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Old 06-04-2005, 02:04 AM   #1
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Chance to replace substrate (CC) - Suggestions?

We're fallowing our 90 gallon to deal with ich. While the fishy inhabitants are at the Cupramine Spa, we've got a chance to do more disruptive stuff in our main.

I'll be adding more LR in the next few weeks, but I'd also like to replace the 2+ year old CC substrate that I suspect is a player in my nitrate unhappiness.

The current substrate grains are about the size of maybe... Grape Nuts? Bigger thank Kosher Salt, smaller than gourmet Sea Salt. I suppose it's pretty standard CC...

What's the best thing to replace it with that WON'T become a nitrate factory. The right kind of playsand seems popular and potentially becomes LS (?), but I thought I'd heard nitrate issues with it under some circumstances as well.

Any advice would be appreciated as well as estimates on quantity of whatever is suggested for a 90 gallon (48x18x24) system.

I've got to figure the best way to dig the current stuff out. I absolutely cannot go dragging it up the sides of the tank in a shoveling fashion since it'll scratch the living crap out of the acrylic. Is there a siphon method strong enough to lift it?

Thanks!
- Aaron
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Old 06-04-2005, 03:33 AM   #2
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Use a giant wet/dry vaccum! Get has much as you can, and suck out the rest. I think a heavy duty one would do the job...
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Old 06-04-2005, 03:55 AM   #3
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If you take it all out, without your fish bio load to push the bounds of your system, there will be no impetus for your system to regenerate the necessary biofilter after you've pulled that CC out. I've seen it taken out in thirds on a fishy system... not sure what you'll need to do once you replace it all with sand. Maybe put a shrimp in to start a new cycle? Thoughts anyone?

Otherwise I think aragonite based sand is what I have (I used all LFS store bought sand). You don't want silica based sand. If you're not going to purchase sand at the LFS you might want to follow some of the other sand threads so that you know what tests to do on the sand that you do pick up. My sand seems to be sugar sized or so. It doesn't blow around easily and settles quickly when my maroon stirs the sand (a fairly common occurance).
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Old 06-04-2005, 04:09 AM   #4
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I think he will be fine. If he does this soon then all the LR will seed the new sand before the 7 weeks of qt is over. You can also get a few cups of sand from the lfs. If you do get some sand from another system, then you need to start counting down the qt days all over from the day you add it. The sand could carry in a parasite.
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Old 06-04-2005, 04:18 AM   #5
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Ah yes, the addition of live rock. I forgot about that variable. That should come with enough bio-capacity to make up for the lost CC. Do you have to feed the system to keep up the bio-bearing bacteria?

And Rev... what are you still doing awake at 2am?! LOL!
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Old 06-04-2005, 04:25 AM   #6
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I've got a couple more weeks (at most) of bio-ball time in here before they are all gone. Of course, I could leave them in as long as I want if they would help in a substrate change, but I'm currently down to maybe 1/8th of the number I used to have (maybe more - it's hard to gauge).

Even with their removal, nitrites and ammonia are zero under the normal bio-load, so something is picking up the slack (rock and/or substrate I assume).

Anyway, with the remaining bio-balls and about 80 pounds of established rock already in place, wouldn't new sand (bagged playsand of the proper kind) seed fairly rapidly?

I guess I think of my CC all the time in terms of its bad nitrate properties and tend to forget that it's likely playing a large role in the positive end of the nitrogen cycle as well. Would this be a correct assumption?

In any case, the fish are at the Cupramine Spa right now, but I still have inverts in here and will be adding a few more during QT time. There are 16 small hermits (scarlets, etc) and one happy Cleaner Shrimp... so I've got life in here I need to respect during these transitions.

What if I introduced the sand a section at a time? If I'm in six or eight weeks of QT, what pace would you all suggest for removing a section of CC and replacing it with sand. Once a week? Once every two weeks? Say a quarter or a fifth at a time or somesuch pace?

In any case, I'm more inclined to use non-LS bagged playsand (again, vinegar fizz tested, etc) than risk a parasite with existing LS. I don't need any more of those variables right now.

Thanks!
- Aaron
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Old 06-04-2005, 10:30 AM   #7
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I would move all the LR and inverts to a rubbermaid tub with water fromthe main. Save some more water in another tubb. Leave an inch or two of standing water above the substrate. Discard this water and substrate and replace it the sand of your choice. Make sure you have some extra aged SW ready to go. Put the rock back in the tank along with the water. Be prepared for a sand stom and a mini-cycle. Put some of your CC substrate in a fine mesh bag or a nylon stocking and lay it on the substrate. This will help seed the new sand bed. You can also ask a few LFS for a couple of cups of sand from their established tanks. Good luck.
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Old 06-04-2005, 11:35 AM   #8
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How extensive would you say a "mini-cycle" would be?

Is what you're describing something I'd do in a day or are there any stopping points in there where I need to wait for something to happen or establish?

I've got clean trashcans enough to retain most of my water - so the more I keep the better?

Do you suggest this be done before the arrival of new rock? In other words, maybe do this the day before new rock arrives as part of a larger plan or get the new rock, let it establish and THEN do this?

Finally, how deep of a layer of sand should I put in the system?

Thanks for all the info!
- Aaron
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Imperator, D. Saddle Butterfly, 2 Percula Clowns, Cleaner Shrimp and an army of Hermits that never sleep
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Old 06-04-2005, 12:00 PM   #9
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I think you could do it in a day. Just keep an eye on parameters for a few days after the substrate change. The mini-cycle will depend on the amount of cured LR added to the tank and the amount of previously used bio-media (bio-balls or LR rubble in a sump). IMO, the NH3 spike you may encounter should be easily managed by water changes until it cycles out. You can plan this a day or two before the LR arrives or the same day. I do not think it will really matter much. I would shoot for 2-3inches of sand. What ever you think looks good. If you want the benefits of a true DSB, you should have 5-6inches of sand.
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Old 06-05-2005, 02:31 AM   #10
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I've been reading this debate for several years now.....crushed coral being a bad substrate etc.........botttom line is It won't become a nitrate factory if you vacuum it every 2 weeks or so depending on the bioload.

Sand beds(oolitic sand), which really do need to be vacuumed at times, can't be for obvious reasons. how many thread do you read about cyno and algae outbreaks yadda yadda yadda . Seems like a lot of people want a tank but not do the maintenance........can't be done!!!. Even a bare bottom tank needs to be vacuumed to get rid of excess detritus.

There's no substitution for good tank maintenance no matter what your substrate is. There is NOTHING wrong with crushed coral as long as you vacuum consistant with the bioload and I challenge any reefer or fish only guy to prove me wrong.

Geez........hope i spelled vacuum right
Good luck.
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