Freshwater Aquarium/Moving!


Hello mr. Hight! First I would like to thank you for helping my move last time. 125gallon across town with zero losses. So I need your help again! I am helping a friend move his 55 gallon about 15 minutes across town. He has 2 red eared sliders and 6 mbunas. I remember last time that I did not actually use the same water that I transferred them in to put back into the tank. If you could just give me a quick refresher on how to move these guys safely it would be great. The turtles are very hearty so no problem if it's not in your area. But I don't want to lose any of the fish. Thank you greatly in advance.

Hi Jarod

I apologize for the delay in answering your question. The notification from the site went to spam for some reason. Below is the answer I gave you before. No worries on the turtles, they will be fine.

Below is how I moved my fish.

1) Fill 2 holding containers about 1/2 full with water from the aquarium. Then fill them the rest of the way with clean, fresh water treated with a water conditioner. These containers should be insulated and at least a 5 gallon bucket that has a lid. Most sporting goods stores and even Walmart sell styrofoam bait buckets that come with battery operated air pumps which will work nicely. A plastic food cooler will also work, but you will need to line the cooler with a large plastic bag.

2) Let these 2 containers sit beside the aquarium for about 30-45 minutes to let the temperature equalize. Then gently net each of your fish and place them in the containers.. 3 in one container and 3 in the other.

3) Take any plants you may have in the aquarium out and put them in these containers as well. Rocks, logs and other heavy decorations should be transported separately in a bag or box. Don't worry if the rocks or logs dry during the move, they will be fine.

4) Take some more water from the aquarium and put in a large plastic bag that seals. A large Ziploc bag will work. This bag is where you will put your filter media to keep it wet and the bacteria from dying.

5) Drain any water left in the aquarium out, leaving about an inch of water above the gravel. Only remove enough of the gravel out of the aquarium to make the aquarium light enough to carry and keep it from breaking during the move. You can put the gravel in a separate container with about an inch of the aquarium water covering it, or you can put it in the containers with the fish. The excess water from the aquarium can be thrown out.

6) Place the aquarium on a heavy blanket, quilt or moving pad. Make sure the tank is secure and won't move around.

7) Put the containers holding the fish in the truck and make sure they are secure and will not tip over.

8) When you get the tank to your new location, set it up immediately. Put the gravel and decorations in the tank and fill it with fresh clean water. Treat the water with a water conditioner. Get your filter, heater and airstones (if you use airstones) running in the tank and let them run for about 2 hours.

9) Finally, you will need to acclimate your fish just as you would if you brought them home from the pet store. Take water out of the holding containers and put it in large plastic bags, Again, a large Ziploc bag will work for this.

Let the bags sit in the tank for about 30 minutes to equalize the temp, Then, take about 1/8 cup of the new tank water and put it in the bags and remove the same amount from the bags. Do this every 10 minutes for about an hour and a half. Then your fish should be ready for the tank. Gently net them and place them one by one into the tank. DO NOT empty the old water from the bags into the tank.

Hope this is helpful to you, good luck!


Freshwater Aquarium

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Richard Hight


I own and maintain several freshwater aquariums from 2 to 180 gallon. I can answer most questions about freshwater aquariums, including setup, cycling, maintenance, compatible tank mates, feeding. Moving? I've moved fish both across town and across the country and can help you get your little aquatic friends to their new home safely. I know and have experience with most freshwater community fish, South American Cichlids and African Cichlids. I don't answer questions about Goldfish or keeping Goldfish with Tropical Fish. I also don't answer questions about keeping crustaceans (shrimp, snails, crabs etc) with Tropical Fish, nor questions about saltwater fish or aquariums. I'm not available to answer questions on weekends, this is when I do maintenance on my own tanks.


Many years of personal experience with community tank fish, semi-aggressive fish (Barbs, Tetras, etc), Angels, South American Cichlids and African Cichlids.

HSG 2010-2011 prof

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