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Old 06-24-2013, 09:16 AM   #1
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Changing substrate...Advice appreciated!

Hi, I am definitely a research kind of gal so I thought I would get some advice from those with experience before taking on this huge task. I have a 60 gallon tank that currently has generic black gravel in it.

I recently purchased several Black Kuhli Loaches and LOVE them! They seriously provide endless hours of entertainment. They had gravel where I got them and I know they are doing okay right now, but I also know they will be infinitely happier with a finer substrate that they could burrow into. So after lots of research I chose my new substrate and have it clean and ready to go.

Here's my issue: this is gonna be hard! Anybody out there ever change out their substrate and lived to tell about it? Or am I making this way more difficult than it really is? I would love any bit of advice that could make this job easier, and possibly NOT stress out all my fish.

I have lots of buckets for the fish to hang out in, plus my homemade Python for draining/filling the tank, so that part isn't bad. But catching all 75 of my shrimp won't be fun lol.

Thanks for listening to me whine and for any advice you can offer!

Candace
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:33 AM   #2
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i recently changed my substrate from sand to dirt with flourite substrate cap. there's really no easier way out of this than taking your tank apart and start from scratch. have enough buckets to serve as a temp home for the critters you have and it's always good to have someone there to help you out as well. Do everything efficiently and quickly as you don't want to have them wait out of their habit for too long. Drain your water until most of the water is gone. that way it's easier for you to catch the shrimps and others. July 4 is coming up and maybe instead of grilling you can invest half of a day in your tank.

It's really not that hard. the hardest part is the planning process(how you want to decorate your tank) and getting everything ready(ie rinse out the substrate). once the planning is done and prepping work is completed, it's just a matter of scooping out everything and then dump the new stuffs in. But do make sure you keep the water temperature in the bucket where you keep your critters constant and have some water conditioner as well as stress coating readily available.

Hey, at least you don't have to worry about cycling anymore
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:57 AM   #3
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Thanks for the response. Yeah, I guess I will just have to suck it up and do it. Being prepared and having all my stuff ready beforehand is a good idea. The less time the fish are out of the tank the better. And good idea to wait for a holiday weekend...why didn't I think of that?!?! Someone else suggested getting a cheapo dustpan from the dollar store would be great to help me scoop out the gravel. Would also be great for putting said gravel into a new tank to start cycling it too.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:49 AM   #4
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You can use a shop vacuum to pull out your gravel. But yes it is easier to drop the water to 4" from the gravel and scoop it out. If you can't get all the shrimp move them to one side of the tank and start taking out the gravel.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:53 AM   #5
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I just actually talked someone through the change, they did it yesterday and all went well search for the "gravel or sand" string
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:34 PM   #6
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When I did my tank switch, I went and bought the largest rubber maid container I could find, filled it with tank water, put the filter and heater in it, and finally filled it with my fish / plants. It gave me plenty of time to take care of everything even counting the hour I had to spend to catch all my shrimp.

Just be sure to have the new substrate THOROUGHLY washed before hand and everything should be okay. It isn't nearly as hard on the fish as people think it will be aside from having to catch them in a net twice.
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:51 PM   #7
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Since most of your beneficial bacteria lives in your substrate, you do want to keep a little bit of the old gravel so you don't have new tank syndrome all over again. One easy way to do it is to tie some of your current, non-rinsed gravel up in a nylon stocking and put it in the corner of the tank while it cycles, to seed the new sand with your old bacteria.
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allysonwonderland View Post
Since most of your beneficial bacteria lives in your substrate, you do want to keep a little bit of the old gravel so you don't have new tank syndrome all over again. One easy way to do it is to tie some of your current, non-rinsed gravel up in a nylon stocking and put it in the corner of the tank while it cycles, to seed the new sand with your old bacteria.
I disagree the vast majority of the BB is all I the filter. I've done the complete substrate change several times with no issues or water parameters going off

Then again putting the nylon in the corner couldn't hurt
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddodad View Post
I disagree the vast majority of the BB is all I the filter. I've done the complete substrate change several times with no issues or water parameters going off

Then again putting the nylon in the corner couldn't hurt
i agree. i've done the same thing for my current tank. as long as you use the same filter then it really doesn't matter. But then again, it's only beneficial for the tank, no harm is done
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:15 PM   #10
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If you don't want to drain the tank entirely, which I hate doing in big tanks, you should be able to do it. If it were me?

1: rinse the crap out of the new stuff and have it ready to go straight in the tank.

2: prep the container the fish are going to be in. Fill it up with tank water, move heater, filter and smaller deco/plants in.

3: catch the fish and put them in. Leave the shrimp in main tank.

4: gravel vac the old stuff. Why? Because once you start scooping crap is going to fly everywhere if you don't, and it will settle on the new stuff, which will need cleaned off.

5: scoop out the old, bring in the new, but gently and carefully because of the shrimp.

6: landscape the tank, add deco and plants back, heater and filter, minding all the shrimp. Put back fish, add the container water back and then cap off with new water to refill from the gravel vac. Start filter.

7: yay!


This is a variation on my tank moving operations
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:56 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! I have a lot of BB in the filter, but keeping some of the old gravel couldn't hurt, thanks for that idea. Also, I like the idea of using a large rubbermaid tub, should be better than individual buckets for the fishes.
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