9 Tips for Moving a Fish Tank or Aquarium

Having and taking care of fish is an amazing way to have company in your home while keeping it clean. They require very little maintenance until it is time for you to move.

Moving an aquarium is a time-consuming and stressful task for you and your fish. To make it go without problems, you can follow the advice from experienced fishkeepers.

Assess the Size and Complexity of the Tank

Assessing the size and complexity of the tank is vital for a successful and stress-free relocation.

Complex tanks often have delicate equipment that requires special attention while moving. Assessing these items will allow you to take necessary precautions ahead of time to ensure the safety of the aquarium.

Knowing what the task ahead of you is, you can prepare the necessary supplies, estimate the time you will need for the move and determine whether you can do it yourself or need help from a professional company.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Fish are sensitive creatures; sudden environmental changes can lead to stress and various health issues.

Planning everything and ensuring the process takes as little time as possible to reduce the burden on them is essential.

Before you move the tank, gather all supplies. Fishnets to remove the fish and corals or plants. You can place the fish and plants in buckets or plastic bags during transportation. Water siphoning hose to empty the tank and packing supplies, such as tape, boxes, and masking tape.

Establish a Temporary Home for the Fish

Now that you have the buckets or plastic bags, it is time to prepare them for your fish.

Use water from the aquarium to fill the containers they will be travelling in. Don’t fill them up, as fish need air on top. Using water from the same tank will make their environment as comfortable as possible and reduce the stress they experience.

If you use buckets, you should not place more than three to four fish. For bags, do not place more than one.

To prepare the fish for the move, stop feeding them for at least 24 hours before transferring them to their temporary hope. This will allow you to keep the water in the containers clean during the move.

Safely Remove the Fish from the Tank

When removing fish from the aquarium, use an aquarium fish net to carefully remove them from the water and transfer them to a temporary container.

To reduce the stress level of the fish in the aquarium, you should remove them before anything else in the tank, but if there are large ornaments, such as rocks or pirate ships, you may need to remove them first. This way, you can limit where the fish can swim and escape.

Consider installing an air pump in the container to ensure the water is well-oxygenated during the fish’s stay.

Be sure to place the fish in a container that can be sealed, such as a bowl with a lid or a tightly closed bag, as they may try to jump out.

Drain and Prepare the Tank

If aquatic plants are in the tank, gently lift them and place them in a container or bag filled with water. Seal the container to prevent water from spilling and keep the water plants dry.

The next items to remove from the aquarium are any faux aquatic plants, rocks, ornaments, or other decorations for the aquarium. Store them in watertight containers and disperse heavy items.

Once you remove all but the bottom material of the aquarium, the next step is to suck out as much of the remaining water as possible.

This will give you the best start when setting up the aquarium in its new location, saving you time for water changes and treating and preparing fresh water if needed.

Secure and Protect the Tank

Proceed with caution, as the aquarium is fragile, and one wrong move can damage the glass beyond repair.

Cut the Styrofoam board placed at the bottom of the tank. Then fill the remaining space with packing paper.

Wrap the aquarium tightly with packing paper and place it inside a sturdy cardboard box. The box the aquarium originally came in is ideal, but a box with at least two inches on each side of the aquarium will also work.

Once the aquarium is inside the moving box, seal the margins around it with packing material. Be sure to label the container with arrows indicating the left and right sides of the box.

If the aquarium is too large, use plastic wrap on the sides to ensure that nothing will fall around the aquarium that could cause it to fall, and then tie it securely to the moving truck.

Pack and Label Supplies

Packing and labelling your supplies saves time when re-assembling your aquarium.

Having designated containers for the different components will allow you to easily find what you are looking for. Properly labelling them will enable you to prevent items from getting lost or misplaced during the move.

When the tank arrives at your new place, you can immediately focus on putting it together so that your fish can return to their home as soon as possible. This will reduce their stress and anxiety and allow you to keep them healthy.

Transport the Tank with Care

Whether you move the tank on your own or trust a local removals service, you should always ensure that it is cared for.

A broken or damaged aquarium is expensive and hard to replace on short notice. Such accidents will significantly affect your fish’s health and well-being.

To prevent this from happening, do not stack anything on top of the tank while moving, nor put it on top of other boxes.

Due to the delicate nature of the item and the move, it is best to trust the professionals to take care of it. Aquarium moving is a niche that many removals businesses specialise in, and they have all the necessary tools and equipment to ensure the safe arrival of your tank.

Acclimate the Fish to the New Environment

To get the fish used to their new home, you should follow these steps:

  • Refill the tank with water stored in a container so the water level is about half full.
  • Return all equipment to the aquarium and turn on the power once rearranged. Allow sufficient time for the water temperature to reach the ideal temperature before adding the fish, especially the heater.
  • Replant any live aquatic plants. If you have a large number of aquatic plants and this step takes a long time, you may want to do it another day to give priority to the fish.
  • Slowly return the fish to the aquarium, just as you would when adding a new fish. If they stayed in a bag, allow them to float on the surface for 45 minutes before releasing them. It is best to turn off the lights during this stage and for several hours afterwards to minimise stress.


When moving your aquarium, ensure you have plenty of time to do things carefully. Fish can be easily stressed, and this greatly affects their health.

Lastly, never move a fish tank while it is full. In those cases, always seek to pack and secure it properly. Use the services of a removals company to ensure that the move goes without any issues.