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Discussion Starter #1
I started this tank- my first tank, back in October, if I remember correctly. It's come a long way since then, and I've definitely developed new skills and taste. So it finally came to the point of me being completely sick of the Flourite Red gravel I had in the tank, and making the switch to Flourite Black Sand.

Let's have an adventure.


This is what the tank looked like right before making the switch.
 

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OOOH, looking forward to this.

And i see your point, i bet that looked dead nice at first in red, but i could definitely see myself tiring of that very soon and switching as you have done! Still not as bad as someones clown puke tank though, ay C.F :) (i kid)
 

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Then came emptying out some of the water into buckets (or, in this case, a bucket and a tub container), the pearl gourami going into the fluorescent orange bucket and the Harlequin Rasboras/Kuhli Loaches going into the blue tub.

I had dropped in some Aponogeton bulbs a few weeks ago, two of them shot off like rockets. Apparently one rooted itself to my driftwood. I was fascinated by this, haha :shock:. It was kind of a bummer when it fell off when I was putting the driftwood back.

I pulled out the plants and the driftwood and placed the large piece in the bucket and the smaller piece in the tub, while the containers were getting filled with tank water. After everything was filled I then started to drain the water out of my window, while trying to catch the fish. The rasboras were surprisingly easy to catch. The gourami put up a huge fight, especially the male. Thank goodness the water was low, he was jumping right and left :roll: And then, of course, came the Kuhlis. I think I lost about 5 years of my life span with the stress of trying to catch those four.

After all the fish were removed and while the water was still draining, I started removing some of the gravel. This probably would have been easier if the tank wasn't half filled with water, still, but I have no patience. :oops:
I'm not sure what this is all from, but this is the result of digging through all that gravel. Bleeehhhhh.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I think I regretted the red about a day after, haha. It was just so chunky! The only really good thing was that it was super easy to clean because it was so heavy. It cost me $60 just for the two bags of red Flourite, not to mention the Eco Complete layer underneath all that. Now it's all sitting outside in a 5gal bucket.

What a bummer.
Oh well.
More to come! If I don't fall asleep.
 

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No no! I'm enjpying the story and cant wait for the next chapter. But i had a few red bulls earlier so im PUMPED!

$60 seems a fortune for that! Why oh why is it so expensive?!?!
 

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After scooping out as much water as possible, the siphon wasn't able to get out the really gross slimey gunk that coated the bottom. So, I cheated. Since my tank is an itty bitty 35 gallon and not a monster of an 80+, my mom and I hauled it outside where I gave it a light rinsing to get the crud out. Almost like starting from a clean slate. Which actually is terrifying me, that I might have another cycle. But, I used the same filter, driftwood, and added a whole slew of new plants. So hopefully I will be okay.

And I totally forgot to take pictures of THE MOST IMPORTANT PART, the bags of Flourite and the process of dumping it in.
I did a lot of research on whether or not to rise the flourite, and I made the decision to not outright rinse it. I was terrified of rinsing it too much and getting rid of all the lovely iron it's supposed to be full of. So i just dumped it right in and spread it around. I also forgot to take pictures of the driftwood as I got it all set up, which was a bit of a pain. It kept all wanting to fall.

Anyways, I brought the hose in and started to fill the tank, with the water pouring into a bowl laying on the substrate. I added some dechlorinator, just a bit, because I had a crazy idea.

The harlequins were not happy being in that tub.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Because I bought them from my LFS, he charges $30 a bag, which I had no idea he would do when I asked if he could order some in for me. I assumed it would be around the normal of $20 a bag. I probably could have refused to buy it once it came in but then I would have felt like a jerk :/ Ugh.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay, I totally need a nap, before I just fall over. I will definitely keep this updated though, I promise!
 

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Haha good nap jen- i'll have something to read in the morning then- though i'll be up late tonight so hopefully....

shame you missed a few pics.......but the rest are looking really good and a nice overview of the whole process.

How long were the fish out? did you have to put the heater in the buckets with the fish etc?
 

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If I take a nap now I'll feel like crap, so I'm just gonna truck on through this!

While I was filling the tank with water from the garden hose I noticed that the sand, whenever it was disrupted, would 'ooze' a fog, inside of the already cloudy tank. It's really hard to explain. It was just a thick, opaque white cloud. So I grabbed the airline tubing and sucked out the heavier cloudy junk, while simultaneously adding water from the hose. I did this when the water was about 3in high. It actually worked pretty well for cleaning the sand and keeping cloudiness down.

So then I began to plant in earnest. I seriously just cannot believe the difference sand makes! It just like grabs onto the roots so easily, they sink right in. I felt like I had to fight my gravel to get anything planted. I had everything planted in about ten minutes.

Oh, I don't think I mentioned this. I used 2 bags of 15.4lb Flourite Black sand. I kind of just dumped it in and sloped it a bit to where the back is higher. I'd say the highest point is 2 inches, the lowest about 1 inch.

Another weird thing that I probably should have expected was that the sand seriously compacts. It just like folds in on itself. It's pretty darn cool.

I really like this substrate for the most part but when I would put plants in it would 'ooze' that white cloudiness.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
At that point it had been about two hours. I only hav eon heater and I was using it to try and get the water in the tank warmer, as the water coming in from the garden hose was quite cold. To keep the fish as warm and comfortable as possible I kept the lid on the tub (and also kind of to keep my cats out, they don't understand why they can't play with the fishes) and threw a towel over the gourami bucket.

Now, I had the tank filling slowly so as not to disturb the sand, so I decided to go through the other things that I ordered along with the sand. One of these things was granule fish food, which as you can see ended up being pretty smashed up. That was a pretty big disappointment.

Also, I went down to the lake today to collect some more Narrow Leaf Ludwigia, and stumbled upon this plant. Not sure what it is, all I know is it looks cool and apparently propagates through runners. No wonder it was a pain to uproot.
 

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So while the tank was filling I started pouring in a few gallons worth of the tank water just to help bump up the temperature and also fill the tank faster. By the time the tank is full of water the fish have been in buckets about 3 hours. I wasn't too worried about the Gourami since they breathe air but I was really getting worried for the Harlequins and Rasboras.

I waited a few minutes longer for the temp to bump up a bit, but it's still a few degrees below what they're used to, although the water in their buckets has definitely started cooling now. So I take the risk and put two Harlequins in the tank and observe them for a bit. Besides being timid I didn't see any other negative signs. So in goes the rest of the fish. Of course the male gourami had to almost jump the bucket during the process, though :roll:

The tank was cloudier than I'd hoped but not as cloudy as I feared. I really do love the sand, my only complaint is this white/grey 'silt', which I think is the settled 'oozey cloud'. If that makes sense.

I'm honestly really loving how it's set up now, although I'm thinking about adding another piece or two of driftwood. I may also add oak leaves again depending if my loaches are have enough hidey holes or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The tank is still pretty cloudy but it's definately not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I'm pretty surprised at that, considering that the sand is very soft and light.

Hopefully it will clear up by tomorrow and I can get a full tank shot :D
 

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Hope so! looking forward to how that black sand looks - espec after a bit of use to see if it really does get super dirty looking as i've heard!

Looking good so far though jen and hoping its cleared nicely for you tomorrow!
 

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Well it's morning now and while the tank isn't 100% clear, it has definitely cleared up a lot. Now it's just a vague fuzziness. All the fish survived and are exploring the new environment. I'm surprised that the Kuhli loaches are still out and about, the tank light has been on for over an hour. I'm a bit worried that thye don't have enough places to hide so I'm going to add in a few oak leaves behind the large stood up piece of driftwood.

Still trying to work it out in my head how I'm going to get mulm off the substrate...

Other than that though, I'm just madly in love with the sand. It looks so natural, and it really complements the driftwood and the plants, especially the bright green wisteria and aponogeton.

I'm going to do my liquid fertilizer today, but I think I'm going to hold off on feeding for two days, just in case. I'm also going to be testing the water today, to check the parameters. More to come later, along with pics of the much less cloudy tank!

(Also I'm so excited I finally started a thread. I hope I can keep up with regular posting and that people start to follow. Thanks so much for all your interest Nilet!)
 

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It's no problem! I've enjoyed following it and seeing these pictures as you've gone through the process!! Keep up the good work! And keep us tuned in!
 

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Well I noticed when I went to put the leaves in and one brushed the sand, it released some cloudiness and a ton of bubbles. Not sure if that will always happen, but I can tell that adding or moving plants may be a bit of a process. It's not a big deal for me but I think it would probably bother a lot of people.

Anyways, the test results are in!

Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 5ppm-10ppm (going to keep testing that to make sure it stays low)
PH - 7.6. A lot higher than I would like, I like mine below 7. This is probably because I refilled almost all of it with tap water (PH of 7.6). I'm going to monitor this to see if it drops soon. So far the fish are doing well, no one (from what I can visibly see) is stressed or acting odd. The Harlequins are schooling a bit tighter but I think that's mostly do to the 'new' environment.

Also, on another note, I'm looking in to added some MTS to stir up the sand and keep it 'fresh'. Although I'm wondering if that would just cause a bunch of cloudiness from them moving around...I'm still trying to decide if it's a good idea or not.

Pictures! You can see where I added leaves to make the loaches more comfortable.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I forgot to mention, the PH in the tank is /usually/ 6.8 or so, because the GH and KH in my water are so low, plus the driftwood/plants/leaves. The PH /should/ slowly decline over the next few days. It's just a waiting game, right now.

On another note, I'm thinking about adding another piece of driftwood in front of the ludwigia, diagonal to the smaller piece. Any thoughts about that? Or the current set up?

I'm also going to add more anacharis and ludwigia to that corner if it does well there. The ludwigia was getting leggy before the switch, but I think where is was, the driftwood was casting a shadow. But maybe my light isn't bright enough. We'll see :D
 
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