sandy bottom - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-19-2009, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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sandy bottom

if you wanted to change your aquarium from gravel to sand how would you go about doing this so you wouldnt have to cycle your aquarium all over? is it possible?

im thinking of using potting vermiculite and topped with sand for a sandy bottom. in order to do this, most if not all of the tank would have to be drained.

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post #2 of 6 Old 03-19-2009, 01:01 PM
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Were it me, I would get the substrate (vermiculite and sand ) ready in advance,. Wash the sand and then wash it two or three more times.I would then use a rubbermaid tub approx. 30 gal (find at walmart cheap) And I would fill this tub near full of aquarium water. Take the filter and heater and place it on the rubbermaid tub ,and I would also save approx two cups of the gravel from the aquarium and place it in a section of nylon panty hose (tied shut) and place it too in the tub. I would then net the fish from the aquarium and place them in the tub. An air stone might be helpful too. Once i had the new substrate in the aquarium, I would place a shallow dish in the aquarium and slowly run the new water into the tank until three quarters full taking care not to add water that was too cold. I would then add dechlorinator and fill the tank the rest of the way with old aquarium water so as not to shock the fish any more than necessary with new water. I would then return the filter ,heater,and fish to the tank. PS be sure and run the heater and filter on the tub while fish are in it and also place the old aquarium gravel that you tied shut in the stocking ,into the aquarium as well. This would be how I would do it and hope ,it is of some help.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.

Last edited by 1077; 03-19-2009 at 01:03 PM.
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-20-2009, 07:11 AM
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I agree, except I'd wash it a heck of alot more than 3 times or so

Wash, wash, wash and then wash again. Many people make the mistake of taking the sand and dumping it right into their tank from the bag because the label says "washed and screened".

If you have a spare 5 gallon bucket,fill it with your current tank water, take your fish out and if you have a HOB filter, most can be rigged to sit on the bucket. This will give you a little more time to work and in the long run makes things easier for you and life easier on your fish. Move the heater as well

Here's how i did my gravel to sand switch for my 20G Long:

- I bought a 50lb bag of sand from local home depot for like $4.(a 50lb bag will fill about a 40G tank comfortably)
- Took another 5 gallon bucket and filled the bucket with about 20lbs of sand.
- I then filled the bucket with water until it covered the sand by about 4-5 inches.
- once the water was filled....get busy....i churned the sand for about 1 or 2 minutes, you will be able to see all the random crap floating in your water....let it sit for no more than 5 seconds, and slowly dump the water out......what this does is it will remove all the sand and debri that would normally take hours to settle in your tank. Doing this will allow you move decorations around and clean without distubing the sand too much. I can now re-decorate my tank and hardly any sand is disturbed
- Repeat the above two steps about 15-20 times....I know it sounds like a pain in the rear, but it will make life much easier in the long run. Do this until your water seems about clear.
- Next step, drain your tank and vaccum your gravel.
- remove the gravel and vaccum want to get as much of the detritis out of there as you can
- Take a cup ( i used an old phillies cup from a game, something that won't crack) and scoop the sand from the bucket to the tank.
- Don't worry it's not gonna look pretty right now. Once you get all your sand in you can smooth it out and do what you like.
- To fill you tank up again...i bought a huge glass bowl for this reason alone and I'm glad i disrupt the sand as little as possible, I put the bowl in the middle of the tank and slowly pour into the middle of it....once the bowl is full of water, it will run over the edges and begin filling the tank. This is nice because you're not splashing the sand around.
- Add your dechlorinator or whatever set you use during you're weekly water changes.
- Let the tank settle...mine took about an hour and a half. You did yourself a favor by rinsning the sand and getting all the mini-debri out of there....this is the part where people wonder why it has taken 13 hours for the tank to settle when they didn't wash their sand.
- Once the tank has pretty much settled, throw your filter back on and add fish!!!

Cleaning your sand is alot different than gravel because you can't just jam your vaccum into the sand. It may take you a couple of times to get the hang of it, but all you need to do is get as close to the sand as you can without sucking any of the sand into the gravel...It's ok if you do, but you will get the hang of it.[

That's about all I know....

key points:
be patient with your tank settling
and most importantly....rinse rinse rinse rinse rinse rinse your sand....a timefull and annoying process but well worth it

Any questions, just ask!!
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-20-2009, 07:49 AM
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I agree rinsing the sand is a pain. I found that a large rubber wash tub that was approx three feet in diameter and two feet in depth made the rinsing MUCH quicker. I was able to wash one hundred pounds at a time. I simply used garden hose and filled the tub so that the sand was submerged and took a porcelin plate and turned the sand over repeatedly,dump and repeat,(note to self)Don't use the good plates meant for company!!

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-20-2009, 08:44 AM
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yeah, all I had on hand was a 5 gallon bucket. I was running errands alll day and didn't feel like making another trip out for a tub.

Yes, note to self: DO NOT USE THE FINE CHINA haha
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-20-2009, 08:58 AM
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I am fortunate in the fact that I have numerous tubs for keeping bait fish alive between fishing trips. I used a five gal bucket on the first tank that I decided to use sand in, and thought,, There has to be a better way. I also discovered that a plastic dust pan works very well for scooping out the old gravel.
Now I just gotta wash the gravel so I can possibly re-use it at some point. Caught my dog peeing in it this morning so I guess I better get with it.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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