Changing Substrate: Gravel To Sand

Discussion in 'More Freshwater Aquarium Topics' started by Semperly, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Semperly

    SemperlyValued MemberMember

    Hello, everyone!

    I completely regret setting up my tank with gravel substrate 7 months ago. I realize my fish would be much happier and healthier in a planted tank. Has anyone done a complete substrate change on their tank before? How should I go about this? Do I need to get another tank and just completely start over?

    Any and all advice and comment welcome!
  2. Hill Dweller

    Hill DwellerWell Known MemberMember

    I've probably done it all the wrong way, but I did it in stages, did a big vacuum, raked and netted out gravel from one corner, used stones and driftwood to hold the rest of the gravel back, then carefully placed the sand in, one handful at a time into the new space.

    I didn't take out the fish, they hung out on the other side and nosed about investigating. As the sand was well washed there was no cloudiness in the water.

    Did another corner a few weeks later, then the middle the following week. I still have about 1/4 gravel at the back, I'm giving the plants time to see if they do better in either type of substrate, but from most accounts it shouldn't matter if I dose some ferts.

    PS my tank is only 10 gallons. I'm sure it would be a much bigger job in a huge tank!

    In my 7.6 gallon Betta tank I'm going to put him in a container and do it all in one go, hopefully this afternoon.

    It looks loads better and is way easier to clean, and the fish eat up any fallen food much more effectively

    Hope you can work out a way that will work for you! :)
  3. OP

    SemperlyValued MemberMember

    Thank you so much for your response!!!! Yes, I have a 55 gallon tank so it'll be quite the undertaking. The benefits of having a planted tank are soooo worth it!
  4. shookyjr

    shookyjrValued MemberMember

    I haven't changed substrates and am pretty new to this, but my tank is planted in gravel and everything is thriving. It's been up and running about 6 months now.
  5. AWheeler

    AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    I've changed substrate multiple times. I actually have sand and gravel in various amounts in a couple of my tanks now. In my 55 gal tank, At one point in time, I had white gravel in a little section and I had pool filter sand every where else. The white gravel just ended up everywhere in the sand and it kind of looked neat, so I just went with it.
    You can do it a little bit at a time with the fish in the tank, take out like 1/4 of the gravel, add the washed sand, wait a few days, repeat process. It is almost easier to just add substrate to a tank that is new, if not, it's easier to take out substrate and decorations, etc. when you are doing a fairly big water change. (I found it easier that way at least)
  6. grantm91

    grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    Im looking to mix in one of my tanks i think it gives that very real bottom of a river or estuary feel but am scared of the no going back lol as my sand looks absolute pristine after a vac.
  7. grantm91

    grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    Also heres how i change one of my 200ltr tanks from gravel to sand it looks alot of work but is worth it
  8. Fashooga

    FashoogaFishlore VIPMember

    I was in the same boat 7 years ago. Simple steps here.

    1. Go to a place that sells spa stuff and purchased 2 bags of pool filter sand (I have a 55 gallon tank.)
    2. Took out the fish and placed them in a quarantine tank.
    3. Took out whatever was in the tank, dumped the water.
    4. Wash pool filter sand.
    5. Wash.
    6. Rinse.
    7. Repeat.
    8. You don't want to wash the whole bag at once. It will be tough. Just put half in a 5 gallon bucket and stir it with a stick or if you want to just stick your arms in there and stir it like you don't care.
    9. If sand is not dusty any more place in the tank.
    10. Repeat steps 5-9 until your done with the sand.
    11. Pour some water on I mean in the tank. Once filled.
    12. Aquascape.
    13. Let water and sand settle down.
    14. Turn on your system and let it run a few hours.
    15. Feed fish in Quarantine tank.
    16. Make love to your significant other, cause your going to shower anyways.
    17. Morning dump fish back in.

  9. AWheeler

    AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Yeah, there is no going back once you do it...unless you have countless hours to separate it all again.
  10. grantm91

    grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

  11. OP

    SemperlyValued MemberMember

    Holy cow!!!! Thank you so much everyone for the advice!!! I was thinking everyone was going to tell me it's impossible or I need a new tank! All of this is very valuable information and I sincerely appreciate it!
  12. OP

    SemperlyValued MemberMember

    Ooooooomg this is the best thing I have ever read!!!! I'm gonna need you to dictate more steps on how to do other things Hahaha! You're awesome!
  13. Fashooga

    FashoogaFishlore VIPMember

    Would like my recipe on how to make ice cubes?
  14. AllieSten

    AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    I literally saw that video today and was dying laughing. Hahahaha
  15. OP

    SemperlyValued MemberMember

    Do it!!!!
  16. BottomDweller

    BottomDwellerFishlore VIPMember

    I changed from gravel to sand yesterday but it was just a 5 gallon. I took the betta and snail out and took out 50% of the water. Then scooped out the gravel. Rinsed the sand very thoroughly then put it in. Waited for it to settle a little then replaced the water and put the betta and snail back. Left the filter off for 30 mins for it to stop being so cloudy.
  17. grantm91

    grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    Sand is the way forward, play sand, i wouldnt use anything else there is the argument of it being to fine and hard to wash and all of that but just watching it sift through my parrot fish gills so soft and smooth and how my corys sift it frantically with no trouble to the barbels i know its the best and the way my female convict flicks in it when shes in spawning time you can just see its so fish friendly.
  18. Kermode

    KermodeNew MemberMember

    Just changed out my 125 a couple of weeks ago from white sand to Black Diamond Blasting Sand....Looks much MUCH better and the fish really pop...The Cory's love rooting around in it as well!! Scooped most of the white sand out by large cup...When I got toward the last....Just syphoned out the last with a bit of water....Washed the new substrate till clear..Wasn't long and....Done!