By Alex Kazaryan
It is often risky and impractical to try to move fish. Fish are most sensible to to temperature changes that can hardly be avoidable during a move. So if they don’t have any special sentimental value to you – just don’t move them. Many aquarium stores may accept them and even offer a store credit, which you can use in another location close to the place you moved in. But if you don’t have this option here are some suggestions you may consider during your move:
Firstly, you need to take fish out of the aquarium and move them separately. Tanks are rarely built to withstand the stress of a move, especially with water inside. So you need to drain it after, of course, you finished putting all your fish in carrying containers. The main concern when moving a fishtank is its filtration system. The aerobic bacteria needed to preserve the life cycle of an aquarium and the life of fish starts to die after few hours without a flow of oxygen-laden water. It is not as crucial when you move short distance. What you need is to move about half of the water you’ve had in you fishtank to a new location to make sure the colony of aerobic bacteria survive. If you are moving long distance you’ll have to set up the tank exactly like a new one at your destination including one week delay.
Disassemble your aquarium before the move; heaters, pumps, filters and other media should be packed separately like fragile items. The tank itself should be in bubble wrap and packed in moving blankets. If possible, it is better not to use a moving van for transporting a fishtank but to put it in a trunk of your car.
Provided you are moving local, the actual move of your tank can take about a week with all the neccessary precautions making sure your beloved fish won’t sufer from the New Tank Syndrome. During this period you can put them either into your friend’s tank or into the pet store aquarium. Some pet stores do it for free, some can even offer additional services like packing and air shipping your fish for additional fees.
Now we came close to the actual packing and moving of the fish. Long before the move prepare the accessories you’ll need to move your fish. It might be styrofoam boxes, polythene bags, a cooler or other compartmentalized container. Take the fish out of the aquarium 15 minutes before you’ll drain it and put them in bags or styrofoam boxes: one fish per each container. Fill the fish containers with tank water and don’t forget that about a half of a container space should be left for the air pocket. Don’t feed your fish 24 hours before the move in order to make water in the containers as clean as possible. As a matter of fact, fish would feel too stressed to eat during the whole move – so don’t worry about feeding them; fish can live more than a week without food. Seal the styrofoam boxes with lids and bags – with rubber bands; to reduce the chance of leaking you can double bag your fish. Put the water plants in the separate containers too – they also need to be wet during the move. After you’ve finished packing the fish put all the bags with your pets into a container that can hold steady temperature during the whole period of the move – it might be a cooler. If you are moving far – it might be a good suggestion to get a battery powered air pump and occasionally change air in fish containers.
When you arrive to the place you’re moving in – set up the aquarium first. Add gravel, preferably from your old home; gravel contains ammonia-eating bacterias that are crucial for the aquarium not to go through New Tank Syndrome. Then fill the tank with the water you brought from the old place adding some chlorine remover. Fill the tank up with tap water of proper temperature, and turn on the filters. As the water is clearing out you may add a fish or two and watch closely for their reaction. It is absolutely normal for fish to panic and breathe harder in the new surroundings. But if a fish lies on the side and doesn’t move for few seconds put it back to a travelling container and check the tank for the proper temperature and water chemistry. Watch your fish and regularly check the tank during the first week to be sure your beloved ones haven’t got any disease.