Moving Tips for Saltwater Aquariums
Learn how to minimize the stress of a move on your fish and invertebrates.
Moving with your saltwater aquarium is labor-intensive and stressful for you and your fish. However, sometimes it simply can’t be avoided. Here are some expert tips that will help you make it through the process as successfully as possible.
Make the Aquarium a Priority
To minimize stress on your fish, your saltwater aquarium should be the last thing you pack up before leaving your old home and the first thing you unpack at your new one. This will help prevent fish and invertebrates from having to spend too much time in crowded containers or in poor water conditions. Ideally, you will have visited your new home in advance of the move and selected an appropriate place for your aquarium, so you will know exactly where to set it up when you arrive on moving day.
Preparing for the Journey
- Clean the Aquarium. Four or five days before your move, give the aquarium a thorough cleaning, including the substrate. This will help prevent the transport of lots of waste and debris, but still allow bacteria to repopulate before the move.
- Stop Feeding. If your move will require the fish to be in transport containers for more than an hour, you should stop feeding them two days before the move. This will help ensure that they don’t foul the bags with their own waste, which would reduce the amount of oxygen available during the trip.
- Pack Decorations. Remove any decorations or live rock from your aquarium, making sure to check them for any hidden critters, and pack them in clean buckets or boxes.
- Start Removing Water. The more of the original aquarium water you are able to take with you on your move, the easier it will be for your saltwater fish to acclimate to their new aquarium. Gather a bunch of clean 5-gallon buckets (with lids!) for the job. Fill each bucket about 2/3 full.
- Catch Your Fish & Inverts. As the water level in the aquarium goes down, it should get easier to catch your fish and invertebrates. Starting with the most aggressive critters, gently remove them from the tank and place them in small containers or bags. Fish don’t need much water for a short trip—just enough to turn around—but they do need a significant air column in the container to provide oxygen. If you will be going on a long trip, consider adding an air stone to the container or possibly stopping en route to aerate the containers manually.
- Remove Substrate: Leaving heavy gravel and sand in your aquarium can cause it to crack if it should tip or twist during the journey. Remove your substrate and put it in another bucket with just enough water to cover it.
As soon as you arrive at your new home, begin setting up the aquarium. Start by adding the substrate and the extra water you saved and setting up your filters, pumps, lights, and other equipment. Once things have a chance to settle, you can begin adding the fish and invertebrates back in.
If you’re moving to the Redondo Beach area, don’t forget to check in with us here at Aquatic Fantasy on arrival. We’ll be happy to help you source any foods, filter cartridges, pure water, or other products you may need to keep your fish and invertebrates happy in their new location.