Author Topic: Moving a large established tank  (Read 3262 times)

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Offline SaltwaterBob

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Moving a large established tank
« on: January 27, 2011, 12:49:24 AM »
Ok, I may have made a huge mistake but I figure what the heck I'll go for it.

First of all I was at the last club meeting and enjoyed meeting everyone. There was a lot of passionate folks at that meeting and so I joined the club.  I've been checking out all the posts on the forum and I'm really impressed with all the knowledge and experience that many of you have.

I purchased a 135 gallon tank with stand.  It's still sitting in the living room and empty while i do my research and homework.

Today my wife saw a 180 gallon fully established tank for sale on Craigslist.  It includes live rock and several mature fish. 
The deal isn't done yet but I wanted to see if I could get some advice from everyone.

I've got a couple of issues.

1) Building a stand for the 180 in a short period of time

2) Moving the new tank from Kennewick to Richland

I'm ok with building a stand and think I can build it in about a day (at least the framework).

Does anyone have any advice on moving the new tank?
What's the best way to move the fish?
Should I keep what little sand is in the tank or should I start with fresh substrate?
I want to keep as much of the water as I can. Any suggestions on how to move that much water?

Thanks for any advice you can give!


Offline Nate R

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 11:00:34 AM »
i have moved my 150 gal system a few times i think have it dialed now.

First thing i do is grab a power head and blow everything loose on the rocks and floor and siphon any sand while doing a good sized water change in the tank 2-3 days prior to moving the tank

next thing i do is make around 50 gals of new saltwater at the new location.

move day/days
i have a big 75 gal stock bin i set right next to the tank and transfer all water out of the sump and as much as i can out of the tank then, live stock and rock in to the bin. all you need is the heaters and power heads in there nothing else.

next i transfer the remaining water in to garbage cans and move all equipment and tank to new location/ re set up.Then i add the new water to the tank and get it heated and ready for live stock transfer

Next i go get all my livestock and rock in bins and buckets as much as i can haul at a time and get to work getting it all re introduced in to the tank again.

IMO - I Do not move sand. I don't recommend it either. To much to go wrong there. and sand is cheap and ez to add later.

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Offline Nate R

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2011, 11:03:24 AM »
i know i am a a ways away but i have a 75 gal stock tank, 3 32gal garbage cans, 25 salt buckets with lids if you need to borrow them
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Offline SaltwaterBob

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 11:22:45 AM »
Thanks for the advice Nate.

Sounds like a good plan.  Where are you located?
I really appreciate the offer :)

Offline Nate R

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2011, 08:59:41 PM »
i am in yakima.   307-2664 if you want to give me a call.
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Offline Nate C.

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2011, 12:26:20 PM »
We've moved tanks (75g and 155g - as well as when we did the final move from the 155 to our current 270g) more times than I can count...once from Pullman to Tri-cities when my wife first moved down here after we started dating.  Only once did we ever lose anything, and that was due to not doing things the way we should have. 

The key is to take it slow, pack everything up in water from the tank.  We used the 20 gallon totes from Target/home depot/walmart/etc. to pack things into.  Rock and corals about half filling bins with water covering them in each - we like to keep the base rock separate from the rock with corals on it so we can build the structure before having to deal with getting things placed for the coral.  Fish went in 5 gallon buckets with a number of fish in each bucket.  If you have extra water left in the tank it will be good if you can keep as much of it for re-use as possible (and as clean as possible...try to get it before things get too stirred up).  If you have sand, it is best to take the top layer (maybe 1 inch or so) and keep it separate.  The rest of the sand should go in another container.  That's were we screwed up the one time...mixed all the sand together. 

If you can have new water made and ready to go at the new location, all the better.  Have some spare heaters on hand, and an air pump or two for the fish buckets.  Heaters and small powerheads in the containers with the rock are a good idea too - do this before messing with the tank set-up. 

When you get things moved and ready to start putting things back in, rinsed the bulk sand (not the stuff off the top inch or so) with salt water to get all the nasty stuff out of it and put it in the tank first.  Then add the top layer of sand (that 1 inch or so) without rinsing it - you want to try to keep that live.  Then build your structure with the base rock, once mostly in place add your reserved tank water from rock bins and any that you were able to keep separately.  If it's really murky/nasty, don't use it.  I wouldn't use the stuff your sand or your fish were in to add to the tank.  At that point we typically would add some of the freshly make-up water to get the tank filled to cover the base rock (typically about 1/2 to 2/3 full).  Add a couple powerheads with sponge filters on the intakes (maxi jets work well) to help clear up the water.  Rinse the filter any time it looks really gunked up and put it back on.  Good idea to stick a heater in there now too.  Once things are cleared up  to a reasonable level (may be a couple hours), I would start aclimating coral/rock by either drip or small cups of water from the tank every 10-15 minutes until each container is at about a 50/50 mix of old and new water.  If the containers are more than half full to begin, take half as much out as you have put in to fill them and fill again until you are confident you are at 50/50 or better for water from the tank to what they were moved with.  From here, the rock can go in the tank such that it is completely submerged - can sit on the sand if needed.  Then add the rest of the needed new water to get the system up and running.  Once the water clears up (we typically keep using the sponge filters on the maxijets at this point) and looks "normal" then you can aclimate the fish and add them.

This process can be done completely in a day - even with tearing down, moving 3-4 hour drive away, and setting back up...but it is a very LONG day!

For you, with not having coral, and there not being much sand and therefore not many critters of benefit in there, I'd say starting with new (rinse it first in DI water to get rid of all the dust) could substitute for transferring the sand.  I like to try to kep some of the old so that I don't have to wait so long for it to become "live" again.  Big thing is making sure the top layer stays the top layer though.  That's why the two separate bins.  Also, since you don't say anything about coral, you can probably put all the rock in with as much old tank water as you have, as well as what new is needed (try to match temp and salinity as well as pH as close as possible - just like for normal water changes).  Basically you'll be doing a big water change in the tank...and things should be fine.  However, I would still let things run until everything settles down in the tank and then drip aclimate the fish before putting them into the tank.

Offline Kyleb100

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2011, 06:42:34 PM »
I did basically what Nate just explained and it worked great.  Another method I used was to smell the sand, if it smells like rotten eggs just toss it and buy new sand.  You could rinse it really well but it may just be easier and cheaper for that matter to buy new stuff.  If it smells fresh like the beach then it should be safe to use.  You still may get a small cycle afterward though.  I had a few diatoms show up which quickly went away.

Offline Ed

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2011, 07:43:46 AM »
I have helped move one large system a few times, lol.   Give me a call when you are ready to move.    I will do what I can to  help.   A good back up is to have extra make up water ready.   :) 
come over and see..:)

Offline Nate R

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2011, 10:01:35 AM »
when is the move going to happen?
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Offline SaltwaterBob

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2011, 09:27:34 PM »
Sorry for the delay. Been pretty busy at work. Also been working on building the stand for my new tank.  We're moving the tank tomorrow (Friday) and I have Derek from Tropical Qualities helping me out.

I have some photos of when I was building the stand and I'll post them as soon as I have a chance. I'm also going to get some photos during the move. 

I appreciate all the advice everyone has given. 
Nate, I appreciate the offer but it looks like Derek has everything he needs.
I hope the fish make it without stressing out too much.

If you know of anyone that wants to upgrade to a 135g tank with stand send them my way :)

Offline Ed

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2011, 06:58:49 AM »
Bob,
     Please plan in advance for mistakes.

extra make up water at same at same salinity and temp.
lots of water movement for oxygen-lots of powerheads-  You may want to check powerheads for shorts before transfer.
Heaters and thermometers.    Thermometers to check temps..

Good luck,
Ed :)
come over and see..:)

Offline SaltwaterBob

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2011, 08:22:46 AM »
Hi Ed,

Derek has been working on the extra water for me. For extra water storage, I picked up a brine tank from Culligan which I saw on another thread.

Derek is going to put the fish in one of his holding tanks until the water is ready.

We're keeping as much of the water as possible and planning on doing around a 20% water change.

The move is today. Wish me luck!


Offline Nate R

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Re: Moving a large established tank
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2011, 12:43:10 PM »
you have a long day ahead of you. good luck :)
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