When it comes to moving, most things can be packed and loaded onto a truck. However, if you own an aquarium, you probably already know your fish will require special care for the move.
Transporting live fish isn’t particularly hard, but it does demand advance preparation to prevent high stress levels from causing illness and death among the fish.
Below is a guide to successfully preparing your fish for a move.
Before the Move
It is important to get your fish ready in advance of the actual moving day as well as round up the necessary supplies to make the event go smoothly. Waiting until the last minute will increase the stress levels not only for your aquatic friends but for you, as well.
Maintain a Stable, Consistent Environment
Keep in mind that maintaining stability will make the transition much easier. For example, avoid adding any new inhabitants to the aquarium too close to the moving date.
New fish or invertebrates can change water chemistry or may shake up the “dynamics” in the aquarium; this change may elevate stress and make the fish more susceptible to disease. The last thing you want in an aquarium right before a move is heightened levels of stress, so try to maintain a consistent aquatic environment.
Suspend Feeding a Couple of Days Before the Move
Another way to help make the move successful is to stop feeding the fish a couple of days before the move. The goal is to allow time for the fish to clear their bodies of waste products in advance of the move. By suspending feedings, you will provide relief for the filtration system and help clear up the overall water quality in the aquarium.
Most fish are able to miss a couple of days of feedings, so don’t worry about their health. However, if you have fish that require special attention or care, you may wish to ask for advice from your fish store on how to handle
Assemble Moving Supplies
The best way to move your aquarium fish is by transporting them inside five-gallon plastic buckets. The sturdy nature of these containers will help prevent leaks and spills. In addition, five-gallon buckets are inexpensive and readily available from mass merchandise stores.
For most aquariums, you will need at least one bucket for the fish and one bucket for plants, filters and decorative structures. However, the more water you can reuse from the aquarium when you arrive at the new location, the happier and healthier your fish will be. As such, it may be worth spending a few extra dollars to buy a couple of additional buckets.
When selecting your buckets, it is important to purchase new buckets that have never been used for storing other products. Even trace amounts of many chemicals can prove fatal to fish, so don’t risk a sad outcome by using old buckets.
In addition to the buckets, be sure to buy lids for each container. These are necessary to prevent splashing and also will protect the fish from harsh sunlight or harmful airborne substances.
The last special items to buy are battery-powered air pumps. These can be found at sporting goods stores in the fishing section and are often used to keep minnows alive in bait containers.
However, these inexpensive air pumps are ideal for keeping your five-gallon buckets aerated during the transition period. You will need one pump per bucket as well as air tubing and air stones for each.
The Moving Day
Once the day of the big move arrives, it is time to dismantle the aquarium and transfer your fish to the five-gallon buckets. Keeping lights dim and making your moves deliberate and slow will help reduce the stress for the fish.
Begin the process by using a siphon or pump to transfer aquarium water to the five-gallon buckets. Be sure to avoid overfilling the buckets, as they will become heavy and may spill if jostled during the move.
Next, use a fish net to capture and transfer the fish to the buckets. If you have a sufficient number of buckets available, divide the fish up by temperament and behavioral types; for example, try to keep all community species as well as those that school together in the same bucket. Likewise, place aggressive species, such as Cichlids, in their own separate bucket.
Once the fish are rounded up, add a manufacturer’s recommended amount of stress coat conditioner to the buckets containing fish. This step will help heal any injuries to the slime coats of the fish and lower the overall mortality rate.
After taking care of the fish, remove all plants and decorations from the aquarium and place them into a bucket of their own. In addition, you can also place the pump, if it is submersible, into the same bucket. Keeping these items submerged will help maintain the bacterial colonies that are essential to keeping the nitrogen cycle intact.
The last step in preparing for the move is to attach an air pump to each bucket. For this task, drill a small hole in each lid and pass air tubing through the holes. Next, attach an air stone at one end of the tubing and an air pump to the other. To help secure the air pumps, use duct tape to strap the pumps to the sides or tops of the buckets.
If you follow these tips, you have a better chance of keeping your fish healthy during your move. When you arrive at your new home, make sure you work quickly to set up the aquarium and transport your fish with as little disturbance as possible.