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Old 06-24-2006, 01:52 PM   #1
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changing substrate

i just put in an xp2 and am going to be pulling my ugf. i have already pulled the power heads, so right now i have an emperor 400 and the xp2 running, with the ugf just sitting there. i know, massive, unecessary filtration... it was the trials of a newb anyway, i figure as long as i'm pulling up the ugf i may as well switch over to a sand substrate since i've decided i like the look better than the small gravel i have now. i've read the aa guide to switching substrate, no problems there. my question is, what to do with the fish while all this is going on? i imagine i'm going to kick up a whole mess of crud in the process, so should i take them out for a mini vacation in a bucket? i'm wondering if i could just put a tank divider in to keep the fish all on one side while i work? i'm going to switch half of the substrate tonight and half in a couple weeks, per the aa guidelines. i'm going to put a temporary divider between the two substrates to keep it all from mixing together. tia.
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Old 06-24-2006, 02:57 PM   #2
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I've switched out substrates before. It's a pain in the butt. The easiest way to do it is to empty the tank completely. Catch all the fish and put them in a bucket with tank water. Drain the tank down to maybe an inch or so or even completely and then empty out all the old substrate. Put the new substrate back up, fill up the tank, fire up the filters and everything and re-introduce your fish.
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Old 06-24-2006, 02:59 PM   #3
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my tank is fully stocked so i'm really trying to avoid another cycle. my understanding is, by doing half at a time i won't be ridding the tank of the majority of it's bio-filter. i don't mind the extra work as long as it's the safest for my fish!
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Old 06-24-2006, 03:51 PM   #4
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I'd switch it all at once. I've done it several times without causing a mini-cycle. Make sure the filter media stays wet at all times and do not clean/rinse any of the decor.

Catch all the fish and put them in buckets. Normally I would say you can leave them in there but since you are removing an UGF, take them out. Put them in a bucket full of tank water with the decor. After changing out the substrate, full the tank almost full of water and turn on the heaters and airstones/wands/etc. Let the sand settle for about an hour then plug in the filters. Reacclimate the fish into the tank and add the decor.
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Old 06-24-2006, 04:53 PM   #5
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hmmm... sounds like suicide to me, but if y'all say so... so i take out EVERYTHING, put the fish in a bucket of tank water with all decor and biowheels (airstone for an hour?), out goes the old substrate and ugf, in goes 40 gallons of fresh water, in goes the sand, top off the water and turn everything on, an hour of settling then acclimate and add fish. sound right?
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Old 06-24-2006, 05:13 PM   #6
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The reason why we say to take everything out is because you are going to kick up so much gunk with the ugf. If it has just been gravel, it wouldn't have been such a big deal. But with an ugf, you'd be suprised at what you will find under there.

Put the sand in before you put the water. Then just put a plate at the bottom of the tank and pour the water onto it. Do not top off the tank until after the fish have been acclimated. Other than that, sounds good.
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Old 06-24-2006, 05:17 PM   #7
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roger that. thanx!
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Old 06-24-2006, 08:53 PM   #8
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Good advice here. I did this a few weeks ago.....it took about an hour to do my 30gal tank. First I took out the decorations (live plants and driftwood) and then the fish. Did a 60% PWC, removing the old substrate in the process. I then added the new substrate (PFS), put in the decor back in and then the fish. It's a good idea to have an pump and airstone handy for the fish while they are hangin out in the bucket.
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Old 06-24-2006, 08:59 PM   #9
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i would sugest if you dont want to just put all new water in, get a few buckets of old tank water and such then its lots of old water.
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Old 06-25-2006, 11:40 PM   #10
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all done! went with the suggested method from your responses, and everyone is doing fine so far. i let the sand settle in the tank for an hour and then turned on filters, adding decor back in and acclimated everyone over about a 30 minute period. everthing is good, but i still have a slight cloudiness in the water which is i assume to be expected. any idea how long the cloud will stick around?
the funniest part of the whole change was finding my albino pleco. i hadn't seen him for a few days and lo and behold i pulled up the ugf and he had been down under there!
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Old 06-25-2006, 11:59 PM   #11
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The cloudiness could last anywhere from two hours to 2 days. It just depends on how clean the sand was prior to adding it to the tank.
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Old 06-26-2006, 12:35 PM   #12
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well, ^%@! lost a penguin tetra last night. woke up to find him stuck to the filter intake... on the other hand, the water is crystal clear again! i don't think i'll have any more losses (knock on wood), everyone else has their color back and is very active again. thanx again for everyone's help! just an fyi... i got my sand from a local brick and landscaping company, i'm sure everyone's city has one. it was called "baby sand", came pre-rinsed and cleaned (i rinsed well again anyways) and was 5$ for 75lbs!! it's not quite as "white" as i would have liked, but is a nice looking sand.
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Old 06-26-2006, 02:47 PM   #13
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No Cycle substrate replace

Quote:
Originally Posted by justrelax
hmmm... sounds like suicide to me, but if y'all say so... so i take out EVERYTHING, put the fish in a bucket of tank water with all decor and biowheels (airstone for an hour?), out goes the old substrate and ugf, in goes 40 gallons of fresh water, in goes the sand, top off the water and turn everything on, an hour of settling then acclimate and add fish. sound right?
I just did this on Friday night. I have a 72 gallon bowfront tank. Barring the couple of hours it took rinsing the sand off and on it took me 6 hours.

I left the fish crap on the bottom of the tank, however I have a filter that's been running for almost 6 months and doesn't have charcoal. So, you might be running into an issue, but I personally don't really think so.

Also, two things I would have changed: I couldn't get all my corycats out so I just left one of them in ok, and he was fine. I wouldn't bother getthing anything small and fast out (so long as you won't be crushed if the unthinkable happens if you've got heavy stuff (rocks, tubes, etc) going back in. Also, I would have had less water. I left like 6 to 8 inches of water inside the tank and it was a pain putting the sand in with so much water, it didn't "fall" the way it was supposed to.

Two things I learned: Have your sand either completely soaked or completely dry. I had clumpy sand and it was really really hard to work with. A sand box scooper (looks like a can with a diagonal line cut through it) works really well to get sand into the tank without the current taking a ton of sand and throwing it all over the place. Just know that you'll inevitably find that you'll need a little bit here or there next to rocks and plants. Although I had rocks around my plants with gravel, I found they were a necessity to hold down my broadsword plant because it wanted to keep falling over and whatnot. Also, it was SO MUCH EASIER to level things out. GEEZE, what the heck was I thinking with Gravel!!!!

(I have gray desalinated ocean sand, it was a PITA but worth it...)
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Old 06-26-2006, 06:07 PM   #14
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what does 'topping off' mean? i know it's a stupid question, but it's another of those phrases i've heard/read and not actually understood.
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Old 06-26-2006, 06:14 PM   #15
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"topping off" means replacing water which has evaporated from your tank
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Old 06-26-2006, 06:42 PM   #16
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30 mins after typing that question i actually thought about it.

DOH!!!
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