View Full Version : Transferring Tanks

02-23-2014, 09:34 PM

I haven't posted in a while--frankly because things have been going really well and there hasn't really been a need to ask for help! Things are still going well and this post is to ask your opinions on how to move my fish to a larger tank (upgrading) while making sure things continue to go the way they've been going. We are going to be overpopulated in no time so we went and got a larger tank. However, I'm (honestly) scared to do anything in fear that I will find myself in the same situation I was in a few months ago (for those that don't know what I'm referring to, it was a nightmare and I lost all but 1 of my fish in the process).

So--any opinions or insight you may would be greatly appreciated! I'm moving from a 29 gallon to a 55 gallon. Ideally we want to put it in the same place as the 29 gallon, but logically it seems close to impossible. More to the point, my questions revolve around the bacteria that's been established and keeping my levels where they are now (it took me a long, long time to get here!) Should I use the same water? I assume I can use the same gravel and decorations to pull in some of that bacteria...or will that not be enough? And how long after setup should I move them? I know a brand new tank takes a few days but I'm not sure what to do when you're trying to move everything from one to another.

Thanks in advance for all your help! As a side I purchased the new tank from an association member--every interaction I've had with people from this group has been amazing! So much so that I've been referring others to it non-stop!

Larry Bugg
02-23-2014, 09:57 PM
Most of your good bacteria resides in your filter, not in the water column or the gravel. It is really a pretty simple operation to move from one tank to another. I can understand your being skeptical after your previous trials but you can really do this pretty easily. I use an ice chest but you can just as easily use a rubbermaid tote or 5 gallon buckets. Siphon some of your existing water into the container you are going to use. Then net the fish and put them in. Put an airstone in the container. Completely drain the 29, take it down and set up the 55. Don't forget to use a Dechlor when you fill the new tank. If you are using a new filter you should still use the old filter for about a month. This will let a new filter establish the good bacteria. Then transfer the fish into the new tank. It can all be done in a couple of hours and the fish will be just fine in the temporary container for much longer than needed.

02-24-2014, 07:21 AM
When you move the old filter to the new tank, keep it wet, so you don't kill off the good bacteria. If it is a sponge filter, drop it into the temporary container with the fish. For a biowheel filter, pull the biowheel and drop it in the temporary container. For all HOB filters, keep the filter media wet, and run the filter if possible. A canister filter should continue running. A 5 gallon bucket with old tank water works fine, and your fish can stay there too.

02-24-2014, 09:41 AM
Great! Thank you both for your help! I didn't realize it would be so simple (time consuming, but simple!)

So let me get this straight--I do not have to let the new tank run for any amount of time before dropping my fish in? I have lots (and lots) of babies (and 8 adults) so I don't want to stress their little bodies out too much. In theory all of this makes perfect sense--if the system is already established in the 29 gallon--just transfer everything over and it should be fine. Makes sense! But as you know, I'm just super hesitant...or a better word is scared, so I want to be 100% sure I understand what's going on as to not mess it up.

As for the filter--the 29 gallon has a HOB filter with a carbon cartridge and a sponge in it. The 55 has 2 bio-wheel 350 filters. I know I only need one for my size, but he threw in the other one so I took it. Thing is, I know nothing about these filters.

So what you are saying is, set up the new tank and run BOTH filters for a while? (The existing 29 gallon HOB and the bio-wheel?) And if so, for how long? At some point I want to restart the 29 gallon--but it's not pressing.

Thanks again!!

02-24-2014, 10:08 AM
I would go ahead & put one of the new filters on the current tank & let it run along with the current filter for several days to let it start populating itself with the beneficial bacteria. When you transfer everything, move both & keep them running together for awhile. If you reestablish the 29, you already have the filter ready to go. Then if needed, you can add the 2nd filter to the new tank.

02-24-2014, 10:43 AM
Keep in mind that the bacteria colony will increase or decrease to fit the biological load. In other words, your current aquarium has exactly the number of bacteria needed to handle the waste produced. The bacteria colony is constantly changing. Every time you add a new baby fish or a fish dies, the bacterial colony will adjust. So if you move everything in the old aquarium, including the filter, fish, gravel, etc. to the new aquarium, it will still be in balance. In practice, you will lose some of the bacteria, but you will never notice. If you set up your new filter now, on the old tank, as pawslover suggested, that filter will colonize too, which is a good thing. You can use one of the filters to start the new tank and leave one on the old tank. Just remember, the number of bacteria is still the same. Half in one filter and half in the other. Move half the fish to the new aquarium and both tanks will still be in balance, or close to it... Hope this makes sense.

02-24-2014, 11:44 AM
Yes, that makes a lot of sense! Thank you!

Now my next question is this, though: if I set up both filters in one tank--you said that the number of bacteria will be split between the 2, so does that mean when I take one out, the balance will be kicked off? For now, we plan to keep everyone in the 55 gallon tank. In a few months we may start up the 29 gallon again to house some of the babies--if there is a need. Right now, they'll all do fine in the 55 gallon together. So with that said, should I just set up the new tank and maybe just put the old filter media in the new filter? Would that work? Then when I want to restart the 29...wait, how would that work? I think I'm confusing myself by making this more complicated than it needs to be. Let's put the 29 aside for now. Let's go about this as if I'm just trying to transfer everything from my 29 to my 55. One filter or 2?

02-24-2014, 12:00 PM
If you set up the 2nd filter now, transfer both filters to the new aquarium. It doesn't make any difference if you have all the bacteria in one filter or 50-50, as long as they are all there. Two filter are always better than one. Not for the bacteria, but just to clean the water better.

02-24-2014, 12:09 PM
Okay, but I guess my question is--do I need to set up the other one now? And if I do how long before I can make the switch? I was planning on moving everything over tomorrow.
More to the point, I was trying to avoid starting the 2nd one now because at some point I will have to move the 29 gallon filter back to the 29 gallon tank. Does that make sense? I mean they will not both stay in the 55 gallon anyway, so is it better to just start with one so the proper balance is met to begin with instead of taking half of it away when I move the 29g filter?
Sorry, this makes sense in my head but I'm having a hard time explaining what I mean...

02-24-2014, 12:50 PM
Forget the 2nd filter. Go ahead and move everything now. A couple of weeks before you set up the 2nd tank you can add the other filter. People with several aquariums do this all the time without even thinking. I use sponge or box filters mostly and most of my tanks have more than one filter. When I start a new tank, I just take a filter out of a tank that has two and put it in the new tank. In practice, it is not really important if the bacteria is out of balance a little. As long as the colony is healthy it will balance itself quickly. Just keep the # of fish small to start with.

02-24-2014, 02:35 PM
Great, thanks!!! To be clear, when you say keep the number of fish small to begin with, I assume you mean the tank I start over in a few months. Ideally, when I switch everything over--the 29 will be empty immediately. So all the fish from the 29 will need to go into the 55 at the same time. If I'm getting what you're saying, this should be fine. Just when starting the 29 over again, I should only add a few at a time (which makes sense).

Thanks again for your help! I was really sitting here last night trying to figure out how to do this-I thought I'd have to keep them both running for weeks on end before getting all my fish transferred over!! So glad to know that's not necessary!!

Lastly, in the 55 gallon--any advice on filter media? Is activated carbon enough? In my 29 gallon I've got the refillable carbon pouches but these bio-wheels are much different than what I'm used to and people seem to have all sorts of advice on what to put in there. If carbon will do, I'll go with that (since I already have carbon from the 29).

02-24-2014, 11:24 PM
Which bio-wheel filter do you have?

There should be media for providing mechanical filtration, i.e. to remove particulates from the water. Typically this is the Marineland filter pads, which have act. carbon included. Bacteria will colonize the filter pads, so some advise using a rotation for replacement, so as not to lose the colony all at once when replacing them.

I'm not sure if the act. carbon is doing much. There are arguments for and against it. Typically I do not use it, and rely on water changes to remove accumulated wastes and toxins. However if you are successful with it, don't change the formula based on my practices.

02-26-2014, 10:45 AM

Sorry for the delay--we took on the the transfer yesterday and it (literally) took all day! But things are looking good--checked my levels last night and we looked great! I'll check them again today (and everyday for the next week or so) to make sure though.

As for the filter: I know what you're talking about with the filter pads--if I'm correct, my 29 gallon has those. But this filter has 2 plastic cases where the previous owner placed loose carbon (no pad or sponge material). I removed what he had in there and place some carbon in a pad and put the whole pad inside the plastic casing. Not sure if that was right, but I knew that the pad helped with the bacteria so I thought I'd include it in the setup. I'm about to order either carbon or whatever needs to go in the filter--I see there are many options (stuff that targets ammonia, carbon, etc...) so I was just wondering what people put in there, or if it really matters.

I've used carbon in the 29 gallon, and it's seemed to do fine. Not sure what would happen if I didn't, but I'm hesitant to alter a plan that seems to be working. :)

As for what it is called--I believe it's a Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel 350B. I am not familiar at all but did a search and that's what I came up with..and apparently the filter casing I was talking about is called a Refillable Aquarium Filter Cartridge Frame.

Thanks again for all your help!