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Moving Fish Tanks: How to Relocate Your Pets Safely

December 8, 2021 | Moving Guides & Tips

Moving can be pretty overwhelming for anyone, no matter how straightforward your process might be. Throw pets into the mix, and it can be hard to know where even to start to make sure they’re relocated safely and properly – and with minimal stress on everyone’s parts! Beyond moving cats and dogs, there are also other animals that require even more preparation and planning when it comes to making sure they’re moved consciously and safely. Here is your complete guide to moving fish and other tank animal pets. 

How to Move with Fish

Though (most) fish are pretty tiny, it can be a challenge to move with fish. You’ll need to make sure you take all of the steps necessary to move them and their tank safely – and make sure that they’re acclimated to their new environment properly. 

How to Move a Fish Tank Safely

Unfortunately, moving a fish tank requires a lot more thought and preparation than just unplugging the tank itself and hoping the water doesn’t slosh around during your relocation process. 

Moving fish tanks can be tricky. Before your moving day itself, make sure you have everything necessary to remove your fish from its tank safely. This might include a net, a few large buckets, baggies, bubble wrap, packing paper, and other supplies that are more specific to what sort of fish you specifically have. 

After removing your fish from the tank, make sure to unplug it and remove any rocks or plants that are inside. Clean everything and store them in the packing materials you’ve already prepared. Additionally, remove and clean any filters, lights, pumps, or heaters you might have in your tank. Make sure to keep your filter damp and pack it carefully in a sealed container. 

After removing all of your tanks’ decor and accessories, only then drain the water from it. You can easily dump this out in a sink, or use a hose to empty larger tanks. Clean your tank and pack it with the appropriate supplies to ensure its safe relocation. 

It’s best to try and transport your tank in your vehicle with your and your fish if you can. This will make sure it doesn’t get damaged or thrown around, as tanks are notoriously fragile. 

Once you’ve arrived at your new home, set your tank up immediately and make sure your pH levels, temperatures, amount of chlorine or ammonia levels are normal before adding your fish back in. Especially for longer moves, getting everything back to normal might take a little while. 

Moving Fish

To move your fish itself, you’ll also need to put in specific steps to make sure they’re transitioned safely. Stop feeding your fish 1-2 days before moving day to make sure they’ve passed all of their bodily waste before moving. If you have smaller fish, you can put them in plastic baggies filled with water from their tank (along with proper aeration), or an enclosed, breathable container, case, or bucket with water from their tank in it. 

For longer moves, you’re going to want to use your buckets to transport them safely. Never store your fish in baggies or any container that doesn’t have proper aeration for long periods. 

If you’re transporting your fish in buckets, make sure the buckets are thoroughly cleaned, and make sure that no harsh chemicals have been used on them that could possibly harm your fish. Fill the buckets with water from your fishes’ tank, and then switch them over to the makeshift container. If you have multiple fish, you’ll want to put no more than 3 or 4 fish in each bucket. To avoid spillage, put some sort of lid on your bucket (you can improvise here if your bucket didn’t come with one). 

Always transport your fish in your vehicle with you – never in a moving truck or anywhere far from you! 

Once you’ve set your tank back up after your move and have mode sure that all of its levels are appropriate and back to normal, carefully add your fish back in by scooping them out of their buckets with a net and placing them back in their tank. If you’ve transported them in baggies, place the bags themselves in the water with your fish in them to get them acclimated to the temperature of the new water.

How to Move with Turtles

Another animal that can bring a tricky moving process to your door are turtles. For your turtles’ tank, you’ll want to pack it in a similar way to your fish tank in order to make sure it reaches its destination safely. Preparing your turtle(s) for a move, however, is understandably different than that of a fish. 

To move with a turtle, you’ll want to start the planning process early, so you can prepare yourself and your animal for the transition (especially if you’re moving long-distance). To start, you’ll want to purchase a portable reptile terrarium or carrier that has plenty of ventilation. You’ll want to buy the proper size for your turtle to make sure that you have access to them throughout the trip, but that they don’t have enough room to flip themselves upside down. 

Do some test runs to get your turtle used to being in the car and in their carrier. Start by putting them in their carrier in your home, and gradually start taking them on drives or on errands. By getting them used to this carrier early  on, it’ll allow your turtle to be less stressed during the move itself. Also, make sure you have a spray bottle with you (for both your test runs and the move itself), so that you can spray your turtle down every few hours. 

Fill your portable carrier or terrarium with familiar items to your turtle to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible. This might be in the form of their favorite rocks from their aquarium, or other accessories from their tank that your turtle might recognize. Make sure the rocks and other items in the portable carrier are wet, but don’t put too much water in the terrarium. You want your turtle to have access to water, but not so much that they accidentally drown. 

Moving with a Turtle

On moving day itself, pack your turtle up into their portable carrier, and have a place prepared for them in your car that’s appropriately warm and out of direct sunlight. Additionally, have things set up to brace the terrarium against so that it’s not jostled or knocked over while in the car. 

Make sure you also have a thermometer handy to make sure your turtle’s environment isn’t overly hot or cold, and make sure your car’s temperature is appropriate as well. Keep vents turned away from the terrarium to avoid having hot or cold air blowing directly on your turtle. 

If you’re moving long distance, make sure to have a dark blanket or t-shirt handy to mimic daytime or nighttime. If you’re staying in a hotel, you might want to bring their tank’s lights along with you, and set them up during the night so that you can keep your turtle covered and in the dark during the day. 

When you arrive at your destination, set up your turtle’s tank immediately and make sure you’ve cleaned and set everything up properly beforehand so you can place your turtle back in their environment as soon as possible. Move your turtle and their favorite rocks back into their aquarium, and make sure to monitor them and their tank to make sure everything is working properly and that your turtle is kept safe and in its best condition.

Moving with pets is never easy, but with the right planning, you can make sure that you and your pets’ transitions are pulled off as simply and safely as possible. For all other moving needs, make sure to contact Bekins Van Lines for the best service and most efficient move possible. While you focus on the safety and security of your pets’ transition, we’ll focus on yours!

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