Their are alot of us fellow reefers out there who at one time or another have moved, therefore had to break down a tank and set it back up again at there new residence, or are wanting to upgrade to a bigger tank. And their will be many more who are in the process or will be crossing this path soon enough! So becuase of this, I am going to try to offer some help and experience since I have had to do this a few months ago.
The first and foremost thing that needs to be accomplished is a game plan or strategy if you will. This will cover things such as supplies needed, where the tank is going to be set-up again, equipment needed, who is going to help you with the set-up and/or moving of your tank, and a detailed step by step as to how the move/transfer will take place. Trust me, I assure you that by visualizing these issues, it will make for a much smoother and less stressful time!!!
One of the worst things that could happen to you is you have everything pretty much set, except you don't have enough water to add to your tank, leaving you scrambling to get some. Heat packs and bags of cold water placed in bags is also helpful if long distances are going to be traveled to keep proper temperatures. Air stones are also good with battery powered air pumps for aeration.
Now, you have your strategy all in place, have your equipment and supplies. You are now ready to start breaking down your tank! Start off by removing all the pumps, filters, power-heads etc. Oh, yeah a small tid bit for you. As you are breaking down your tank, it is advisable to clean your equipment thoroughly(powerheads, pumps, tank, filters and things like that) This is a perfect time to do this since you are taking everything out of your tank anyway(kill two birds with one stone cliche).
Once the equipment is out of the tank, fill your buckets up with water from your EXISTING tank. This will be for temporarilly housing your live stock. Now, remove as much of the remaining water as you can to place in your new tank, obviously with out your corals, if you have them, being out of the water. The reason why you want to gather as much water from your existing tank is that it will be that much less water you will have to replace, but more importantly, it will help in lessening the chance of major differences between the water parameters in your old tank and that of your new tank.
Next, remove the corals, live rock and then the fish and inverts, placing them in separate containers preferably, to lessen the stress, possibility of damage etc. Be mindful also of the toxicity of your corals as well so that you can keep the
m separate to avoid injury due to chemical warfare and nematocysts from sweeper tentacles!
Once that is done, remove the sand, gravel. Then remove the remaining water and clean the tank glass and lighting of algae, salt creep etc.
That basically takes care of the break down of the tank!!! Yeah, halfway there, but precious seconds are ticking away and all your livestock is in containers without adequate filtration etc.At this time you should have your tank up in the desired local with the stand.
Now add the live sand first, by slowly adding it to your tank. Then comes the adding of the live rock. Next add your water from the existing tank. A trick to this to help avoid sand flying all over the palce and clouding up your water is to use a plate. Place the plate at the bottom of your substrate. Pour the water so that it falls onto the plate, not to disturb your sand bed.
Once all the water sand and live rock are in place, it is time for the livestock to be added. Any way is fine, probably start with the the corals, then go to the fish. When this is done add the water to raise the water level to where it need to be. You shouldn't have to float and drip them in to your water as you have used existing water from the old tank(ah ha that is the reason for not dumping the old water!).Then you want to set-up your equipment, power-heads, pumps, filter, heaters, lights, sump / refugium if applicable, etc. Make sure they are hooked up correctly and thoroughly cleaned.
At this point you should have the sand, live rock, corals and the live stock in the tank and the additional water as well to the desired height.Do some water parameter check now to be sure your water is in good shape. I would strongly advise you to add carbon and phosphate remover at this time also!
Other than that , that is about it in a nut shell. Just be constantly looking for abnormal behavior in your livestock and coloration in corals. Make sure salinity is ok as is the temperature. Waiting game will now play out to let you know how successful you were with the move. Keep track daily of bleaching etc. to be ready to compensate for this.
Get your equipment up and running and make sure you don't run across something that isn't working properly.That is basically what you will be up against with this demanding challenge. It took me 8 hours to breakdown a 75 gallon tank, move it a half hour away and set up a bigger tank. I lost one Acropora and a Morray eel, that is it!!!!!
Just take your time, quality time is the best, and preparedness will help with the ease of this.
Best of luck and I hope this helps out somewhat!!!