I recently blogged on some tips and techniques for moving an aquarium, but what if you just want a larger tank? This was a question asked after that blog was posted. Some people start with a small tank for “simplicity” and get hooked enough to want to expand. Others want to switch the type of livestock they are keeping or have fish that have outgrown their existing tank. No matter your reason, many of the considerations and techniques that go into moving an aquarium apply to upgrading as well.
The “easiest” upgrade scenario would obviously be one in which the new tank is being set up in any location OTHER than where the existing tank already stands and has all new “stuff” in it (meaning substrate, rockwork, decoration, filter, etc.); you can be a bit more leisurely with this switch. On the other end of the upgrade-spectrum, you may be putting the new tank in the same place as the old one with some of the same substrate, decorations and equipment and will need to be more expedient with the transfer.
Whether freshwater or saltwater and in any situation, the new aquarium will need to “cycle” through the Nitrogen Cycle as we’ve discussed before and will take some time to become re-established. You can help this along in several ways – by using water and filter media from the existing aquarium, transferring substrate and decorations, or by setting up the new aquarium and allowing it to cycle before tearing down the old one (only practical if the new tank is going somewhere OTHER than where the existing tank already stands).
If the new tank is going in a new location, I would recommend a gradual upgrade. Get the tank set up and running, “seed” some biological filter media in the old tank for a few weeks and add it to the new one, even use water change “waste” water from the old tank in the new one (For example, let’s say you have a 20-gallon aquarium and are upgrading to a 40-gallon in another room. If you remove 5 gallons from Tank 1 in a water change, use this to replace 5 gallons out of Tank 2 instead of fresh, clean water). Obviously, not something you’d want to do if the water change water is filthy or of very poor quality, but can be done with “cleaner” dirty water, if you haven’t gravel-siphoned, for example. Once the new tank is at least fairly established, you can start gradually moving the fish and other livestock from the old aquarium into the new, larger tank.
If you are putting the new aquarium where the old one was, it is distinctly more complicated and is definitely a project for some weekend day (one of those days that you can bribe some friends with pizza to come help you). My tips are going to be easy. Remember that blog on how to move an aquarium? It all applies. You may not be moving it to a new house, but since you need to get the old aquarium out of the way, you will need to use the same methods to get it broken down and out of the way before you can move the new one into its place.
A note on floor weight loads:
The first and most important thing to consider for any new aquarium or upgrade is the weight limit on the floor where the aquarium will be placed. However, actually determining this weight is obviously not covered…simply because I’m a biologist and not a structural engineer. Obviously, a cement floor on the bottom level of a building can hold more than a third floor apartment but how much that third floor/first floor/basement/two-hundred-year-old floor can withstand is going to vary with the structure itself and you should consult a professional. To get you started on what to consider and how to consider it, I would recommend visiting this excellent article by Kevin Bauman, posted on Cichlid-Forum.com.
If you have any questions about your specific upgrade or have an idea for a topic you’d like us to cover next (or want suggestions on what to put into your new, larger aquarium!), feel free to let us know!