Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Spoon 04-10-2009 12:20 PM

Changing out substrate
my 55g tank currently has small pebble type substrate. It's got to go. The food drops between the crevices and it looks lik the corys are having too much trouble getting to the food. And it is too bright, reflects too much light in the tank. I want to go with a smaller, darker, natural looking gravel.
My plan is to do this on the fly, with the fish in the tank, a third of the tank at a time. Fist I will clean the sustrate best I can with the suction tube. Move the plants. Scoop out the pebbles, and replace with the new, rinsed gravel.
My fear is that I will not be able to clean the present substrate well enough and will release too much crap into the water. I am currently running a Emperor 400 and a 150 GPH aquaclear on lowest settings and plan to crank them all the way up during the process.

has anyone done this before? I don't want to stress out my fish. Will this be safe? My tank has only been set up for a couple of months and I do regular water changes. The substrate should not be too dirty.

Any comments wil surely be welcome!

willow 04-10-2009 01:46 PM

personally i would suggest taking the fish out,it would be kinder to them.
then take all the substrate out,and replace it with your new one.
some people reccomend doing the substrate half at a time,due to the bacteria
that live in it,you should have enough in the filter.
you could always place some of the old substrate into the leg of a pair of
pantyhose and suspend it in the tank for a while,if you are worried.
it is best to check your water readings for a few days after you have changed over
as you can get a mini cycle.

eileen 04-10-2009 02:14 PM

3 Attachment(s)
I have a 55 tank also When I set it up I did not want the look of aquarium gravel. I wanted a tank that looked like a salt water tank. I did some research and found that I could put sand in the tank. I used pool filter sand. I bought it a a pool suppy shop. It's about $10 a bag for 25 lbs. I like this sand as it is courser and is a tanish color . Baby fine sand can get into your filter. The coarser sand is easy to clean. You can rub it in your hand and get the surface algae clean on the top. The only problem with this sand is that it is very hard to clean. I had to rinse it many times before adding it to the tank. The tank was cloudy for a few days but once the sand settled and I changed the filter pad by rinsing it a few times it was fine. I recently went to a LFS and found black sand that is really nice it was so clean that I just poured it into the tank. You will have to go to a fish store that just carries fish as the ones that Petsmart and Petco just carry the fine sand. The pool filter 25 lb bag is enough for a 55 gal. tank. Beware of the Tropic Isle Tahitian moon sand which is black but really bad. I read that someone put this in their tank and it was like charcoal in the tank and they ended up taking it back to the store. It was because it was like fine powder. Stay away from the fine powder sand it you are going with sand. My fish love the sand and the tank is so much nicer. The Corys just love the sand. If your tank is the only tank I'm not sure how you would go about cleaning it. If you go with sand. I think you will like it. You might want to save some of your gravel and put it in a panty hose net and keep it in your tank on the bottom so that you can get the new stuff cycled .
I attached pictures of my freshwater sand bottom tanks. 1 pool filter sand 55 gal. the other is a 6 gal. black sand.

Spoon 04-10-2009 04:07 PM

Thanks for the replies. Willow, I have a bottle submeged in my other tank with some brine shrimp eggs, so I can't take the fish out. I'll do a small area, about a quarter, and see how everyone reacts.
I love your tanks Eileen! I am afraid of the sand thing, although I love the way it looks. I'll have to go to the lfs and see what they have.

willow 04-11-2009 09:20 AM

good luck )
let us know how it goes :)

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