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Old 05-10-2005, 06:56 AM   #1
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How best to replace cc with sand?

Hey everyone --

I've got a 55 gal tank with cc that's been established for over a year, and the cc substrate is finally hitting my limits. The basic problem is that I've got [dare I say] too much live rock -- about 110 pounds in a 55 gal -- great filtration, but makes it really tough to clean around the edges between the rock and the glass. As a consequence, I'm constantly fighting the nitrates. I'm planning an upgrade to a 120-ish tank with sand which will give more room for critters, but I'd like to make the switch to better control the nitrates sooner than that.

Soooo, how to proceed? I already have 20# of Arag-Alive, and was planning on another 40# of regular un-live aragonite. Now, I've read (and seen pics) of the latter just clouding up the tank and taking days to clear up. Is there anything I can do to minimize that? Perhaps pre-rinsing to rid of the finest particles (seems contradictory to what I want the sand for in the first place, however). Or just suffer through the cloud? If so, will the fish/corals (softies only) be OK? Perhaps pull them out into a separate tub while the sand settles? I would assume that since the one bag of Arag-alive is already wet, that I might be able to simply lay it on the bottom without too much disturbance?

Ideally, I think I would rather change out half of the cc at a time to minimize the hit on the bio filter. But if I need to either move everything to a separate tub, or suffer a through a three-day cloud, I'm inclined to just do it once. Perhaps bag up the CC in a filter bag for a while so it's easily remove once the sand is seeded?

Any thoughts/advice appreciated.

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Old 05-10-2005, 07:00 AM   #2
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Don't rinse it, remove 1/2 of the cc and put the sand in a plastic bag, place the plastic bag on the bottom of the tank and open and release the sand slowly, you will still get a cloud but not a real bad one. After 2 weeks remoe the other cc and repeat with the sand. HTH

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Old 05-10-2005, 09:58 AM   #3
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Just finished doing my change last night, good times! 8O

I only used normal sugar sized aragonite sand (not live). I placed a 30 lb bag at a time in a 5 gallon bucket. Rinsed over and over until i felt it wouldnt cause much of a storm. Took a normal every day strainer and starting putting the cc in the strainer and then into another 5 gal bucket. I only removed half of the cc from the tank. I then took a large ziplock freezer bag and filled the sand in, closed the bag, put the bag in the tank, and voila. It caused some cloudiness but it cleared up over night.
I then took some old cc from the bucket and put them in mesh bags on top of the new sand. This way the sand could get seeded from the old cc.
And then 2 weeks later i did the same process on the other half of the tank!

No spikes, no deaths, it really worked out great!

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Old 05-10-2005, 11:21 AM   #4
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I just read somewhere that you can use a piece of PVC pipe to pour the sand to the bottom of the tank. Once the PVC is full, let it sit so the dust settles. Then slowly raise the PVC and the sand will slide out with minimal clouding. From what I read, this will take longer but will cause less stress to the environment.

NOTE: I have never tried this, but was reading up on it because I also need to change from cc to sand (once I find a good deal on some).
55 Gal FOWLR
105 lbs Live rock from LR.com
2 Yellow Tail Damsels
2 Green Chromis
1 Emerald Crab
3 Peppermint Shrimp
4 Scarlet Hermit Crabs
1 Blue Knuckle Hermit Crab
1 Large Turbo Snail
Hitchhickers: 3 Purple sea urchins, lots of rock crabs, pistol shrimp, brittle stars, snails, worms, etc.
and aiptasia, aiptasia, aiptasia (it was free $$)
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Old 05-10-2005, 12:41 PM   #5
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The PVC pipe is another solution. I have found that using the Ziplock bag there is very little disturbance, as long as you do it correctly. Like i mentioned, the cloudiness in my tank settled after one day!

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Old 05-10-2005, 04:38 PM   #6
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We just got done doing this also. After losing all of our fish, we still are not sure how, we decided to just go ahead and do the whole tank. We used 80# of aragaronite sand, 50# of live sand and 100# of play sand. We had to take everything out of the tank to get to the cc, so we put all of our live rock and corals in tubs with ph's and heaters. We did all this on Saturday. Yesterday, it was finally cleared enough to put everything back.

This morning there was a little amonoina spike but everything else looked good. Our nitrates were still high but hopefully with no fish in the tank they will come down to normal and everything that needs to cycle will before we get anymore fish.

One thing else we did at the same time was take the bio-balls out of the wet-dry filter and fill it with live rock, so this could be the cause of the spike too.

The corals and live rock all look fine this afternoon. The tank just looks empty not having any fish in it.

hopefully, having done all this will not hurt anything in the tank.
Billy & Mary

155 Bow front Reef tank w/
60 gal sump w/ refruguim, 20# of live rock, and protein skimmer and pump
200+ of Live Rock, with a 5-6 in sand bed.
3 Pendent Lights w/ 250K each
wave machine w/ 6 power head

2 P. Clowns, 1 Tomini Bristletooth Tang, 4 Shrimps, 4 emenaral crabs & lots of other snails & hermit crabs
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