Originally Posted by dj7984
I will try the 50% change, currently i am doing 20% daily to prepare for the move to try and eliminate all ammonia before bagging the fish. You are not the first to say dump the gravel The API chem rep for my LFS suggested that yesterday after hearing it is like 10yrs old and sat for years in a filthy tank. it is that cheap epoxy coated gravel, I dont even think it is real stone. I already thought this through and am going with river stones and sand using the stones to create air pockets under the sand to help with the build up of gases.
Still have no idea of where all the ammonia is coming from the biggest fish i have currently is a blood parrot that is about 2 1/2 inches.
Thank you so much for all the assistance.
Any suggestion on setting up a deep sand bed when i get my new tank?
As I mentioned, the ammonia is an issue that can have many factors, some of which we have referenced, but pinning it down is not always easy. Starting over is in this case certainly the best action in my view.
There are however some problems with the proposed plan. First, never combine substrate sizes. The sand will always filter down with gravity and normal water movement to the bottom, leaving the larger gravel/pebbles on top. Second, if live plants are intended, the substrate should be fine, and this can be coarse sand (play sand works fine and is very inexpensive and very authentic in appearance) or fine gravel having a grain size around 1-2 mm. Larger gravel such as pea gravel can work, but some plants do not do as well, and the larger the gravel the more opportunity there is for trouble in the realm of organics and bacteria issues. A darker hue is advisable both for the fish and appearance.
You can read more on substrates and bacteria here: Bacteria in the Freshwater Aquarium
Depth of substrate depends partly on the needs of plants, thinking of root systems. If you go with sand, a depth overall of 2 inches is adequate. This can be pushed deeper at the back using rock or wood (for the larger plants) and left shallower (1 inch or so) along the front. It will tend to even out as it shifts unless you construct terraces with sealed rock or other material that prevents sand seepage. But initially the plants will be in, and as the sand shifts it doesn't really matter.
Fine gravel can go a bit deeper, 4 inches max if necessary in the back. It too will shift over time.
Photo below is my 5-foot 115g Amazonian stream tank with a 2-inch substrate of play sand. This is one of the nicest substrates I have worked with, for fish, appearance and plants. I now have it in 4 of my 7 tanks.