How to Upgrade an Aquarium


How to upgrade an aquarium? Have your fishes outgrown your current tank? Do you want to add more livestock to your aquarium, or do you feel like changing your tank to a newer one? Whatever your reason is, upgrading and going for a bigger tank is an excellent idea. Larger aquariums mean more possibilities. You can add more fishes and decorations to beautify your tank.

What may be holding you back from upgrading your tank is because you are worried that the move will damage your already stable tank. You have nothing to worry about – this guide will show you what you need and how to upgrade an aquarium successfully.

Prepare the Old Tank for the Move

Before deciding to upgrade your tank, you must make sure that your old tank is stable enough. If your aquarium had undergone recent changes such as a newly installed filtration system, adding a new fish friend in the tank, or when a fish has just died, it is best to leave your aquarium to adjust and stabilize again. Leave it a couple of weeks before moving to avoid stressing out your fishes with frequent changes in their environment.

Setting Up the New Aquarium and Equipment

An upgrade to a bigger tank requires a bigger filter and heater to support the bigger ecosystem you are trying to build. But do not immediately dispose of your old filter as you can still use it on your new tank. Do you know that your filter media contains the majority of the good bacteria? And you would want to keep these beneficial bacteria and move them to your new tank. To do this, keep your filter running until the move.

Fill your aquarium with only three-quarters of water. This amount is enough to handle the new equipment, decorations, and stones you will put in the tank. It is also best to have an air stone in your aquarium to help with the water circulation and keep it clean for your fish until the move. Keep the new set-up running to let it settle.

Match the Water Between the Old and New Systems

It is necessary to test and match the pH and temperature of the water between the two systems. Matching and make sure they are the same ensures a successful tank upgrade. It is crucial to allow your fish to adjust from the old system to the new without shocking them.

Heat both systems at the same time in equal settings and temperatures. After running the new system for 24 hours, test and record the water pH and temperature. Compare it with that of the old tank. Do not move tanks if the pH level between the two systems is different by more than two-tenths. It is the same when there is a two-degree difference in the water temperature between the two tanks – do not move to the new tank.

It is critical to have your tank temperature and pH match first before moving your fish friends to the new system. If the two systems do not match, this may shock and stress out the fishes. The stress may then lead to their death.

Move the Filter, Gravel, and Ornaments

After making sure that the new system is satisfactory for the move, it is time to move and set-up the equipment and ornaments from the old to the new. To transfer the beneficial bacteria from your old aquarium, you can have your old filter run with your new and bigger filter in the new aquarium for at least six (6) weeks. This time is needed to introduce the good bacteria and have them colonize the new environment.

Test the filtration system and make sure that they are working before moving the fishes. As it is a new tank, you must treat it like one, meaning you frequently need to check on the water conditions. Check the nitrogen cycle, test the water for nitrite and ammonia as well. Have partial water changes until both nitrite and ammonia are at zero. Doing this daily would make your new aquarium safer and healthier.

Although it is not much, beneficial bacteria could also be attached to your old gavel and aquarium ornaments. So, transferring your gravel and decorations to the other tank is an excellent idea. It is harmless and even offers some benefit for your fishes in their new environment.

Moving Your Fish

After you have checked the water quality, properly installed and run the filtration system, and set-up the gravel and decorations in your new aquarium – it is time to move the fishes. One way of moving your fish is to put them in a bag and acclimate them before finally transferring them to the new tank.

Another way is using a clear pitcher to transfer your fish to the other aquarium. Submerge the pitcher in the water and guide your fish to it using a net. Once the fish is inside the pitcher, move it gently to the new tank. Sink the pitcher to the water and let the fish swim out. If some of your fishes have aggression issues, make sure to add them last to allow the other fishes to find their spot first and settle in. After moving everything, make sure the filter, lights, and heater are working properly.


Upgrading an aquarium is an exciting experience. However, it is a bit complicated too. You must be careful and attentive to everything to keep your fish safe and healthy throughout the transition. Even though your tank has been stable and lively for the longest time, an enormous change such as a change to a larger aquarium could disrupt the perfectly balanced environment that they have before.

That is why, after the move, carefully observe your aquarium and see to it that your fishes are adjusting well to their new home. Adjust the filtration system and heater as necessary. Indeed, upgrading an aquarium might be daunting. But with proper care and attention, your aquarium upgrade will be successful.

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