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Old 04-06-2005, 12:40 AM   #1
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Gravel to sand: Can it be done? Critique my plan!!

I'm thinking I'd like to switch to sand, as every example of it I've seen has been prettier than gravel, and I hear it's easier to take care of.

I have a 55 gallon tank, and if you guys think it's too risky or hard for some reason (e.g. elimination of bacteria colonies) I won't try it.

I thought it would make sense to:
- Get pool filter sand probably 60 pounds or so (from a hardware store right?)
-Remove the fish and decor.
-Arduously take out all the gravel... maybe leaving some on the bottom if you think it helps keep the bio filter in... or some gravel might look good mixed with teh sand.
-Turn off the HOB filters (the only filters)
-Put in the sand (just pour it in?) and wait for it to settle. (Will I need to clean the sand before putting it in? how?)
-Start the filters, replace the decor, and then the fish.

How does this sound? Is it possible?

PS!!!! If I have sand, can I theoretically grow live plants? The gravel I have now is just too large.

TYSMIA'CIKIALOQ
(Thank you so much in advance 'cause I know it's a lot of questions)
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Old 04-06-2005, 12:45 AM   #2
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first of all ... it IS possible ... but only move small amounts of sand at a time. If you do it like you are proposing, you WILL have a cycle, it may be mini, but it will be a cycle

do like 1/5 or 1/4 of your tank at a time. Also leave SOME gravel in your tank. Not only does it make it look good but it adds some beneficial bacteria to the sand. Next, you will have to get something to stir the sand so you don't get any dead pockets.

As for plants, yes you can grow them in sand.
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Old 04-06-2005, 12:49 AM   #3
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So if I do it one forth at a time, will I have to subject my fish to multiple nettings? He really, REALLY hates it... I mean even for a fish. Or can this be done with the fish in there. I guess I just have bad imagery of it scraping up his gills or getting in his eye or something.

EDIT: About the fear of a mini-cycle, I do have a ton of filter media. I have the floss and sponges in a Whisper 60, and the floss/bio-wheel in my Emp 400... in addition, I took the gray tray for extra stuff and put sponges in the slots. Might I still be ok with bacteria? I'm turning the tank's water over about 15 times an hour.
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Old 04-06-2005, 02:19 AM   #4
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I replaced my grit over clay&vermiculite (leaving the clay intact) with sand slowly over a month or so & left the fish in there. I just went really slow & did a bit at a time. I was also moving plants at the time but all has settled down nicely now. If you have fish with barbels get the pool sand. Its not that pricey & has NO sharp edges to wear down tender barbells
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Old 04-06-2005, 03:22 AM   #5
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yes you will need to clean the sand. just put some in a bucket, fill with water, and slosh it around to get the lighter particles to float up so you can pour them out. repeat until the water is as clear as you are patient lol i must've washed a bucket of sand for my 10gal for 2 hours so that probably means i'm too maticulous for my own good
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Old 04-06-2005, 10:51 AM   #6
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You can find pool filter sand at pool supply stores, mine was about $10 for 50 pounds. I rinsed mine the same way that Felf did, and it really didn't take very long. The PFS isn't very dusty IME. I've set up 3 tanks now with sand and I really like it. Yes, you can grow plants in sand. Growing plants with an oscar may be a different story....
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Old 04-06-2005, 11:37 AM   #7
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This is though, if you want your sand to be the same depth as your gravel, you'll have to go double the weight. 55lbs won't cut it. You're prolly looking at least 100lbs.
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Old 04-06-2005, 02:08 PM   #8
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I just set up a 55 gallon tank at work with PFS for substrate, and I didn't use anywhere near 100 lbs. I used 1 whole 50 lb. bag, and part of another I had left over... I would say I probably used 65-75 lbs. of sand and it is about 2 inches deep.
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Old 04-06-2005, 02:17 PM   #9
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I switched from gravel to sand in my 55. All the fish were in QT except for my shrimp that stayed in the whole time. I lowered my water to halfway. Took out all the decorations, used a cup to scoop out all the gravel, added washed sand with a cup, in went the decorations, filled up the tank. If your bacteria are established in your filter, you should be fine. Just be sure to rinse your sand before you start the whole process. It will be easier that way. Also I only used 40lbs of sand. I think it looks pretty good at the depth its at. I have java fern, java moss, and a bunch of aponogetons growing in my tank. Only the latter are in the sand. Good luck to you.
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Old 04-06-2005, 02:57 PM   #10
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Just going off of what I've heard. I've got TMS. Maybe that's the difference? I followed this rule in my 2 tanks that have it, and it's perfect. I do like my substrate slightly deeper than others, but not that much.
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Old 04-06-2005, 05:43 PM   #11
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I switched from gravel to sand in our 55 gal tank and probably used about 75 lbs and it was deeper than the gravel was. I did similar to what Meredith did. If your tank is cycled and you have enough bacteria growing in your filters, you won't have a problem. Here's the steps that we took:

1. Dumped the sand into 5 gal buckets and had water running over it constantly for about an hour, swishing through the sand to pull up the dust and debris.
2. Emptied the tank of decor, shut off the lights, filters, heaters, maxi-jets, airation, everything.
3. Took out about 50% of the water then netted out the fish (less stress because you won't have to chase them as much)
4. Scooped out the gravel and used the gravel vac to suck up the gunk at the bottom of the tank.
5. Dumped in the pre-washed sand, arranged the decor, turned on the airation, heaters and lights.
6. Waited for the sand to settle for about 15 minutes then acclimated the fish back into the tank and turned on the filters.

I never went through a mini-cycle. Just don't clean your decor or filters at the same time.
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Old 04-06-2005, 10:25 PM   #12
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Wow!

Thank you all so much. The personal stories and step-by-steps gave me a good picture I think. I'm confident that I have adequate filter media and bacteria to accomplish this in one go. Next time I have a short day of work I think I'll get to work on this.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-07-2005, 09:31 AM   #13
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Not that I'm necessarily recommending it, but I switched out most of the substrate in my 55 gallon tank at once one time (I came to hate my large gravel). It didn't cause any cycling problems, but it sure was a pain in the butt. I didn't even take my fish out, I didn't know any better at the time.
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