Moving pets is no easy feat, especially when those pets have scales. Moving a fish tank can be overwhelming, because you must consider how to move each individual fish and how to move the tank. Plus, you must ensure the tank is set up and ready at your new location. Whether you are wondering how to move a 20-gallon fish tank, or how to move a 55-gallon fish tank, this comprehensive guide will take you step by step to ensure your aquarium setup is safely relocated to your new home.

Moving a Fish Tank Long Distance

Please note that this guide is best used for short distance moves only. For information on how to move your fish across the country, please contact your local pet store or a specialist.

Moving an Aquarium from House to House

Follow these steps when moving an aquarium from house to house:


  1. Gather Necessary Equipment

Begin assembling a transport kit for your aquarium. This kit should contain all equipment required to safely move your fish tank. Do this a week or two before your move, in case you need to purchase any additional materials. You’ll need the following:


  1. Prep Your Tank and Transfer Your Fish

It’s important that once you begin this process, you continue until you are finished. We recommend starting the tank relocation on the morning of your move, before the movers arrive. This ensures no additional stress is put on the fish. Withhold food from the fish for 24 hours prior to the move.

First, lay a tarp on the floor near your aquarium to prevent floor damage. Unplug and remove heaters, filtration equipment and circulation pumps. Then, remove all plants and put them in buckets containing water from the tank. Empty the tank of all decorations and lay them on a towel to dry. Line up the buckets the fish will go into and fill them with tank water using the siphon hose, about two-thirds water and one-third air. Using the fish net, carefully retrieve each fish and put them in the buckets. Add air holes to the lids and close them. Secure the lids with waterproof tape. Keep the fish in a climate-controlled area until you are ready to transport them. Do not leave them outside or in rooms with extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Once the tank is emptied, drain the rest of the water and empty the gravel (you can use the fish net to scoop it out). Clean and dry the tank. Bag the gravel, but be sure to keep the gravel wet to preserve important bacteria. Once equipment and decorations are dry, wrap them in bubble wrap, put them in a box and label clearly. Keep that box near your fish buckets, so it won’t get lost in the shuffle.


  1. How To Pack An Aquarium Into A Moving Truck

Once your tank is empty and dry, it’s ready to pack for transport. Wrap your tank in paper padding and/or cardboard and secure with tape. Then, wrap a moving blanket around the tank and secure with tape again. You may want to do two or three blankets, depending on the size of the tank. Now, the tank will be safe to move. Place the tank on a flat surface, without anything stacked on top of it.

Do not transport your fish in the truck, as most moving vans are not air-conditioned. It is safer to transport your fish and plant buckets on the floorboards of your air-conditioned personal vehicle.


  1. Reassemble Your Tank and Introduce Your Fish

It’s important to set up your fish tank in your new home as soon as possible. Be prepared to complete this task before beginning any other unpacking or activity.

Designate a permanent spot for the aquarium and begin the setup. Unwrap the tank and inspect it to ensure there was no damage during transport. A single, minor crack could compromise the tank and your fish. Unwrap your gravel, decorations and equipment, and rebuild the habitat. Once the tank is ready for water, fill the tank with the water from the fish and plant buckets, starting with the plants first. Fill until there is just enough water in the bucket for the fish to be submerged. Then, transfer your fish to the tank using the net. You can then pour any remaining water from the buckets into the aquarium. You may need to add dechlorinated tap water, if the tank isn’t full enough. Wait for the water to return to room temperature before turning on the heater and pump.


  1. Observe Your Fish

Once your aquarium is back up and running, resume your normal feeding schedule. Over the next couple days, keep a close eye on your fish to determine if they are showing signs of distress or illness. If you’re concerned, contact a local pet store or aquarium specialist.

Dependable RELO is available to help make this process easy for you. Let’s talk about getting an estimate!



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