Moving your aquarium: Part 1

Considerations when moving your aquarium

Part 1:

an aquarium move

image by TheMuuj on Flickr

Over the years, I have had to move my aquarium many times—from apartment to apartment (multiple times), from apartment to house, and from house to house. I’ve moved my aquarium so many times that I could probably do it in my sleep. In order to plan a successful move, you need to plan for a few things. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll take you through the various planning steps I have used over the years to successfully move my aquarium again and again.

When moving your aquarium, you need to make plans for moving three categories of stuff. Each category has its own needs as far as logistics and handling. Those categories are:

1)      The living things

2)      The equipment (and non-living decorations)

3)      The tank/stand

My rationale is that the items within each group all need similar handling—for example, living things need waterproof, temperature controlled (if possible), ‘smooth riding’ consideration, if possible. The equipment wants to be cleaned, dried and protected from banging around either in a box or into another piece of equipment. Finally, the tank/stand need to be clean, empty, and need to be packed LIFO (Last In, First Out)—which means you want it to be the last thing on the truck and the first thing off, if you intend to set the aquarium right back up when you arrive.

Keep in mind that the prep involved in moving your aquarium will take several hours—which can be stressful during a move—so it helps to have a good, clear plan—a plan for breaking down your existing system, packing up the three categories of stuff mentioned above, and cleaning. You also need to figure out where you are going to put all the stuff ahead of time—so that things don’t get broken, or packed in a location that you won’t be able to find it for a week.  If you are having friends, family, or movers help, you also have to plan far enough in advance to make sure they have clarity on what they should be doing while you are up to your elbows in water.

One of the hardest parts about moving an aquarium is that you can’t do very much of it ahead of time. You can pack your clothes ahead of time, and even the dishes (if you don’t mind eating from paper plates), but the only thing you can really pack ahead of time for your aquarium is the stuff you don’t use.

Here is a list of some of the stuff you will want to get in order to help your move go smoothly:

1)      Buckets with lids. Lots of them. In fact, you probably can’t have too many buckets

2)      Coolers—you’ll probably want to use your ‘good’ coolers to move food from the refrigerator/freezer, so plan on needing a few more coolers. You’re Local Fish Store (LFS) is likely packed to the gills with extra Styrofoam coolers from livestock shipments, so that’s a good place to start.

3)      Plastic bags/containers—you’re looking for the bags with the zipper seal—I prefer the big 1 gallon size. They come in boxes of 30-40 usually, that will probably be sufficient for all but the largest tanks. You can also use old, clean jars with lids or disposable plastic containers.

4)      Paper towels—both for packing and cleanup

5)      A few good, strong friends (if unavailable, any friends will do)

So gather your stuff and get ready to get wet. We’ll dive deeper into moving the aquarium in the next post–Moving Your Aquarium: Part 2.

Written by Albert B. Ulrich III. Follow me on  and Twitter

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