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Help - need to move a 90 gallon fish tank

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Hey Guys, I have a wonderful 90 gallon tank setup in my living room. It's been there about 3 years ...

  1. #1
    Little Fish MalcolmV8's Avatar
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    Default Help - need to move a 90 gallon fish tank

    Hey Guys,

    I have a wonderful 90 gallon tank setup in my living room. It's been there about 3 years and I've decided to replace it with a salt water tank.

    So here comes the big move. The plan is to move my existing 90 gallon tank, pictured below, upstairs to my office. Has anyone moved a large tank before? I'm curious about what's safe to move etc.

    My current plan is to catch all the fish (20 +, don't have an actual count) and put them in buckets with tank water and some plants to hide in. I then have two 32 gallon bucks where I can store about 60 gallons of the fish water. I will drain the rest.

    My worry is if I can just pick up the tank and carry it upstairs with the gravel, drift wood, and couple rocks still in there? I don't want the bottom breaking out or cracking etc. I'm just not sure how strong this stuff is. I'd even like to leave a little water in there if I can but not really required of course. I'm pretty strong and so are my friends so I don't think carrying it will be the problem. More just the safety of the tank.

    Once it's upstairs in its new location I'll pump the 60 saved gallons back and add some fresh water. Make sure temps are all good etc. and add my fish back. Hopefully this all goes smooth

    A few pics of what I'm attempting to move.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    90 gallon - new salt water tank - setup in progess

    90 gallon - planted, cats, pleco, dojo loach, barbs, mollies, rainbow shark, various other misc + couple snails

    20 gallon long - planted, pleco, guppies, loach, mollie

    10 gallon - planted, various fishies

  2. #2
    Super Fish Fishman1995's Avatar
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    You should be fine just sit it down GENTELY lol. Id take EVERYTHING out thou so nothing slides around and cracks glass
    5.5 gallon planted tank

  3. #3
    Little Fish MalcolmV8's Avatar
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    I'm thinking I'll take the two large rocks out and probably even the drift wood. All that gravel though, wow that would be a chore but more importantly I'm worried about ruining all the live plants in there, up rooting them etc. Not the end of the world but would be nice to move them intact lol
    90 gallon - new salt water tank - setup in progess

    90 gallon - planted, cats, pleco, dojo loach, barbs, mollies, rainbow shark, various other misc + couple snails

    20 gallon long - planted, pleco, guppies, loach, mollie

    10 gallon - planted, various fishies

  4. #4
    Large Fish Dylandrewsdad's Avatar
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    Unless you are the Hulk, you will not be able to move that tank with anything in it, you will need help either way. No need to save the water, there is no reason too. Just fill up your buckets to store your fish/plants in, take everything else out of the tank. More the tank and stand to it's new home, make sure it is level, put in substrate, deco and water, only about halfway. Then slowly add some of your fish with the water from the old tank until they are all in. While the fish are in the buckets, you should either run the filters if you can or at least an air stone.
    55 Gallon Planted tank
    1 Koi Angel
    1 Black Angel
    1 Sunset Angel
    2 Punctatus Cory Cat
    1 Clown Pleco
    6 Oto's

    12 Gallon Planted community tank
    3 Neon's
    1 Platy
    lots of Platy fry
    2 Oto's

    30 Gallon Planted community tank
    2 Burmese Border Loach
    12 Platys
    2 Platy Fry
    6 Fancy Guppies
    1 Guppy Fry
    1 Bristle Nose Pleco

    10 Gallon Nursery
    8 Platy Fry
    2 Guppy Fry

  5. #5
    Little Fish MalcolmV8's Avatar
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    Well I won't be moving the tank by myself lol. I just carried in my new 90 today (with a buddy) and it was not bad at all so I imagine with just gravel it'll be ok? I think there's only about 100 lbs of gravel in there. I could be wrong. I mean worst case we try and move it and decide this is just to much and take more out.
    One issue I do see is the old stand in the living room allows you to slide the tank in from the rear where as my new stand already up in the office only allows you to drop a tank in directly from overhead with no room for your fingers so you've have to grab the tank on the sides and lower it in. That could definitely be an issue forcing me to completely empty the tank.

    My idea for keeping as much of the old water was just so there's no massive shock to the fish. Probably not but just in case there's a sudden PH or what ever change to them. I have approx 1 table spoon of salt per 5 gallons in there and who knows how that's varied over the years with water changes. I don't test the water.
    I already have the buckets etc. so not a big deal to save some water.

    I know for sure I'll definitely have to acclimate my snails back into the tank with such a huge water change. I've learned over the years they are sensitive to sudden changes in what I think is PH. Such as huge water changes when you skip a few lol or moving between tanks. I have a "rig" setup where I put the snails in this cup in their existing water and drip water from the tank into their cup. After their water has doubled in the cup I bag them and float them for temp and they're good to go. Since I've started doing this I quit loosing snails. I'd even have them die (50/50 chance) moving between tanks in my house. My acclimation drip method solves this.

    EDIT - BTW good point on running an air stone in the bucket while I have the fish in there. I almost forgot about that one.
    90 gallon - new salt water tank - setup in progess

    90 gallon - planted, cats, pleco, dojo loach, barbs, mollies, rainbow shark, various other misc + couple snails

    20 gallon long - planted, pleco, guppies, loach, mollie

    10 gallon - planted, various fishies

  6. #6
    Large Fish Dylandrewsdad's Avatar
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    Why the salt?

    Like the acclimation method too!

    100 lbs of dry substrate or wet? I bet it is double when wet!
    55 Gallon Planted tank
    1 Koi Angel
    1 Black Angel
    1 Sunset Angel
    2 Punctatus Cory Cat
    1 Clown Pleco
    6 Oto's

    12 Gallon Planted community tank
    3 Neon's
    1 Platy
    lots of Platy fry
    2 Oto's

    30 Gallon Planted community tank
    2 Burmese Border Loach
    12 Platys
    2 Platy Fry
    6 Fancy Guppies
    1 Guppy Fry
    1 Bristle Nose Pleco

    10 Gallon Nursery
    8 Platy Fry
    2 Guppy Fry

  7. #7
    Little Fish betta lover22's Avatar
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    Hmm..definitely take out the decorations, and as much gravel as possible. 90 pounds of gravel is pretty hard to carry up stairs! I would keep at least 50-60 gallons of the original tank water. To get this water, hold the siphon away from the gravel- try not to get waste in the water you keep. That way, it is at least more like a large water change because you are discarding the remaining 30 gallons of dirty water. If I were you, I would get a couple of new (no chemicals) 5 gallon buckets for the fish. That way, you can get most of the old tank water into the tank without stressing the fish. You can also get some 5 gallon buckets for the gravel. That way, it is easier to carry up the stairs. Once you get it all set up with the gravel, and decorations, pump the water without fish into the tank. Then, add treated tap water to the tank until it is almost full. Run your filters for about an hour without the fish, and then you can start adding some of the fish. I would recommend filling the buckets with the fish about half way, so you can slowly siphon (tie a knot in the siphon so it flows slower) some of the water from the tank that is all set up again. That way, the water will be the same temp, and the fish will be acclimate to the new tank water mix. Once the buckets are almost full, stop the siphon, and let the buckets sit for 10-20 minutes, so the fish are acclimated. Then, I would net the fish out, and release them into the tank. You can then pour the water from these buckets in the tank to finish filling it.

  8. #8
    Little Fish MalcolmV8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dylandrewsdad View Post
    Why the salt?

    Like the acclimation method too!

    100 lbs of dry substrate or wet? I bet it is double when wet!
    Humm the salt thing goes back many years. I think it started when I was a kid actually with my mom's out door koi pond. It did wonders for her fish and in our tanks we found it to keep healthy fish.
    I'm no scientist so I may screw up this explanation but from what I recall reading it has to do with osmosis through the fish. Something like there's a slightly saltiness inside the fish and if the water around the body is completely salt free ions or something try to transfer one way and it's hard on the fish? shoot I really don't recall. I'd have to go google it again. I do know parasites also hate a little salt and it keeps things well in that sense.
    Certain fish hate a little salt in the water, such as corries but I don't have any of those.
    So yeah the short version is I've been using a little freshwater salt for as many years as I can remember. Pet stores do and recommend you do too. I'm sure we could google up some good articles on what all it does.

    Substrate is just enamel gravel. It shouldn't absorb any water but yeah I can see all the water sitting in the gravel even though you think you've gotten it all siphoned out. Probably make the tank weigh an extra 200 lbs lol.
    90 gallon - new salt water tank - setup in progess

    90 gallon - planted, cats, pleco, dojo loach, barbs, mollies, rainbow shark, various other misc + couple snails

    20 gallon long - planted, pleco, guppies, loach, mollie

    10 gallon - planted, various fishies

  9. #9
    Little Fish MalcolmV8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by betta lover22 View Post
    Hmm..definitely take out the decorations, and as much gravel as possible. 90 pounds of gravel is pretty hard to carry up stairs! I would keep at least 50-60 gallons of the original tank water. To get this water, hold the siphon away from the gravel- try not to get waste in the water you keep. That way, it is at least more like a large water change because you are discarding the remaining 30 gallons of dirty water. If I were you, I would get a couple of new (no chemicals) 5 gallon buckets for the fish. That way, you can get most of the old tank water into the tank without stressing the fish. You can also get some 5 gallon buckets for the gravel. That way, it is easier to carry up the stairs. Once you get it all set up with the gravel, and decorations, pump the water without fish into the tank. Then, add treated tap water to the tank until it is almost full. Run your filters for about an hour without the fish, and then you can start adding some of the fish. I would recommend filling the buckets with the fish about half way, so you can slowly siphon (tie a knot in the siphon so it flows slower) some of the water from the tank that is all set up again. That way, the water will be the same temp, and the fish will be acclimate to the new tank water mix. Once the buckets are almost full, stop the siphon, and let the buckets sit for 10-20 minutes, so the fish are acclimated. Then, I would net the fish out, and release them into the tank. You can then pour the water from these buckets in the tank to finish filling it.
    Some good points there too. I see you have the same acclimation method recommended for my fish as I do for snails with the drip or in this case very slow siphon. Good thinking. It's great getting all this feed back, helps me remember all the little details when doing such a big project.
    90 gallon - new salt water tank - setup in progess

    90 gallon - planted, cats, pleco, dojo loach, barbs, mollies, rainbow shark, various other misc + couple snails

    20 gallon long - planted, pleco, guppies, loach, mollie

    10 gallon - planted, various fishies

  10. #10
    Large Fish skjl47's Avatar
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    hello; The substrate may not absorbe water but the water will cling to it as a film and in the small spaces between the particles and indeed will weigh much more than when dry. I have left quartz gravel in a bucket with an opening at the bottom to drain water for weeks and it was still damp a few inches below the top layer and still much heavier than when dry. I have made a base from 3/4 inch plywood a couple of inches longer than my tanks to move tanks up to 29 gallons by myself. It gives a place to grip and reduces stress points when you set it down. I would strongly suggest that a tank that big be bare when moved. The first rule of picking up something haevy is to have a place ready to put it down.

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