How to Move a 75-Gallon Fish Tank Cross Country?

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If you’ve ever tried to move an aquarium from one room to another, you know how challenging the endeavor can become.

Now think about moving the tank into another city or state, and you’ll understand the scope of the process.

Today, we will discuss the tools and methods necessary to safely relocate your fish tank across the country.

The moving process is even more difficult when discussing 75-gallon tanks or larger pieces requiring more careful planning and logistics work.

Breaking Down Your Aquarium

You obviously can’t move the entire tank as it is. You’ll need to transport it in a fragmented manner.

I’m not talking about breaking the tank’s structure as a whole; the tank will remain intact during the transport.

But everything else needs to be removed and packed separately, as such:

  • The fish – Collect the fish and all other tank inhabitants and place them in safe containers. Make sure there’s enough space for all of them and that the container is secure and has no leaks. You could transport the fish in normal bags, especially if you don’t have too many of them, but I advise against it. Especially if you have a long road ahead of you. You don’t want to risk the bag breaking and leaking water everywhere. Always use tank water in the process since it’s already optimized for your aquatic pets.
  • The water – You want to use as much of the original water as possible. That’s because this is already optimized for your fish. It’s rich in nutrients and minerals and contains many bacteria that will populate the new setup. Using the already used tank water in your new setting will decrease the duration of the cycling process. Because, yea, you need to cycle the new setup as well.
  • The plants – These are easier to transport, but you need to pack them carefully anyway. Make sure that they remain humid during transport. A good transportation method refers to keeping plants in a bucket filled with water during the process.
  • The equipment – All tank equipment should be disconnected from the aquarium, dried out, and packed carefully, ready for the road. Secure the equipment to protect it against a bumpier road that could damage more sensitive pieces.
  • The substrate – You should vacuum and clean the substrate before storing it in its special container. You don’t want to carry all the fish residues, dirt, or algae to the new setup.
  • The tank – Clean and dry out the tank completely before packing it in a secure package. Remember, glass tanks may look tough and resilient, but they’re actually quite sensitive and don’t fare well on bumpy roads. The vibrations alone can crack the aquarium or weaken its structure, making it unsafe for use. You may need to use polystyrene to secure the tank and any other sensitive equipment that needs extra protection.

When moving day comes, speak to the transporters about the package’s sensitive material. You want them to use extra caution when handling and storing the equipment in the back of the transporting van or truck.

The same caution should be exercised when unloading.

Transporting Your Fish

How you transport the fish depends on the road’s length and the duration of the transport.

Generally speaking, you need to be extra careful about your fish since they are sensitive, and a lot of things can go wrong. Especially if you’re moving the aquarium across the country and have a long road ahead of you.

So, consider the following:

  • Avoid plastic bags – Plastic bags are too small for your fish. Not only will your fish be severely overcrowded, but the water’s temperature will also fluctuate dramatically. That’s because the amount of water available is low, and the bag itself isn’t quite the ideal temperature-retaining material. Use a bucket instead to provide your fish more space and minimize their stress during the move.
  • Refrain from feeding – Most fish can refrain from eating for 2-3 days without any health problems. Just ensure that your fish are healthy and can last for several days without food in case the move lasts more than expected. The reason for forcing your fish to fast is to minimize the amount of poop that the fish will produce along the way. You have no real way of cleaning their environment on the road, so the additional poop will disturb the water chemistry, causing ammonia spikes and killing your fish in the process. I assume you don’t want that.
  • Keep the fish with you – Don’t place your fish in the back of the transporting truck if possible. That area is generally not insulated, so temperatures can rise dramatically during the transport job. Keep your fish with you constantly, if possible, to keep an eye on them during the move.

These measures should keep your fish safe along the road.

Set Up the Tank in the New Location

You want to set up the tank in its new location as fast as possible. The sooner the fish get back into their environment, the better.

You have 3 overarching steps to follow here:

  • Inspect the tank – You want to make sure that there are no cracks or any loose joints that could jeopardize the tank’s integrity.
  • Put everything back together – You know, the drill. You put the substrate back, add the water, add the plants, and redecorate the tank with the old decorations. Fish should go last.
  • Recycle the environment – This is a necessary step because the new setup requires time to rebalance its natural microfilm. Fortunately, you can cycle the tank with the fish inside, so it’s not a big deal. The cycle should also be shorter because you’re already using much of the original tank water, which still has some bacteria left.

Cycling the Tank with Fish

Fortunately, the fish-in cycle process is quite easy since your fish will live normal lives during the process.

In essence, the process unfolds as such:

  • Feed your fish slightly less than usual – This is to reduce the amount of waste present in the water. The more poop the fish produce, the higher the ammonia resulting from the decaying waste. Feed your fish smaller amounts of food for a few days to allow the nitrifying bacteria to do their job properly. Remember, you won’t have as many bacteria at first. If you overwhelm them with a lot of fish waste, they won’t be able to process all the resulting ammonia.
  • Monitor water parameters – You absolutely need a water tester kit to keep an eye on the ammonia and nitrates during the first 1-2 weeks of the cycle. You need a partial water change whenever ammonia or nitrites jump past 0.2 ppm or when nitrates exceed 40 ppm.
  • Add additional bacteria – You can add liquid bacteria to the environment to speed up the process. This is a standard technique in fish-in cycles because it shortens the timeframe necessary for the cycle to complete.
  • Know when the cycle is over – The cycle is considered complete when ammonia and nitrites stay at 0 and nitrates settle below 20 ppm.

Overall, the cycle should be a lot shorter this time around. Especially since you’re using the fish’s original tank water and especially when adding new nitrifying bacteria into the mix.

Does it Worth Moving a 75-Gallon Tank?

This depends, really. I say it depends mostly on your setup and the moving distance. If you have too many fish and plants, a variety of aquatic creatures, or the fish are more prone to moving-related stress, sell them.

If the moving location is really far away, literally across the country, I recommend selling the tank too.

Only keep the equipment since this is easier and safer to transport. But glass tanks aren’t meant for long-distance transportation because many things can go wrong along the way.

One bump is all it takes to crack the tank and cause irreversible damages in the process.

It’s safer and more profitable to sell your tank and fish and start over once you get to your destination.

Also, remember that your fish may die on the road. These animals are far more sensitive to drawn-out transportation events compared to other pets like dogs and cats.

Selling them before moving may be the more humane option.

Conclusion

It’s not that often that people try to move 75-gallon tanks across the country.

But, when it happens, you better be prepared for the job since it’s no easy task.

Always keep in mind the benefits and the risks and decide the best course of action following careful planning.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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