If you have a plan in place before moving day arrives, it will be much easier to accomplish this task.

The first concern must be for the fish and other marine life in the aquarium. If you’re moving to NYC, then you can check with a local pet store or provider about boarding them while you transfer the tank to its new location. Then you can pick them up once the job is finished.

If you are moving across the country, then re-homing your fish is probably a better idea.

Equipment Needed to Move a Fish Tank


Several items are necessary when you need to move an aquarium. You’ll want containers that can transport the items in the fish tank, individual fish bags with rubber bands, and coolers that will protect your marine life.

Floor protection is necessary as an insurance policy against a spill. Having a tarp down while you drain the aquarium is very helpful when going through the moving process. A wet/dry vacuum will help you take care of any accidents or messes, while a hand cart or dolly will make it easier to move the installation.

You will also want leveling shims available for when you finish the installation at your new home.

If you are transporting fish over a lengthy distance, then a battery-operated air pump is helpful because it will add more oxygen to your transportation bags.

Going Through the Moving Process with Your Aquarium

Moving Aquarium

If you plan to take your fish to your new home, save as much of the aquarium water as possible. Taking this step will minimize the stress that your tank’s inhabitants will face as you re-establish the biome.

Using the same water will also help any living reefs or plants that you keep in the aquarium. A 5-gallon bucket with a snap-on lid is the easiest way to transport this part of your fish tank.

Then place the inhabitants of your aquarium into the coolers so that the water stays at the correct temperature. If you have large fish, use a tub, bucket, or an approved Styrofoam container to manage this part of the moving process.

How to Correctly Move Your Fish Tank

Unplugging your heater is the first step to take when moving an aquarium. You will want to let it cool for at least 30 minutes before removing it from the tank. It helps to use this time to remove any mineral deposits or algae while everything is still wet.

Then you’ll want to take out your circulation pumps and filtration equipment. If you need to keep any biologics wet from this system, place it in one of the sealed 5-gallon buckets of aquarium water.

Siphon the tank water that you intend to take with you before taking out any of the artificial plants or décor items that are moving to your new place. Please pack the items with bubble wrap or other protective materials to ensure they’re protected correctly.

Remember to keep your aquarium’s inhabitants separate from any heavy objects or the rocks from your tank. Items can shift when on a moving truck or in your vehicle, putting them at a higher risk of injury if you do.

Once you have all of the water and gravel out of the aquarium, use the wet/dry vacuum to clean the interior. Never try to lift or transport a tank with water or gravel still in it.

Finishing the Job After the Move is Over

Almost every aquarium goes through a reset process after moving because the system’s biological balance gets disrupted. You might see issues with nitrites, ammonia, and water clarity for 7-14 days after you get the system set up at your new home.

You’ll want a test for high levels of nitrite and ammonia about 72 hours after the move. If you experience elevated levels, then take the appropriate action for your aquarium.

You’ll want to observe your fish and marine life for signs of disease. If the water becomes clouding, consider adding additional carbon to your filtration system. Cutting back on your feeding can also help.

Then get to know the fish tank supply stores in your neighborhood, community, or borough. You’ll want to see if they have the items you’ll need in the future to maintain the health of your aquarium.

Moving a fish tank is a bit more complicated than your other belongings, but it isn’t an impossible task. Having a plan in place will make this process as stress-free as possible.

If you need help with your aquarium, hiring professional movers to transport your equipment to your new home is also an investment worth considering.

Quality Starts Here

Trust Expo Movers for a hassle-free moving experience.

By Published On: November 25, 2019Categories: Moving Tips, Packing