How to's for moving a aquarium or transferring to a bigger one!!

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Articles and How To's' started by coral reefer, Nov 9, 2008.

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  1. coral reefer

    coral reefer Giant Squid

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    Their are alot of us fellow reefers out there who at one time or another have moved, therefore had to break down a tank and set it back up again at there new residence, or are wanting to upgrade to a bigger tank. And their will be many more who are in the process or will be crossing this path soon enough! So becuase of this, I am going to try to offer some help and experience since I have had to do this a few months ago.

    The first and foremost thing that needs to be accomplished is a game plan or strategy if you will. This will cover things such as supplies needed, where the tank is going to be set-up again, equipment needed, who is going to help you with the set-up and/or moving of your tank, and a detailed step by step as to how the move/transfer will take place. Trust me, I assure you that by visualizing these issues, it will make for a much smoother and less stressful time!!!


    Ok, the first thing is to make sure you have enough buckets, Tupperware, containers what have you. These are going to house your livestock, water, live sand, and live rock. Also make sure you have a batch of water ready to add to your tank to replace that lost during the move or if you are upgrading to a bigger tank. Make sure that the saltwater is at the right salinity and temperature and if you can use RO/DI water all the better. One of the worst things that could happen to you is you have everything pretty much set, except you don't have enough water to add to your tank, leaving you scrambling to get some. Heat packs and bags of cold water placed in bags is also helpful if long distances are going to be traveled to keep proper temperatures. Air stones are also good with battery powered air pumps for aeration.


    Now, you have your strategy all in place, have your equipment and supplies. You are now ready to start breaking down your tank! Start off by removing all the pumps, filters, powerheads etc. Oh, yeah a small tid bit for you. As you are breaking down your tank, it is adviseable to clean your equipment thoroughly(powerheads, pumps, tank, filters and things like that) This is a perfect time to do this since you are taking everything out of your tank anyway(kill two birds with one stone cliche).
    Once the equipment is out of the tank, fill your buckets up with water from your EXISTING tank. This will be for temporarilly housing your live stock. Now, remove as much of the remaining water as you can to place in your new tank, obviously with out your corals, if you have them, being out of the water. The reason why you want to gather as much water from your existing tank is that it will be that much less water you will have to replace, but more importantly, it will help in lessening the chance of major differences between the water parameters in your old tank and that of your new tank.

    Next, remove the corals, live rock and then the fish and inverts, placing them in separate containers preferably, to lessen the stress, possibility of damage etc. Be mindful also of the toxicity of your corals as well so that you can keep them separate to avoid injury due to chemical warfare and nematocysts from sweeper tentacles!


    Once that is done, remove the sand, gravel. Then remove the remaining water and clean the tank glass and lighting of algae, salt creep etc.

    That basically takes care of the break down of the tank!!! Yeah, halfway there, but precious seconds are ticking away and all your livestock is in containers without adequate filtration etc.

    At this time you should have your tank up in the desired local with the stand.


    Now add the live sand first, by slowly adding it to your tank. Then comes the adding of the live rock. Next add your water from the existing tank. A trick to this to help avoid sand flying all over the palce and clouding up your water is to use a plate. Place the plate at the bottom of your substrate. Pour the water so that it falls onto the plate, not to didturbe your sand bed.

    Once all the water sand and live rock are in place, it is time for the livestock to be added. Any way is fine, probably start with the the corals, then go to the fish. When this is done add the water to raise the water level to where it need to be. You shouldn't have to float and drip them in to your water as you have used existing water from the old tank(ah ha that is the reason for not dumping the old water!).


    Then you want to set-up your equipment, powerheads, pumps, filter, heaters, lights, sump/refugium if applicable, etc. Make sure they are hooked up correctly and thoroughly cleaned.
    At this point you should have the sand, live rock, corals and the live stock in the tank and the additional water as well to the desired height.


    Do some water parameter check now to be sure your water is in good shape. I would strongly advise you to add carbon and phosphate remover at this time also!

    Other than that , that is about it in a nut shell. Just be constantly looking for abnormal behavior in your livestock and coloration in corals. Make sure salinity is ok as is the temperature.
    Waiting game will now play out to let you know how successful you were with the move. Keep track daily of bleaching etc. to be ready to compensate for this.
    Get your equipment up and running and make sure you don't run across something that isn't working properly.


    That is basically what you will be up against with this demanding challenge. It took me 8 hours to breakdown a 75 gallon tank, move it a half hour away and set up a bigger tank. I lost one Acropora and a Morray eel, that is it!!!!!


    Just take your time, quality time is the best, and preparedness will help with the ease of this.
    Best of luck and I hope this helps out somewhat!!!8)
     
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  3. Glipzcom

    Glipzcom Flamingo Tongue

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    I did this last year. And I am about to do it again. The thing that always scares me the most is the temperature change. When you were breaking things down taking out your livestock. Did you do anything to keep the water they were in heated?

    I dont really know what temperature limits fish can take?

    Also I am not changing tanks, I am keeping the one i have so i have to take everything out. get it drained down.

    Move it and then start refilling it all back up..

    I could probably put all my live stock in one bucket I have only 3 fish, and a bunch of snails and crabs.

    For the corals. I have a Green Star polyp which isnt that healthy, but he sucks into his little hides. But i also have a branching frogspawn and I dont know how to keep it from falling over ans suqishing itself.
     
  4. totter0817

    totter0817 Purple Spiny Lobster

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    Im moving soon, hopefully, but we live in an upper apartment, old building with about 30 steep, steep steps to the 1st floor. We are going to hire out LFS to move the tank for us. They do it alot and are experienced in it. I just cant imagine doing it by ourselves.
    Their not that expensive either.
     
  5. marlinman

    marlinman Zoanthid

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    I going to be upgrading my 65 gal reef tank to a 120 gal reef tank. The new tank is going to have to go where the old one is. I have a question about live rock and live sand. I bought about 40 lbs of base rock and I rinsed them off and I'm worried about a possible spike in my water from it and wondering if it would be better to get cured rock. I have about 100 lbs of old live rock from my old tank and I need more for the 120 gal. I was going to lay the base rock on the bottom and add the established rock on top. I was going to use the leftover base rock for the old tank as a selling tool. I could just use the base rock for the old tank and buy some cured rock for the new tank to mix with the established rock even though it's more expensive. My main objective is to keep all my stock alive. My signature shows what I have and I could use some advice. I know there is a chance that some or most of what I have could die from the water change but I'd rather not lose any of my buddies. The other thing that bothers me is a bought this setup used and the fellow before me has a full 2" of live sand that has since show signs of housing some nitrate. I see green and red algae spots in a few areas under the substrate and wondering how do I make the change and could I expose the fish and corals to nitric gases and such. Should I just get fresh new live sand or mix a little from the top and will I have to cycle the tank?:cry: My worst case senario the way I look at is I might have to put my stock back in the old tank until the new one cycles.
    What do you think I should do?:-/
    One more thing I have a 175 MH and 4X39W T5's. I bought an 8X54 T5 retro kit and wondered if I should use the Metal Halide and or T5's for the new tank. I know I'm a pain but I'm searching for the right answer. There is enough room if needed in the canope for the MH and 2X39 T5's. Thanks.
     

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  6. PharmrJohn

    PharmrJohn The Dude

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    I think you could use the sand.....but you had better wash it out good. I wouldn't put it in as is. Asking for trouble and a new cycle for sure. I used my old sand (didn't wash it) and had a cycle for two months. Not a bad one.....but NH4 at 0.25 to 0.5 for two months. Everything made it.....but I did worry.

    With base rock, you shouldn't have to worry about any spikes. It's dead, so there will be no die off to create a cycle. Just keep the rock from your old tank in a garbage can full of salt water. I wouldn't worry about heating it, but I would put in a Koralia to keep flow going.

    When you put your old rock in, you will have area's of that LR that have not had exposure to flow and water for awhile (dead spots). You will pick up a small spike from that. Nothing to write home to Mama about, but it will have to resolve.

    CR has written a good article here. Can't believe I missed it.....so belated karma to you. I did a tank upgrade from 75g to 90g last September. I started a thread dedicated to it and the aftermath.....http://www.3reef.com/forums/show-off-your-fish-tanks/pharmrjohns-90g-thread-52614.html. Use from it what you can.

    I took five days to do my transfer. I had to paint the new tank, do tank stand mods, go to work.....all that jazz. By the end of it, the livestock was not looking too perky. I had everyone in several 10 and 15 gallon tanks with flow and heat. No filtration. I did do a water change half way through, but at the end, they were getting a little tired of their surroundings (or lack thereof) and declining water conditions. I probably could have pushed it to eight or nine days with the fish and some of the corals, but the anemone wouldn't have made it another two days. So just get it over as fast as you can. PM me if you have any questions. Lots of us have done transfers. So your resources are many
    here.
     
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  7. jesseeheart

    jesseeheart Plankton

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    Great thanks for that information. I'm transferring to a larger tank next week so this was great to read..

    I knew i needed a plan but wasn't sure what :):p
     
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  9. marlinman

    marlinman Zoanthid

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    Thanks John. I have a stupid question? How would you clean the sand? Put it in a bucket and run tap water through it and let it overflow for 5 or 10 minutes? I was going to move my tank and it's inhabitants to the other side of the room and then set up my 120 gal and wait until the water parameters are right but my LFS says it could be too much stress for the fish and I'm not so sure that that is solid advice. What do you think?:-/
     
  10. coral reefer

    coral reefer Giant Squid

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    Is the sand the sand from an existing tank? If yes, I would quickly rinse it under saltwater, either from your tank or fresh saltwater.

    If it is sand you are using for the first time use aragonite and rinse thoroughly under fresh water to remove fine particles before placing it in your tank.
    Also, after adding the sand, place a plate in the bottom of the tank and pour the water on top of the plate to reduce the disturbing of the sand and cloudiness developing!

    I would also employ the use of effective filtration to help remove impurities and particulates leaving your tank water pristine.
     
  11. t4zalews

    t4zalews Flamingo Tongue

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    Within the next year I am upgrading from a 65 to a 240. Can I just add everything from my 65 (water, sand, live rock, fish, inverts, corals) straight into the 240 or do I have to totally set up the 240 and wait for it to finish cycling? Of course I would be adding more liverock, probably base rock and then some cured. More sand will be added. but the water is my main concern...should I do weekly water changes of about 20 gallons and add that to the 240?
     
  12. PharmrJohn

    PharmrJohn The Dude

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    This is just me, but I would move all the inhabitants to the new unit. There will be a small cycle, yes, but if it is done right, it's not going to be like the beginning. With the LR you already have, there will be a slight net deficit of bacteria (because the bacteria is everywhere.....LR, LS, sides of tank and all other surfaces), but it will catch up pretty quickly. Unless you have another separate system with skimming, lights, sump, the whole nine yards, you are better off taking a chance putting them in the new set up. Lesser of two evils if you will.

    The plate is a good idea with adding water to the sand. Hadn't thought of that. I used saran wrap on top and trickled the water in. Took a few hours, but like CR, I had clear water at the end.