FAQs about Troubles Moving Aquarium
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Livestock and Tanks By Amy Janecek, Moving Aquariums,
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Moved FOWLR Aquarium = huge Nitrate readings
When searching the moving section there seems to be a lot of talk about
the physical transportation and not much about
things that can happen to water quality.
Now to my story/question: I purchased a 55 gallon aquarium that
has been running for 5 years. It has live rock, 1 damsel, 1
urchin, and various snails and crabs. I moved it maybe 40 miles.
I left the sand bed (3” deep) in the aquarium with enough water to keep
it wet. I moved the live rock in totes with the aquarium water.
When setting it up I had two issues… one was the filter/pump was leaking
so I couldn’t use it overnight and I had to fix it in the morning.
I did have an air stone and pump for water movement. The second
was the heater they gave me stopped working, so everything endured
temperatures in the mid 60’s for 3-5 hours. I’ve had the aquarium
for 5 days. My nitrates are off the chart, which is above 160.
I did a water change
enough to get them down to 80, but the next day they were 160 again.
Ammonia and nitrite are at 0 ppm. What do I need to do?
<Mmm, a few choices... vacuum the substrate mostly... other ameliorative
processes. Read here:
the linked files above>
I assume that there is die off in the sand, on the rock, or in the filter.
<Mostly just the stirring of the mulm, muck in the sand>
I can think of two courses of action. One being that I just leave it
alone and pull out snails and such as they die, and
hope the system stabilizes.
<Mmm, it will, but I'd make some changes, additions....>
The other thought is to drain it into buckets, put the live rock in
buckets. Empty out all the sand to rinse and clean it thoroughly.
Clean out the aquarium and the filter. Then start the setup as
though it was brand new. Do either of these have merit?
<Yes they do... but I'd add a fuge, DSB, RDP macroalgal culture....>
What is your suggestion please?
<To have you read for now>
You assistance is greatly appreciated,
<Glad to assist your understanding, efforts Nick. Bob Fenner>
HELP PLEASE? Moved SW sys, Cnid. hlth.
I really need guidance. I just transferred everything from my 29G tall
tank to a 40G Long tank. Everything went as normal for the first 2wks
now moving into the 3rd, my corals are beginning to die rapidly. I have
not lost a coral yet but there are none that look well. The toadstool
and softies are already detaching from the rocks and have fallen.
<Didn't like something/s about the move... and now are likely
poisoning each other>
But Fish seem to be fine. The old system was a 29G with 2 hang-ons and
did well for 6months(had 32W of actinic T3 & 250W MH @ 20K about
13" above the water)(NO Skimmer). I changed to a 40G long with a
15Gsump & only 97w total. ( 60W @ 6,5K & 37W @ 20K)(Auto
top-off)(Skimming regular in 2nd wk
since transfer.)I tested my water (Tested P.H. Nitrite, Nitrate,
And all seem fine. Two weeks after the move I have begun to seem the
brown slim as I would after a move or Cycle. Please Help me,
Lewis L. (JAX, FL)
<You did hopefully move most all the "old" water, and
existing hard materials to the new system...? I would be reading on WWM
re Cnidarian allelopathy, employing a good deal of high quality
make/have ready large volumes of new water for change outs... Bob
Tank move disaster... Substrate move
I have a situation: This weekend I moved my 90 gallon tank to my new
apartment. It's the third time I have moved that monster and let me
tell you, how difficult that is! Instead of listing my fish, here are
pictures (I have no problem with you posting that link if u post my
At the time of move, there were 2 mating Eastern Skunk clowns, a Huge
LTA in which they lived, misc. corals, a purple tang, a really mean
bicolor Pseudochromis, and an absolutely giant frog spawn which has
grown and split and grown over the last five years. The move went well
initially but I believe I made several
1) I didn't hook up skimmer (at 4 am, I simply wanted to get water
and fish in the tank and get some sleep before going to work at 7!)
<Likely the skimmer running could have helped the situation by
helping remove some organics that became dislodged from the substrate
during the move>
not filling the tank enough to the water flowing through the
<Once again just like the skimmer any nutrient export would help if
organics were released during the substrate move.>
no use of canister filter on first day of relocation
<A canister filter may help with polishing your water out for now.
Make sure to clean it extra often, ideally every day until things get
back under control>
4) reusing the water from the containers that housed the frogspawn and
<This may have been a contributing factor as well. Likely the main
cause was organics that were suspended in the water during the
substrate move. Do run carbon just in case and continue with water
changes as necessary. Additionally a full array of test results for
common parameters would help in diagnosing the problem. (ammonia,
nitrite, nitrate, pH, alkalinity at the minimum.)>
My theory is that the frogspawn released toxins and I dumped them back
into the tank. That, along with the sediment being stirred up like
crazy, made for a toxic mix which stressed and killed one of the clowns
and the mean Pseudochromis.
<You are likely correct although my bet would be on the stirring of
the sediment. Like mentioned above, run carbon, perform water changes,
and continue testing the water.>
When I came home from work, to see the dead Pseudochromis and
clownfish, I immediately did a huge water change and finished setting
up the tank.
The next morning, after turning on the lights, the anemone finally woke
up and became occupied by the now single and very beat up clown. The
tang seems to have survived the ordeal (for now).
<These seem like good signs for now, but do continue monitoring the
Do you think I should get another clown? If so, can I get a pink skunk
or am I stuck with this kind?
<The singular clown can survive and thrive on his own. It is
possible to add a pink skunk and have it pair, this is not a guarantee
but a small juvenile age clown may up the odds.>
I would also like to get a jaw fish but am afraid since I have a rather
hearty and quiet red pistol shrimp. I shockingly discovered it in the
move but hadn't seen or heard from it in over a year!
<A Jawfish would probably be fine with a pistol shrimp if you
haven't seen or heard from him this far. But there is some risk
with another bottom dwelling animal. Personally I'd give it a try
after things settle down a little bit>
Also, can i get other tangs?
<Personally I would not recommend it, Tangs are large fish and have
can have a large effect on the bio load of the system. I know it is an
overused analogy, but consider living your life in a closet. The time
to add other tangs of similar body type would have been before the
purple tang was added.>
Thanks for all the information you've shared and allowed us to
share through your forum. It's been a GREAT help in my success over
the years. If you would like me to detail how I moved a 75 gallon tank
from Virginia to New Jersey, then a 90 gallon from one New Jersey
apartment to another... I would be glad to contribute to the sharing of
<Feel free to email us your experience so it can be shared with
others. But please when you email it try to avoid using internet
abbreviations with numbers or slashes.>