08-14-2011, 07:18 PM
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Guidance with changing gravel
Okay, today got a free tank with some fish from a friend. It's about a 30 gallon. We did a 80 percent water change to move the tank over to my house. I do see lots of debris in the gravel and she said it used to have an underground gravel filter, so it has this "plastic lining" on the bottom. I was shocked today when I saw the nitrate reading at 80ppm (after I put clean water back in the tank)!!. I knew my neighbor wasn't that diligent about cleaning, but wow. None of my tanks would ever get even close to that number. There is a fish in the tank over 10 years old, so they are used to living in this type of tank, but I'm planning on taking out the gravel (as much as I can) and adding my own gravel that I have.
My question is, does the underground filter thingy have to come out? Perhaps there is lots of "junk" down under that, which is causing such high nitrates. She has just a few plants, which also have some stringy algae on them, but not enough plants to do much.
This will be a project for me soon, and I'd like to know what is the best way to proceed - take out the underground gravel thing?? There is a bio-wheel filter on the tank, so any parts left from the underground gravel may be contributing to the problem. I'd like to leave something, to prevent a min-cycle - perhaps I should put some gravel in a mesh bag and float for some time? Thanks for suggestions.