Moving Tips - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Moving Tips

At the end of December I'll be moving and I have a few tanks. The drive is 6-7 hours, lots of hills, windy roads, and a fair number of bumpy patches. My car doesn't handle hills well in it's old age so gas breaks will be frequent. I also have a dog, so actually lets say 8 hour drive just to be safe.

The plan:
All the fish will be bagged. I'll use regular bags, not breather bags, because I have a couple bettas and they need the air at the surface. All the bags will be put in either an actual cooler or a styrofoam cooler.
Filter media gets bagged with water. There won't be room in my tiny car with the tanks, a dog, and a cat for the media to get it's own bucket and air pump.
Wood with plants attached will be put in large bags with a bit of water to make sure it all stays wet. The pieces of wood that are completely covered with plants may get wrapped in wet newspaper. Thoughts?
Rocks go in buckets.
In easy tanks plants will be removed, wrapped in wet newspaper, and bagged. They'll either go in a box or dark bag so they aren't exposed to light. Since there are a fair number of hills and the house has stairs up to all the doors, I think it would be kindest to the tanks and my back to remove the substrate and toss it in buckets.
Once I get there ideally the fish will be put in buckets with heaters and air stones while I set the tanks up, unless it would be less stressful to just leave them in bags?

The problem:
How the heck do I move my dirted tank? I'm quite fond of it and it's planted completely with swords and crypts. I'd really hate to disturb my swords because I'm getting so many babies but I'd hate it more if I killed them. I don't see how I can move the tank with the substrate in it without breaking the sand cap and/or having the substrate move and mix with all the hills and turns. If I have to take it out, are there any tips to separate the sand cap and dirt so they can be saved and put back in after the drive?
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-23-2017, 12:45 AM
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I recently moved my house and my biggest headache was moving my only 3ft aquarium. I feel for you and wish you all the best moving with all those tanks. I hope it goes smoothly.

The only thing I can add is, after the move the fishes were still in the bucket and I didn't finish setting up the aquarium. So I put the heater in the bucket but few hours later found out that the water became too hot and I lost few smaller fishes. I don't know why the heater didn't stop working once the water reached the correct temperature, perhaps it was just my heater.

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-23-2017, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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That sucks! I have a variety of heater sizes so I'm not too worried about overheating buckets, no matter how small some of them may be. I think I'll probably move everyone in the dirt tank in to a bucket with a filter a few days, maybe even a week, before moving day so I have more time to figure out what I'm doing and so it's easier to fish out the shrimp. I really have no idea what to do with the darn tank.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-23-2017, 06:44 PM
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The fish will be just fine in bags for at least a couple of days. Use the cooler(s)
Plants I would put into a 5 gallon bucket with a bit of water and a lid.
Dirt tank is a bit more complex. If I were moving it I'd drain it, put some newspaper on top and move it with dirt. It will get stirred up a bit though.

On arrival I would set the tanks up one by one and add fish as possible. Don't worry about putting fish in buckets and heaters into buckets. Just work quickly and methodically to get them home.

One thing. When you are ready to add the fish (after temperature acclimatization in a still tied bag) put the bag over a net and then open the bag and drain the water. Ammonia levels can spike when you first open the bag. That is why you want to get them out of that water as quick as you can once it is opened.

Certain types of corys (and there may be others) will release a toxin into the bag water. In that case you need to put them in the bag of water and drain the bag. Then fill it again. Three times or so. Stress coat helps.

You'd be surprised how resilient the fish are. I am taking down RC Bowes fish room and bringing many of his fish to my fish house. We pull them out of their tank, add fresh, filtered water to the bags. When I get home I just dump them into my well water. I do that when I buy fish at the auction also with no loss.

Good luck with your move.

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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-23-2017, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Would you recommend removing the plants? It's full of root feeders with very large root systems. Taking them out without butchering the roots would probably destroy the tank.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-23-2017, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Sabrinah View Post
Would you recommend removing the plants? It's full of root feeders with very large root systems. Taking them out without butchering the roots would probably destroy the tank.
I would not remove them. Let them lean over. I'd get as much water out as I could. Even to the point of creating a little well in the corner of the dirt and tipping the tank a little. The newspaper would serve to keep the humidity up a little but really the dirt is still going to be more like a mud. And be careful refilling that you don't disturb the dirt any more than needed.

Where are you moving from and to where?

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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-23-2017, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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I'm moving from San Jose to a tiny little town in Humboldt County. My biggest concern is the substrate getting tossed to one side or another and no longer having a sand cap. There's no stores within a 30-45 minute drive, and even then choices aren't great, so it's not like I can easily run to the store and grab new sand. The new house is on a very steep hill so there's no way it's staying level. If all the tanks don't fit in my trunk my aunt volunteered to help but she drives like a bat out of hell. Subrate definitely can't stay in the tanks if she's driving.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 12:49 AM
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Before you make your move, consider the number and size of the tanks, and what fish and plants and so on you have in them. Ash yourself how difficult would it be to replace the livestock?

Your best solution might be to sell or give away everything living, and tear the tanks down in the advance of the move. Trying to move a tank along with moving yourself and all your other items can be way too much. You'll have a lot going on during a move, even if you didn't have any fish. Move only the equipment, and start from scratch.

I know most of us consider the livestock to be almost like family, and this can be tough to do, but it makes things much easier on you.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 01:18 AM
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How big is your dirted tank?

I just moved a few moths ago, but it was only a 20 minute drive to my new house and I also decided to upgrade to a bigger tank in the process. I moving my small 5 gallon tanks by just draining and packing with wet newspaper. That worked OK, but things definitely shifted... The 40 gallon was a bit more intense. Best method for me was to buy 5 gallon buckets with lids (from Lowes) for all the plants and fish. That kept all my plants wet and my car dry. I moved the 40g with BDBS in it. Just to note: wet sand/dirt is heavy. The substrate stayed pretty level, but I didn't have any hills. Covering your substrate with newspaper and then some cuts of plywood would keep everything in place if you're really concerned. Basically put a roof on it. I would remove the plant tho, to not squish/kink them.

Personally, I would break the whole tank down into buckets/manageable tubs and rebuild, your plants will rebound quickly.
Will your tap water parameters be the same? Something to think about. Hope this helps!

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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Getting rid of everything and restarting is not possible. First of all there will be absolutely no money whatsoever to spare for new fish (I'm debating trying to breed to make just enough profit that the fish pay for themselves), and second the fish store choices are fairly poor. I am willing to remove all substrate in that tank and redo it completely. I don't know if I would do dirt again since I'll be moving once again in a couple more years or just stick to black diamond blasting sand.

The dirt tank is only a 20H. I have a tiny car though and it may not fit in the trunk. In that case my aunt (the crazy driver) would take it in her car.
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 02:49 AM
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I'm not sure if you would be able to keep the swords in, but here's what I would do...

After removing everything but the substrate in the dirted tank, refill the tank to the top and start siphoning off the sand, little by little. Leave a thin layer behind to make sure you don't disturb the dirt too much, but get out as much as you can with the siphon. Then, just add a new cap when you get the tank in it's new home. At this point, why care if it's just some mud sloshing around; you're going to recap it anyway.

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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
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I think that's what I'm going to try and do. I'll probably leave the plants in for most of the sand removal so I can actually see what I'm doing instead of the water being a muddy mess. Also this way would give me the opportunity to rescape a bit! I don't know whether to use blasting sand (I really don't need a whole 50 lbs. That's a bit excessive) or just get a bag of inert sand from Petco or something. I'm sure blasting sand looks better but I don't want to lug around the bag with everything else.
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 03:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabrinah View Post
I think that's what I'm going to try and do. I'll probably leave the plants in for most of the sand removal so I can actually see what I'm doing instead of the water being a muddy mess. Also this way would give me the opportunity to rescape a bit! I don't know whether to use blasting sand (I really don't need a whole 50 lbs. That's a bit excessive) or just get a bag of inert sand from Petco or something. I'm sure blasting sand looks better but I don't want to lug around the bag with everything else.
The sand will actually keep the substrate a bit more stable.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 04:13 AM Thread Starter
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The sand will actually keep the substrate a bit more stable.
Stable during the move or stable in general? I know dirt tanks have to have a sand cap regardless. I don't care if the dirt moves around since there won't be a cap to break. With no plants in there I can shove cardboard, wood, foam, etc. on top to help keep it from moving around. I might end up buying foam anyways so I can cover the tanks in foam and bubble wrap as protection, provided that both are relatively cheap...
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2017, 01:41 PM
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Personally I would be inclined to tear down the dirted tank completely, and redirt/cap once it's at the new house...

Black diamond blasting sand is only around $8, so even if you don't need all 50# of it it's cheap enough, btw. I've got a bag on my back porch I grabbed and only used like 7# for my Fluval edge, if you were closer I'd give you the rest. This stuff is heavier than it looks, so it's not hard to end up using almost a pound per gallon on many tanks, but you would end up around 10-15# for a cap on a 20H.


Moving the tank without too much slosh and mess is doable, but depending on how little you want to disturb it dictates how you do things. You might be able to get away with simply covering the exposed substrate with plastic wrap, and placing cardboard or stiffer plastic on top to minimise the mess.
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