Skip to content
How to Prep Your Aquarium for a Move

How to Prep Your Aquarium for a Move

By:  Chris Okula (@nano.scapes)


Moving your aquarium is one of the most stressful parts of aquarium ownership.

Although you may never plan to move an aquarium, life is an ever-changing adventure. Whether you're moving into a new home, college dorm, or apartment, a move could be in your future. It's important that you know how to prep your aquarium for the big day.

1. Setup Your Landing Zone

Before you even think about moving your aquarium, you need to first decide where it’s going to live in your new space. The important question to ask is:

  • Are there plenty of electrical outlets, viewing points, and spaces to access your aquarium?

Also, it’s critical to check the floor to make sure it’s even because an uneven stand is the enemy of stable aquarium setup. 

planted aquarium emersed


2. Measure the Distance

Once you’ve decided where your aquarium can call home, you need to factor in the travel distance from its current location to the aquarium’s ultimate destination.

Is your drive a couple of hours, days, or even a plane ride away?

  • For a shorter drive, you could keep your aquarium intact.
  • For longer journeys, it may be best to entertain a full breakdown based on your aquarium’s hardscape and livestock. 

3. Secure Your Hardscape

When preparing for a move, ask yourself, how secure is my hardscape?

When an aquarium needs to be moved the last thing you’d want is a large Seriyu stone falling over and cracking the glass. If you would prefer prefer not to fully breakdown the setup, then it's recommended to fasten the hardscape together with your preferred glue or silicon solution.

You must also factor in the weight of your hardscape. Large rocks can cause dangerous pressure points on your aquariums glass structure and must be factored into your plans. 

You can add bubble wrap inside of your tank between the hardscape and the tank glass to prevent scratches.

dragon stone aquarium hardscape

Pictured above: Dragon Stone hardscape


4. Caring for Livestock

Your aquarium livestock is the soul of your setup and keeping them safe during a stressful move is a difficult but doable challenge.

Aquarium fish and shrimp can be shipped around the world so they are certainly able to live outside of a tank temporarily.

It is recommended to remove your livestock from the tank and place them into a safe container for the journey ahead. Large Tupperware or buckets that are free of soap residue are recommended depending on the size of the livestock.

  • Including aquatic moss and plants with their temporary container is a massive help and required for shrimp who use these plants to hang on to while enduring the move.
  • For longer distances requiring hours of travel, an air pump (w/ air stone) and heater are recommended to keep your fish and shrimp as comfortable as possible.

When arriving at your new space, ensure you slowly acclimate your livestock so shock is reduced. 

crystal red freshwater shrimp

Pictured above: Crystal Red Shrimp


5. Full or Partial Breakdown

Besides a new living space, the decision to perform a full or partial breakdown is most important in regards to your aquarium move.

The size of your tank is a big factor (no pun intended) as you need to establish if you’re even able to move your tank with the hardscape still intact. This is when nano tanks shine because they are much easier to move with only partial breakdown, as compared to a full-sized setup that may need full breakdown.

  • Draining the most water possible will give you and your aquarium the best possible move because even a gallon of water is not an easy quantity to move.
  • To retain moisture, cover the top of your aquarium with a plastic wrap to keep your plants hydrated. 


aquarium setup breakdown aquatic plants

Pictured above: Fenestratarum Mulyadii


6. Hold On Tight

The physical difficulty of moving an aquarium is contingent on your prepping decisions.

If you have a plan, then you will succeed! Moving a nano tank may seem easier than a larger aquarium, but no matter the size, it’s critical to carefully handle this precious cargo.

  • Placing a sturdy board under your aquarium will help distribute the weight over a large surface area and is recommended for added safety during the move.
  • Ensure you removed all wired hardware to avoid tripping over a cable as a final check before taking on the move as well. 

7. Consider Your New Opportunities

Moving your aquarium may not be ideal, however, there are many opportunities for positive improvements.

If you decide to go with a full breakdown of your tank, this means you can perform a full rescape and take this as an opportunity to try something new. If your hardscape shifts a little during the move, then you will get an entirely new perspective on your current scape.

This is also the perfect time to get a new aquarium stand to match your new space!

Finally, a successful move should be rewarded with some new plants or livestock to enjoy your new home. 

 aquarium setup prep

Picture credit: @ry_the_scape_guy on Instagram  


When it comes to moving your aquarium, this is a task best performed by you--the passionate aquarium owner. It’s hard for others to fully understand all of the time and effort that goes into your planted tank.

With a proper landing zone, prepping of hardscape, livestock, and focus on the future you’ll be able to overcome any move that you will encounter.


Tell us - Was this article helpful? Please leave a comment below!

If you have any questions regarding this article, please DM us on Instagram, Facebook, or email so we can assist you - @buceplant

Previous article Common Fish Diseases and How to Treat Them

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields