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Old 01-08-2008, 11:51 AM   #1
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Changing Substrate

Hi all! It's been a while since I was on the site, but I have a question - I am going to be moving my tank from one room of my house to another. When I do that, I would like to swap out the play sand I have for EC or another substrate I obviously haven't chosen yet.

Anyway, what would be the best process to change the substrate over with minimal impact to my plants and fish?

For reference, plants are most crypts and swords, with some hairgrass and baby's tears. Fish=many (mostly tetras and rainbows).

TIA,
Craig
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Old 01-08-2008, 12:21 PM   #2
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Hmmm, removing your current substrate will greatly reduce your biological filtration. I would say run a few sponges in your tank for about 2 weeks, to allow the beneficial bacteria to host the sponges, unless you have a lot of other filter media that you can move over (I would still use the sponges). Or you could try to put the new substrate in a holding container, in your main, in the attempt to get the bacteria to host the new substrate.
One other possibility is move the tank and replace the substrate 1/3 at a time, over a 3-4 week period.

+++EDIT+++

I just realized this was not in the SW side, I used the quick links on the right side of the main page. Hopefully this will work for FW as well as SW. If not please feel free to correct me.
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Old 01-08-2008, 12:28 PM   #3
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Well, as far as filter media, I have an XP3 loaded with lavarock and seachem matrix, as well as foam. Probably not enough overall to support the system with a wholesale changeover, huh?

How many sponges should I run in the system to support for the changeover?
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:15 PM   #4
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How many sponges. I am thinking this is for your 75G? How deep is your substrate now? I'm knida out of my league on how big and how many sponges at this point. I would have to say the safest way would to be to remove/replace the substrate about 1/3 of a time. I'll see if I can find us some more help.
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:51 PM   #5
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Here's my take.... The XP3 probably gives you enough biological filtration to make the substrate swap. I'm assuming that you aren't OVERLOADED with fish in a planted tank.
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Old 01-08-2008, 02:36 PM   #6
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Well, that really depends on the term overloaded...

2 boesemani's rainbows
1 madagascar rainbow
2 goyder river rainbows
1 turquoise rainbow
1 irian jaya rainbow
1 regal rainbow
6 skirt tetras
1 hatchet
2 bn plecos
3 yoyo loaches
5 panda corys
1 rosy barb
5-6 harlequin rasboras


I think that is everything...
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Old 01-08-2008, 03:02 PM   #7
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That is a tricky situation because the plants get a lot of their nutirents from the "gunk" in the substrate. I did this a few years ago when I moved my 55g FW tank from one house to another. I did as Roka64 was suggesting and did it about 1/4 of substrate at a time. No matter what you do by moving the tank and removing the substrate you are going to have an impact on the biological filtration. I would just do tests on the system after moving it just to keep an eye on things.
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Old 01-08-2008, 04:00 PM   #8
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Crypts don't like to be replanted even in the same tank. That being said, IMO your bioload is small enough to handle the move for the fish. I use sponge prefilters on all of my cannisters. That increases the bio filtration.

Why are you changing the substrate?
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Old 01-08-2008, 04:11 PM   #9
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stupid back button - I just erased my entire message...

Long story short, my wife and I like the dark substrate better, and I want something that will grip the plants a little better. The stem plants always seem to uproot. That's why I really only have crypts and swords.

Plus, the tank just seems to be lacking something lately. The plants don't look as good. I used to dose ferts (I have gotten lazy), and even when I dosed regularly, the plants looked like they just weren't happy. I am hoping that a new substrate will re-invigorate them and jump start some growth.
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:29 PM   #10
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Thanks Brian and Ziggy!!!!
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Old 01-08-2008, 06:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roka64 View Post
Thanks Brian and Ziggy!!!!
yeah, what he said! Oh, and you too Roka!
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Old 01-08-2008, 06:54 PM   #12
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Now I understand MSU Fan. Aquatic plants can be more complex than keeping fish. Nutrient uptake is driven by photosynthesis. You need adaquate lighting to drive photosynthesis. Without say 2 wpg of lighting the uptake will be slow anyway.

Amazon swords require at least medium light. Crypts do very well in low light. Crypts don't like to be moved. My thought is that merely changing the substrate won't gain you anything. I think we need to examine the requirements of each plant you want to grow before deciding that the substrate is the panacea.
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Old 01-08-2008, 09:11 PM   #13
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When you drain the water from your tank to move it you will notice a lot of gnarly gunk coming out of the substrate as you get toward the bottom of the tank. Try to drain some of this water into a container(s) and let it sit for a while. The mulm (the gunk in the water) will settle to the bottom of the container. Drain the relatively clear water from the top of the container and use the mulm at the bottom as the first layer in your tank before you place the substrate in it. The mulm contains a treasure trove of nutrients and beneficial bacteria that will get you off on the right foot for a planted tank.

I'm with the others on the canister filter: it should be sufficient to support your fish load, even with completely new substrate. You might consider using Seachem's Stability to jumpstart your new setup. I don't normally recommend products that claim to give you an immediate bio-filtration capacity but I've tested Stability at the LFS where I do planted tanks and have noted much faster cycle times. I've also had several customers who've used it to cycle new setups with excellent results. In any case, it can't hurt.

Best of luck
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Old 01-09-2008, 09:23 AM   #14
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BrianNY: yeah, I am sure that the "substrate" is not the answer to my problems with my plants. For sure the lights are ooollllddddd. I need to change these bulbs, but my reef keeps sucking the life out of my wallet! I have 260w over a 75g, so I am rounded out at 3.5wpg. I have been injecting CO2 through a maxijet 900 (mist method) and fertilizing using various macro and microferts (stump remover, fleet enema, no salt, flourish, and an iron supplement). I got lazy on the ferts maybe 3-4 months ago. My CO2 ran out last month. The bulbs are old. Sort of a perfect storm...

And we really like the dark substrate. Again, too much poo on the white sand for the wife to handle. We have a 55g cichlid that has black tahitian moon sand that we really like. But we would like to gear the substrate a little more towards plants, with an SMS, flourite, ecocomplete, or ADA soil. Plus I cannot put stem plants in without them uprooting. I have heard that some of those substrates are better at "gripping" the plants. That is key for me.

So the substrate has to:
1) be black
2) be black
3) hold plants in (grip stems/roots)
4) if possible, provide nutrients to the roots

I still have some tahitian moon sand left over, so I will probably mix some of that with whatever I get. Thanks again for the help...

Travis: stability, huh? Ok, I'll probably have to order some online. That's fine since I need new bulbs anyway. For some reason, I don't think that I have much mulm, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I will try to salvage all of that that I can.

We also have some new driftwood that we are going to put in the tank, that way it will be able to colonize that with bacteria as well.
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Old 01-09-2008, 11:26 AM   #15
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You'll be surprised at how much mulm you'll get! I just moved two 5-gallon tanks and they had lots! I kept the substrate in one of the 5 gallon tanks and moved the other 5 gallon to a 10 gallon. I tossed that substrate and got a new bag of Eco Complete. I like Eco Complete (it is very black!) and it holds little, thin stem plants, like Bacopa australis, very well.
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Old 01-09-2008, 02:59 PM   #16
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You might want to consider the substrate from aquariumplants.com. It's dark and I've had great success with plants doing well in it.
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Old 01-09-2008, 03:32 PM   #17
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oh, yeah - I like that stuff...hmmm - decisions, decisions! Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2008, 04:04 PM   #18
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I would go with Eco is you can afford it.

I have changed substrates in all three of my planted tanks all at once and never ran into problems.

I just moved the fish into a 5 gallon bucket (this took the longest time wise), and then emptied the water and then removed all of the old substrate from the tank. I added a 4 to 5" layer of Eco and refilled the tank using a Pyhton into a plastic cup as to not disturb the Eco as much as possible.

BTW, changing the substrate to one that contains elements that the plants can use helps out a lot.
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Old 01-09-2008, 04:36 PM   #19
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What's your secret to keep Eco from compacting like mine did? The plants I have in Eco grow less than 1/10 as much as the ones in AquariumPlants substrate.
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Old 01-09-2008, 04:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
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What's your secret to keep Eco from compacting like mine did? The plants I have in Eco grow less than 1/10 as much as the ones in AquariumPlants substrate.

I have MTS's in all of my tanks. They do a GREAT job on keeping the substrate up to par.
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