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. Brandon1023

    Brandon1023 Fire Goby

    Mar 14, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    I'm sorry, but having done this several times myself, I have to completely disagree.

    If all you're doing is moving your rocks and sand from one tank to another tank, then it will be fine. Will there be a mini cycle? Yes, for MAYBE a day or 2. Otherwise if all you're adding is new water then you will be gravy. It's when you get into adding new LR when you run into issues. And even then, when I went from my 72gal to my 125gal and added a boatload of new LR, it was established rock from another tank that someone was breaking down. So it still wasn't an issue. I didn't lose a single coral, fish, or invertebrate during that move.

    If you want more information I would be happy to go into detail on how I did that.
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  3. Peredhil

    Peredhil Giant Squid

    Aug 20, 2008
    Kucky - as you can see there are varying opinions and experiences on this.

    Obviously, I wouldn't completely ;) :p disagree with myself as my last tank transfer did cause a mini-cycle that lasted several weeks (compared to a fresh setup that has a cycle that lasts 12-14 weeks quite often).

    I'll recommend that you start your own thread on the subject so you can get feedback from several members.

    But some quick tips - some of which Brandon hit on

    • this is not a black and white defined activity. ton of grey area and your experience will be unique.
    • if you have access to additional Live Rock (LR) that is 'already established' in someone's tank, that can speed things up further. This isn't a common option. Otherwise, I'd use dead base rock as my additional LR. It will become 'live' eventually and is much cheaper.
    • I don't think you'll be able to transfer your sand without causing a large spike in nitrates and possibly phosphates. For me, I'd get new substrate, you'll probably need more anyway. I think no matter what though, you'll stir up something and would expect to see a nitrate spike. Waiting for Nitrates to come back down, IMO, is part of the cycle.
    • Quite often it can take two days before a cycle even starts to register. I would recommend patience and testing to be sure.
    • You've already got a tank, so you already know it definitely won't hurt to take it slow.
    Good luck!
  4. amajda0519

    amajda0519 Plankton

    Jun 13, 2009
    Kalkaska, MI
    Do these same rules apply when going from a large tank to a smaller one? I am downsizing from a 75g to a 29g.

  5. madlarkin

    madlarkin Peppermint Shrimp

    Oct 29, 2008
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    The other unmentioned benefit of using dry base rock is a lack of life to die off causing ammonia spikes and other cycle nastiness.
  6. shecter

    shecter Fire Shrimp

    May 26, 2010
    im moving a 38 gallon tank this week and theres about 40 lbs of sand how bad of an idea is it to leave it in the tank and put boards under the tank for transfer so it doesnt twist. and are milk jugs rinsed out ok to transfer the water? i only have an 18 gallon open tub other than that
  7. MoJoe

    MoJoe Dragon Wrasse

    Jan 13, 2010
    Wondering this also, I have a 55g with about 60lbs of live sand. My move is a very short one & I can carry the tank with a few people to the new destination. How dangerous is it moving a tank filled with sand and maybe a tiny bit of water still in it up stairs, hmmmm.
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  9. ReefSparky

    ReefSparky Super Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    South Florida
    Since the weight will work to shear the joints on all edges of the tank it's not recommended. If you take a common sense approach and use physics to your advantage though--it might work if you put the tank on a flat surface like a sheet of plywood. You'd have to carry the wood, and not handle the tank, though. That would be quite a feat traversing stairs. If it were me, I'd probably not risk it. The bigger the tank, the more stress on the joints.
  10. nctinter

    nctinter Skunk Shrimp

    Sep 26, 2008
    Florida, Left Coast
    Ive done that with a 40 gallon breeder 3 or 4 times. Moved it with about 40lbs of sand in it and water just slightly covering the sand. I didn't go far but it worked with no problems. It is still pretty risky
  11. Reeron

    Reeron Blue Ringed Angel

    Jun 18, 2008
    Kingston, NY
    4 years ago I moved my 38g tank. Had about 50lbs crushed coral in it (now has sand instead) and 45lbs of rock. I had enough water in it to cover the CC and rock, so I would say about 10 gallons. All told I would say it weighed almost 200lbs. My friend and I carried it to my pickup and we put it in the bed (on some blankets for padding). Drove (carefully) about 30 minutes to the new house, and carried it in and placed it on the stand. About an hour later I had it completely filled with water and re-aquascaped. To this day the tank has no leaks. So it can be done, but you need to be careful, and whoever is carrying it should be fairly strong (not keeping it level will put stress on the panes of glass and could lead to a leaking tank).