Changing From Gravel To Sand?

Fishlover83

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I am debating on changing from gravel to sand. I love the way it looks, plus I know mt cory cats would appricate it. Any help and pointers would be appreciated. Ive been checking out some YouTube videos, but still leery. Also would my aqueon filter be ok for this?
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Fur and Fins

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Your tank is beautiful. I switched tanks from gravel to sand when I got my first Corys. Watching them sifting sand is really funny! They’re oblivious to everything else.

Folks here will surely have an easier or better way to do it, but I took fish out, plants, decorations, and completely broke mine down and cleaned them. I added the sand, put the same filters back on (I keep 2 HOBs on my tanks), heater, then ran the filters until the water was clear (I did add the water cleaning packet and the tank was clear in about an hour.) I got the fish temperature acclimated and added them back into the tank. I had no problems and I did it with 3 aquariums. The Corys have all had a great time day and night with the sand! :emoji_fish:
 
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Fishlover83

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Your tank is beautiful. I switched tanks from gravel to sand when I got my first Corys. Watching them sifting sand is really funny! They’re oblivious to everything else.

Folks here will surely have an easier or better way to do it, but I took fish out, plants, decorations, and completely broke mine down and cleaned them. I added the sand, put the same filters back on (I keep 2 HOBs on my tanks), heater, then ran the filters until the water was clear (I did add the water cleaning packet and the tank was clear in about an hour.) I got the fish temperature acclimated and added them back into the tank. I had no problems and I did it with 3 aquariums. The Corys have all had a great time day and night with the sand! :emoji_fish:
Thank you! I have trouble feeding my corys with the gravel. Most I feel gets wasted.
Did you use fish store sand or pool filter sand? All the videos Ive watched have used pool filter sand. Said just clean it extremely well. And what about tank maintenance? Easier or harder?
 

JenC

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I've switched a tank from gravel to sand. It's not hard. Just scoop out the gravel with a cup, do a good water change to remove released detritus, and pour in the sand.

Keep the filter off until the sand settles so it can't be pulled in and damage the impeller. Do a deep gravel clean beforehand to reduce trapped waste that will be released if it's dirty. Lower the cup of sand to the bottom then tip it out so it settles quickly and doesn't disturb the fish; don't pour it in from the surface. You can do steps over time if you'd like; it doesn't have to be all at once.

I have Black Diamond Blasting Sand in all my tanks. Love it.
 
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Fishlover83

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I've switched a tank from gravel to sand. It's not hard. Just scoop out the gravel with a cup, do a good water change to remove released detritus, and pour in the sand.

Keep the filter off until the sand settles so it can't be pulled in and damage the impeller. Do a deep gravel clean beforehand to reduce trapped waste that will be released if it's dirty. Lower the cup of sand to the bottom then tip it out so it settles quickly and doesn't disturb the fish; don't pour it in from the surface. You can do steps over time if you'd like; it doesn't have to be all at once.

I have Black Diamond Blasting Sand in all my tanks. Love it.
That's what ive been seeing. Seems simple enough. Just reassuring to actually talk about it lol. Most of the videos ive seen they were using pool filter sand. I might try that. I want the natural look as best as I can get it. I also scared of my fish dying. Id be devastated
 

Fur and Fins

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Thank you! I have trouble feeding my corys with the gravel. Most I feel gets wasted.
Did you use fish store sand or pool filter sand? All the videos Ive watched have used pool filter sand. Said just clean it extremely well. And what about tank maintenance? Easier or harder?
At first, I used the white sand from Petco (Imagitarium, black or white). It’s a great sand; just one rinse. I put the bag in thirds in a bucket and rinsed and dropped it in; some grains will float and with a simple tap on the top of the water, it sinks immediately. Recently, I went to an LFS and decided to try the CaribSea brand. It’s a much denser sand. I haven’t moved my Adolfoi Corys to the tank with this sand yet but I’ll do it soon and post later how they like it. It comes with a packet of water clarifier and within an hour of restarting the filter, the tank was clear.

Black sand I find way more difficult to maintain; it always looked dirty as it showed everything that landed on it. I have loads of Albino Corys and Albino BN Plecos and they showed up great on it, but it’s not for me. I’m confident it’ll be a hit with your Corys and any other bottom fish like Plecos, Loaches (they can move anything you put in their tank and that’s why my plants are in terracotta pots; and sometimes I still have to replant them!). I hope I’ve answered your questions. Best of luck to you!
 

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How I switched from gravel to pool filter sand in my 55 gallon tank.

The first thing I did was wash the sand really really well. I used my lawn cart to wash mine. It was plenty big enough to wash the full 50# all at once. I used my garden hose set on the jet stream and by doing so I didn't have to stir it with my hands. Just keep shooting water through it and pour it off until the water finally runs clear.

Once done I removed all deco and half the water from the tank. I didn't remove the fish. I did turn the filters off so I wouldn't pull any sand into them. I just moved slow so as not to get the fish overly upset. I used a big fish net to remove all the gravel. Once it was all out I siphoned the bottom to remove the bit of waste left. Then I just poured the sand in there with a 2 cup container. Just lower the container down to the bottom and tip the sand out. If it was cleaned really well it should instantly settle. Put your deco back in, turn your filter back on and enjoy.
 
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Fishlover83

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At first, I used the white sand from Petco (Imagitarium, black or white). It’s a great sand; just one rinse. I put the bag in thirds in a bucket and rinsed and dropped it in; some grains will float and with a simple tap on the top of the water, it sinks immediately. Recently, I went to an LFS and decided to try the CaribSea brand. It’s a much denser sand. I haven’t moved my Adolfoi Corys to the tank with this sand yet but I’ll do it soon and post later how they like it. It comes with a packet of water clarifier and within an hour of restarting the filter, the tank was clear.

Black sand I find way more difficult to maintain; it always looked dirty as it showed everything that landed on it. I have loads of Albino Corys and Albino BN Plecos and they showed up great on it, but it’s not for me. I’m confident it’ll be a hit with your Corys and any other bottom fish like Plecos, Loaches (they can move anything you put in their tank and that’s why my plants are in terracotta pots; and sometimes I still have to replant them!). I hope I’ve answered your questions. Best of luck to you!
I am wanting the actually sandy natural look. I have black gravel right now. And your right it shows everything lol. And I didnt think about my clown pleco. I'm sure he will enjoy it too

How I switched from gravel to pool filter sand in my 55 gallon tank.

The first thing I did was wash the sand really really well. I used my lawn cart to wash mine. It was plenty big enough to wash the full 50# all at once. I used my garden hose set on the jet stream and by doing so I didn't have to stir it with my hands. Just keep shooting water through it and pour it off until the water finally runs clear.

Once done I removed all deco and half the water from the tank. I didn't remove the fish. I did turn the filters off so I wouldn't pull any sand into them. I just moved slow so as not to get the fish overly upset. I used a big fish net to remove all the gravel. Once it was all out I siphoned the bottom to remove the bit of waste left. Then I just poured the sand in there with a 2 cup container. Just lower the container down to the bottom and tip the sand out. If it was cleaned really well it should instantly settle. Put your deco back in, turn your filter back on and enjoy.
You did it exactly like ive seen on YouTube too. I'm glad it actually seems that easy. Have you had any problems with the pool filter sand and gas pockets or the filter?

Also should I add any safe start or anything whem filling back up? I know I'll lose some beneficial bacterial.
 

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You did it exactly like ive seen on YouTube too. I'm glad it actually seems that easy. Have you had any problems with the pool filter sand and gas pockets or the filter?
Not at all but my sand is no deeper than 1 inch and since it isn't well planted I am able to stir it during water changes. I also have assassin snails living in it and they help keep it stirred up.

You will want to raise the intake tube of your filter if it is closer than 3 or so inches from the top of the sand. I had mine closer to begin with and enough sand got in the filter to chew up my impeller. This is another reason to turn your filter off and leave it off until the sand is settled. Pre-filter foam on the intake tube will also help keep any sand from getting in your filter.

Also should I add any safe start or anything whem filling back up? I know I'll lose some beneficial bacterial.
My tank was well established but I still had a blip in my cycle. No rising ammonia or nitrites but my water looked to have had a bacteria bloom for a few days. It may have been cause by changing the substrate but during the same time I cleaned all of my deco too. I was battling pest snails so was doing a lot to my tank. The one thing I didn't disturb was my filter media.

All this to say it won't hurt to add TSS but I knew it wasn't necessary in my case. I knew it wouldn't take long for my cycle to stabilize. I still do what is considered the old fashioned way. Time, water changes and let nature do its thing.
 
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Fishlover83

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Not at all but my sand is no deeper than 1 inch and since it isn't well planted I am able to stir it during water changes. I also have assassin snails living in it and they help keep it stirred up.

You will want to raise the intake tube of your filter if it is closer than 3 or so inches from the top of the sand. I had mine closer to begin with and enough sand got in the filter to chew up my impeller. This is another reason to turn your filter off and leave it off until the sand is settled. Pre-filter foam on the intake tube will also help keep any sand from getting in your filter.


My tank was well established but I still had a blip in my cycle. No rising ammonia or nitrites but my water looked to have had a bacteria bloom for a few days. It may have been cause by changing the substrate but during the same time I cleaned all of my deco too. I was battling pest snails so was doing a lot to my tank. The one thing I didn't disturb was my filter media.

All this to say it won't hurt to add TSS but I knew it wasn't necessary in my case. I knew it wouldn't take long for my cycle to stabilize. I still do what is considered the old fashioned way. Time, water changes and let nature do its thing.
My intake is about 5 to 6 inches from my substract. So I should be fine there. But I'll make sure to turn my filter off when adding and maintenance. I'll also look into a cover for it.
Im gonna pick up a 20 lb bag and that should give me 1 inch of sand. Im excited to start this project.
 

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You’ll love it. I changed both of my tanks to sand. So much cleaner and easier to maintain.
 

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My intake is about 5 to 6 inches from my substract. So I should be fine there. But I'll make sure to turn my filter off when adding and maintenance. I'll also look into a cover for it.
Im gonna pick up a 20 lb bag and that should give me 1 inch of sand. Im excited to start this project.
You shouldn't have to turn your filter off during normal water changes unless of course you remove enough water each time to be below the intake. Once the sand has settled it shouldn't ever be free floating.

I am excited for you. We do expect pictures after the job is done
 

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I recently changed all my tanks (40G and 20G) to sand. I will never go back to gravel again. Looks more elegant to me and I have a school of cories too and it's better for them.

The process was a bit painstaking in terms of cleaning out the nasty gravel, then washing/putting in new sand. But it's worth it. The look is so much cleaner.
 

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Another one with BDBS. I have it in all but two aquariums. I use the med/coarse grit. There is high filter flow (10x the water column and higher in GPH) and I have no issues with it getting into the filter. I also use a pre filter sponge on all intakes.
 

Fur and Fins

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My intake is about 5 to 6 inches from my substract. So I should be fine there. But I'll make sure to turn my filter off when adding and maintenance. I'll also look into a cover for it.
Im gonna pick up a 20 lb bag and that should give me 1 inch of sand. Im excited to start this project.
You’re getting great advice! The people who actually do this stuff daily are the folks to go to. I’ve relied on this site for answers and solutions for a while now. It seems that I clean the sand the hard way. It’s done now so it’ll just be adding some more over time as a little bit gets vacuumed up during cleaning, but it’s seldom and just a little at a time. As a great time saver, I put my intake tubes as close to the substrate as possible, accounting for how high/low the tube needs to be in order not to suck sand up into filter, and my heater horizontal down below my routine water change level, and that enables me to do a routine water change without having to unplug everything. (Old house, very old electrical system.)


Sorry about the long post. In my career I did a lot of writing/composing and it’s just normal for me to go on and on. And I did medical reports, so I proofread a zillion times before I hit send/post.
 
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Fishlover83

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After talking to my lfs, I was scared again. I also found out my filter isnt the best option since my propeller is below the water. I did however choose the smallest size gravel I could find. I just did it this morning and added some microbe-lift bacterial aquarium balance. So finger crossed I wont lose any fish. Im very nervous about that. I shall see, I suppose. Everyone seems to be doing ok right now.
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mattgirl

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That is a very natural colored gravel and looks good. I am curious as to what the folks at the lfs said to make you nervous about using sand though.
 

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My guess is they told you that you would lose your cycle removing the gravel that the BB grows on when in fact most of it is in your filter. I changed all my tanks to PFS and never had an issue with a single tank. Took everything except the inhabitants out and drained 40% removed the gravel added the sand at the opposite end of my filter. Never turned the filter off either. Then added all the plants and driftwood and dealt with a slightly cloudy tank for 12-18 hours and everyrhing was back to normal. I think while the Dollar per gallon sale is going on you should get a 20 long or a 40 breeder and make it a nice sand tank for your corys your welcome!!
 
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Fishlover83

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That is a very natural colored gravel and looks good. I am curious as to what the folks at the lfs said to make you nervous about using sand though.
Just that my filter wasn't good for it. I didn't want to get a new one so I shyed away. Mine is under water propel so I guess it makes since. And I do trust them. They have been open since the 70s. They also never try to sell you things either. So I know that wasnt the reason.
 
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Fishlover83

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My guess is they told you that you would lose your cycle removing the gravel that the BB grows on when in fact most of it is in your filter. I changed all my tanks to PFS and never had an issue with a single tank. Took everything except the inhabitants out and drained 40% removed the gravel added the sand at the opposite end of my filter. Never turned the filter off either. Then added all the plants and driftwood and dealt with a slightly cloudy tank for 12-18 hours and everyrhing was back to normal. I think while the Dollar per gallon sale is going on you should get a 20 long or a 40 breeder and make it a nice sand tank for your corys your welcome!!
Yes but i knoe it can happen. I did that with my 10 gallon. Thr cycle started completely over. I only had one fish left when it was said and done. I didnt want that to happen again. But I'm happy with my rock choice. The cories can even move this anf seem happy. It's half the size of the regular aquarium gravel. It kinda looks big in the pics. But its not.
 
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