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Old 08-26-2004, 12:03 AM   #1
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changing gravel

ok, i've had some help with this from tankgirl but i think i'm gonna really do it this time. I want to change out my gravel in my 20 cause i can't stand the gravel in it now. Its not bad, its black and my girlfriend picked it. the deal was if i wanted a tank she got to pick the gravel. well we've had it almost 4 months now and want a more tantalizing look. I talked her into the natural rounded brown gravel rocks and getting REAL plants. These plastic ones are like a magnet for the brown algae associated with new fairly new tanks. I can't wait to get this stuff. I'm all cycled, about a month post cycled to be exact but scared to death of crashing my tank, it not that big a deal, i'll just start over but you know what i mean! I'm gonna save the 15 gal of the water and vac the first 5 to get rid of the crap. Im gonna scoop the old gravel with an empty tank so i don't float any debris. I don't plan on rinsing anything in the tank. Of course i'll clean the new gravel. I'm thinking of saving 5 gal of old water now and buying the gravel i want and rinse it really well and then give a final soak in old water for a couple days, maybe it will help keeping my tank from going into a fit! I would like to put gravel and new plants in all at once but have been told to put the old plastics ones back into the new gravel to help the gravel get bacteria. I have a biowheel (mini) and also stock filter (topfin junk) sorry if i've offended anyone, but it works for now so i've got established filter media including media bags in each filter. Anyone with ideas on how to do this please get back to me. thanks a lot
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Old 08-28-2004, 07:56 PM   #2
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I changed my gravel before. I took the fish out, took the water out, got out the gravel, put in the new gravel, re-added the water, added the fish. I dont know if thats ok, but it worked for me! Maybe put the new gravel in a small tank w/ cycled water and add some cycle in a bottle. leave it for a week then put it in your tank?
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Old 08-29-2004, 06:03 AM   #3
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Re, real plants, make sure you have enough light. The lights that come with tanks are not enough.

As far as swapping out substrate, I'm thinking about doing that as well. How I will likely do it is take a 10g tank I have laying around and put some of my existing gravel on one side of it. Block that off from the new gravel. Then I'll transfer some water from the tank to the 10g during a water change. Add an air stone to the tank and let the thing site for 10days or so. Maybe I'll add a fish or two. After the 10 days, I'll move the new gravel to a 5g bucket, add the air stone, the rest of the gravel and water from the 55g tank during a water change. Let that sit again until the bacteria has a chance to grow up into the new gravel. Couple weeks later, all should be good to go. At least thats what I'm thinking.
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Old 08-29-2004, 01:58 PM   #4
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Ive switched gravel before and the easyiest way IMO is to only do half at a time so you dont take out all the bacteria.

Just switch out half of the gravel then wiat a week or two then do the other half.

All will be fine.
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Old 08-29-2004, 02:56 PM   #5
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I'm thinking of changing my substrate too. I only have 5 gallon tanks, but I don't know. Maybe I'll wait till the fishies go to fishy heaven. Hopefully that will be a year or so away...

Tom, I'm afraid that if you let your old water sit with the new gravel, the bacteria may die. There is not a lot of bacteria in the water column. The bacteria is in the filter media, gravel, and fake plants, but mostly in the filter media. By letting the water, even old water, sit for 10 days so the new gravel establishes some bacteria -- well, I don't know. You have to have an ammonia source, or fish, or your bacteria will die. After 10 days, your bucket will be a big container of ammonia soup. I don't know if a fish or two could keep the bacteria going. I wouldn't want to do that to a fish.
-- make him live in the bucket for 10 days.

I think the best way to colonize the new gravel is to do what oscarbreeder said. Do half of the tank at a time -- replace half the gravel while keeping half of the old gravel in. About 2 weeks later, finish putting the new gravel in.

Or, this is what I was thinking, if I go ahead with my change. I may change all the gravel at once. I will put the old gravel in a bucket with some old water. This is to just keep the old gravel wet so it doesn't lose the bacteria, plus it would only be for no more than an hour, hopefully. I'll put the new substrate in (probably Flourite). I'll put the old gravel into new, clean, unwashed pantyhose and tie the hose into a knot. I'll make little, loose "balls" of gravel in the pantyhose and lay it on the new gravel. I know it will be rather ugly. Ok, not "rather", but "very" ugly, I'll leave the balls there for about 2 weeks while I check my ammonia levels. I'll still have my sponge filter, so I don't expect a big ammonia spike.
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