Moving My 47 Year old Reef Tank. OMG


The stand I built a few weeks before out of redwood because it warps less and the color matches my eyes. All the hardware is galvanized steel and it is also glued together with waterproof glue. I purposely built the legs out of 4 x 4s and not sandwiched 2 X 4s like many people do because I wanted to minimize places where two pieces of wood are together because those areas will get water in between and it will never dry, eventually, that wood will rot. This will also go behind a wall so you won't see any of it. The back of the stand (in the foreground) is built of sandwiched 2 X 4 redwood pieces sealed together for strength because I didn't want a support there that would interfere with that space in case I end up sleeping there or storing Oldsmobile parts.

Two days before my actual move I go out to the new place with the truck and drive up to the water at a boat ramp armed with enough containers to take about 40 gallons of seawater.
(I also collected the week before and carried that water out there with the truck)

I am in back of the truck with my 50' hose connected to a bilge pump and I am pumping water into the truck.
(actually the thing clogged with shrimp, hermit crabs and hot dog wrappers) so after a while I had to pump it into containers, then dump it into the truck)
I am actually a lot taller, skinnier and hairier in person, the camera adds 50lbs to how you look.
AS I am collecting water I notice a State Trouper pulled up in front of the truck. This tall trooper gets out with this befuddled, but stern look on his face. I run and get my Viet Nam Veteran hat on because maybe he is sympathetic to Veterans and I say "Hello Officer". Is there a problem? He says "I don't know yet What are you doing?". I say I know it looks like it but I am not dumping toxic waste or those little tags that say, "Do not remove under penalty of the law". I am collecting seawater. He looks at me and says "Seriously!" For what?
So I figured I could go into the nitrogen cycle, The Ich life cycle, The Cycle of Life or any number of things but I just said I have this fish tank and it uses salt water. (I also told him I test and inspect the water in the Sound but I think he knew I was full of hermit crab poop) He says "Do you have a permit?". I said a permit for what? A fish tank!. I didn't think it was illegal to collect water. He says it is not. But it's illegal to use this boat ramp without a boat or a permit. I knew that but I played myself, or stupid. I said "Really! I just moved here yesterday and didn't know of such things". He said, "Are you finished?" I said "Yes Officer" And he let us go and told me where I can get a permit and collect water.
We drive the truck back to my new house and notice that it was filthy. It looked like I was looking through Crocodile Dundee's socks. It was filled with chopped up seaweed, jellyfish, sand, pieces of worms etc.
So I look for my three diatom filters. I look and I look but I have stuff piled up to the ceiling and I can hardly crawl through my garage.
I had two moving vans bring my stuff here and I brought almost no furniture, it's all my tools, fish stuff, boat stuff, and just stuff.
I find my XL diatom filter and that is the one that runs the worst. I put in the diatom powder and get the thing running. The bottle on the filter clears up so I run it on the tank where it immediately fills the vats with powder.

Normally I would start the filter and pump water into another bucket where it would be crystal clear. But it just kept getting worse.
I opened up the filter and notice the bag is torn almost all the way off the tube that water pumps through. (A diatom filter has a porous bag in it that gets coated with diatom powder that has microscope holes through it so the water gets as clear as it will ever get)
I find a needle and thread and try to sew up the bag. No luck, it still shoots powder all over. Then I get a towel and sew it around the bag. It still doesn't work and the water is horrible. It's 10:00 PM and I am falling asleep so I leave it and go to sleep.
The next morning I wake up and being I am no spring Chicken the only thing that doesn't hurt on me is my left pinky so I go and take two Naprosyn Sodium's or anti inflammatory pills like aspirin. I tell my wife we need more of them because we are almost out. She says, no were not, we have a ton of them. "Let me see what you took"....Sleeping pills. Yep I took two Tylenol PMs which are used to put you to sleep. That's just great. One of the most hectic days of my life and I hardly slept at night and now I took twice the dose of sleeping pills. Today is going to be fun. (The next time I will put on my reading glasses before I take pills.)
The powder settled and the water was clear so I gently took water from the top of all the buckets to where the tank is about half filled.

I drive back to my old house 60 miles away and my Son N Law comes over to help me catch all the fish and put them in vats along with the water, coral and rocks. I gently removed the corals, then the rocks and siphoned out half the water. Now I had to remove the gravel and the water immediately turned to tar. I mean the top layer of gravel was fine but as I neared the bottom the gravel was replaced by mostly mud. There was no hint of hydrogen sulfide or toxic waste and it didn't smell.
My Son N Law is holding up the UG filter plate which you can see is full of mud. Under it was more mud, bristle worms and Godzilla Larvae but no smells and nothing rotten. I don't remember the last time I lifted the thing but it was quite a few years go. Maybe 20 or 30.

I threw out the old UG filter although it was in perfect shape. I bought a new one for the new 125 gallon tank but it was a mistake because the old one was built like a 1957 Chevy which was nice and strong and the new one is built out of that plastic that frozen meat comes in that you throw out with onion skins and bald tires.
My plan was to wash my old gravel in the sea but that State Trooper put an end to that. I can do that but besides the fish I still have an entire house full of stuff to move and remember I am also falling asleep. My alternate plan was to rinse the gravel in water that I was running a diatom filter in but my defective filter put an end to that. Now I have a tank filled with fish, corals and rocks that is about 3/4s filled. I also added a lot of the water from my old tank which really woke up my fish because my old water had a nitrate reading of 160 and my new water reads zero.
I added some of my old gravel but most of it is still in filthy old seawater that I have not cleaned yet. I now found a diatom filter that works but haven't had time to mess with the fish yet. Initially I couldn't find my bluestripe pipefish, Janss Pipefish, bleeny, or hermit crabs and I figured they were toast but they eventually showed up. I have no thermometer except for my finger so the temperature could be 40 degrees off and so could be the salinity. I have very little RO water that I brought from home because there is no water or drain near the tank, that will come later. The tank is lit with a couple of temporary lights that my friend Andy lent me but the fish are wearing minors helmets with flashlights on them because it is very dim. I am surprised my corals are still living. My old water cooled LED lights need a piece soldered but I did not find my soldering iron yet or have a place to lay the thing down so I can fix it. Also, no time.
The fish haven't eaten in a few days because I ran out of food and no matter how much I try, they won't eat Cheerios. The mandarin is not speaking to me because I have not hatched shrimp in over a week and the Janss pipefish is also not happy.
I was scared to look at the tank the day after I threw everything in but the fireclowns were spawning so at least they were happy but clownfish will spawn in an earthquake or on opening day of "Star Wars, Revenge of the Seth" or "Yoda gets a Date".
Fathers Day I left my house and fish to fend for themselves and took my wife for a nice dinner on the water.

The tank looked like this before I moved it. About 20 or 30 lbs of my rocks don't fit but I built a big rock before I put the stuff back in.

This DIY rock is about 15 lbs and is the backbone of the new aquastructure.
I always enjoy reading your posts. You remind me of Dave Barry. Are you a fan of his or is the sense of humor a NY thing? Ya, he's from there also.

Good luck with the move.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
That looks and sounds like a good lot of work. Good luck getting the rest of it situated and making your critters all happy and spawny again.
Actually, the first part of this thread didn't "Print". Here it is.

So about six months ago our closest friends got a new Grand Son and he lives in Long Island right near where I live. Of course they wanted to see him all the time and they moved to Key Largo a couple of years ago so they bought a condo 60 miles east from my home out on Long Island in wine country about 90 yards from the Long Island Sound. We went to look at their new place and on the way home, I said to my wife. You know, I could live there. To make a long story shorter, we bought the place next door.
OK now we sell our house and after a few months of paperwork, and legal nonsense we go to closing. What Jiboni invented a Title Search and Title Insurance. That is the stupidest thing some Lawyer ever came up with. If I am paying for a Title search, why do I have to pay for Title insurance? Shouldn't the Title Search Company pay for that? Anyway, I was instructed to bring three bank checks to the closing. Of course I screwed that up and shorted them $2,000.00 so I had to find a "Bank Of America" to get the other two grand. Naturally they wouldn't take a personal check, cash, stamps, gold bullion, World Series Tickets or a signed picture of Nancy Pelosi.
As everyone at the closing is waiting for me (It was a Friday afternoon)I take off to go to the bank following my GPS because this was not my normal stomping grounds. After a few minutes the GPS "Lady" tells me You have reached your destination. There was a Bank of America there but it was closed and looked like it was boarded up since the Great Depression. Great, I put in another Bank of America and follow the GPS Lady there in the opposite direction. Now a half an hour has passed and my wife keeps calling me saying how the lawyers, bankers and real estate people were tying a rope to the rafters to get ready to hang her if I didn't get back with the check.
The "Lady" says "You have arrived at your destination". All I see is a Seven Eleven and I doubted they would lend me $2,000.00.
Otis the town drunk comes out of the Seven Eleven and asks me why I am banging my head against the brick wall. I tell him I am looking for this bank. He says it was a bank a few years ago but if you want a Bank of America, go this many blocks here, and turn so many blocks here, then bear right or left and you will be there.
I figured what the heck, the GPS Lady is on LSD anyway so how far off could Otis be.
The bank was right where he said, I run in a minute before the place closes and get the check and fly back to the closing just as they were going to light the sticks under my wife who was tied to a coat rack.
We close on the house and have a week to move out. I run to my favorite LFS and order a tank.
It sits there a couple of days and I rent a 16' truck for two days.
They load the tank on the truck and I drive it out to the new place.
The tank looks surprisingly good after the move and not having any lights on for a few days, no thermometer, (I still don't have one), the tank is only 3/4 full until I get back to the sea to collect and I only have food enough for tomorrow. I didn't hook up the skimmer yet, UG filter, or the ozonizer. No algae scrubber and about half of my gravel is in buckets in very cold, dirty water from the old place. I found a working diatom filter but I am painting my garage and workshop so I can hang steel shelving from the ceiling so I can't work on my tank. I did get my old water cooled LED light working last night. I can't yet find my soldering stuff so I borrowed one from my friend to fix the thing, fill it with water and get it working. I do not yet have a sink in there or a drain so I cut a big hole in the sheetrock and removed a 4" plug from the main sewer line and put in a 4" pipe with an elbow facing up. Now I can use that for a drain and I can put the plug back in when I am done. I may use that for my RO drain hose if I ever get it hooked up. If not I will have to use tap water.
I know a lot of people have problems with ich, mini cycles or Godzilla larvae when they do something major to their tank but I don't seem to have those problems as of yet. The fish are doing fine and seem to be enjoying their larger home with real water.
We are settling in here and some of our friends came over to help us. Actually 2 of them are our friends that bought next door.

Yes, I know, we are all Geezers now. But we have friends since high school. Don't worry, you will get there and good friends for so long are one of the best things you can have.

The tank is starting to look decent although I have a lot more stuff and water to put into it. Still no skimmer, ozone, thermometer, UG filter or much light or gravel.

The bed I built looks very cool and industrial if I do say so myself. And I do.
Check out the wheels :D

Thanks. :)

The tank is on the ground level and my condo is above it so until I get the elevator in, it is a hike to get up the stairs. A few weeks ago I had those 3 sets of shots in my knees. It is supposed to be some kind of Jell that takes up the place where meniscus used to be when I was 20. I think he switched the needles and put in crushed coral instead. I had those series of shots twice and I can tell you, they don't work.
I just need new knees and when I get time I will go to Home Depot for some of those pressure treated ones.
The problem with new knees is they want you to go for therapy after that and I feel therapy is for Sissies who got a splinter and figured that was the worst thing that ever happened to them. Either that or Golfers. I live next to a golf course and just don't get it. I know, its a fault in me.
It's also $250.00 to play a round so I doubt I will be partaking in that "sport".
Tonight we are going to the Country Club. Yes, in our Condo, you get a free one year membership in this Country Club so I can walk around with my nose up in the air and look rich, intelligent and Snooty.
Actually the people here are all very nice like the people in California. But with less of a tan. Everybody is extremely nice I can't believe it. We went to Home Depot yesterday and when I got out of my very cool canary yellow new Jeep a woman near me was struggling trying to put this box in her car. I went over and asked if she needed help. She said "Om my God, Thank you so much, that is so nice of you". I was thinking maybe she thought I was going to give her a kidney. She kept thanking me and saying how kind I was. The box weighed about 3 1/2 lbs. Then she ran after my wife to thank her for lending me to her. I mean really nice. If I had time she would have baked me a pie, tucked me in at night and trimmed my nose hairs.
Most of the people here are like that. It's a nice change from where I lived closer to Manhattan. People were nice there too, after they mugged you, they thanked you and gave you a tip.
Thanks Guys. I am trying to work on the tank but I am married and my wife has other plans. Today we are going shopping for Sissy stuff that we "need" so I have to make her happy even though I have a ton of things to do in my garage and workshop/man cave/ fish room. I can barely walk to the tank, half the lights aren't working, I have almost no RO water and didn't start installing the thing yet and the tank still isn't even full.

I think my bluestripe pipefish will croak soon. He is past his lifespan but is not dying from old age. He misses his new born brine shrimp every day and I have no space or time to hatch them. The mandarin is still fine but I really need to get things started.

I am installing a toilet bowl and putting water there so I have a drain and can hook up the RO/DI.

We got this new giant TV yesterday and my friend helped me put it on a cabinet. It will go on the wall eventually. It is a Samsung and is full of bells and whistles. The thing makes you breakfast, gets your shoes and checks your dating scores on Match .com.

It does everything but let you watch TV. I can't figure out how to get regular TV on the stupid thing.

I tried to watch something and it told me to go to my computer and put in "Samsung. go and take gas" or something like that and hit program or whatever.(yes, it talks to you and you can have a conversation with it. It doesn't listen good though, kind of like kids)

I did all that and it wanted me to buy apps for $29.99 a month but a free subscription to Dancing with the Nerds comes with it. You can't make this stuff up.

I just want to watch re runs of Star Treck or Ed Sullivan (google him)

I finally got re runs of Blue Bloods so we watch 4 or 5 episodes of that all night.

I think we will be listening to the radio for a while. :p
I put a toilet bowl in my new workshop today and it is the type they use in Europe where it flushes out the back. Anyway I have installed dozens of toilet bowls and they are a no brainer. I got this thing from Amazon and it came in a nice box. I am sure the box costs much more then the fixture.
There was no bowl there before so I cut the main and put in the plumbing which went smoothly. I actually like working as long as no one bothers me and I have good music. So I get the thing installed and try the first flush.
Water shoots all over the wall. It is coming from in between the bowl and the tank. I remove the bowl, take the tank off, check out the seal, which looks good, I put some silicone grease on it and put it back together a little tighter.
Try another flush, and water shoots all over the wall.
I take the tank off again, look at it, scratch my head, wipe off the silicone grease, put on more silicone grease, put the thing back together. Do a test flush.
Water shoots all over the wall. Now after all this time I get smarter and put my reading glasses on and lay down under the thing with a light to see exactly where this water is coming from. I didn't want to do this because once I get under there, I may not get up.
I patiently wait for the tank to fill. Get my light aimed at the seam between the tank and bowl. Do a test flush and see where the water is shooting out.
There is a tiny pin hole in the ceramic bowl. I have seen cracks but never a hole. When they made the thing there must have been a spaghetti worm or pod in the clay and it formed a hole. Great. Now what am I supposed to do, pack it up and send it back to Amazon?
I put some sealer on it which "fixed " it so it can be used but I am going to mail Amazon to ask them if they got this bowl from the Amazon.
I want a new one and I am not sending this one back. Good luck.
Last night I temporarily hooked up my RO/Di and made five gallons of water for top ups. There is no auto shut on it yet but that will come later. I am painting small parts of my wall to hang stuff on it like racks or ROs and it is a really stupid way to work. I just can't get around in there yet to paint the entire thing or install the entire floor.
But I did find a new beach to collect water about a mile from my house. I just need to get an off the road permit so I can get down to the water as you have to drive on the beach to get there.
I will make a picnic out of it by taking my wife, some friends and vino and we can relax while I collect water and watch the sunset. Maybe I can finally get my tank filed up and add the rest of the rocks, gravel and hook up the UG filter.

It's going to be a really nice Man cave.
I also have to put in a huge exhaust fan because it is very damp there. Between the tank and the ocean 90 yards away, there isn't much I can do about that. There are also no windows in it but there could have been. I think the architect was on LSD when he designed this place as my 5 year old Grand Daughter could have did it better.
I still have about fifty lbs of gravel I need to clean as it is sitting in vats of muddy water from my old tank. I also have the same amount of rocks sitting in that water that I will have to fit in somewhere (not all of it because I built some new rocks) The water level is still about 2" low. I have no thermometer, didn't put on a skimmer or algae scrubber, I can't find my magnetic glass cleaner and the tank is bigger so it needs a lot more coral and fish. I plan on getting some more livestock today if I find anything interesting which I doubt because I like oddities. I need to fix my NSW collection device because I used some of that hose on my unsuccessful diatom filtering of my newly collected water to get out the seaweed and jellyfish. My RO/DI is temporarily mounted to a wall feeding a 30 gallon vat but it is not automatic so I have to tell Alexa to remind me to shut it off or I will flood my workshop. I have to put water in the tank manually because I didn't build the ATO yet. The blue LEDs on my water cooled lights went out and it is a pain to fix because I have to drain the water from it and the radiator and solder it. I didn't start to build my workbench yet because I have to much stuff in my workshop/Mancave.

My goal was to get water in the tank and keep everything alive and I accomplished that. My fish are very robust so won't get sick even thought they are not on any schedule, eat at all times of the day, if they get to eat at all, the temperature is all over the place because I test it with my finger. The salinity could be anywhere in the range of keeping brine shrimp alive or raising kissing gouramies.

I have so much other work to do around here that the tank is way back on the list. I painted the workshop and garage but I didn't finish because of the enormous amount of stuff, mostly tools I have. My car has a screw in the tire and I don't want to pull it out because I don't have time to get the thing fixed. My normal day so far is working on the house from about 7 or 8 am straight through to 6 or 7 at night with no stopping to eat or breathe. I have been living on Gatorade. :rolleyes:

Yesterday we took off. I also have a wife and she doesn't feel very well so I need to take care of her. My marina had a barbecue yesterday which we went to, then we took a nice long boat ride with friends to check out the new water we have here. Then we went out to a nice dinner and planned to watch the fireworks, but we all fell asleep. :cool:

I also have a ton of paperwork to fill out and get submitted for the elevator which has to get signed off on by a few agencies like the Fire Dept, Health Dept, Lady GaGa and SETI. (Search for Extraterrestrial Life ) :confused:

I put up 2- 3'X 8' $350.00 worth of racks in the garage to get some stuff off the floor. Important things like my wife's 60 year old Barbie Dolls, including poor Ken who must have had health issues because he has no hair, just a glue head. Barbie's wardrobe including shoes, My 39 year old daughters baby doll carriages complete with two Cabbage Dolls. Glasses that we have had in the box since our engagement party (we are married 44 years) Enough luggage to transverse the world 4 times with two homeless Sherpa's and a bunch of old socks. :rolleyes:

Some of our furniture didn't arrive yet so we are still living out of boxes. We have a lot of glass in this house and we have paper shades on them so people can't see me doing the Macarana in my Speedo which I like to do before I exfoliate in the morning (whatever that is, but I found a bottle of exfoliating stuff in my Man bathroom that my wife stocked for me) ;Shifty

I have one outlet near my fish tank and I have about 17 extension cords coming out of that to feed the tank along with 5 heaters and a refrigerator which is just running because of frozen mysis and clams. My workshop light consists of an 8' LED light hanging from the ceiling on string. And I am an electrician.

So I have a few things to work on before I get the fish settled. :D


Well-Known Member
BRS Member
Happy 4 of July Paul !!

I wish I could have, at least, half of that positive attitude. On top of all the things in your agenda, you still have time to write these posts.

I admire you !!

Happy Fourth to you to Daniel. That's because I start writing at 5:00am. o_O

I bought out all the electrical adapters from Home Depot so I am going to Lowes today.
My extremely cool water cooled LED lighting system croaked. The room is so damp that the entire fixture was dripping with water and shorted the entire thing out. The LEDs on there have connections so close to the copper tubing that is a mosquito blows his nose on it, it will short. It just won't work in that condition so I had to turn in my Man card and buy a light fixture, and there is nothing I hate more than buying something. I know it will be a piece of junk, cost more then my car and won't last 2 weeks. It's also probably made in China so I can't even look at it and won't be able to hang my American Flag in that room. If I ever get time, I will build a water prof light and junk the new one.
Yesterday I drove 60 miles back to my old neighborhood and visited my favorite LFS. Aquarium Village in Westbury. I saw two fish that I liked because they were unusual. One was a perchlet like my other one but smaller and he looked very healthy.

I am not sure what the other fish is but he didn't look to be in great condition and I hesitated buying him. I told my friend that I give him an hour to live.
I put them in a cooler in my car because it was 98 degrees and drove straight home.
I opened the cooler and the weird sickly fish was fine. I acclimated him for 10 minutes, threw him in and he started to eat and smile in 30 seconds.
The little healthy red perchlet croaked. He was dead in the bag and looked like he had a coronary. Maybe he heard I run an undergravel filter and got the horrors. I didn't have time to give him CPR or do an autopsy or necropsy but I know de didn't have any diseases. Maybe a social disease but that is none of my business. I left him in there for any bristleworms that may have survived the move here.
Right now I have 4 floodlights over the tank that looks a little more than candlelight until I get my new (garbage) embarrassing lights.
Today I may run some electric power to the tank so I can get the massive rats nest of extension cords off my floor. I will also order an exhaust fan for that room. Not one of those Sissy exhaust fans, I am ordering a fan that will pull the wax out of your ears from across a crowded LFS.
After the move. My fish all had to get plastic surgery to make their face bigger to fit their smiles. They are so happy they poop in rainbow colors.
The fireclowns are spawning so much they give me a headache and the water smells like eggs benedict. I have not fed my mandarin in a month and he is still in ecstasy because he hunts white worms that I throw in every other day. My copperband loves the new aquascape and thinks he is in a circus working for Barnum and Baily. All is well.
As I keep saying my fish stay healthy because of bacteria in the guts of the food I feed and they are not delicate creatures. They are withstanding huge temperature swings along with salinity cycles so far apart that I can keep Koi in there with them.
The lighting is ridiculous which is making my bristle worms cross eyed. I don't know how any corals are living but I have not lost one of them and they went from 160 nitrates to probably zero. I don't test for anything except Gatorade as I have been taking that stuff intravenously because my fish room is so damp there are cumulous clouds forming above the tank and Al Roker is predicting thunder storms in there.
The air is so full of water that my hermit crabs crawl out at night to watch the sunset on my workbench. I can test the salinity by licking the walls. I mean it is really damp in there and my next move (as I mentioned) is to install a huge exhaust fan. One that will make your nose hairs stand up from across the street.
I want it to suck so much moisture out of the room that if I forget it on, the tank would go dry.
Do I make my point?

Upcoming Events

Saturday April 20, 2019
BRS April Meeting
Taunton VFW
82 Ingell St
Taunton, MA