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FAQs about Moving Marine Livestock Plans

Related Articles: Moving and Transporting your Livestock and Tanks By Amy Janecek, Moving Aquariums

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Need help saving fish... selling... moving f'    8/18/10
> ... Hi there... please display/exert the effort/courtesy to remove formatting from forwarded emails...>
> I am currently moving and selling a saltwater setup. I still have some livestock left and I want to be sure of their longevity.
> So I am unsure of the best way to insure this. I feel I have 3 options:
> 1. Most likely the best option is to "Donate" to an established tank.
Therefore they would only need to be acclimated once.
> 2. Let person buying my setup take fish (which he wants). But I am not giving them to certain death. So the though was they re-create my water to exact measurements of PH, etc. I feel it is not that simple because he need to make the water for a 150 gallon tank in a day. RO does not allow that because it takes long with most home kits to make even 30 gallons of water.
What to do with the fish during the few days?
<Problematical... have to keep/maintain elsewhere... perhaps in a lined trash can... with heater, circulation, sans feeding for a few days>
Also, will the bacteria still be alive in my rocks, sand, and filter media to convert the ammonia to nitrate?
<Yes... if not cleaned, rinsed too thoroughly, left too long w/o moisture>
If he has to cycle tank again, these fish will die.
> 3. Donate to a fish store. But my thoughts are they need to acclimate twice. Once to store and possibly quickly to the new buyer. Might be too much for fish.
> I am being pressured by the guy buying (option 2), so if you think there is a way to make that work. I'd appreciate input.
> Look into using sites/services like Craig's List as well... IF the party you're selling the system to is not interested in, dedicated to their care>
> By the way the fish are a large Annularis Angel, large Blond Naso Tang and a Flame Angel, pygmy of course.
> Your thoughts would greatly be appreciated as I would like to do the responsible thing.
> Best regards,
> Chris
<And you, Bob Fenner> 

Consult the Experts, I do... 90 g upgrade... reef... plumbing and moving plan     7/25/10
Hi Crew,
I have a 75g tank, with a 29g refuge/sump. I have been planning, and scheming for the last couple of months to move to a 90g. Its not much of an upgrade, but the purpose is to get a drilled tank, as my power company cannot consistently keep power on, and 3 times now the overflow box has lost siphon. This has resulted in moving a 75g tank in order to shampoo the carpet. Once was enough, I never want to go through that again.
<I hope others that read this learn from your experience!>
To the point, as I know you guys are busy. I wanted to run my plan through you, and see if there are any problems. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. The current 75g has 100lbs live rock, 5" DSB in DT, and a 5" DSB in a section of the 29g. Tank is 9 months old, and all parameters are solid.
1. The 90g will have 2 corner overflows (WWM suggestion), each will have a 1.5" drain, and a 1" return. If I ever want to increase flow, I can convert the 1" into a drain, and run the return over the back. It will have the 100lbs of live rock currently in the 75, plus another 30lbs of dead live rock that has been sitting in saltwater for 3 months just to maintain it. I will be adding less than 1" of coarse aragonite just to cover up the bottom of the tank (the wife does not like the DSB look in the DT).
2. I am converting the sump to a 38g tank, with an 8"x12"x22" DSB. Will have macro algae, Chaeto, with reverse DT lighting.
3. Return will be provided by 2 Mag 9.5 pumps, and I will also have 2 Koralia 3's for additional movement in the DT. I plan on installing 2 Sea-Swirls, 1 to each Mag pump in the future, but I could not convince my wife to let me spend the money just yet. So each return will just be aimed in the DT to act like powerheads.
<All sounds fine thus far, but do realize the overflow vs. pump situation will not leave you with any redundancy. If you can, just go 2" on the overflow drains, each will be capable of handling the flow of both pumps should one become obstructed.>
4. Just in case you are wondering, I have an AquaC EV-180 for skimming, a custom built carbon reactor (I found a use for a SeaClone 150, he he), and a Phosban reactor on standby should it be needed.
I have built a holding series of Rubbermaid containers that will hold the fish and LR while I set up the 90, and test it. I will have a Mag 7 pump water to the first container from the last, and each will siphon drain to the last container with the pump.
<Siphon drains can spell disaster, even in just a few days.>
Each container will have a powerhead for additional water movement. The corals are going in a QT tank. I am going to scrap the DSB in the 75g, and lay down new, dry aragonite in the 90g after rinsing. The DSB in the 38g
will consist of mostly dry sugar fine sand, topped with sand from the DSB in the 29g. I expect a small cycle from moving the 29g sand, so once all is in place will monitor for a couple of days before returning the LR, and fish to the tank.
Once I begin this conversion, I am guessing the fish will be in the Rubbermaid containers for 8 days. That is how much time I allotted for drying of the plumbing, testing the plumbing, and cycle of the DSB in the new sump.
As always, any advice the team can provide is invaluable.
<Personally I would expedite the whole process. Though you can keep your livestock in holding bins indefinitely, it is far easier and more desirable to get them in the new system ASAP. If at all possible try to allot a whole
day for the new setup. Get all your plumbing done, let is sit for a few hours (a day at most), fill with tap water to test, drain, then just move all over. Specifics may prevent you from doing this, but waiting a few days for the DSB won't accomplish much. Losses in the holding system will be more likely.>
Sorry for the long email, but since I am looking for critique, I wanted to insure you knew all the facts up front.
<Sounds like a well thought out plan. My .02 means little, only you know your specific timeframes of work and situation! Congrats on the new tank, Scott V.> 

upgrading to a larger tank... Moving SW    6/30/10
Hello again crew,
<Hello Zachary>
I just got a screaming deal on a new 55g tank.
I want to put all of my live stock from my 29g into this tank, rock, sand, all of it.
<Yes -- I would for sure!>
I was wondering if I could use the same principles from the article on your website for moving a tank.
<Mmm, not sure which article you are referring to here but ok>
Take everything out put it in buckets, put my sand and rock in, take all of my 29g water and put it into the new system and add water to make up the difference, then acclimate my live stock.
<This sounds perfect to me>
This sounds good to me in theory I just wanted to see if it would work in practice.
<Yes it will/ should. I can only caution you to plan this move very carefully first and not just jump right in.>
Basically I think it would be no more shock than a large water change right.
<Mmm, a bit more of a shock really'¦ you are moving the animals around in buckets -- imagine being suddenly plucked out of your home by a giant hand, dumped into a water butt and transferred to a completely different house! Even if the hand did transfer your bed and telly as well, you would still be a little irked>
The most sensitive animal I have in my tank would be my 1 Birdsnest but I do have a few LPS as well. Any thoughts or warnings would be greatly appreciated.
<Plan this move carefully, and expect one or two unforeseen mishaps, otherwise you should be ok. Simon>

Stocking and moving Plan for 220 Gallon FOWLR Tank 10/15/08 Hello Crew, <Sean> I'm upgrading from a 120g to a 220g FOWLR (72L*24W*30H) that will be set up as an island display with visibility from all 4 sides. The overflows will be in the corners, live rock will be in the middle (with plenty of see-through/swim-through areas) and the area between the rocks and the glass on all 4 sides will be left as open swim lanes. After much research, I've finally narrowed down my "wish list" (shown with adult fish size): * Rock Beauty Angel (8") <Mmm, a rare male... start much smaller... and this Holacanthus sp. is not easily kept... do read my acct. on WWM re> * Flame Angel (4") * Red Sea Golden Butterfly (9") <Better in pairs/twos... I'd skip one of the other B/F's and get two> * Saddleback Butterfly (9") * Blue Striped Butterfly (5") <A neat species... C. fremblii> * Purple Tang (10") * White-Faced Tang - a. japonicus not a. nigricans (8") * 2 False Percula Clowns (already paired) (3.5") * 3 Bartlett's Anthias (4") * Orangetail Blue Damsel (3") * Mystery Wrasse (5") * Six-line Wrasse (3") (About 83" total.) I realize that the Rock Beauty requires plenty of sponge in its diet, and I've seen plenty of suggestions for food sources on your website, so I really want to give it a try, as this is easily my favorite fish. So, on to my questions... * Bio Load - What size sump and what size refugium would you recommend for this to be a "safe" bio load with a 220g tank? <Mmm, the biggest/largest you can fit in, really> I am not limited to space inside the stand, as the sump and refugium will be located in the basement below the tank. <Look into Rubbermaid's troughs...> * Big Fish - The above includes 5 fish that are 8-10" in length. Is this too many "big" fish for this size tank? <Mmm, no... given the shape, volume of the system... I don't think these animals will really approach their maximum sizes stated... Maybe half to two-thirds over years time> * Aggression - The above includes a total of 7 angels, tangs and Butterflyfishes, which are reasonably similar in shape and diet. I only have 2-3 of each species, and with the exception of the Butterflyfishes, only one of each genus. I'm hoping that the genus mixture, coupled with the large tank size (with double the swim lanes resulting from the island set-up) will minimize the chance of aggression, or is this an accident waiting to happen? <Mmm, no... I give you very good odds that you'll be fine here> If so, would the situation be helped much if I "downgraded" the Golden Butterflyfish to a Lemonpeel Angel and/or "downgraded" the White-faced Tang to a Tomini Tang so that I have fewer of the "big" fish? <Not really an issue> * Wrasse - I've read that sixlines can be aggressive toward small, peaceful wrasse. Should I be concerned about the Sixline harassing the mystery wrasse in a tank this size? <Mmm, no... s/b plenty of room for them to avoid each other> If so, I might get a more peaceful radiant wrasse instead of the Sixline. Also, I've read some sources which indicate that all three of these could go after small ornamental shrimp, <Can, do> while other sources indicate that they are completely reef safe and won't harm invertebrates. <Mmm, not so> What's your impression? Would peppermints, skunk cleaners and fire shrimp be OK with all three? <If all are well fed... better than even chances of getting along> * Algae control - Without coral, I'll be able to go with minimal lighting, and I'll keep the temps around 76", but the tank will be exposed to quite a bit of direct sunlight. As this is a big, deep tank, I want to avoid having to go scuba diving to keep algae under control, so the stocking plan includes a lot of algae eaters. (I'll supplement with seaweed and algae in the feedings in case algae levels aren't quite high enough.) I've read that the Kole tang is the best for hair and bubble algae, but I just don't find it as appealing as the other fish in my wish list. Does the purple tang go after bubble algae? <Mmm, no, not as much by far> Does the white-faced tang or the Tomini tang go after it? <The genus Ctenochaetus are best here, and with micro-algal species that are palatable> I believe they all go after hair algae, right? <Yes> I know that emerald crabs eat bubble algae, but I also read many of your FAQs which indicate that they come with their own set of potential problems... Also, what critter(s) would you recommend for keeping the sand free of algae? <A sand stirring goby or two perhaps (genus Valenciennea), and/or a goatfish sp.> I have Nassarius snails and a sand sifting star in my 120g, but I still get a bit more algae on the sand than I would like. I may not have enough Nassarius snails stirring up the sand... * Angels - I know that a tank should be up and running for 6 months before adding angels. Since most of the rocks and sand will come from the old system that has been "live" for more than 6 months, how long should I wait before introducing the angels into the new system? Also, should the angels be introduced last, or should the tangs be introduced last? <S/b fine to add once the system is stabilized... let's say in a week or two> * Skimmer(s) - Some sources recommend using 2 skimmers of different types for large tanks. What types would you recommend here? Any particular brands/models that you would recommend here? <One of good quality will do... RK2, EuroReef, AquaC...> * Wet-dry trickle with live rocks vs. using only live rock - I've read/heard strong recommendations on both sides of this argument. What do you think would be best in this setup? <The LR> * The Big Move - My plan is to first fill the new system with RO/DI water to run and check for leaks, then mix the salt right in the system. But then what? Should I gradually do daily water changes from the old system to the new system and gradually move live rocks from the old system to the new system (adding new cultured rocks to the old system) until the new system tests well? <Mmm, likely once all is mixed, settled in water wise, mixing just once, some of the old water for the new... then next week, moving all the old into the new...> Or would I be better off with a big bang approach -- i.e., after the new water is fully mixed and salinity/temperature adjusted in the new system, drain some of the water from the new tank, add all the new cultured live rock to the new tank and move all of the water and live rocks from the old system to the new system? <This, with the one intermittent period> This would then be the equivalent of a massive water change, since the livestock would have all of their old water and live rocks/sand, but lots of new water, too. Or is it possible that some water parameter may get out of balance? (The only inhabitants of my 120g that will need to make the move are 2 clowns, 3 Anthias, 2 serpent stars, the sand star, a peppermint shrimp, a skunk cleaner shrimp and various snails and hermits.) <Best to mix, back and forth at least once...> Sorry for so many questions. Thanks so much for your help (and for all of the great articles and FAQs on you website that have greatly helped my research). <No worries, glad to conspire with you. Bob Fenner>

Transferring fish to a larger new tank 04/01/2008 Hi, <<Debb>> We have a 75 gallon salt water tank that my fish have outgrown, so we just purchased a 180 tank for them. <<Yippee...more space, more fish >> We were told the way to transfer the fish is this method: First get fish into pails with the tank water, we will use an air stone and heaters to maintain the temp, then fill new tank about 3/4 full to get our filter running, we will use our old filter as well as our new filter to get the bacteria into the tank, as well as our bio wheel. We will use our live sand from our old tank and put into our new tank, as well as our rock ( is not live rock), but I assume might have bacteria on it that is good for the new tank. <<I would advise to replace the sandbed with new, remove a cup or two from the top inch of the old sandbed and add this to the new bed to give it a boost of life>> Then we will use whatever water we need from our old tank to fill the rest of the new tank up. We were told to make sure the temp, Ph, and salt levels are the same in the new tank as the old, if all is OK then put the fish in. My question to you is do you agree this is the correct way to do this? <<My only change is the sandbed above>> I need to put the new tank in the same place as the old one as I just do not have the room for this tank to be any where else. How do the fish usually fare doing this? I have an angle, and tangs ( all Large ) and a maroon clown, and lawn mower blenny (spelling) and some snails. <<On the whole, not bad. Out of the stock, the fragile tang is the one which will need the most care / lack of stress>> I am very stressed about this change as I hope to not lose any fish in the transfer. I have called several fish stores that have maintenance crews, and they tell me this is the way they do changes all the time. Do you think I should buy some of the bag bacteria to throw into the tank as well, and again do you agree with this process? <<As always with mother nature, live will begin again. There will still be all the life on the live rock and filter media, so I would not be concerned about this>> I appreciate your help, and any other info on the best way to do this, so I do not hurt my fish. IF I could set a new tank up and let it cycle for a while I would, but I just do not have the space and again was told this was not necessary . Again thanks for you help. <<I agree, there should not be a need to cycle again as your using the filtration from the old tank>> Deb <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Re: Transferring fish to a larger new tank 04/01/2008 HI, <<Hello Deb>> Deb here again, thanks for your response (A. Nixon). The only question I have is on your response to the live sand . Do we not use any of the live sand from the old tank and just buy new sand, or use some of the sand and mix with new sand. Thanks again. <<I would suggest to only use a few cup full's scraped from the top inch of the old sand band, and yes, mix this in with the new sandbed>> Deb <<A Nixon>>

Re: Transferring fish to a larger new tank 04/01/2008 HI, Deb AGAIN, (SORRY) <<Hello again>> For some reason having a hard time receiving your response to the question about the live sand, do I use some, all or none of my old live sand in my new tank.? I know you sent me a response, but it did not post. <<As per previous emails, please use new sand, and take a couple of cups of live sand from the top inch off the old sandbed and mix with the new sand>> One more question if I may, what are your thoughts about putting the fish in Styrofoam , coolers while the new tank is being set up, will this keep the water temp to where it should be or should I still use heaters for each container to maintain the temp? Sorry for all the questions, but I want to make sure my fish make it. Thanks for all your help! <<Please, do not be sorry, its fine. Yes, if the Styrofoam containers will keep the temperature constant, it will be fine. Monitor these with a thermometer per box. Deb <<Thanks for the message, A Nixon>>

Tank size upgrade - 09/19/07 Hey My name is Justin McLaren , I live in South Africa . <Welcome to WWM.> I just finished reading all the questions asked on your web pages and its helped so much . but my main question was not answered , it's a very simple question really ,I have a small 120 litre tank but recently purchased a new aquarium (750 litres) and it is running very smoothly and has been for 5 days . all my levels (ph,no3,no2,alk etc) are good . how much longer do I need to wait till I can transfer my fish to my new tank . <Have you moved all the sand and rock from the old tank to the new tank? That might help speed things up a little, but you still need to wait for the new tank to cycle. Adding some new live rock, food or some other nutrient/ammonia source will also help. Keep measuring your ammonia, no3 and no2 until there is a peak of ammonia, then a peak in no2, then finally a slow rise of no3. Once the no3 stabilizes (or ideally goes to 0 again), that's when your new tank is ready. This could take anywhere from a week to 4 weeks. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupii.htm> Your help will be much appreciated . <De nada, Sara M.>

Pondering a move... Shipping fish across country 8/28/07 Hi guys, <Hi Allan, Mich with you tonight.> Before I even think further about this I have to get an educated opinion. <Well, my student loans would say I'm educated and I certainly have opinions! Heehee!> I just upgraded my tank to 70gal marine, new sump, new skimmer, slightly larger fish load than my old 40. <Congrats!> Thinking of going to NYC to further my education, <Always good!> I live in So Cal now. <Lucky you!> This would happen in the dead of winter. <Better you than me!> Am I crazy to even think about moving the aquarium and fish? <Personally I'd start with the moving from LA to NYC question. ;) > As it turns out, my brother, back east, has a dormant 125-gallon setup, so I could leave the tank, take the sump (acrylic), pumps, chiller, lights, etc, and ship the fish? <Would be the easiest way. More info here, not totally applicable but will give you some ideas perhaps: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i6/Moving.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/movingaq.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/movaqfaq.htm and related links in blue> I've gotten very attached to them. <I do understand.> If school pans out, I could fly ahead, set up his tank a month or so before, get it cycling, then ship the fish just before I leave myself. <This sounds like a good idea or you may be able to arrange for you LFS to ship them to you as well.> Am I nuts to even think about this, or should I find a good home for them and start anew? <Either are possibilities. Shopping is not unheard of. Doesn't necessarily make the most financial sense, but it does sound like it is about the money.> Thanks, Allan in Los Angeles. <Welcome, Mich in the Pocono Mountains of PA.>

Stock Exchange? (Stocking For The Long Term) 6/6/07 Hello Crew: <Hey there! Scott F. here tonight!> I have a situation that is causing me to move my current fish to temporary housing for a couple months. The problem is that as much as I say that they will only be temporary I can not be 100% sure and would like to be able to house the fish for life in the "temporary" tanks if possible. <An excellent strategy/practice. I commend you for being honest with yourself!> Here is my plan for them. Please let me know what you would change if anything. I currently have two tanks- a 75 and a 55 and between the two I have the following fish. 1 Mombasa Lionfish 1 Lawn Mower Blenny 2 Percula Clowns 1 Pygmy Angel 1 Orchid Dotty Back 3 Green Chromis 1 Banggai Cardinal 1 Yellow Watchman Goby and his Pistol Shrimp 2 Cleaner Shrimp 5 Serpent Star Fish Various snails and Crabs. I have about 100lbs of Live Rock between the two tanks with about 100 lbs of Tufa mixed in that looks just like the live rock now. I plan on setting up a 26 Gallon Bow Front tank with 30lbs of the live rock, an Aqua C Remora and a couple small power heads. I will then add the Clowns, The Goby and all of the shrimp. I will also put in 2 of the serpent stars and all of the snails and crabs. I would love to add the Angel/Cardinal also but am not sure if they would fit. <I would not add the Angel and Cardinal, myself. I think that this is too small a water volume for any more animals, and physically not enough space for the Angel, particularly when you take into account its potential for territoriality!. If not what size would hold all of them comfortably for life, including the Dottyback? <If "all of them" means the Clowns, Goby, shrimp, Stars and Dottyback, I would not go less than a (gasp) 55-75 gallon tank! How's that for an annoying answer!> The second tank will be 30 if possible (can go bigger if you think its a must for the lion) and I will add the Lion, Blenny, and 3 of the Stars. Do you think the Dottyback would fit into this mix? <I am concerned about the potential for them to become Lionfish snacks in a smaller system. I still would not go much smaller than a 55...Not the ideal answer, but I have to be honest with you.> This tank will have about 30lbs of live rock a couple power heads and a Remora Skimmer as well. I will be giving the Chromis to a friend along with any of the other fish that you don't think will fit. <Ahh, good.> The Lion and the Clowns are my babies and the reason that I got into the hobby so both tanks are going to be based on their needs. Any advice is appreciated and feel free to mix up the stocking list to make it a better plan. I appreciate all of your help. <This being said, I'd consider moving out the Angel, Dottyback, Cardinal and Goby. This way, you could keep the Lionfish in a slightly smaller system, without fear of it preying on other fishes. Notice that I said "slightly" smaller. Being a predator, it produces copious amounts of metabolic waste products, and you need a respectable water volume to help dilute them. Do keep thinking in the long term with your stocking approach- its a good practice for you and your babies! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.

Upgrading tank 9/19/05 Hey guys, I am plotting a tank upgrade this week and I'm a bit nervous about it. My current tank is a 45gal and I purchased a 65gal from a friend. In my mind it seems rather easy, but as I read some of the articles I'm getting worried. I have a local "fish guy" who seems to always have good advice, and he seems to think what I'm doing isn't all that big of a deal... <I agree.  Simply moving animals from one tank to another is usually not that hard.  Be sure to have plenty of extra salt water, lots of buckets and tubs and lots of towels!> Any way I plan on draining all the water out and putting it into the new tank, then adding aprox 15 gal of new saltwater.  I have several larges rocks. As for the substrate, I had planned on using most of it.  There must be 2 inches of crushed coral. <I am not getting a clear picture of your plan, but I would suggest the following:  Drain most of the water to buckets and/or tubs.  With most of the water removed, it will be a simple task to capture the animals and place them in the buckets/tubs.  Transfer the substrate and rock to the new tank and arrange as you like.  Return all of the water from the original tank to the new tank (placing a plastic bag over the substrate helps prevent stirring and clouding) along with the animals.  Us the extra salt water you mixed up the day before to top off the new tank.  Move the filters, turn everything on and you are ready to clean up!> I'm using all the same filtration: 2 of the largest emperor filter with bio wheels. (I've done extremely well with them by the way). <Good to hear.  I am not partial to power filters in marine tanks, but "don't fix what ain't broke!  Do see here if you are curious:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm> I'm kind of looking at this as a major water change. I  have 5 fish including: neon Dottyback, needle nose hawk, 2 clowns and a canary wrasse, 2 anemones, no live rock, 3 star fish, crabs and turbo snails. I don't see how this is much different than one of my 40% water changes I do every three months. <Agreed.> I also thought I'd set up my 10gal to keep the fish in while I do this, or is a bucket suffice with air stones?? <Buckets should be fine.  If you can move quickly and efficiently, even airstones are probably unnecessary.> I do realize that my ammonia will spike a bit but I'm sure it does when I clean my tank. I'm hoping this will only take a couple of hours. I was planning on removing most of my decorations out a little bit at a time during the week, then on Sunday going for it. I did buy a bag of live sand to add to what I have now.  Am I going at this totally wrong?? Nervous Nelly.....KJ  <I don't think you will have an ammonia spike at all unless your substrate is really filthy.  In this case, I would rinse it well with saltwater before adding it to the new tank.  Don't worry, it should go fine.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

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