Changing substrate? Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Substrates - Gravel, Sand' started by bruiser, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. bruiserValued MemberMember

    Hey, I want to change my substrate.. Right now I have "Mardi Gras" gravel that came with the tank, and I do not like the look of it at all. My original plan was to net out about half of what is in there now, and fill the edges and cover the surface with back gravel.. Basically hide the other stuff.. maintaining the bacteria in there, and so I don't have to buy quite as much new gravel. But I plan to keep cichlids in the tank, and if there just goin to dig and spread it out again, i might as well replace all..

    another question I had, was switching to sand.... I like the look, I understand that the waste and debris will sit on top.. but theres a few things that I cant seem to find definitive answers to..

    1 - cleaning.. how do you go about it? I would think a vac would just suck it up..

    2 - my tank has a pretty strong current.. will this effect the sand settling and/or cause any problems..

    3 - what kind to get??

    4 - will the bacteria colony still grow and thrive in sand as it does in gravel??


  2. VenomGrassValued MemberMember

    1. Well, with sand, poo and food doesn't get IN it because of the small size - it sits on the top of the sand. But you're right, if you use a siphon like you would with gravel, it would pull the sand out as well as what you're trying to remove.

    When you clean, you want to hold the end of the siphon about 1/2 inch above the surface of the sand so the "pull" isn't as strong.

    4. The bacteria is mainly in your actual filter. I hope others can add to this thanks.

  3. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Cleaning it just hold the gravel vac just above the sands surface just like Venom said. You will need to stir up your sand substrate every few weeks to release any nitrogen bubbles if your sand is more than about an inch deep & your fish are not turning it over enoguh. Just use your fingers to do this. A strong current shouldn't make any real difference to how much sand gets stirred up, though it may take it longer to settle when a fish spits a mouthfull back out again or it may cause slight shifting of the substrate just like a dessert wind can. Make sure your pickup & outlet from your filter are high enough above the sand not to either suck the sand into the filter, (bad), or blow the sand around at the outlet. It's worth noting that airstones buried in sand wil cause the sand to get stirred up so I use a patch of gravel where my airstones are. What kind of sand you get really depends on what look you want. There are colored sands out there that cost more than regular white sand but some of them still look ok. I like just using playsand as it is cheap & pretty clean so dosn't require too much rinsing before use. Coarse grained pool filter sand can be ok to. There won't be any bacteria population in a sand substrte at all. There is some in gravel but it is limited by the water flow through the substrate. Not everywhere in a gravel substrate gets enough oxygen for bacteria to live. You can just hang a stocking in the tank full of the old gravel if you want to help recycle the tank instead of leaving some of the puke gravel in.

  4. bruiserValued MemberMember

    Hey thanks for the tips! I decided to just stick with gravel.. I went with straight black gravel. Seemed like the best idea to me.

    I scooped out half of my old gravel with a kitty litter scooper, and pushed the remaining old gravel towards the center of the tank and leveled it off. filled the edges all the way around the tank with black gravel to hide the old stuff, then put a good layer of black all through out the tank to hide the rest of the old stuff..

    I wasn't sure about doing it this way but it worked out good.. everything is covered nice and I didn't have to spend quite as much money on it.

    I replaced my old decorations too. I think the new ones look a lot better..

    I'm not completely done yet, the fake plants will be coming out and replaced with real plants.. Just not sure what kind yet and the large piece of driftwood will be coming out when I find something similar but smaller to replace it.

    let me know what you think!


    Attached Files:

  5. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Above is a link you should find helpful concerning vacuuming sand substrate should you ever decide to change to sand.

    Your tank looks great! Thanks for sharing the photos!
  6. VenomGrassValued MemberMember

    Looks much much better now in black! Just onething to consider; when siphoning during water changes be sure to not lift up the blue stuff as it will surface and mix with the black! I found this problem when sucking up all the substrate plant food :(
  7. bruiserValued MemberMember

    Thanks guys! I like it a lot better too.

    I'll definitely look into that link Ken.

    And Venom, yes thats going to be my biggest issue.. As you can see in my pics, some old blue rock already turner up when I added the new decorations. But I wanted to leave some old stuff in there so I didn't disturb too much of the bacteria colony. This tank will be moving into a different room in a month or two, so when I drain the tank, I'm either going to change to different substrate again, or get rid of ALL the blue and orange then.

  8. MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    I like the new look. :)
    When you change it again, put the old gravel in a sock and stick it in the tank for a few weeks, then throw it out. It'll help with the cycle issue.
  9. VenomGrassValued MemberMember

    Good thinking meenu! Just make sure you havent just taken the sock off! ;) only joking haha. Good luck - it looks very nice!
  10. ElvishswimmerValued MemberMember

    Your tank looks great.
    Thanks for asking those questions too. I found I was interested in the answers and didn't think of asking those questions before!
  11. bruiserValued MemberMember

    Hey Thanks! it's going to be changed again in about a month when the tank moves room.

    And glad I could accidentally help!
  12. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Hello Bruiser. :;hi2
    Instead of a sock, I suggest you use nylons (never seen soap pantie hose) to hold your gravel for seeding the new substrate and preventing losing your cycle. (I've never heard of using a plain sock is why I suggest this. Not that it wouldn't work. If you do use a sock I'd suggest a white sock, brand new, never seen soap!) After several weeks you can just remove the nylons and you should be all set. (great suggestion Meenu).
  13. bruiserValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the tip Ken! that might have hit me eventually, but I doubt it.. and I don't really wanna to add soap to my tanks!lol
  14. fishex.Valued MemberMember

    hi i was shopping at petsmart and saw this sand and i thought that i would get it but i thought it would salitify the water any questions.:;nin:;nin

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