We all setup our tanks and get them just how we want them. We spend money, time, effort, sweat and tears getting them there. On occasion we find out we have to move, sometimes across the street, sometimes across town, and sometimes across the country.
Below I will outline how I made a successful 1000 mile move from Chicago to Denver.
Back in June of 2004, right after finding out I was going to be moving to Colorado, one of the first things I thought of was, “How the heck am I going to move my tank?” In between all of the other packing and getting ready to move projects, all I kept going back to is, “How the heck am I going to move my tank?”
In preparation for the move, I hit up my LFS and some other buddies for some extra 5-gallon buckets. I picked up a couple of extra 50-watt heaters and a big air pump. I also picked up a good power inverter that would plug into the cigarette lighter and would allow for my heaters and air pump to simply be plugged in to the car's electrical system.
We woke up at 6am the morning of the move, loaded up the enclosed moving trailer we had rented to pull behind the truck with everything else from the house, and all we had left to load was the fish tank. The tank was a 55-gallon with about 20 corals and about 8 fish in it. The first thing we did was drain out about 15 gallons of water into 5 different buckets. We took the rock and corals out and added them to the buckets. Displacement from the rocks pretty much filled up those buckets. If not, we topped them off with water. “Here, fishy fishy!” Yep, the fish came next. They were pretty easy to catch as the tank had nothing else in it now. I put most of the fish in the buckets that had rock in them, so they had some security with the rocks. Others had to go into buckets with nothing in them. We finished draining the water from the tank, filling up buckets as we went. I made 20 gallons (four, 5-gallon buckets worth), of fresh water, with the idea that it would mix along the way and I could essentially do a good size water change once arriving at our new home. The trailer was loaded with everything from the house, the tank and stand, and all the other equipment. Any buckets that didn’t have any type of livestock in them went in the trailer. All the buckets that had fish and/or corals in them went in the back of our SUV we were driving. I plugged in the power inverter into the cigarette lighter and plugged in all of the heaters and the air pump into the inverter. I drilled holes in the top of the buckets so I could get the plugs and airlines through and still was able to close the lids tightly on the buckets.
So, with everything tied down and all the buckets with livestock in the truck, we were off. When we left it was 86 degrees. I was so worried about the fish boiling that we unplugged the heaters and cranked up the air conditioning in the truck. A few hours in, somewhere in Iowa, the temperature started to drop, and within an hour it was at 42 degrees. We plugged in all the heaters and cranked the heat up in the truck. The rest of the trip it stayed in the lower 40’s. I was so worried about all the livestock. With the truck, and having to pull a loaded trailer, the gas was getting sucked up like crazy. We were having to stop every couple/few hours to fill up with fuel, that and not being able to drive very fast as I was worried about the things in the trailer falling over, and the fish in the truck, the trip took 19 hours, and that’s with driving straight through. The wife was able to sleep for quite a while, but I didn’t. I just kept driving. I just wanted this to be over. So, around 1pm we rolled into Denver. The first thing to get unloaded was the fish tank and stand. We set those up in the living room where we wanted them. I had left the sand in the tank as I only had a shallow sand bed of about 1”. I hooked up all the equipment, and started to fill the tank back up. The buckets that were up front with us and had the heaters in them, were not too bad, temperature wise. They were in the mid 70’s. The ones that were in the trailer were in the upper 50’s. I put all the colder water in the tank first and put 4 heaters in the water to try and bring the temperature up quickly. While we were waiting for the temp to rise in the tank, we unloaded the rest of the truck. I had to also go and drop off my tool box at the shop I was going to be working at, and at the same time I dropped off the rental trailer.
I raced back home so I could get those poor fish out of the buckets. The water in the tank was up to temp now so I started by adding the rock back to the tank, and placing the corals. We added all the fish back to the tank, and finished filling the tank all of the way up. Everything looked stressed and a little ticked off, but nothing really unexpected for what they had just gone through. I arranged a few more things, pulled the extra heaters and set things up pretty much how I had them before the move.
Being that I have been up for over 36 straight hours, I needed to go to sleep, and sleep I did, until the next morning!! When I woke up, all I could think about was the tank and its inhabitants. I went out to the living room and counted all the fish. They were all in there and swam to the front of the tank like they always had when I walked up to it, as they thought they might get fed. I turned the lights on a little early that day so I could see how things were and to make sure everyone was doing well. I fed the tank, and throughout the day I closely observed the tank, the temperature, the inhabitants and all the corals. Everything had survived this traumatic ordeal. I could not have been happier! I didn’t mess with the tank for a few days, other than keeping a close eye on everything, so things could settle down, and I didn’t think the fish and corals needed any extra stress. After a couple of days, I did some final arranging of the rocks and did another water change.
In conclusion, whether you are moving near or far, the same procedures can pretty much be followed. Your move may be different, and you may have more obstacles, or you may have fewer obstacles to overcome, but just know it can be done.