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Old 05-10-2007, 04:41 AM   #1
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Changing from gravel to substrate?

I set up my first tank with a gravel bottom, using Top Fin gravel. I tried putting in some (hortworth, not sure of correct name now, something similar to Brazilian Milfoil). But it seems to be dying off.

SO I was thinking of changing the gravel to a substrate and adding some low light. My question is this:

Is there a best way of changing gravel? Can I just mix in some substrate in with the gravel and it would provide enough nutrients for the plants? Or is the only way is to empty out the tank and start over?

I'd rather not start over, as my guppies are just starting to have fry. plus, I am not too fond of the cycling of the tanks, as I tend to loose a few fish always.

Any and all help appreciated.
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Old 05-10-2007, 07:56 AM   #2
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Before you blame the gravel and rip your tank apart. What kind of gravel is it? What size tank? How much light do you have? Most low light plants don't need a special gravel.
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Old 05-10-2007, 10:49 AM   #3
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I agree with Rich. Changing substrate isn't necessarily the best choice in your situation. I suspect that you probably don't have enought light for the plants you've chosen. It may just be a matter of picking plants that are appropriate to your setup.

If I remember right hornwort won't actually root, so if you try to plant it in the gravel the bottom will die off. Just leave it floating and it will get more light and be happier.

Should you decide that you still want to add a specialty plant substrate, it needs to be at least half of your substrate or you are wasting your money.
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:09 PM   #4
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But what is the best way of adding a special substrate? Can I just scoop out half of my gravel, which is a coated gravel made by top fin(it didn't need rinsing and produced no dirt when first used)and slowly let the rinsed substrate fall to the bottom?
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:26 PM   #5
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I don't know that there is one best way.

When I've done it in the past I've removed the plants and driftwood and placed them in a bucket with about half the tank water. If the fish were easily catchable I might move them to a bucket too. Then carefully scoop out the existing substrate (or as much as you want to remove). Next rinse and add in the new substrate (if you're using something really dusty like Flourite getting it rinsed ahead a time would be a good idea). Just make sure to add the substrate slowly and any remaining fish will be smart enought to get out of the way. Then add the plants and fish back into the tank. Finally do a BIG water change to get rid of most of the muck and dust created by the process. If you've used a dusty substrate like Flourite, then your tank will be cloudy for a few days too, but this won't hurt your fish at all.

As long as you haven't messed with your filter to much you shouldn't see anything more than a mini cycle. Just be prepared to do some extra water changes over the following days if needed and you should be set.

That being said, I'm not sure that changing your substrate is going to get you a lot of benefit given that you've stated that you're planning to stick with a low light tank. There are other things to look at first.
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Old 05-10-2007, 05:07 PM   #6
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as a side not to what Purrbox said, thats probably the best bet but before and then after you will want to clean your filter out and make sure your sponges are nice and clean so they can stick most of the muck.

but as the others said work on your lighting first before changing substrate, there are plenty of options to work on plants with gravel such as the liquid ferts and fert tabs
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