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Tips and Suggestions for a 125g cross country expedition (kinda long read)


Melinda P
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Backstory: I am currently in school on the west coast, but will be graduating soon and returning home to the northeast. I currently have a 20g and 10g tank that I am bringing back with me, and a 36g bowfront I will be selling.

I would like to set up a larger tank at home, almost certainly a 125g given the dimensions of space I have. I have never kept a tank this large, nor have I ever been in the situation of having aquarium supplies (filters, plants) that I want to transport across time zones. So my questions are:

  1. Can I use sponge filters in a tank that size or do I have to use a cannister?
  2. If I can use sponge filters, I would want to seed the new tank with the cycled ones I have with me. Has anyone ever shipped filter media like that via UPS/FedEx/etc and how should I go about doing it?
  3. Same question as above, but regarding plants. I do not want to dispose or give away my plants and would like to bring them home with me. How should I go about doing it?
  4. Can I set up the tank multiple months (up to a year) ahead of time (aka scape and add filtered media) and just let it sit there? No one in my house will maintain it, but I don't know if I can just throw plants and a filter in there and expect them to be alive if there's no nutrients being added. My reason for this is determining the timing of sending filter media/plants, whether I should do it a few weeks before I move or if I can do it far ahead of time (more convenient) without losing the plants or integrity of the filter. If I ship fish home, I would have to put them in this 125g since I have no other tanks running at my home in the northeast, so I want to ensure it's cycled before my final move.

My dream fish is German Blue Rams. I know it's a very common fish but as I have not been fishkeeping for decades, it's a fish I've always wanted to keep but have been afraid to because of their sensitivity. My graduation gift to myself is this tank and getting this fish, of course after cycling it. My thoughts of stocking/scaping for this large tank are similar to the anesthetic videos seen on the Co-Op channel (a moderately planted tank with cherry barbs, neon tetras) plus maybe some type of cory, plus 3 GBR's. I love the look of these former two species and have found that, though very common and some may feel mundane, I absolutely love the way they look, especially against plants. I would also like to add the spiderwood/driftwood and smooth river rocks I already have in my current tanks as I like the look. So, given that information, my questions are:

  1. Is this combination workable for the temperature I need to keep the GBR's at (84-86F)? I have heard sterbai cories are good at that temperature, and from what I understand, the barbs and tetras can be kept at that temperature if appropriately acclimated, but I want to hear from more experienced people than I
  2. Could I also keep my clown pleco in there to help with algae/cleanup?
  3. Do I need to add anything else for GBR's, like caves? I would imagine the plants plus rocks/wood would provide coverage for territory, but I am not sure...

The majority of my fish now would not be coming with me cross country; I can drop them off at a LFS a few hours away so they can be adopted out or resold. I may keep just my pleco and my pepper cories (paleatus) but I don't want to put them through the stress of shipping them to the east coast if they won't do well.

This was a very long post, so thank you SO much if you got this far! I appreciate any suggestions/ideas/tips on any part of the situation I've explained above! 🙂

 

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ill hit a couple of these. for filtration, you can use whatever tickles your fancy. sponge, HOB, or canister. do what you like, they will all work. as for the plants, i would ship them. wrap them in a damp paper towel or similar, stick them in a good plastic zip lock bag, and ship them usps flat rate box. if the plants beat you home, just have who ever is there to receive them open them and stick them in  a bucket of water.

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Can I paraphrase? Let me know if this is correct. You’re moving across country where you’ll have a new tank 125 gal tank. You’re wondering if you can use a sponge filter, what is the best way to ship your current plants and if you can keep GBRs with Neons and Cherry barbs? 
  
 

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On 9/6/2021 at 10:08 AM, Patrick_G said:

Can I paraphrase? Let me know if this is correct. You’re moving across country where you’ll have a new tank 125 gal tank. You’re wondering if you can use a sponge filter, what is the best way to ship your current plants and if you can keep GBRs with Neons and Cherry barbs? 
  
 

Thats part of it. The biggest moving part that I’m most concerned about if its possible/smart to cycle it multiple months in advance with nothing in it except filter media and plants. 

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On 9/6/2021 at 10:05 AM, lefty o said:

ill hit a couple of these. for filtration, you can use whatever tickles your fancy. sponge, HOB, or canister. do what you like, they will all work. as for the plants, i would ship them. wrap them in a damp paper towel or similar, stick them in a good plastic zip lock bag, and ship them usps flat rate box. if the plants beat you home, just have who ever is there to receive them open them and stick them in  a bucket of water.

Thank you! Can I do something similar with a sponge filter or would the bacteria not survive that long?

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On 9/6/2021 at 10:18 AM, Melinda P said:

Thats part of it. The biggest moving part that I’m most concerned about if its possible/smart to cycle it multiple months in advance with nothing in it except filter media and plants. 

I think it’s  possible but you’d want to have someone trustworthy topping off the water and  adding fertilizer and fish food to keep the cycle going and the plants healthy. 
Shipping a cycled sponge filter might work. There’s a company that sell pre cycled sponges via mail so at least someone has made it work. 

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On 9/6/2021 at 12:18 PM, Melinda P said:

Thats part of it. The biggest moving part that I’m most concerned about if its possible/smart to cycle it multiple months in advance with nothing in it except filter media and plants. 

Possible, but is it worth it? You said you won't have anyone taking care of it, so in that case I'd say you have a large risk. Plants will need fertilizer. What happens if you get a pH crash. What about algae control? While possible, you'll probably be much better off if you wait. You can set it up dry so it's ready to fill and cycle when you get back.

If you are driving back, get a 5 gallon bucket from Lowes or the like and a USB or battery air pump. You can then bring your some filter and some fish with you in the car. Bring the bucket in with you if you stop at a hotel. You'll then have starter material when you show up at home. If you set up a 10 or 20 underneath it waiting, you'll have a temporary home and future quarantine tank you can drop the filter and whatever fish you travel with. 

Cheers and good luck! 

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On 9/6/2021 at 11:09 AM, ChemBob said:

Possible, but is it worth it? You said you won't have anyone taking care of it, so in that case I'd say you have a large risk. Plants will need fertilizer. What happens if you get a pH crash. What about algae control? While possible, you'll probably be much better off if you wait. You can set it up dry so it's ready to fill and cycle when you get back.

If you are driving back, get a 5 gallon bucket from Lowes or the like and a USB or battery air pump. You can then bring your some filter and some fish with you in the car. Bring the bucket in with you if you stop at a hotel. You'll then have starter material when you show up at home. If you set up a 10 or 20 underneath it waiting, you'll have a temporary home and future quarantine tank you can drop the filter and whatever fish you travel with. 

Cheers and good luck! 

Thank you for the tips! I think I will wait until its closer to avoid the risk. Unfortunately, I will be flying home and all my furniture/belongings (including my 10g and 20g) will be shipped. It will take up to three weeks between me leaving and flying home to the arrival of my things with a moving truck, hence why I want a tank there already set up for any fish I choose to bring back.

 

Follow up question: is the weight of the 125g something I should be concerned about? In that, I should place it in a certain place or level of the house or reinforce it? Or is it not big enough to really worry that the  “regular” floor could take it?

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On 9/6/2021 at 1:16 PM, Melinda P said:

Thank you for the tips! I think I will wait until its closer to avoid the risk. Unfortunately, I will be flying home and all my furniture/belongings (including my 10g and 20g) will be shipped. It will take up to three weeks between me leaving and flying home to the arrival of my things with a moving truck, hence why I want a tank there already set up for any fish I choose to bring back.

 

Follow up question: is the weight of the 125g something I should be concerned about? In that, I should place it in a certain place or level of the house or reinforce it? Or is it not big enough to really worry that the  “regular” floor could take it?

I'd try the methods above for shipping some things. You can also check liquids. I've never tried with filters, but I have checked beverages with no olive effect. Maybe try your filter in a large, well eaten water bottle. Make sure you double bag in ziplocks and make sure to push as much air out of the ziplock as possible. 

Zenzo recently did a video where Dean flew home with some fish. Not sure the process, but I'm sure if you check with the airline they can help. 

Also, as cheap as 10 gallons are, I'd get one to put the fish in while you get the 125 ready. I have seen them at $12 or 13 at the big box stores when they weren't doing the crazy sales. Alternatively, have a large tub you can utilize. Potentially cheaper than the 10 gallon, and maybe it won't add the MTS. Or maybe thats the eventual goal?

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On 9/6/2021 at 11:32 AM, Patrick_G said:

If you’re flying it could be very easy. You could just check the package of plants and cycled media.

 

On 9/6/2021 at 11:31 AM, ChemBob said:

I'd try the methods above for shipping some things. You can also check liquids. I've never tried with filters, but I have checked beverages with no olive effect. Maybe try your filter in a large, well eaten water bottle. Make sure you double bag in ziplocks and make sure to push as much air out of the ziplock as possible. 

Zenzo recently did a video where Dean flew home with some fish. Not sure the process, but I'm sure if you check with the airline they can help. 

Also, as cheap as 10 gallons are, I'd get one to put the fish in while you get the 125 ready. I have seen them at $12 or 13 at the big box stores when they weren't doing the crazy sales. Alternatively, have a large tub you can utilize. Potentially cheaper than the 10 gallon, and maybe it won't add the MTS. Or maybe thats the eventual goal?

Thank you both! I have a game plan! I appreciate the help!

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