I've never used sand before, but if I get a new 10/15 gallon aquarium, which I'm planning to do, I'd like to.
How does one go about seeding a new tank with substrate from an old tank? My 5 gallon has gravel in it. If I didn't want the gravel and the sand in the new tank to mix, could I just, say, fill a terra cotta pot with gravel and place it in there? That way, it would be easy to remove the gravel when the tank was cycled.
Have any of you mixed substrates before? I was thinking of maybe using both sand and gravel in the new tank. Is it a bother to clean that way?
It shouldn't be too much of a bother to clean a combination of sand and gravel. I'd treat it just like sand - gently hover over it with the gravel vac and be sure to keep it stirred either yourself or with something like Malaysian trumpet snails.
To seed the new tank, I'd take some of the gravel from the 5g and put it in some pantyhose or a filter media bag (those are available at most pet stores for about a dollar) and just set it on top of the sand in the new tank. You could move it around from time to time. A material like that will allow more bacteria to move from the gravel in the bag to the sand than just putting it in a pot would. Of course, if you mixed the substrates, you wouldn't have to worry about that at all and could just mix the gravel from the 5g with the new sand.
For establishing the bacteria I'd highly recommend using a filter bag to hold some of the old gravel. Sand does not permit water to flow in and around it the same way gravel does and therefore gravel buried inside the sand will not be as able to seed the tank as gravel put in a high flow area or at least that is still exposed to water flow.
If you're looking to seed bacteria to help with cycling I personally think that you're better off using filter media rather than gravel but it can't hurt.
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