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So I am about to go through potentially the most annoying process ever. I have several NPT's. Some I am completely going to tear down and not keep, so I have to figure out the best way to clean and store the tanks.

One is a completely established 9 month old NPT. I realize that keeping it intact is going to be more trouble than it's worth. I have to figure out the best way to move my fish, snails, and plants with minimal stress to them. The plants are admittedly not in the best shape, I got really busy with a new job and stopped using fertilizers, and the plants were left to fend for themselves entirely. The tank is in very good shape, the water is clean, no algae, the plants are mostly low light plants so they have done pretty well without the fertilizers. They also haven't gotten enough light lately because the tank is the furthest from my windows, and it's been dark and stormy here a lot for the last month or so. On top of this, I am most likely going to be moving twice. The first is by July 29th, and the next move could happen pretty much any time after that, as I'm planning to buy a condo.

My first concern is how to best get the plants and water and dirt and sand out of the tanks with minimal mess. I'm not a strong person, so I really need to remove it all before I take the tanks out of my room. I'm on the 2nd floor of a duplex. I'm thinking the best option for getting the water out is to pump it to the ground/sewer drains below via my water changer tube. Good plan?

I have two free 20 long tanks that I was planning to set up at the new place (I can move my stuff in at any time, the house is owned by a friend and the room is free now), but I have no idea what sort of setup to go with. Doing NPT's again seems like a bad idea because I'm probably moving again soon. But how do I keep my plants happy? I have lots of amazon crowns, some lily bulbs, etc. I guess my non-rooted plants won't care as much. Maybe I could set up a very small NPT just for the rooted plants? I'm also worried about the drastic change in conditions. I know I will be dealing with melt either way but I don't want to outright kill the plants.

I would really appreciate any advice as far as a substrate that won't give me as much of a headache when I move again to use temporarily until I'm in my own home and able to set up NPT's again. My fish would be fine with no substrate and just leaf litter, but I'm not sure how the plants would like that. I do have high tech lighting and filters I can set up.

My final concern is getting the dirt and sand out of the NPT's without making a gigantic, disgusting and smelly mess. A few of the tanks I'm having to abandon because I accidentally used dirt with fertilizer in it (it was marketed as organic!), resulting in crazy algae problems on the bottom of the tanks, and probably a high amount of phosphorous in the water. They do not have fish in them for this reason.

I do have a patio and a nice hose on the side of the house, so if I can get the tanks down the front stairs I can clean them, but they can't be too heavy to get down the stairs, and they are too heavy with the dirt and sand.

Finally, storing the unused tanks? All are glass, basic tanks. I will have three 20 gal longs and two 10 gal normal tanks to store. Is stacking them a bad idea? The lids are just glass versa-tops so they won't be an issue, I will store them separately. I do want to keep the tanks instead of selling them because eventually I would like to breed my fish again.

I appreciate you hanging in with me here, sorry for the very long post and so many questions. I just want to do this right, and learn from the experiences of people who have gone through this.
 

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As far as livestock and plants, I would just use a 5-gallon bucket or something similar, and keep your filter running in it so as not to jeopardize your beneficial bacteria.

You are right about moving twice though; I just did exactly that. It took two weeks between leaving my old place and my new place being ready, but it was the end of the month (we moved out over Memorial Day weekend) and time was short so I had to leave everything in the tanks when I moved them. I lost some plants in the process, but I also had to treat for ich between moves so I'm sure that didn't help either. The good news is I didn't lose any fish, but next time they and my plants are all riding in the water change buckets. Don't want to have to deal with a mess like that again. :)
 

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What I pain. I know how you feel though because I’m potentially considering the same thing as my floors get redone in my living room. I use Seachem Florite substrate and once I get the water low as I can by siphoning I scoop out the dirt with a plastic cup. Definitely a tedious process but works for me.
 
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