The best way to move a fish tankIt should come as no surprise that some household items are considerably harder to move to another home than others. This idea becomes clear relatively early in a house move, usually during the preparation stage filled with risk assessment techniques on different levels.

For example, the task of moving your book collection to your new home feels pretty straightforward and much less complicated compared to say, moving an aquarium to a new house.

How to move a fish tank to another house is an excellent question whose answer includes a fair amount of move related difficulties, a number of major risks for your delicate fish, your breakable tank,  and the property you’re about to leave soon. And unless you have a clear understanding of what it takes to prepare to move your fish tank, and then to actually relocate the aquarium and your lovely fish in a perfectly safe way, you may even encounter real dangers while handling that challenging relocation project.

What is the best way to move a fish tank to a new house? Find it out below.

What to know when moving a fish tank

Before you enter the preparation stage, there are a number of important things you should know before you make up your mind to move your fish tank to another house. Some of these specifics you will know, while other details may actually surprise you a little bit.

  • Freshwater aquarium fish are not only graceful, but they are also very sensitive to even minor changes in their already established environment. So, considering that the process of moving your fish to another home includes transferring these delicate creatures into several containers and prolonged stay out of their comfort zone, aquarium fish can be so stressed out from that relocation affair that they can cease to eat and some never make it to their new destination either. This is important to know as it can influence your decision to move your fish and your aquarium in the first place.
  • Most fish tanks are rather fragile and you need to handle them with extra care if you wish to get them safely to their destination. The glass home of your pretty fish is usually glued together and designed to rest on a perfectly flat surface without any uncharacteristic movements or irregular vibrations. Find below some great tips for keeping your fish tank safe throughout the house move.
  • Is it ok to move a fish tank?

    Aquarium fish don’t really enjoy it when they are taken out of their comfort zone.

    Your best chance for the survival of your fish is to minimize the period of time that they will spend out of their normal environment. In other words, your aquarium should be one of the very last household items that you prepare for moving, and of course – the very first thing to set up as soon as you walk over the threshold of your new house or apartment.

  • How long will your relocation trip last? If you plan to move a fish tank long distance and you assess that the survival chance of your precious fish is too slim, then you have a couple of much safer alternatives: 1) to give away the fish to friends who have suitable aquariums, relocate only the fish tank as a structure, and then purchase new fish when you settle in your new home, and 2) leave the entire fish tank behind with the fish and all, and then purchase a brand new aquarium and new fish after the relocation.

What to do before moving your fish aquarium

The preparation stage of your fish tank moving project is essential for the success of the entire operation. Keep in mind that you can’t just start draining your fish aquarium without having completed some important preparation steps first. Well, actually you can do it, but it’s very likely that you won’t like the results.

Here are the preparation steps you should follow to get your fish tank ready to be transported safely:

  • Step 1: First and foremost, get hold of the proper supplies that you will need during the move itself. Prepare several 5-gallon buckets which are clean, leak-proof, largely opaque, and equipped with lids. Also, get your fish net ready, as well as a siphon hose, a few cardboard boxes with thick walls, a stack of packing paper, and a roll of bubble wrap.
  • Step 2: If possible, inspect your new home to find the best place for your aquarium after the move. Remember that it’s a top priority to set up the fish tank as soon as you can so that the stressed out fish can begin the acclimatization period almost immediately. Look for a spot with easy access to electricity, with good protection from direct sunlight, and one with ample space for the aquarium structure and all its accessories. The piece of furniture on which you will place your fish tank should be absolutely level, firm, and strong to withstand the weight of the aquarium when the latter is full with water.
  • Step 3: It’s best if you don’t feed your fish one full day prior to Moving day – don’t worry, your fish friends will be just fine. This precautionary step will keep the water relatively free from waste, and besides, your pets won’t be too keen to eat due to the upcoming stress anyway.

Step-by-step guide on how to move a fish tank by yourself

How do you move a fish tank to another house? To transport a fish tank to another house should not be underestimated. Now that you know what to expect when you have to move with your fish and you have completed the 3 preparation steps described above, it’s time to actually learn how to move a fish tank by yourself. Just follow the following step-by-step guide closely to finish the job quickly, easily, and most importantly – SAFELY!

  • How to move a large fish tank

    Just a thoughtful reminder for your cat.

    Step 1: With the help of your siphon hose, drain some water from the tank into the buckets until the containers are roughly two-thirds full. Do not fill up the buckets to their brims to avoid possible spills later during the move. Be mindful that you cannot move a fish tank with water in it, at least not to another home altogether. If you were moving a fish tank to another room, then yes, it’s possible to move your aquarium without emptying it first.

  • Step 2: With the help of your trusty net, catch with caution each and every fish you own and place them gently into a bucket. If you have a large number of pet friends, then you may need to split them between two moving containers. There isn’t a set rule here so use your common sense to decide when, if at all, to do it.
  • Step 3: Count out your fish friends to make sure all of them have been safely transferred into the transportation buckets. Inspect your fish tank closely just in case.
  • Step 4: Close the buckets with their own lids but make sure fresh air still gets inside them. You can even poke small holes in the plastic lids if you deem it necessary. Consider providing additional oxygen through air pumps if your fish will need to spend a lot of time in their temporary habitats.
  • Step 5: Remove any types of decorations (rocks, live plants, castles, etc.) and accessories (pumps, heaters, light fixtures, tubes, filters, etc.) you may have in the glass aquarium. Dry them as best as you can, pack them safely with soft packing paper or bubble wrap, and then store them in a cardboard box.
  • Step 6: Drain completely the remaining water from the tank. Remember that any amount of water left inside might compromise the integrity of your aquarium as soon as you try to lift it.
  • Step 7: If your aquarium has sand or gravel on its bottom, it’s time to get rid of it as well as its extra weight could cause the glass structure to break. Don’t throw away that sand or gravel though but keep it in a spare bucket so that you can return it inside the fish habitat after the relocation is over.
  • Step 8: Once the aquarium is thoroughly empty, use plenty of bubble wrap to cover it completely and secure the air-filled protective material with tape. Then, wrap the glass structure again with thick moving blankets. For larger tanks, enlist a few good friends to give you a hand to transport and load the fragile structure into the moving vehicle. Regardless of its size, keep your fish tank as flat as possible during the haul.
  • Step 9: The moment you reach your new residence, you should immediately get down to setting up the fish tank so that your poor fish can finally get back to their normal living conditions. Forget about unpacking those boxes! Tend to your loyal finned friends first.
  • Step 10: Carry the wrapped up aquarium to its final resting spot and place it there carefully. Check to see if the surface on which you’ve just positioned it is flat, stable, and will easily support the weight.
  • Step 11: After removing the bubble wrap with caution, return the gravel back to its bottom, and then set up the pumps, heater, filters, and any light fixtures to their original places. Do NOT turn them on yet as there is no water inside the tank!
  • Step 12: Place back the decorations inside the tank and start filling the habitat gradually with its original water that you just transported with the 5-gallon buckets.
  • Step 13: Use your net once more to catch all the fish from the bucket(s) and release them gently into the already set up aquarium.
  • Step 14: Pour all the remaining water from the bucket or buckets into the fish tank, and fill it up with tap water that’s already been de-chlorinated.
  • Moving house with a fishtank

    Okay, if you know you aquarium fish so well, which one of these clownfish is Nemo?

    Step 15: Before you turn the heaters on, you’re advised to let the fish tank sit for a few hours so that the room temperature and the water temperature can equalize.

  • Step 16: Turn on the heaters and pumps, and check how things are doing on a regular basis. Make sure you fish are doing okay too after the stressful relocation.
  • Step 17: Find a good pet store in your new town or city, and speak with the experts there should you have any problems or concerns about the well-being of your pretty fish.

Do you feel up to the relocation challenge? Do you honestly think you can handle the details of moving a fish tank to a new home in a way that will guarantee the safety of both your precious fish and the costly aquarium?

If you can’t bear to leave your favorite fish tank behind but you know you won’t be able to have it relocated on your own, then it seems like the logical solution is to check how much a professional mover will charge you for that particular job. Get free price estimates and see how much you will have to pay to have the peace of mind you want. In fact, you may actually be pleasantly surprised by the price offers you will get – after all, we’re talking about the safest way to move a fish tank long distance.