Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Herky 04-22-2009 11:17 PM

How to go about a gravel change
Hi all, I'm new here and I would like to know your opinion on something.

I have a 29 gallon aquarium that I purchased used. At the time I didn't have any other money available so I set up the tank with the included gravel, rock, etc.

I really hate the way it looks. The gravel looks like someone vomited a rainbow all over the bottom (the people that had the tank had kids and I assume they let the kids pick out the gravel because it's .look...away....hahaha). I have all new gravel and structures, some existing plants to put in it, but the big problem is that I have all my fish in the tank, and I really would prefer not to kill them.

My question is how do I go about changing the gravel, without seriously stressing my fish, or is it going to no matter what I do?

I have been doing weekly water changes so I was thinking about taking some of the water from the tank, putting it in a bucket and netting the fish into it, doing a partial change and replacing the gravel. I guess my big concerns are totally borking my cycle and killing the fish, having fish die in a bucket, and if I leave my fish in the tank during the change, I would think it's bound to kick up alot of nasty stuff into the water and I run the risk of squishing or injuring a fish.

I've had several different aquariums and many fish in my life but I've never ran into this kind of situation, I appreciate any advice you have to offer.

JohnnyD44 04-23-2009 06:45 AM

Hello and welcome!!!

Changing your gravel is an easy and if done right, a low stress factor to your fish.

How long has your tank been set-up? I ask because anytime you remove subtrate which contains some beneficial bacteria, you run the risk of a mini-cycle. However, if you just recently set-up your tank and added fish right away, you're going through a cycle anyways. Is your tank fully cycled?

The way you described would work best, IMO.
The only thing I would add would be to put your filter on your bucket. Alot of HOB filters can be rigged to sit on the side of the bucket and continue to filter your fish while you change our the gravel

The other point I'd like to make would be to keep a mesh bag with your old gravel in the filter chamber or in a high-flow current area in the tank. This will help with keeping your cycle in check. Some people swear by this method, some people think it's a waste of time...just a helpful hint.

Let us know how it goes!

Herky 04-23-2009 07:34 AM

Well, my tank has only been set up for a little over a month, and I couldn't resist and put some fish in right away and have been adding to it over the fish every couple of weeks and haven't had any problems yet, even though I know I shouldn't have done it. So yes, its fairly new and from the water tests its definitely still in the process of cycling.

JohnnyD44 04-23-2009 08:15 AM

do you have any readings of your parameters? if you are still in the process of cycling, even tho you are changing the water weekly, during a fish-in cycle it should be done almost everyday, or atleast twice a day

Tundra9 04-23-2009 11:53 AM

I just did a gravel change and if your water readings for ok....then make sure you only change out maybe about 1/3 of the gravel at a time and change the other 1/3 in a one week spread. and everytime you change a little bit out make sure you put in bacteria booster in to make up the bacteria you took out that was in the gravel.

Herky 04-28-2009 12:16 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Well, I decided to just go for and do it all yesterday, probably not the smartest thing I've ever done...but all appears to be well. The results are pretty good too I think.

Busgod 05-02-2009 03:05 PM

Looks great ! you should not have any problem because you were cycling, just watch your water conditions close ly for a few days, test every day !

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