Can I change substrate without killing my fish?

FishWrangler

So, my small 20 gallon tank (my first one) still has the very beginner look of light and dark blue gravel substrate. My wife and I hate it lol. Can i take this all out and replace it with something else? My 40 gallon has a mix of sand and small smooth pond stone, which we really like. Would I need to house the current occupants in another tank while the bio-system corrects itself?
 

e_watson09

You can definitely change the substrate. Since you're switching to sand I do recommend catching the fish and putting them in a bucket first tho. You'll kick up a lot of dust and gunk when you're changing it and adding the sand. Keep them in the bucket until the sand settles.

Don't touch the filter media when you do this, I'm always tempted to clean the filter media when I change things but its best to leave it alone to let the beneficial bacteria bounce back from the substrate change.
 

FishWrangler

Great, my wife will be happy about this haha. Her and my daughter are going to fill it with spongebob decorations though, lol. Ah well, thats their tank now, I'm loving my 40 gallon.
 

e_watson09

Great, my wife will be happy about this haha. Her and my daughter are going to fill it with spongebob decorations though, lol. Ah well, thats their tank now, I'm loving my 40 gallon.

I know how that goes, half my betta tanks have shark caves in them...I love the more zen natural looking tanks but its like neon skulls and sharks over on the betta wall
 

Flyfisha

I have changed gravel to sand and sand to bare bottom on a number of tanks.
I did not remove the fish.
I found a plastic dust pan worked as a shovel.

My suggestion is WITH OR WITHOUT fish in the tank you should heat the wet sand up with hot conditioned water . As it will be wet sand from rinsing many times the last thing you want to do is put cold sand in the tank that would lower the tank water temperature.
Rinse the sand in a bucket with a hose many times. Then add hot water and conditioner before you use something like a 2 litre plastic jug to lower and pour it in the tank.
 

RDcompton03

Replacing the gravel with sand you will be removing some amount of your BB. Be prepared for a cycle to start. You can minimize it by reducing your feeding way down for a few days.
 

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