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Discussion Starter #1
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!
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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Discussion Starter #4
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.
 

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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.

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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
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.
 

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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.
;-)
 
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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.
 

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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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Yah, the water velocity is the key. The wide tube on the gravel vac allows the water to move slowly enough for the denser gravel to drop out before it gets to the hose. The smaller hose diameter with the same overall flow has a fast enough velocity that the gravel cannot fall fast enough to get out... That and there isn't as much room for the water to flow around the gravel.

No reason that it won't work.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ah, thanks to all of you. The more I thought about all your points the more I thought it could be sucked out.

I did switch a 10 gallon from gravel to sand by doing a complete tear-down and even though I was focused it took almost two hours! I don't want to go to those lengths if I can help it.

Now of course I am seeking the "best" black, fine-grain sand that would be suitable for Brochis splendens. My two 10 gallons have play sand but I really want the darker substrate for the 75 gallon. Any thoughts on that topic?

Jentralala, I will have to check out your thread, thanks.
 

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I would stay with the play sand. I recently (about 6 weeks ago) tore down my 70g to take out the Flourite (very similar to Eco-Complete) and replace it with play sand.

Black shows every bit of "stuff" which I never see in my tanks with play sand or mixed gravel. And corys and Brochis will have issues; I had to remove the corys from my Flourite tank due to mouth and barbel issues. And the Quikrete brand of play sand is identical in appearance to the sand the Brochis live over naturally, so they should be happy.:)

If you really are intent on black, there are Aquarium Black sands available (quite expensive). Pool sand can be acquired in black; I've never seen it so I can't say how rough it may be. Just make sure there are no additives which can occur with pool sand.

Set aside a day to do it, but it is well worth doing right. Mixing substrates rarely works effectively as others have pointed out.

Byron.
 
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And the Quikrete brand of play sand is identical in appearance to the sand the Brochis live over naturally, so they should be happy.:)
That would be why they are so much happier in my sandy tank than in the pet store! I think my sand came from Home Depot, but I don't know the brand. Now that I've seen them on their "natural" substrate doing nose-dives into the sand (and watching it shoot out of their gills) I want to be sure they are OK on the substrate in the 75.

Pool sand can be acquired in black; I've never seen it so I can't say how rough it may be. Just make sure there are no additives which can occur with pool sand.
Yes, I've seen pool sand on the web but would have to research local suppliers. I read a lot about fish preferring darker substrates (and I have to say I like the dark look myself) so I'll do more research while my Brochis are in QT.

Thanks for the advice! Your tanks are amazing, BTW.
 

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I have mine on Flourite black sand, which was pretty pricey at $20 a bag.
I personally like it, but I think I pointed out in my thread that it's pretty much like dirt. It doesn't have defined granules. I didn't rinse mine which may contribute to some of the excess clouding, but it get's really messy to plant it. It also has a weird tendency to break down into a silt. I think it looks really natural so I love it, but it's not very 'clean'.

A lot of people use Tahitian Moon Sand. I know Ches has her Kuhli loaches on it and they adore it, but I'm not sure if there's a difference between them and corys.
 

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What I did was take a Pvc pipe or substrate cleaner and stick it in a bag of wet sand and put your hand over the other end so it stays in and with your hand still covered put it near the bottom of your tank and let your hand go it should fall out and not stir the sand around too much
 

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That would be why they are so much happier in my sandy tank than in the pet store! I think my sand came from Home Depot, but I don't know the brand. Now that I've seen them on their "natural" substrate doing nose-dives into the sand (and watching it shoot out of their gills) I want to be sure they are OK on the substrate in the 75.

Yes, I've seen pool sand on the web but would have to research local suppliers. I read a lot about fish preferring darker substrates (and I have to say I like the dark look myself) so I'll do more research while my Brochis are in QT.

Thanks for the advice! Your tanks are amazing, BTW.
Thank you.:)

On the dark substrate, this is true, but one has to qualify what "dark substrate" means. Some "sand" is white and this is not good at all. You can sort of mitigate it by low lighting, lots of floating plants, and of course having the substrate almost covered with chunks of wood and/or dry leaves. But I like to see some open areas, which is essential with substrate fish like corys.

"Dark" to us and dark to the fish may not be the same. I mentioned the Quikrete Play Sand being identical to Amazonian sand. The photo below is of my Amazonian Riverscape 115g setup, which has about 40 corys now. This is the play sand. The corys have taken on good colouration over this. Interestingly, if you were to view them from above on this sand, and they were not moving, you would not easily see them; they are patterned to blend in with this sand, appearing like sticks and bits of debris, so birds won't spot them. You sort of get the idea of this in the second photo which happens to be of some of the whiptails. The "reddish" are the so-called red lizard variant and not a natural species, but the other larger Rineloricaria parva is a wild fish and you can see how from up above he would be basically unseen over this similarly-coloured sand.

I always say, follow nature and you can't go wrong.;-)
 

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Byron, I bought the same sand 'Quikcrete Playsand' and it doesn't look a bit like that. Yours looks salt and pepper and gorgeous, but mine is just...blah. One color, beige. I'm wondering if there's a difference in canadian vs american...? Just a thought. I got mine at Lowes.

Also to clarify, I said in an earlier post 'I have mine of flourite black sand'...I meant my fish in general, haha. I don't have cory cats. I realize now I worded that poorly :p
 

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I agree about the coloration; here is my Quickrite Premium Play sand from Home Depot:

I do see what you mean about the Brochis blending nicely into the substrate. As long as he is comfortable enough to come out so I can see him once in a while, I would be OK with him on this sand. I'm not sure what a whole 75 gallon would look like, though; I'm afraid it would be blinding. I like the look of your sand better.
 

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