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Perlumia 03-15-2013 10:24 AM

Adding different substrate to established tank
 
Hello,

Does anyone have experience or insight into adding a sand substrate over part of an already established tank? I have Eco Complete in my tank and wondered if I could add some black sand over top of the unplanted part in the front without making a major mess.

If so, how can it be done? Would it cause a problem with the Eco Complete underneath? I wouldn't be removing any of it.

I want to do this for Brochis splendens; I have read conflicting accounts as to whether the EcoComplete would be OK for them to root around in.

Thanks!

SaraLee 03-15-2013 12:20 PM

I don't know for sure the 'appropriate' way to add substrate to an established tank. But I actually just went through something similar. I have a 90 gallon tank that I'm working on planting. My substrate is a mix of dirt and sand. Right now the only rooted plant I have in it is narrow leaf chain sword that is exploding in my tank. Some sections of the substrate were really thin and I needed to add more to cover the roots and be able to add more plants.

What I did was got the sand/dirt mix wet with tank water. Then I took handfuls of the substrate and filled quart sized ziplock bags with it. I made sure all the air was out of the bags and sunk each bag to where I was adding the substrate. I opened each bag and added it to the bottom. I had to slowly turn the bags inside out to get the substrate out of them because it created a vacuum inside the bag. I did a small water change about 30 minutes after adding it. My tank got cloudy because of the dirt, but it was nowhere near as bad as it would have been had I just dumped it in from the top.
I have a sponge filter attached to my filter intake so none of the dirt/sand was able to get into my canister filter, but the sponge did need to be cleaned the next morning. So depending on the type of filter you have you may need to clean it afterwards. You're also adding sand, so it probably won't get too cloudy like mine did.

Hope this helps.

JDM 03-15-2013 12:23 PM

The sand will sift down into the gravel so you would need enough sand to fill the gravel space and cover the top. It's usually suggested to remove the gravel first but that's a messy job or a tear down.

I've heard more against than for the gravel (Eco complete or other) with bottom dwellers.

Jeff

Perlumia 03-15-2013 01:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SaraLee (Post 1469359)
I have a sponge filter attached to my filter intake so none of the dirt/sand was able to get into my canister filter, but the sponge did need to be cleaned the next morning.

Thank you; all good ideas and I didn't think about a sponge over my filter intake. I like the bag idea as you can do batches at a time.

Perlumia 03-15-2013 01:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDM (Post 1469364)
The sand will sift down into the gravel so you would need enough sand to fill the gravel space and cover the top.

Good point. It would probably end up mixing eventually anyway. I've seen your tank on this forum before BTW; very nice! I liked your "try it and see what happens" approach to your plants.

Quote:

I've heard more against than for the gravel (Eco complete or other) with bottom dwellers.
I know...wish I'd found this forum before I set up with Eco complete, as I hadn't considered sand at all. And I can't image the mess of tearing down and starting over.

SaraLee 03-15-2013 04:32 PM

How big are the pieces of gravel? I've never used eco complete before, I've always just used sand and/or dirt in my tanks.
If it's small enough to fit through plastic tubing, you may be able to simply siphon it out over a few water changes. I don't use gravel vacs or whatever for water changes, I use regular old cheap silicon or vinyl tubing from the hardware store. Small pieces would fit through that kind of tubing, it just might be a bit of a pain. You could probably net it out as well. If it's been in the tank for a while and you do decide to take it out, you may want to do a section a week or so as it probably has your bacteria in it and you don't want to make your tank go through a cycle.
Or you can just let the sand mix in with it, just a suggestion if you decide you want to take it out without taking your tank down.

Perlumia 03-15-2013 04:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SaraLee (Post 1469577)
If it's small enough to fit through plastic tubing, you may be able to simply siphon it out over a few water changes. You could probably net it out as well.
Or you can just let the sand mix in with it, just a suggestion if you decide you want to take it out without taking your tank down.

Those are very interesting points. I could probably do that (siphon) with a large enough tube. The web site says the grain size ranges from 0.25 to 7 mm.

AbbeysDad 03-15-2013 06:13 PM

You most likely won't get any gravel to siphon out of a tank.

The very best way would be to remove the eco complete, which sounds worse than it is.

Unplug filter and heater(s).
Siphon about a 1/4 or so out of the tank.
Move the fish into a 5g bucket and remove the decor. Now with a slotted spoon (I used a kitty litter scoop, but my gravel may have been a tad larger) remove the gravel, When you get near the end, a fish net will get the last bits. Now add the well washed sand, decor and fish.
If your "focus has focus" you should be able to do the whole thing in an hour or so.
;-)

jentralala 03-16-2013 02:00 PM

I have thread up on my tank and the very first page is about how I changed my tank from Flourite gravel/clay chips with a bottom of Eco Complete to sand. It's called Adventures of the 35 gallon.

It wasn't exactly 'easy', but it wasn't impossible by any means. I'd just make sure to have all your sand pre washed and ready to go when you get the eco complete out. On top of scooping it out you may want to have some damp rags on hand to wipe out the bottom of the tank.

Boredomb 03-16-2013 02:33 PM

Just wanted to add you most certainly *can* siphon Eco-complete out of a tank. I have had this substrate before and acouple of weeks after I put it in my tank it developed a fungus on it. After talking to a couple of ppl I was told to remove just that section and about a 1/4" around the spot too.

The only way that could have been done is by siphoning it out.
Now there is a trick to it. If you have a normal siphon (depending how big it is will matter too.) you start siphoning the water out then as soon as the siphon starts you remove the cup so the water is only going through the hose. Once you have it that way stick the hose in the Eco complete and I promise it will siphon it out all the way down to the glass bottom. Now this only works with bigger siphon/hoses.


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