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Tips for Moving Houseplants, Fish and Other Live Things

It’s time consuming but relatively easy to pack dishes, books and clothes. But if you’reSucculents moving and have a lot of plants, an aquarium full of fish, or other small critters, you may be wondering how to get them to your new home intact and still alive. Here are some thoughts for handling those live things.


If you’re moving to a new state, be sure to check the regulations. Florida, Arizona and California have strict rules about what plants can be brought into the state, but most states have some regulations.

Unless you’re doing a local move, plan to move them in your car. You may want to repot them in advance, especially if they’re in heavy ceramic pots. Lightweight plastic pots will be easier to lift and less likely to break. Pack plants in boxes with air holes; you’ll want to put newspapers or plastic around the bottoms of the pots to keep them from sliding, but leave wiggle room at the top for the stems and leaves. Place damp newspaper over the dirt to help control mess and to keep the dirt damp. Set the box on the back seat or the floor of the vehicle, with nothing on top of it.

If you have a lot of plants, or very large ones, you may be better off taking cuttings and giving the originals away, especially if you’re moving during extreme cold or extreme heat.


These will need to be moved either in your vehicle or have them shipped. They cannot go on the truck, even in a local move. If you have one or two fish, you can move them in sturdy plastic bags in their own water (think about bringing fish home from the pet store.) For larger aquariums, scoop water from the fish tank into 5 gallon buckets (with lids to prevent spills) and add the fish. Do not overcrowd your fish. Move any rocks, structures or other decorative elements separately. Thoroughly clean and carefully pack the aquarium. On long distance moves, it may be best to bring the aquarium with you, as you and your fish will likely arrive in advance of the truck.

You can also ship fish via USPS or UPS. Put them in sturdy bags with their own water and pack them in Styrofoam containers.  You’ll need to check with the shipping agent for approved containers, and be sure to ship them quickly. As with plants, you should be mindful of weather extremes; it may be better to give the fish away than to ship them during extremely hot or cold weather.

Small Animals and Birds:

Small animals, as well as birds and reptiles, are not allowed on the moving truck. For small rodents like guinea pigs, hamsters and the like, you’ll want a small travel crate that can easily fit in the car. Be sure that the animal can’t escape from it (including by chewing its way through it), and that’s not likely to break. Small birds can be moved in their cages; for larger birds, like parrots and cockatoos, you’ll want to use a carrier. In the case of larger birds, take the time to let your bird get used to the carrier; you may also want to take if for a test drive.

Be sure to consult your vet if you have specific concerns when it comes to small animals, birds and reptiles. If you have a long way to travel, or if you won’t have room in the car, there are companies that can transport your furry, finny or scaly friends for you. 

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