Moving Nemo – How to move house with fish in tow

Some people don’t believe that fish are ‘proper’ pets. Well, us fish owners would beg to differ, and in fact, fish are really rather sensitive beings. 

This sensitivity makes them incredibly susceptible to stress, which can set off a chain reaction of excess mucus generation, followed swiftly by smothered gills and skin. With this worrying prospect in mind, here’s what you need to know to keep your wet friend happy and safe on move day.

Red flags: Know what to look out for

For all the will in the world (and the careful preparations) you should be ready to spot the warning signs of a fish in distress. Here’s what to look out for…

  • Fish gasping at the surface
  • Reduced appetite
  • Signs of diseases – such as white spots
  • Swimming off balance

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Before you even tell Nemo about the upcoming move, you’ve got a shopping list of items to go fetch. Here’s what you’ll need to buy:

  • A fishnet
  • Large (5 gallon) buckets (make sure these are new or very well cleaned)
  • Siphon hose
  • Plastic baggies
  • Duct tape
  • Bubble wrap
  • Insulating foam sheets
  • Packing paper
  • Moving boxes

Sorry Freddy, no fish food for you

It’s highly advisable that you don’t feed your fish 24 – 48 hours before the move (this helps to ensure that they’ve cleared their system of any waste before the big day). 

Don’t fret however, fishes can happily survive on only fresh air and water for anything up to a week.

Big fish, little fish…

If your fish are teeny weeny, then plastic bags will suffice for their move. You may want to pop the bags in a sturdy, padded box or cooler.

For larger fish or for moves that are further away you’ll need to use large buckets. However you need to be 100% sure that the buckets are squeaky clean and that they haven’t been used to store any chemicals. Pop between 3 – 4 fish into each bucket. You should then place a lid on top with multiple small holes (and tell the driver to go very slowly!).

Scrub, pack up and shift the tank

First, unplug any electric items – pump, lights, displays. Then pop everything into a box with plenty of bubble wrap. Be sure to clean and dry everything properly, or you could end up with sodden boxes that fall apart half-way to your destination. The only exception to this is the filter, which should remain damp and packed up in a sealed container (such as a Tupperware box).

Empty the tank

Don’t rush into heaving your tank across to your sink to pour the water down the drain (accident waiting to happen!). A siphon hose can empty your tank quickly and effectively, it can also mean that you get to keep the same water for use at the other side if it’s only a short move. This minimises the health risks associated with moving for your fish, however for longer moves you’ll need to start again with new water (and wait for it to reach optimum temperature, PH balance, chlorine level, and ammonia levels before popping your fish back in).

Pack up Nemo’s personal belongings

Clean, dry and then wrap the decorative items from the aquarium (this just helps to ensure they’re not lose and rattling around during the move). If you’re not transporting the tank yourself, let your movers know that it’s a fragile item.

Upon arrival, get your fishes sorted first

To move your fish, gently scoop them back out of the bucket with the net and add them into the water. If you’re dealing with bagged fish, pop the bag in the water while still sealed to make sure fishy isn’t swimming from water that is significantly different in temperature (this can cause a shock to their system).

Got other pets?

Here’s some further reading: How to move cross country and not lose your cat | Moving House With Your Dog – The Definitive Guide!

We’re ALL about happy human movers and calm scaly friends. If you want to speak to a moving team that understands how to manage a move like clockwork, we’re ready when you are.

Call Ralph directly or use our free online quoting tool.

07931 849 112 | 01904 375 995 | Get your removals quote online |

moving with goldfish