How to Move Your Fish Tank to Another Room or House

By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise

How to Move Your Fish Tank to Another Room or House

Moving a fish tank is hectic, especially if you have to relocate a large tank, which often tops 400 pounds when fully stocked.

Whether you are moving the tank to another room or a new house, it is a lot of work.

Therefore, it helps to prepare days before the move, and you need to know how to move a fish tank safely.

So, how do you move a fish tank?

Can you move a fish tank without emptying it, or maybe a half-full tank?


Can you transport a fish tank with fish in it?


I have the answers to all these questions in this post!

Please read on.

Best Way to Move A Fish Tank to Another Room

As noted above, moving a fish tank is a lengthy process, with steps starting several days before you move.

The steps for moving a fish tank are,…

1. Purchase and prepare the items you need to empty your fish tank and move your fish tank

2. Unplug your fish tank heater and let it cool for 30 minutes before you pack it.

3. Remove filtration equipment and circulation pump.

4. Siphon the water you need to take with you (75 to 80 percent) into buckets or tubs with snap-on lids.

5. Remove decor items, artificial plants, rocks, and driftwood.

6. Move your fish if you plan on moving the tank while empty (recommended). You can place small and medium-sized livestock in fish bags and large fish and other finnies in tubs, buckets, or coolers.

7. Remove live plants and pack them appropriately.

8. Remove sand (or gravel) using a wire strainer or colander.

9.Remove and dispose of the water remaining in the fish tank.

10. Dry your fish tank and wrap it in a blanket or other protective material before moving it.


To move your fish tank to another room, slide it onto a flat, sturdy material, such as plywood, and carry it with help from one or two people (depending on your aquarium size). Ensure both of you move in a gently coordinated manner to minimize the pressure on the glass and tank seal.

The second alternative is…

Leave the tank on the stand to move the unit and tank together. Slide the cabinet on moving slides or carpet scraps if your flooring is hard, and start the move.

How to Move A Fish Tank When Moving Houses


If you think moving a fish tank from one room to another is challenging, try moving houses…

….but it’s not impossible! You only need time and some muscle.

So, how do you move a fish tank from one house to another, perhaps long distance, maybe even across the country,

To move your fish tank between houses (or across the country), schedule a day after or before the main move to disassemble your fish tank (and move it if possible).

Use enough 5 to 10-gallon buckets about 2/3 full of fish tank water to transport your fish. It’s ok if you decide to bag them instead, then place them in the bucket or an open cat litter box.

Ensure you put a lid on the bucket if you opt to add your fish directly into the container. You can add bubblers or a sponge filter in the bucket to aerate the watr while on the road, but its not necessary, especially when only moving a short distance away.

Have an extra bucket of mixed tank water and clean treated water to supplement the fish bag content if you are moving across the country and need to have the fish in the bag for more than a few hours.

Draw and discard the remaining water to access your plants, rocks, wood, decorations, and substrate. You can use a pitcher, but it’s much easier when you siphon it out.

The next thing to do is remove your filter, heater, air pump, and bubblers and bag them with a bit of water to keep them moist throughout the journey.

You can clean your filter and pump, but do not wash the filter media because you need all the nitrifying bacteria you can get once you setup the tank in your new home.

Once you bag your aquarium equipment safely,…

Move on to the plants, rocks, driftwood, and decorations.

Bag the plants with water to keep them lush and lively.

You may also want to bag your rocks and dirftwood in water because they also hold some bacteria and tiny critters like snails.

Its ok if you bag your decorations with some water as well, but you can also clean and dry them if you need to.

Can You Move A Fish Tank Without Emptying it

Do not move a fish tank without emptying it because you will likely break the glass, damage the seal that holds the panels together, or hurt yourself.

A 20-gallon fish tank weighs 120 pounds, add the weight of the glass, gravel, sand, rocks, driftwood, and decorations, and you will have over 300 pounds to move, which is no mean feat. Emptying the tank before you move it will save you a lot of trouble.

How Do You Move A Fish Tank with Fish

As noted above,…

You cannot move a full fish tank across or to another room without damaging the tank or hurting yourself. To move it, you will need to empty the tank, place your fish in a holding bucket or tub, wrap the tank with blankets and move it across the room on moving slides or a sturdy material, such as plywood.

To ensure you do not lose the beneficial bacteria in the tank while you move it, place 75 to 80 percent of the old tank water in buckets and use it to set up your tank once you move it.

I recommend you also save your substrate because it harbors plenty of beneficial bacteria. Move your sand and gravel in tubs or sacks for the bottom of your fish tank.

Try not to clean your filter sponge, and use it in reestablishing a cycle once you move the tank. Unless you stay too long before you establish your tank, the bacteria in your filter will still be alive when you do.

How to Safely Move A Fish Tank

To safely move a fish tank, move it on its own schedule. Dedicate a whole day (or so) for the move to ensure your fish get to the new house alive and your tank in one piece. Transport the tank before or after the main move because of the many pieces you need to take and the process needs to be done reasonably fast.

Move your fish in containers with lids filled with aquarium water about two-thrids full. You can hook your sponge filter to a battery powered pump and add it in the bucket to keep the water oxygeneated.

You can bag the fish before you place them inside the bucket, but keep an extra pail of mixed tank water and clean treated water aside for partial water changes if you need to leave the fish in the bag for longer than a few hours.

To move your aquarium plants safely and keep them alive, leave them in the tank with only a bit of water and cover the top with plastic wrap to keep them from drying up, but your tank is too heavy with plants, keep them in buckets with a bit of water to keep them moist.

It also helps to bag up your decorations, rocks, and substrate with some water to help transport bacteria, so you do not have to re-cycle your tank.

Try not to leave them out in the sun or wind on the truck bed unless it is well-covered.

Thats all for this post. See you in the next one.

← All articles

The Aquarium Club ↓

Join the 37k+ strong aquarium community

The AquariaWise Newsletter is known for cutting through the noisy world of pet fish keeping showcasing stunningly breathtaking aquarium fish and superbly insightful aquarium plants to help you bring out the peace and serenity you seek with your aquariums. And it doesn't stop there... think aquarium fish care, plant care, building fish tanks, everything aquariums... you'll be right at home.