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How to Move a Fish Tank Without Emptying It

how to move a fish tank without emptying it

Moving a fish tank from one place to the other comes with a lot of challenges. Moreso, if you move the aquarium with the fish and other decorations and accessories in it. But how to do it? How to move a fish tank without emptying it? Moving the fish tanks with the fish in it comes with a huge responsibility because of all the risks involved. You have to do it without stressing the fish or damaging the fish tank.

When moving the fish tanks without emptying them, you will need a lot of help. Whether it’s your friends or other people, moving the aquarium that is not empty will need all of you to be careful during the whole process. Never put any pressure on the side corners and the lid so as not to stress the seals, which may result in leakage and additional damage to the tank.


The Risks of Moving a Fish Tank Without Emptying It

Moving a fish tank without emptying it is doable, but it comes with so many risks. Firstly, you are moving a fragile box that comes with water, accessories, and your beloved pets. You will not only put them to stress but also put their lives in danger. Even the smallest movement and the slightest adjustment can make the water shift and distract your movement, which can cause possible accidents to happen.

The worst scenario will come when the water will be spilled on the floor, including your fish which can make them lost their lives. Think about this: your precious fish was killed because of your laziness to move the fish tank properly. Do you want to feel that? If not, I suggest refraining from doing it but if you insist, then go for it.

Another factor to consider is the seals of your aquarium. Should you decide to move the tank without emptying it, there is a tendency that the seals will be put under uneven stress. Even if it is sealed with the most durable sealant, the uneven pressure coming from the constant movement and the water movement can possibly damage the foundation of the seal and a possible breakage and leakage issue.

In addition, moving the fish tank with water will be a recipe for disaster because of the weight. Please take note that a gallon of water should weigh about 8 to 8.5 pounds, and the weight does not include gravel, sands, and other decorations. For example, an almost-empty 20-gallon aquarium with 3 gallons of water left can weigh about 25 pounds which is still very heavy. So, the transfer process can still be challenging even if the aquarium is almost empty.

How to Move a Fish Tank Short Distance

how to move a fish tank short distance

If you are just moving the fish tank from another room that is near to its original position, then there’s a better way to transfer without emptying the aquarium, albeit in a more sensible way. You can remove some of the water and move it to clean containers. It is also better if you can keep the original support of the tank to minimize the movement.

How to Move a Fish Tank to Another Room

Transferring the fish tank even in another room only without emptying it can be a challenge. Even the most experienced aquarium owners that I know are against doing it. But, if your tank has a bottom rim, it can be done since the rims of the aquarium carry all the weight. Transferring the aquarium can be done, but it can be a very difficult process.

My suggestion is to use a slab of plywood which will function as a stretcher. The size of the plywood should be large enough that you can easily slide the tank onto it. You should lift the tank with the aid of the plywood while moving the tank and the stand separately. I am also advising removing the substrate to decrease the weight of the fish tank.

You can also put the substrate on one side to make a hilly form so that the fish can go through the “pond’ that you made. It might be good that you will also take the gravel out and make the tank even lighter while reducing the water even more. Make sure to move slowly to prevent spillage and avoid additional trouble.

The benefit of using plywood is that it eliminates uneven lifting, which is the usual issue when lifting the fish tanks with many people. This method also eliminates torsion, which often results from uneven testing. All you do is lift one long edge while sliding the plywood beneath the fish tank. Then, you can ask as many people as you can to help you lift the tank towards its destination. Please remember to use plywood that should be at least a foot longer and wider than the tank to give enough leverage for lifting.


I am advising against moving the fish tank without emptying it. There is so much risk at stake in doing so. But if you insist, learning how to move a fish tank without emptying it should be a useful skill to learn. If you only transfer in a short distance, such as from one room to the other, it will probably be doable. But, there are always the risk factors involve because of the difficulty of doing it. The weight of the aquarium and the possibility of damaging the seal of the aquarium during the transfer are not worth the risk.

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