Ok, so it’s not going to be fun, but if you do have to move, you can do so without leaving your fish behind. You will need to plan ahead and minimise the stress for all involved, here’s how:
There are basically two facets to moving your aquarium. You will need to move the tank and all the associated accessories, and you will need to move the actual fish. For obvious reasons we will handle these separately.
The first thing you will need then is a spare tank or container to temporarily store your fish in. It doesn’t have to be a fish tank, just so long as it is secure and has a tight fitting lid (to keep the fish in!)
You need to figure out timing in advance and if you expect the fish will be spending much time in these temporary tanks, consider getting a simple air pump and hook up some piping to keep them oxygenated.
Work Out The Timing
It is best to make the aquarium the last thing to go, this will mean that you can leave the fish happy and undisturbed until the last minute and hopefully get them settled quickly at the other end – the key is minimising their stress.
During the move, make sure that your fish are safe and relatively undisturbed (removal men aren’t known for their subtlety!) and make sure the tank is secure and safe from dust etc…
Drain Tank Water
Draining the tank (once the fish are out of course) isn’t complicated, but if possible, try to keep as much as possible. It may seem an odd thing to do, but this water is full of precious bacteria that your fish are already used to, reusing it at the other end will make the tank feel more like home.
If possible, stock up on water bottles for a couple of weeks in advance so that you can store all the water (explaining to your wife that you need to transport 10-15 bottles of fishy water to the new house is great fun!)
Other Stuff To Move
There are certain items in the tank that are full of beneficial bacteria. If you have a bio filter, this will need to be kept wet as will any live plants. Keeping the tank gravel a little wet will also help preserve more of that friendly micro-life.
All of these items should be kept in a container full of recycled water so that it is still healthy and ready to be put back in the tank at the other end.
The Actual Move
All of the stuff in the tank that doesn’t need to be kept in water (any artificial decorations for instance) can be rinsed, dried and put in a bag.
Make sure the tank is safely wrapped up so as to avoid breakages and move just as you would any other item of furniture. This is the easy bit really, so no big surprises!
Moving The Fish
Moving the fish is of course the most stressful part (for you and them). There’s no easy way to do this, if possible though, have somewhere set up at the new house where you can put them that is out of the way.
Take the fish in the car and have a passenger to sit with them and keep them safe. If you have many fish you may need to make more than one journey – it’s not worth trying to overcrowd the car. Make sure all lids are secure and drive carefully and hopefully all of your fish should be ok, if a little annoyed!
Setting It All Up – Again
You already know how to set-up a tank right? If not you can have a look at my post about setting up a new tank. It should go back together just how it looked before the move! As soon as you have moved the tank, get it set back up, put the water back and top up with de-chlorinated water if necessary.
The tank will need to be left to cycle for at least a few days after the move before it is ready to support all of your fish again, so if at all possible, move the tank first and get it set up ahead of time.
Once the water has settled and the tank is operating relatively normally you can reintroduce your fish! And that’s it, not a fun experience, but if you follow the steps above, there is no reason why your fish should come to any harm along the way.