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Today I’m going to answer the most-asked questions about my college reef tank: what do I do with it over breaks, and how do I get it home? If you've been to college before, you know that feeling when you get out of your last class and are in a rush to get back home for the summer, but you really want to take it slow and be patient. Do not rush!
The first step in taking your tank down (and probably the scariest) is tackling the jungle of wires. You're going to want to start unplugging them in the order of the equipment size, starting with your biggest piece of equipment and working your way down to your smallest piece of equipment. The biggest piece of equipment that I have on my tank is my lights, so I would disassemble and unplug those first. Next up would be things like pumps, protein, skimmers, or media reactors. The last thing you want to unplug is your aquarium’s pump, because you don't want to cut off the circulation in your aquarium’s water before you're ready to drain the tank and get the corals out of the tank.
Next, set all of your equipment to the side and get ready to drain the tank and move the corals. My tank holds 10 gallons of water, so I would get two five gallon jugs ready to go and a bucket to put all the corals in. Fill the bucket up and then put all your livestock in it. Once all of your corals are situated in this bucket, the rest of your water can go in the remaining jugs. Drain the tank as much as you can. And don't forget to also drain the filter!
Now the tank and everything else is ready to get loaded into the car. My drive home from college was only three hours long, so the corals would be fine with the oxygen they had. If you're driving a longer distance, you’re going to need an air pump. It’s really important that your corals get oxygen!
Once you get back home, you're simply going to do the process you just did, but in reverse. Start piecing your tank back together and check your water to make sure everything's stable. As long as you didn't make any major changes to your water, you should instantly be back in business.