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Moving a Reef Tank

1692 Views 15 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  MotoGod
I came across a sweet deal on a 180gal reef tank complete with live stock.
Has anyone ever moved anything this size and do you have any recommendations on the best way to go about it?

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Save all the water that you can... Disturb the sand as little as possible... And have enough hands to move it all in one go. Brute cans are a wonderful investment if you don't have any handy.
Big coolers for livestock, rock, etc. The very large marine coolers are great if you have any or can borrow any. Keeps everything at a constant temp and underwater. It also takes a lot longer to set up than you think. You may want to consider a small heater and air stone for the cooler with fish. I have left them in the cooler overnight while the sand settled and the water cleared a little after a big move. It was a pain with a 75 gallon, cannot imagine bigger. Good luck.
Buckets and coolers. Lots of them. Have water prepped at your place. It took almost 12 hours to move the contents of my 120g at my old place to a 180g at my new place, less than 6 miles down the road. Basically, don't make any other plans that day!
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why save the water?
The tank is already healthy and happy with the water there, so why not keep it?

I should clarify. You're going to toss all of the water that you keep your fish in, because having all of your stock in one container and adding waste will cause pH shifts and for ammonia to accumulate. You're also going to toss the last few gallons because you inevitably will disturb the sand bed. Typically on a tank move, I'll change roughly 40% of the total water volume because of things like that. Another limiting factor in how much water you save is your ability to store it.
any idea what a 180gal tank would weigh empty?

You want 4 people to move a 180 in my experience (I assume that's what you are asking).

I would move the tank in two phases. Set up kiddy pools, brute trash cans, etc at your destination. Then pick up the livestock and transfer it to your pre-setup holding tanks. You can bring some clean water from the old setup at this point just to reduce a little of the shock for transferring the livestock. Once you start breaking down the tank, your going to want to trash all that water.

Once the livestock is moved to holding tanks, take your time breaking down and moving the equipment, hardware, and tank. And more importantly, take your time setting it back up. Grab some used tanks off craigslist or off here, get some HOB power filters, but you are going to want something to hold the fish in for a few days. Nothing is worse than trying to rush breaking down, moving, and re-setting up a tank while your fish are sitting in buckets and the clock is ticking. It simply won't get done right.
I moved my 300 and it was a LOOOONG process. Took me @ 6 hours to tear down the tank itself into various buckets and bins. I saved only enough water to cover the live rock I was moving.

I actually hired movers from Craigslist (insured ones) to do the heavy lifting for me since it was short notice. 2 guys came out and moved a 300 gallon glass tank with shoulder harnesses. I nearly wet myself when we finally got it off the stand....I thought they were gonna drop it. They moved it to my trailer @ 70 feet away on the ground floor...and it sat in my trailer for a few weeks while I built my stand and prepped everything else.

Fish lived in a RubberMaid bin (with live rock, a powerhead and heater) and my 20G QT tanks until I got the tank back up...and I only lost 1 fish in the ordeal. So patience is key for sure ;-)

Once I was ready, I got 4 guys (including myself) and a heavy duty dollie and we dead lifted the 900lb tank onto the dolly....rolled it to where it needed to go in my living room and then dead lifted it up onto the stand. It was actually pretty easy to deadlift, which was surprising.

So my suggestion is to just plan your move, then review it....then review it again. My move wasn't planned at all. The guy that owned the tank called me and said "Hey come get it tomorrow for a killer deal, but it has to be tomorrow". So I called into work and spent like 8-10 hours at his restaurant tearing it all down with some help from a few friends I could wrangle in ;-)
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My 180 it took 8 people to move when I got it. It's 3/4" glass with an 1" bottom rimless tank and was really heavy. I took 2 guys with me and had a few members meet me to load it up. Bet you remember that don't ya Moto. Lol.

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My back hurts thinking about it

Most of these helpers won't speak to me
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What about sand? Should I go with live or not?

Up to you really. You can go with live sand and spend a little more money, or get non live sand and seed it with some live sand from a buddies tank. Either will eventually become live sand :) I went with live sand....and took the sand I had in my 90 gallon and rinsed it all in the driveway before putting it in my 300. So I had a 50/50 mix of live and non-live sand when I started.
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