There are only a few things about the reef keeping hobby I dread and one of them is moving a tank. Oh boy…..what a pain! One of my most memorable tank moves was when my wife and I left the big city lights of New York City for the leafy suburbs of Westchester, New York.


At the time I had a 90 gallon reef tank and it sat in the living room of our 4th floor apartment. It was my first reef tank and it was marginal at best, but I started to have some success growing corals so I wanted to bring everything along.


I really had to plan things out carefully since we were moving out of the apartment the day before we were due to move into our new house. Adding to my anxiety was the fact that we were closing and moving into the house on the same day so I was praying for a smooth transaction and no delays.


A few weeks before the move I reserved a UHaul truck to move just the fish tank stuff from the apartment to Westchester. The plan was to have some large Brute containers in the truck and do a bucket brigade with five gallon buckets to transfer the tank water, fish, corals and live rock. Our move was happening during the early part of the summer so I figured heaters were not necessary for the short one hour trip out of the city. We were staying at my parents house the night before the closing so extension cords would be run from the UHaul to the garage to run heaters and power heads for the livestock.


Fun With UHaul

Things were going well during the tank breakdown but time was starting to become a factor and I asked my wife to help out and go pick up the UHaul. Our apartment was on 55th Street and the UHaul place was in Harlem up by 125th Street so it was a good distance away.


About a half hour after my wife left the phone rings. She is at the UHaul place, which happens to be a gas station, and is calling to let me know they don’t have any record of my reservation. Panic is not a good thing to experience when moving a fish tank but I was now feeling it.


We are law abiding citizens but at that junction I felt there was no other alternative but to have my wife take the one truck they had on the lot. Hell, it was the truck we reserved. I yelled “take it” and she proceeded to grab the truck key on the peg board while continuously apologizing to the attendant, who asked her to wait for his manager. My wife felt awful but did give the attendant the two hero sandwiches she picked up for our trip up north. It must have helped because we never did get a reprimand from UHaul.

Be Organized When Moving a Reef Tank

Everything made it fine to Westchester that night and the closing went smoothly the next day, allowing me to set the tank up without a hitch. Sand was the only thing that didn’t make the journey since toxins within the detritus can be released when moving an old sand bed.


Be Organized


I have had other, less complicated, moves over the years but in each case it really helped to have a detailed plan of attack in place. Be organized when moving a reef tank and don’t wing it…..I can’t stress this enough. You also want to make sure to utilize some basic equipment such as heaters, power heads and battery powered air diffusers for any extended moves. And don’t forget to confirm that UHaul reservation!


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If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. And you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.


Happy reef keeping!