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How to Relocate with a Fish Tank in 5 Easy Steps

posted: 07/10/2020

No matter what breed of fish you have a responsible owner must always take care of their pets. That is why you should never abandon your animal when house moving. We know that transporting a big tank is quite hard, and we want to give you some helpful advice. This way, both you and your pets can start your new lives together. Our experts from Top Removals London have created a simple to follow step by step guide on how to successfully relocate with a fish tank.

Step by Step Aquarium Removal


The last thing you need to pack before you hit the road is your fish tank. It is also the first thing you need to unpack once in your new home. Sometimes it is wiser to just gift or sell the tank with its inhabitants rather than move it. The success of the whole transportation operation lies in the distance. If your new home is fairly close, it is reasonable to attempt to relocate your fish tank. Otherwise, your aquatic friends most likely won’t survive the trip. So if you can use a man and van service for your house removal, you can proceed with the tough task of moving your tank. Our London experts can provide you with a detailed guide, just follow these steps:

Step 1: Preparations

If you mess up here, you will have a hard time when the transportation begins. Don’t worry most of the things you will need are easy to find.

  • Go to your new home and figure out where you want to place the fish tank. Remember you need to unpack it the moment you enter the house. The spot you pick mustn’t be under the direct sunlight. If you have lots of accessories that need electricity, look for a place that is close to a power outlet. The tank has to be located on top of a safe, sturdy piece of furniture that can uphold its weight.
  • Get yourself some special packing materials that will ensure the safe transportation of your precious fish:
    1. You need a lidded container of some sort. You can buy a styrofoam box, a big bucket or even use a cooling box. Check to see what options your moving company can offer you.
    2. To ensure there is enough oxygen for the fish you need to get some UniHeat heat packs or breathable shipping bags.
    3. When the tank is completely drained you need to make sure the glass is properly protected. Get lots of bubble wrap, packing paper and if possible a cardboard box slightly bigger than the tank.
    4. Prepare some old blankets or towels.
    5. Finally, get some plastic containers or sturdy cardboard boxes for the decorations and accessories.
  • Avoid feeding your fish the last 24 hours before the move. This way the water will be relatively clean.

Step 2: Move Your Fish

This process is tricky as you need to take into consideration the size and species of your fish. Basically, the larger and more prone to aggression animals travel in their own bag. Do not pack all fish in one place – max three in a bag. So here is how to do it:

  • fish tankDrain some of the water from the tank in a bag.
  • Using your net, carefully catch a fish and put it in the bag.
  • Secure the end with a rubber band.
  • Place the bag in the container.
  • If the lid closes completely, leaving no room for air to enter the container, poke a couple of small holes in it.
  • Once all of your aquatic animals are bagged, put the lid on. It is important that your fish stay in the dark, as it will reduce their stress level.
  • Make sure to count your pets to ensure there aren’t any hiding in the tank.

Disclaimer: While on the road, try not to open the container to check on the fish. As they sit in the dark, they will calm themselves but if you periodically lift the lid, the light will enter and the fish will get agitated once again. The less you bug them, the better they will handle the trip.

Step 3: Pack the Tank

You need to make sure the aquarium is well prepared for the road. If you feel unsure how to do it, use professional packing services. Otherwise, follow these steps:

  • Remove all non-animated decorations. Dry them and wrap them in packing paper.
  • If you have live plants, get them out carefully and place them in a bag with water (from the tank). They should be alright for the duration of the trip.
  • Dismantle the tank accessories like pumps, heaters, etc. Dry them and wrap them in paper and bubble wrap.
  • Drain the tank completely, save some of the water in a clean bucket you will need it later.
  • Remove the sand/gravel from the bottom. Don’t throw it away, place it in a plastic container. You need to transport it as well.
  • Put the decorations, live plants and accessories in different boxes. Write on each side “Fragilе”
  • Once the tank is completely empty and dry, wrap it in bubble wrap. Put inside the old blankets or towels to enforce it. Place it in a cardboard box and fill the empty space with crumpled packing paper. Write “Fragile” on the sides of the carton.

Disclaimer: Avoid transporting your tank and fish in the moving truck. Most removal companies have strict policies and won’t allow live animals to travel in the back of the vans. Put the fish and the aquarium in your car.

Step 4: Unpack

The moment you step through the front door of your new home, you must immediately rush to unpack and settle your fish. Every minute counts so work fast and meticulous.

  • Unpack the tank and put it in the spot you’ve chosen.
  • Check for cracks or scratches. If everything seems alright, proceed.
  • Put the sand/gravel on the bottom of the aquarium.
  • Set up all of the accessories – pumps, heaters, etc. Place everything in their original spot.
  • Arrange the decorations and plant the living vegetation.
  • Start filling the tank with the saved up water.
  • Carefully release your fish into the aquarium. Don’t dump them in the water. Follow strictly the instructions described in the video below to prevent any fish deaths.
  • Fill up the tank to its usual state. Use the appropriate type of water depending on the type of fish (salt or de-chlorinated tap water).

Step 5: Let the Fish Adjust to the New Place

Now you just need to give your pets some space and let them calm down.

  • Don’t switch on the heaters in the first few hours, so the water can become at room temperature.
  • Observe closely your fish and check them regularly. If you spot something alarming consult with your vet.

UK Laws for Keeping Fish

Your legal duties for caring for your fish are strictly regulated under the animal welfare act. You need to familiarize yourself with this document issued by the Federation of British Aquatic Societies (FBAS). Fish are just like any other pet and you can’t mistreat, neglect or endanger them. That said, if you are moving from another country, you need to familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations. Ask your house moving company for assistance, as their consultants are aware of the current laws in the country. If you own other types of pets like cats, dogs or ferrets you can check our complete home moving guide for helpful information.

What type of fish do you own? How did they take the relocation? We would love to hear from you down in the comments. Share your experience and tell us about your successful house removal.

Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie is a content marketing specialist for Top Removals for the past several years. She has extensive experience working with moving companies and knows her audience. Stephanie creates engaging and useful content helping the customers of Top Removals with their struggles and providing them with the most accurate insight.

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