Moving an Aquarium

OR “How to Kill Your Fish in 5 Easy Steps”

First off, if you want to move your fish and tank from one room to another or from one home to another follow the tips found here. Or you can watch a 30minute program about it here.

This special Pet Fish Talk Show contains a discussion by Tom and Nevin Bailey about how to move pet fish from one aquarium to another, from one room to another, across town, or across the country.

The highlights…


    • Here’s what you’ll need: a container, some trash bags, and some rubber bands


    • Change 20% of the water in your aquarium each day for several days before you move.


    • Don’t feed your fish anything for the last 48 hours, before you put them in the shipping container.


    • Put one of the plastic bags inside the container. Then put another bag inside the first, so you have a double bag. that way if the first bag leaks, the second will hold the water. You might want to add a third bag inside the other two. [I guess you could keep adding bags until there is no room left]


    If possible you should take 80% of the water from your fish’s home with you when you move.

You’ll want to read the article for all the details but the ideas is to change the water ahead of time, reuse 80% of the changed water in the new tank and try not to shock your fish with sudden temperature changes or polluting their water during the move.

Water shock and pollution were probably my biggest killers. When moving the fish tank or turtle tank, I only kept the bottom few inches, which was very cloudy after stirring up all the algae under the rocks. I also didn’t allow the new water to become balanced in temperature or chemically. Despite my barbaric attempt to move the fish tank, I did manage to have one survivor. My tiny little Sunburst Guppy. Leaving this world was an Algae Eater, a Catfish, a Dalmatian Molly, three Neon Tetras, two Zebra Danios, and a Red Wagtail Platy.

Since the move was intended as a temporary solution while we repaint the office, I doubt I’ll replace them anytime soon. I may keep the tank downstairs or move it back upstairs so until I decide, the one lone survivor shall remain by himself, contemplating life’s mysteries

7 thoughts on “Moving an Aquarium

  1. I’ve been fairly successful at moving fish, but I confess to having a much easier time of it since I gave my aquarium fish and all to someone else.

  2. Oh no! This is, I think, why I don’t keep fish…I can’t stand the thought of killing them accidentally, as I undoubtedly would. Interesting information though.

  3. We’ve moved fish from room to room before, but we never did the water change thing. We just used the water as is…fish were fine.

    Sadly, I do know how to intentionally kill a fish in just two steps… draw their water down to a bare inch, and then drop in ice. It’s so quick that it’s actually a kinder euthanasia than flushing them…

    Here via Michele’s today. Gonna go look at the fishies now… :)

  4. I probably would have been fine keeping all the original water, too – but I didn’t think about that untill after the fact. I can’t move a 20gal tank full of water down stairs and didn’t have enough buckets to store water while I moved an empty tank.

    Lesson learned. I’m still amazed that one fish survived and the fact that it was one of my smallest fish (seamed most fragile)

  5. good info, i’ll use it in the future to prevent “death-from-move” syndrome which i have been known to cause in my previous fishes.

    also, thumper is right- fish do die from freezing, but always try to put them to sleep first so it isn’t painful. 20 drops clove oil per gallon of water (clove oil available at drug store). if fish stay in too long they’ll die anyway and you won’t have to worry about freezing them…

    reminder- never kill a fish unless it is absolutely necessary(boredom doesn’t count)

    again, great page

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