How to Move a Fish Tank Successfully

Moving fish tanks and the pieces of an aquarium can seem like a daunting task. If you follow these simple steps, you can learn how to move a fish tank safely and successfully.

Gather Up the Fish Tank Packing Supplies

how to move a fish tank insides
Remove the fish from your fish tank and get them acclimated and prepared for your move.

Fish tanks are fragile and delicate. To pack one properly, you will need the following items:

  • A net
  • Large boxes
  • Two 5-gallon buckets
  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing paper
  • Plastic baggies
  • Siphon hose
  • Duct tape
  • Foam sheets

Remove the Fish

First things first. Remove the fish from your fish tank. Stop feeding for them for 24-48 hours in advance of the move (fish can survive for a week without food).

Read our guide on how to ship live fish safely to learn everything you need to know to keep your fish safe during the move.

Clean Out the Aquarium

fish tank vegetation
Learn how to ship a fish tank properly by following simple steps.

Once your fish are prepared for the move, it is time to focus on your fish tank. Take a picture before you begin the disassembly process so you remember how everything was set up inside the tank. Unplug the lights and heater and allow them both to cool. Remove the fake vegetation and wrap it in newspaper or place in a 5-gallon bucket. Remove the gravel and ornaments next, cleaning them with warm water and drying them before placing them in bubble wrap or packing paper. Remove the light, heater, air pump and filtration system last. Once everything is wrapped individually, pack it together tightly in one box.

Packing tip: The filtration system filter should be wrapped damp to preserve good bacteria.

Drain the Tank

Movers won’t take fish tanks full of water, so it’s important to drain it and make sure it is dry before moving day. Use a siphon hose to drain the water into a 5-gallon bucket. If you are moving locally, using some of the same water prevents the chance of toxic ammonia spikes that can harm or kill your fish.

Pack the Fish Tank

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Make your job even easier by finding the perfect driver to ship your fish tank

Find a box large enough to pack your aquarium tank. Follow these steps to pack the fish tank properly:

  • Remove the lid and wrap it separately with bubble wrap.
  • Lift the aquarium from the bottom and place it gently into the box.
  • Cut a foam sheet to fit on top of the tank.
  • Cut pieces of foam to brace the aquarium in the box to keep it from moving around.
  • Fill the remaining space with packing paper and bubble wrap.
  • Label the box “Fragile Aquarium” and “This Side Up” on all sides.

Move the Fish Tank Boxes with Caution

The contents of your fish tank boxes are fragile and need to be handled with extreme care. Movers need to be aware of the contents and make sure the box is loaded onto the truck carefully. The aquarium box needs to be placed on a level surface with nothing stacked on top of it.

Reassemble Your Fish Tank

Your fish tank should be the first item you unpack and put together at your new home so your fish can get re-acquainted in their fish tank as soon as possible. Once your fish tank has arrived safely, reassemble it and add gravel, rocks, plants and water. Set up the filtration system, heater, pump and light last. Monitor the pH balance, ammonia level and chlorine level closely before you add your fish to the clean fish tank.

checking fish tank water
Monitor your fish tank pH balance, ammonia level and chlorine level closely.

Keep on Swimming

Once the water levels are safe, it is time to add your fish back into the aquarium. Let the bags float in the water to regulate temperature before opening the bags to release your fish. Erratic swimming could mean your ammonia levels are off, so watch their behavior closely when they are released into the fish tank.

Find a Driver

Make your job even easier by finding the perfect driver to ship your fish tank and handle it with the utmost care. Finding a driver is simple by signing up with Drivers bid on the opportunity to transport a variety of shipments. Post your fish tank and instructions online for free when you sign up and start searching for the perfect driver connection today on

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Shipperoo is a simple online shipping tool that matches shippers and drivers. Shippers post shipments on our platform and use driver ratings, pickup and delivery times and bid prices to determine which driver works best for them. Anyone with a vehicle can join our network of drivers. Drivers can search and bid on posted shipments in just a few clicks. It’s quick, easy and free to join Shipperoo, sign up today!

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