Should I and how do I change the substrate? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 Old 09-08-2008, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
New Member
Should I and how do I change the substrate?

So I want to dive into the live plant world in my 10gal. I've had it for about six months and all is well. Water condition, lighting, fish, filter, all are healthy, clear and I'm really enjoying my new hobby. Anyhow, I have some blue/light blue colored gravel I got at my LFS and I'm reading it's not great for live plants. I just want to start with one or two small plants. Should I change the substrate to sand perhaps or a finer, non-colored gravel? If so, what's the best way to physically swap the substrate and is there going to be risk to the fish of losing all the bacteria in the current gravel substrate?

kjjb0204 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 10 Old 09-08-2008, 02:05 PM
Gold Member
aunt kymmie's Avatar
I want to swap out the gravel in my 10 gal for sand so I can also start planting it. I have the same question you do. Looking forward on the responses we get as far as how to do the swap!
aunt kymmie is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 09-09-2008, 09:01 AM
Tyyrlym's Avatar
If you've got peas sized gravel there should be no problems with planting it. I've seen many gorgeous planted aquariums that just use gravel and feed the plants with root tabs or the like. If you really wanna change out the substrate you're probably going to want to tear the tank down completely. Put your fish in a bucket or container, add the fitler and keep it running so the bacteria don't die out. Put in your heater if you're gonna be a while. Siphon down the water, pull out the decorations, scoop out the gravel. Try to get any gunk or debris out of the bottom of the tank prior to adding your new substrate and rebuild the tank. Put the filter back in, heater, then add your fish.

Tetra Fanatic
Watch my tank progress from Craigslist salvage to fishy habitat: Aaron's Tank
The only things that happen quickly in an aquarium are bad things.
Tyyrlym is offline  
post #4 of 10 Old 09-09-2008, 09:12 AM
1077's Avatar
You may wish to consider putting the decorations in the temporary tub with the fish .beneficial bacteria grows on everything in the tank. I might also keep a cup full of the old gravel in a nylon and put it in the temporary tub as well. then when you have the new tank or substrate ready put everything back in the tank. In this way you might avoid a mini cycle. Just put the nylon with the old substrate in the filter box or push it into the sand and leave it for a week or more depending on what your water tests indicate. You will also save the bacteria growing on your decorations in this way. GOOD LUCK.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
1077 is offline  
post #5 of 10 Old 09-09-2008, 09:16 AM
Little-Fizz's Avatar
Whats wrong with gravel and plants?

I heard it was harder to plant a tank using sand.

And just before you laid dead weight upon its shores, I stung you in the face for that's the nature of my core.
Little-Fizz is offline  
post #6 of 10 Old 09-09-2008, 09:36 AM
1077's Avatar
Not a thing LITTLEFIZZ it's all a matter of preference. :)

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
1077 is offline  
post #7 of 10 Old 09-09-2008, 09:58 AM Thread Starter
New Member
Thanks everyone for your advice. My gravel is the small pea-sized variety, so I'm thinking I might just leave that for the substrate and try planting right in that. I did get a small live plant yesterday and it's still in the little pot from the LFS. I'll just leave it in there until this weekend when I can pull it from the pot and plant in the gravel. I might actually go get another small bag of the gravel and increase the substrate thickness a little. I only have about 1" in there now.

Thanks again everyone! I'm really enjoying my new hobby!
kjjb0204 is offline  
post #8 of 10 Old 09-09-2008, 10:29 AM
Little-Fizz's Avatar
I think a major thing to consider besides your substrate for your live plants, is your lighting. Do you know what type of lighting you have now? Like how many watts or whatever. Also have you considered a co2 injection?

And just before you laid dead weight upon its shores, I stung you in the face for that's the nature of my core.
Little-Fizz is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 09-09-2008, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
New Member
I have a couple of cfl's in there. 10W power, 50w output per bulb. Is that too much for a 10gal? Tank environment seems pretty good, fish all have good color and activity levels. I run the lights from 10am-10pm every day. Haven't considered CO2 yet. Just getting one plant for now and it's only a 10gal tank, so I'm thinking one plant won't need additional co2 just yet. Well, I hope, anyhow.
kjjb0204 is offline  
post #10 of 10 Old 09-09-2008, 05:42 PM
I doubt that you will need CO2 if you get easy plants. I have a planted 15 gallon and I use eco-complete gravel, a 15 watt plant bulb, and flourish excel. My plants are doing great. If you like your gravel I would just leave it as it is (putting a little more won't hurt either), and maybe get some root tabs. My biggest suggestion is to do your research. Know the requirements of the plants that you are thinking of, and buy accordingly. Before I bought my plants, I researched which ones would be good in a low light aquarium (I don't have a great budget), and would require the least assistance on my part. All in all I am pleased with the results. Also, don't worry if your plants seem to "die" within a few days of planting. If you chose the right kinds of plants, they are just going through shock and will spring back just fine. You will just have to do a little more trimming than normal to make sure they don't gunk up the water. Also, make sure you have a good filtration system. Plants tend to dirty the water and you need a little extra filtration (at least I did).

Oh, and if you want to get good quality plants for a really good price, I suggest buying from

Have fun with it!
Kim is offline  

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
How do I change to a sand substrate? Freddy Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 9 01-08-2010 09:04 AM
High ammonia after partial substrate change? Freddiesbuns Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 14 03-30-2009 07:55 PM
Substrate Change gilfish Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 1 01-30-2008 12:55 AM
Possible to Change the Substrate? bassque Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 2 01-23-2008 09:41 PM

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome