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Transferring water from old tank to new.


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We are going to be upgrading our tank soon. Is it possible to transfer some water from current tank along with our live rock? I was thinking if I could do that then top off with the boxed ready to go ocean water, that I could reduce or eliminate the need to cycle the tank. Am I missing something here?

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I will be in the same situation as you shortly...so following this closely....


I would think that this plan would work, but what will you do about your sand bed (in order not do disturb it)?

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I don’t see why not. If you just don’t want to waste the water, that’s understandable, but remember that the nitrifying bacteria isn’t in the water, it’s on the live rock, sand, filter media, etc... As long as you transfer over that stuff to the new tank, you shouldn’t see a cycle at all.

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Simulated Fish

Yep I've done multiple tank swaps without issue transferring Old stock to new just be careful sand bed is your enemy if it's old or you don't maintain it weekly leave it and get new sand!!!


Old nasty sand is the one way you can really nuke a tank quickly and easily.

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The trick to not having a cycle or major blooms is to


1.siphon/remove water from tank into buckets/tupperware


2. Place fish/ cuc in 1


3. Place corals in another


4. Save as much water before disturbing rocks/sand


5. Remove rocks, place in bucket of water


6. Remove sand and thoroughly wash for reuse or use new sand(save a cup or 2 to seed the new sand)


Any water/sand is not used once sand is removed by rock removal.


Set up new tank

Add rocks, sand,water from tank and new water


Let it cleat up, test the tank


Once everything is good, add fish and corals



I did a thorough write up on tank upgrade transfer process in my lagoon journal. Done it at least 4/5 times, never lost a thing, no cycles

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I'd only add that if the sand is still clean, then just transfer is as quickly and neatly as you can AFTER the rocks go into the new tank.  (Rocks need to be on the tank bottom for stability.  Don't build on sand.)


If the sand is dirty enough to warrant cleaning, then I'd actually consider just replacing it.  Cleaning is OK but can take a lot of time and water.  New sand is very cheap.  


Use your judgement on this.  

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So, the old tank is gravel. Not an issue. New sand will be going into the new tank. Now we are torn between the reefer 250 and 350. 

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You can use the old tank water as long as you don't disturb the sand bed when you siphon the water out.  Personally I have had no issues when I used all new water.  I would also make sure that you get that rock basted clean where it sat  buried in the sand.  Rock that is buried will have the same nastiness your sand bed has.  And if you decide to upgrade to that sized tank, getting a good 4-5 stage RO/DI system will save you a lot in the long run.  It's so much easier to clip that 1/4" line on the rim of the tank, then to hoist 5 gallon into the house at a time.  If you are swapping into a new tank and it's going to be ready and set up, it will be a breeze.



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On 3/20/2021 at 8:40 PM, Ingram215 said:

So, the old tank is gravel. Not an issue. New sand will be going into the new tank. Now we are torn between the reefer 250 and 350. 

Obviously you go bigger if you can....but what's the catch?

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