have an especially large tank, long mover, or delicate fish species, consider hiring a professional fish tank mover. You can contact the best moving companies for advice in this should you require it. Otherwise, carefully following specific steps will maximize the likelihood that they’ll all survive and make it to your new home. The following steps apply only to short moves (under a day). I’ll explain how to handle long moves afterwards.
Prepare the fish for moving
It’s important to stop feeding your fish 24 to 48 hours before you move to prevent waste buildup in their water. Don’t feed them again until after the move. Fish can survive for up to a week without feeding, so there’s no need for concern. Putting the fish in temporary containers and preparing the tank should be one of the last steps you take before you move. When you’re ready, place the fish in resealable plastic bags and fill them a fourth of the way with water from the tank. Always scoop the water from the top and discard the bottom few inches of tank water, which might otherwise be contaminated with gravel and waste. Make sure the fish have enough water to move comfortably. Place the bags in a large Styrofoam cooler without stacking them on top of each other. If you have larger fish, use 5-gallon sealable plastic buckets and limit the number of fish per bucket to 3 or 4.
Prepare and pack the tank
Once the fish are all out of the tank, put any remaining tank water besides the bottom few inches in a bucket to use when you’re setting up the tank again after the move. Wrap any aquarium plants loosely in wet paper towels and seal them in plastic bags or place them in buckets filled with tank water. Use bubble wrap to protect any accessories. Keep the filter damp to preserve beneficial bacteria and seal it in a bag. After you’ve discarded the remaining gravel then cleaned and dried the tank, wrap it in towels or other packing materials. If you use towels, secure them with tape. Make sure none of the tape is touching the tank to avoid leaving behind residue. For additional protection, you can tape pieces of corrugated cardboard to the outside. Custom-made wooden crates are an ideal packing option, especially for larger tanks
During the move
Moving is stressful for fish. Keeping them in the dark during the move and the water temperatures on the cool side (but no too cold) will help keep them remain calm and lower their metabolism. It’s important to maintain proper water temperatures, usually between 65 and 70 degrees for most fish and 72 to 75 degrees for tropical fish. Keep the containers with the fish out of direct sunlight. It’s best to move them in your own vehicle if possible. If not, discuss the situation with the movers so they can take appropriate steps. The best moving companies will know what to do.
Setting up the tank after the move
Once you’ve arrived at your new home, set up the tank and return the fish to it as soon as possible. After you’ve set up the tank with the reserved water, run it through a filter for a few hours. Finally put the bags with the fish in the water for 10 minutes or so to even out the temperatures. Afterwards, you can safely to put the fish back in the tank.
If you plan to move fish longer than 24 hours, you’ll need to use plastic buckets instead of bags. Using the old tank water after the move won’t be an option in this case, so the fish will have to be kept in a friend’s take or a fish store if possible. Setting up the tank again in your new place from scratch will take a week or so.
Follow these steps carefully and your fish will stay healthy and happy.
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