02-28-2008, 12:42 PM
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I actually just did it last weekend and didn't see any cycle. I didn't touch my filter which has a lot of ceramic rings and stars in it. My nitrates went up between 5-10ppm but that was it. If your worried about it, I would set up a smaller tank, cycle it completly, and put the fish in there as a temp home while you do the change to make sure you don't get a small cycle. I'm sure the more experience users will have other idea but that would be my thought. I was very surprised I didn't have a mini cycle and I too pulled sand out, with Flourite base that was very nasty and mucky, but I cleaned every piece of it out by hand without a problem. Good luck since I know it's stressful.
Oh..a word of avdvise..get what you really want the first time so you don't have to go through all of this! I got what I did since I liked it, but not loved it, and later on had the money to buy the right substrate so I had to go through all of what your going through now. I kick myself in the butt often for now doing it right the first time!