Moving your belongings to a new home or apartment is physically and mentally taxing. The task takes on a brand new layer of work when you have to move an aquarium along with your furniture. In addition to packing up and transporting your custom aquarium, you also have to make sure your fish, and anything else you have in the aquarium, is moved safely to its new home. Just getting to your destination is only half the battle. It’s important to avoid disrupting the aquatic environment more than necessary. Find out the best way to move your aquarium to your new place without taking a bath or losing any of your scaly sidekicks:

Prepare the Tank

As you’re planning your move, it’s best that you save the aquarium for last. That way, your fish don’t have to swim around outside of their normal habitat for too long. When you’re ready to tackle the task of moving your custom aquarium, drain the tank water into sealable buckets. Re-using your tank water helps preserve helpful bacteria. Note that this method is best reserved for quick moves of less than a day. For anything longer than that, it’s best to simply get rid of the water and cycle in a fresh supply in your tank before letting your fish return home.

A Great Opportunity for Aquarium Maintenance

Next, take care of aquarium maintenance as you remove gravel and plants from the tank. Make sure to keep live plants in bags of water to keep them as fresh as the fish you’re moving. When taking out the filter media, it’s best that you not clean it before packing it up with tank water and bacteria. Again, this only applies to short moves. You’ll want to go ahead and give the filter a good scrubbing and cleaning if it’ll take you a few days to complete your move.

Get Your Fish Ready

To keep water as fresh and clean as possible while moving your custom aquarium, it’s smart to stop feeding them about four days or so before the big day. This might seem cruel, but they’ll be fine. The feeding lull gives them time to flush waste from their systems, and do so in a way that won’t compromise their oxygen supply. Just be sure to round up all the fish once you’ve removed all the plants and gravel and most of the water from the tank. It’s easy to lose count when you’re in a hurry.

Solitary Confinement Isn’t Cruel and Unusual

When the time comes to bag the fish, fill plastic bags less than halfway with tank water. Be sure each bag only has one fish. Store the bags with care in rows inside a styrofoam cooler (or Poly box for warm water fish). Don’t bury the box under a mound of other belongings. You’ll need to refresh the oxygen supply every couple of hours by opening and resealing the bags.

Take care that you keep fish out of sunlight and excessive temperatures while transporting them. You should also keep them in the dark as much as possible to help them stay calm during the move.

Move the Tank

Wrap the tank of your custom aquarium inside blankets or equally soft wrapping, keeping the wrapping tight with packing tape. If you like, you can reinforce the protection with pieces of cardboard bound with more tape. Lift the tank from the bottom, and transport it in a way that it doesn’t come into contact with anything that might bump, fall on top of, or jostle it.

Set Up the Tank

Rather than leave the tank for last in your new place like you did when moving from your old place, make setting it up a top priority. Unpack the tank of your custom aquarium and set up the filter and heater and ensure they’re in working order. Slowly introduce tank water to the fishes’ bags to see how they react before letting them back into their old tank in their new home.

With a bit of planning and patience, moving your aquarium won’t open a floodgate of problems. For the ultimate in ease, contact an aquarium setup and maintenance professional to do the job.