best way to change gravel to sand? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-27-2008, 07:29 AM Thread Starter
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best way to change gravel to sand?

Hi I'm taking most of the gravel out and putting sand in what's the best way to do this to reduce stress on fish?

I thought either remove fish, shimp snails and put them in tank water in bucket then do it. (not liking this idea really cos I'm thinking it'll be very stressful for them, but if you think it's best then that's cool).


take plants out of one side leave the other side for the fish to hide in and change bottom on one side to sand then let it settle put plants back in then next day change the other side of tank. They're quite ok when I change the water and clean the bottom now and don't seem 2 stressed by the process any more so I'm thinking they'll be ok with this idea but I know there'll be sand hanging in the tank water for a while and I'm not sure how this will affect them?

Any other suggestions most welcome thanks guys
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-28-2008, 02:49 PM
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You could get two pieces of acrylic that are slightly longer than your tank is wide (measured front to back) and tall enough that they're taller than your gravel. Stick them down in the gravel, separating the floor of your tank into thirds. Use a net or your hands to scoop out all of the gravel in one of the sections and replace it with the sand. Wait a week, then do it again on the next third, then the final third a week later.

Even if you're religious about your gravel vacs, it's unbelievable how much gunk gets down in your gravel. Changing it all at once will result in really gross water that won't clear up completely even with a couple of big water changes. Plus, a ton of beneficial bacteria is living down in your gravel, so removing it all at once could cause a mini-cycle.

Edit: forgot to mention: make sure you rinse the sand really, really well before it goes in your tank! It can really cloud up your water otherwise. Also, you might want to turn your filters off while you put the sand in the tank. I like to put the sand into a drinking glass and lower that to the bottom of the tank and pour it into place. That prevents a huge sandstorm from happening.

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Last edited by iamntbatman; 10-28-2008 at 02:51 PM.
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-28-2008, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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I'm sooo pleased u'v given ur advice I was going to just go ahead tomorrow and do half and half. I didn't even think about removing the good bacteria by taking out the gravel and stirring up the waste - i know what you mean about the amount of waste in gravel.

Good idea about sectioning off - but my tank's quite small and think the fish may get a little crowded. I'll do the bottom a third at a time though and do it over 3 weeks. Try to get as much waste out using the net to remove gravel, see how it looks when I start.

I've looked up how to rinse sand and think I'll use the method where you put it in a bucket in running water stirring every now and then til water runs clear. Thanks for tip for how to put it in.

Let you know how it goes.

Thanks again
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-30-2008, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Hi batman - done a third of tank, there wasn't 2 much gunk coming from the gravel and the water is a little cloudy from the sand but I reckon it'll be fine and settled by tomorrow :o) Good job you reminded me about the good bacteria otherwise I probs would have done the rest tomorrow. So i'll wait a week and do the middle of tank.

Needn't have worried about stressing the fish they were swimming around the net as I scooped out gravel and generally getting in the way! very bizzare but my poor cherry shimp were a little traumatised.

The sand is great I mixed white with silver sand -the pale yellow type(used fresh water aquarium sand from fs, not 2 expensive cos the tank's not that big) and it reflects the light up and really brings out the fish colours. Just have to see how the corys like it.

I'll post a pic when it's finished. just wanted to ask about the live plants with sand - should I leave a little gravel where they're planted or will they do alright and take root in the sand?
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-31-2008, 02:15 AM
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It's really up to you...some people say that sand is too difficult for plant roots to grow properly in, but others have a lot of success with planting in sand. You could try leaving small areas of gravel just where the plants will go. If you plant directly in the sand, for any plant that's a heavy root feeder you might want to use some root tabs for fertilization.

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post #6 of 6 Old 10-31-2008, 04:32 AM Thread Starter
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ok 8)- think I'll just leave an area of gravel just where the roots are - much easier, and if you got it use it
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