Best way to change substrate

  1. lfabb

    lfabb Valued Member Member

    I was originally suckered into buying your run of the mill gravel. Long story short I'm aqua scaping and have a densely planted tank already. I'm co2 injecting and have plant growth bulbs. I need to change out my substrate and I've got caribsea Eco complete ready to go. I've read a lot of conflicting information on whether to remove the fish or keep them in the tank. What is the best way to change substrate? My tank has cycled 20gal and I'm running a bio wheel 150 filter. I've got 6 neons, 4 platies and 3 guppies. I went with the Eco complete because it doesn't change ammonia or ph.

    My plan was to remove 70% of the water, and change out half the gravel and change. I've heard it can be very stessful for fish removing them or keeping them in.
     
  2. maggie thecat

    maggie thecat Well Known Member Member

    Move as many fish as you can into a bucket of tank water.

    Move your plants and hardscape into bucket #2.

    Drain most of the rest of the water.

    Using a cup or other convenient scoop, remove gravel.

    Add new substrate per package instructions.

    Plant and hardcape replacing the water in the bucket as necessary to facilitate.

    Put the rest of the water in.

    Restart filters.

    Add back fish.

    I always remove as many fish / shrimp as I can catch without making a production of it. If there are some left then move slowly and let them know you're coming. They'll get out of the way.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    lfabb

    lfabb Valued Member Member

    So it's less stressful to remove them? I clean my gravel throughly so I'm not concerned with ammonia pockets.
     


  4. peregrine

    peregrine Valued Member Member

    Agree with @maggie thecat

    Or do like I'm getting ready to do. Buy a bigger tank..Put in new substrate, aquascape it.. then move all hardware from old tank into new, move fish..... Then start looking at extra filtration and heat if needed fo the larger tank. ((I'm a bad BAD person trying to give someone MTS))
     
  5. Mifuluhu

    Mifuluhu Well Known Member Member

    I would worry about removing the BB if removing all the current substrate. I have gravel and intend to plant as well. I am going to try the steps above only instead of removing the gravel, pull it aside and scoop the soil underneath the gravel and remove small amounts with water changes. Some mixing of the substrates will occur but that would look nice also.
     
  6. maggie thecat

    maggie thecat Well Known Member Member

    Think of it as if you're hiring someone to recarpet your house. What causes you less stress? Watching them moving your stuff around or coming back to a clean house with a new floor?
     


  7. peregrine

    peregrine Valued Member Member

    Mifuluhu almost all of your beneficial bacteria is in your filter. Unless you are runnign an under gravel filter, you don't have enough water flow through your substrate to really get a good colony growing.
    lfabb putting them in a bucket is less stressful because of all the water movement that is going to happen while you are removing the gravel and adding new substrate. Think of it this way. Which would you be more stressed out. Living in a hotel for 2 weeks. Or trying to live in a house while it's being gutted and remodeled?
     
  8. maggie thecat

    maggie thecat Well Known Member Member

    Bacteria multiply incredibly quickly. Yes, you lose some on the substrate, but you keep all the ones on your plants, driftwood, and other hardcape.

    Just don't swap out your filter media at the same time and you'll be fine.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    lfabb

    lfabb Valued Member Member

    Thank you. Very conflicting info about moving them or leaving them! I'll run the HOB filter I have in the bucket so I don't dry up my good bacteria.

    Haha I just upgraded from a 5 gallon to 20 gallon over a month ago. I'm very much a newbie so I'm not quite ready for a 55 gal but that will be next once I've got this down.
     
  10. Mifuluhu

    Mifuluhu Well Known Member Member

    maggiethe cat, I guess I just over-worry about messing up the cycle :). Thanks for your input.....maybe I'll go for a full swap out of substrates!
     
  11. maggie thecat

    maggie thecat Well Known Member Member

    No worries. Just do it and get it over with. You'll be glad you did.
     
  12. tyguy7760

    tyguy7760 Fishlore VIP Member

    If you are overly worried, buy you a big bottle of TSS+ and dump it in after you are all done. THat's what I did and it worked great.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    lfabb

    lfabb Valued Member Member

    All done! Water is a bit cloudy but all the fish seem happy to be back in their tank. Everyone is swimming around so removing them was probably the best way to go
     
  14. peregrine

    peregrine Valued Member Member

    Cloudy could just be the sand. Could also be if you didn't clean the sand enough ((sand takes like a billion rinses to get totally clean)) It should clear up.