Changing substrate

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Aquadisiac, Aug 13, 2015.

  1. AquadisiacNew MemberMember

    Hi y'all. I currently have gravel in one of my aquariums and I was wanting to switch to sand. I've never changed substrate after establishing an aquarium and not quite sure how to go about it. Not sure if I should change half now and then the other half in a couple weeks to avoid a possible mini cycle? Thanks in advance!

  2. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    I would remove 1/4 at a time if it's an established tank. A cup should do the trick.

    As for adding the new sand, make sure it's rinsed really well and use PVC pipe to direct the sand straight to the bottom of the tank with minimal clouding of the water.

  3. cmck83Valued MemberMember

    What size is your tank?

  4. AquadisiacNew MemberMember

    20 high
  5. delta5Well Known MemberMember

    Just take the gravel all out at one go. You'll be shocked at all the fish poop you'll find.

    Rinse the sand in a bucket outside
    1. With the bucket 1/3 full of sand, fill the other 2/3 with water. Wait a second, then tip the bucket over until the sand gets close to the edge then stop and let the water continue to drain out. Fill with water and repeat. After a few times fill it with water again and wait 10-30 seconds. If the water turns clear and you can see the sand just fine then you're done. If not then continue to rinse.

    2. I tip enough to where a few grains of sand come out. These grains of sand tend to be super small and not what you'd want in the tank if you are going to use circ pumps. The cheapest, easiest sand to clean I have used is the 100% natural playsand from Toys R Us.

    When you add the sand to the tank turn off your filtration and any circ pumps. I find putting the cleaned sand in a plastic Tupperware container then slowly lowering it to the bottom of my tank is the best way. At the bottom just tilt it over slowly and once upside down tap the bottom to get the sand out completely. I also used plastic cups, but they take more time due to the volume they hold. Assuming you rinsed your sand properly, all the sand should have settled to the bottom before you have time to put down the container and go to spreading it around your tank.
  6. cmck83Valued MemberMember

    I recently changed from black sand to normal sand in my 16 gallon tank, was a doddle. Netted the fish out, put them in a container with heater and filter then drained the tank water in to the container added the fish. Then removed the old sand from tank. Added the new sand after I rinsed it through. Filled the tank back up with fresh temp matched treated water. Added the filter and heater then fish. Tested the water daily for a week. No spikes all was well.
  7. AquadisiacNew MemberMember

    Thanks that's reassuring. I really don't want to have to go section by section because I'm sure it could be a pain trying to get the gravel out if it mixes with sand.
  8. cooperbhValued MemberMember

  9. cmck83Valued MemberMember

    I agree fully with cooperbh, when you think it's washed enough wash it some more. Trust me you'll be glad you did makes the whole process easier.
  10. ShortfuuzzeValued MemberMember

    I've read in a few places, one being this forum, that plays and isn't the best choice of substrate. It was stated that play sand granular size varies and can become compact in the tank, possibly causing dead spots and/or other issues.......can someone confirm or deny this??

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
  11. LeafrayValued MemberMember

    I can confirm and deny this, I use toys r us play sand in most of all of my tanks, many people have reported poisonous gasses building up. I personally have not encountered this yet..... ( knock on wood ). All you need to do is to mess up your sand weekly, this ensures no gas buildup and a very clean substrate. Also, bottom sand diggers such as cories and loaches are great for doing the sand stirring for you :)

    Currently breeding: h/b purple guppies
  12. delta5Well Known MemberMember

    Like Leafray said, but I never messed with my sand after I was happy with the layout. From personal experience of trying various sands. Including the fish store over priced stuff. The only reason to buy sand from a fish store is if you need it for saltwater tank, or in my case, help buffer ph for my African cichlids since I use RODI water. The Toys R Us sand compacts really good and didn't get blown around in my old tank. Which I have to say was impressive because it was a 55g with 2 800gph circ pumps, and a 3rd circ pump that I can't remember what it was.
  13. AquadisiacNew MemberMember

    Thanks everyone for the advice. I switched it today and I think I like the overall appearance of my tank a lot more this way. I also took the opportunity to add a few more live plants and aqua scape. As for the poisonous gas build up I don't mind stirring the sand a bit during weekly water changes. I'll be testing my water a few times this week to ensure no sudden spikes
  14. cmck83Valued MemberMember

    I tested mine daily for a few days, just ammonia and nitrite. And never seen one single spike. My tanks only 16gallon though, so I'm assuming most my beneficial bacteria is housed inside the filter box and growing on the ornaments nearest the outlet. Glad you are happy with the change, hope all goes well for you and you get no upsets
  15. LeafrayValued MemberMember

    You might want to watch out a bit, even though I've never experienced anything with live plants and play sand, many people say that the lack of oxygen could lead to the death of plants. Again, none of my plants have died but just as a warning! :)

    Currently breeding: h/b purple guppies

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