Converting 50% Of My 29g From Gravel To Sand

yinoma2001

Member
So I officially have cory fever. I had a crazy good deal to purchase 7 peppered cories and want to change the substrate. Few questions:

1. will removing over 50%+ of my gravel affect any beneficial bacteria/tank stability? It is my understanding that most of the BB resides in my filters (have a HOB that has a sponge on the intake, another in-tank filter, and a pretty massive double sponge filter). Is there beneficial gunk that would be removed?

2. I'm going with Quikrete pool filter sand. Seems to be a great bang for the buck. Any reservations on that?

3. I have most of my plants in terra cotta pots or glued onto my driftwood. Does changing the substrate affect anything at all?

4. Should I endeavor to do a 100% change of substrate to sand instead of just 50%?

I figured I have a long weekend, a school of cories and I want to do right by them. I know it's only a 50% change of the substrate from gravel to sand, but does this sound like a good plan?
 

Tony M

Member
I did a 100% change to PFS and had no problems. Just make sure you rinse the sand in a bucket until the water runs clear. I used HTH PFS but Quikrete's probably fine.
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Tony M said:
I did a 100% change to PFS and had no problems. Just make sure you rinse the sand in a bucket until the water runs clear. I used HTH PFS but Quikrete's probably fine.
Thanks. I'm deciding whether to go 100% sand, or just 50%. Good to hear that it didn't affect any BB.
 

kallililly1973

Member
I'd go all out and do 100% once you see how much nicer the PFS is you will regret not doing it all. I did my transformation with all my inhabitants in the tank. I took 25% water out put all my plants and snails in a bucket of the tank water with an airstone running. Took a small beach shovel and got all the gravel out into a cooler. Did a quick rinse of the PFS ( lighthouse brand from Leslies pool supplies $10 for a 50# bag) beforehand. took a small beach pail and added the sand 1 pail at a time to the opposite end of where the filter was running. Spread it all out to a nice 2-3" layer replanted all my plants took another 25% water out then refilled added my Prime and sat back with a big smile on my face as to what I just accomplished!! Your gonna love the looks of it
 

WTFish?

Member
I did 100% without problems. If you’re worried, some people will bag up some of the old gravel into pantyhose and place them all around for awhile. Congrats on cory fever!
 
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yinoma2001

Member
So the BB is housed mostly in my filters/bio media matters, not so much in the substrate? Am I going to puke when I see the gunk that has amassed in the gravel underneath?
 

kallililly1973

Member
yinoma2001 said:
So the BB is housed mostly in my filters/bio media matters, not so much in the substrate? Am I going to puke when I see the gunk that has amassed in the gravel underneath?
Yes a great deal of your BB is in you filter. Do a deep gravel vac before removing the gravel there will be quite a bit of buildup under it for sure.
 

WTFish?

Member
yinoma2001 said:
So the BB is housed mostly in my filters/bio media matters, not so much in the substrate? Am I going to puke when I see the gunk that has amassed in the gravel underneath?
MOST of it, yes, the substrate and other decor does contain some too but not enough to usually worry about. This tank is already cycled, yes? And hopefully you won’t puke, but it will most likely be messy. Haha.
 
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yinoma2001

Member
WTFish? said:
MOST of it, yes, the substrate and other decor does contain some too but not enough to usually worry about. This tank is already cycled, yes? And hopefully you won’t puke, but it will most likely be messy. Haha.
Yes. Been cycled for a while, heavily planted too. So I may chicken out and just do 50% for now. I could rinse out the old gravel and keep it for posterity sake.
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
yinoma2001 said:
So I officially have cory fever. I had a crazy good deal to purchase 7 peppered cories and want to change the substrate. Few questions:

1. will removing over 50%+ of my gravel affect any beneficial bacteria/tank stability? It is my understanding that most of the BB resides in my filters (have a HOB that has a sponge on the intake, another in-tank filter, and a pretty massive double sponge filter). Is there beneficial gunk that would be removed?

Beneficial bacteria lives almost everywhere in your tank but if you have good biological media that is where the bulk of your BB will be living. Anytime you takeout something i.e. 50% of your Substrate you will loose a good amount of BB.
If you remove 50% of your Substrate I would take out the Substrate do a partial water change and dose the tank with TSS or Seachem Stability.
If you use a dechlorinator or water stabilizer after doing a water change then this is a very good read and something I personally believe in 10000%
https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/q-a-with-tetra-about-tetra-safestart.58116/


2. I'm going with Quikrete pool filter sand. Seems to be a great bang for the buck. Any reservations on that?

I have never used this type of Substrate but what I have found is that in my 33gallon long I have a FX-4 and have Seachem flourite sand as my Substrate and because the FX-4 has a strong intake and the tank beine very short a lot and I mean A LOT of my fluorite sand has been lost and sucked into my filter and pumped to the other side of the tank. Depending on what types of canister filter you have, if any make sure that the intake is not too close to the bottom

3. I have most of my plants in terra cotta pots or glued onto my driftwood. Does changing the substrate affect anything at all?

Just as long as the plants did not start rooting into the old Substrate then personally I don’t see any issues with this.

4. Should I endeavor to do a 100% change of substrate to sand instead of just 50%?

This is the most important IMHO. The current Substrate you have, when you say coarse is it coarse and has lots of rough edges or smooth all over? If the old Substrate is coarse and rough then I personally would change 100% of the Substrate. This is because as you know cories are bottom dwellers and since they live on the bottom any rough Substrate can cause abrasions on their stomach. Also what could happen is that if you did change 50% of your Substrate the new Substrate will eventually start to settle and the older bigger Substrate can eventually just move back to the top. The lighter Substrate can just settle in between the older bigger Substrate and make the appearance look uneven.

But this point is mainly if the old Substrate you have is smooth or rough.

I figured I have a long weekend, a school of cories and I want to do right by them. I know it's only a 50% change of the substrate from gravel to sand, but does this sound like a good plan?
How big is your tank? What and if any how many fishes do you already have? I would just change out all of the Substrate so your Cory’s have a nice even smooth floor to live on. And when they eat they don’t have to try to eat around or dig into the heavier Substrate, it looks neat when they are foraging around for food on a nice smooth substrate. You can see them kicking up small puffs of sand trying to get to the food.


Good Luck!
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Tanks and Plants said:
How big is your tank? What and if any how many fishes do you already have? I would just change out all of the Substrate so your Cory’s have a nice even smooth floor to live on. And when they eat they don’t have to try to eat around or dig into the heavier Substrate, it looks neat when they are foraging around for food on a nice smooth substrate. You can see them kicking up small puffs of sand trying to get to the food.


Good Luck!

Man, now I feel like I should just go 100% since it won't materially affect the BB.

So how does this sound as a plan?

1. get the sand.
2. pre-rinse/wash it out and have ready to go in 5 gallon bucket.
3. clear out everything in the 29G except the fish.
4. DEEP vacuum the gravel to take out the nasty stuff.
5. take out gravel 100%.
6. put in pre-washed and cleaned sand.
7. put everything back into place.

I'm sure the fish will feel a bit stressed in the process, but they should be ok in the tank while I'm clearing everything out?
 

happyscrub

Member
I wouldn't say most BB is in the filter. They are everywhere. Filter just provides surface that isn't disturbed in the tank, but that can also be everywhere else in the tank too. Changing substrate will change the ecosystem but not kill it.

Pool filter sand is fine

Actually going from gravel to sand might disturb the ecosystem a little bit more because it's harder for oxygen to get thru sand where it's easy in gravel. A lot of the bacteria might not survive when you throw a bunch of sand on top of it

I'll watch nitrogen levels after change
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
I think that sounds
yinoma2001 said:
Man, now I feel like I should just go 100% since it won't materially affect the BB.

So how does this sound as a plan?

1. get the sand.
2. pre-rinse/wash it out and have ready to go in 5 gallon bucket.
3. clear out everything in the 29G except the fish.
4. DEEP vacuum the gravel to take out the nasty stuff.
5. take out gravel 100%.
6. put in pre-washed and cleaned sand.
7. put everything back into place.

I'm sure the fish will feel a bit stressed in the process, but they should be ok in the tank while I'm clearing everything out?

I think that sounds like a great idea! If you can take some of that tank water and take out your fishes if you have room I would do that. So that when you add the new sand it does not stress out the fish. And when you vacuum I would leave half of the water out and then add your new Substrate. Once that is all added when filling use a bowl to diffuse the water when filling so you don’t disrupt the Substrate again and make the water less cloudy. It’s a trick that planted tank guys use when filling up a tank so that the water does not kick up all the dirt and make the water cloudy.
Good Luck!

I wrote an article a while back on how to clean the fluorite sand maybe something in there can help you clean your new Substrate.

https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/resources/how-to-clean-seachem-flourite-black-sand.34/
 

happyscrub

Member
yinoma2001 said:
Man, now I feel like I should just go 100% since it won't materially affect the BB.

So how does this sound as a plan?

1. get the sand.
2. pre-rinse/wash it out and have ready to go in 5 gallon bucket.
3. clear out everything in the 29G except the fish.
4. DEEP vacuum the gravel to take out the nasty stuff.
5. take out gravel 100%.
6. put in pre-washed and cleaned sand.
7. put everything back into place.

I'm sure the fish will feel a bit stressed in the process, but they should be ok in the tank while I'm clearing everything out?
I use a water clarifier when using new sand. Regardless of how much a rinse it. It's always cloudy.
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Did y'all remove all your fish during the transition process? I'm struggling to figure out how I get all my guys out and where would I shove them all into?
 

Brizburk

Member
Just an FYI. Disturbing tbe substrate as you'll be doing may stir up toxins. I would remove all fish if you're able and keep on top of testing the water and prepare for several large water changes.

I learned the hard way, lost a lot of fish when I changed substrate. It's doable however And you'll be happy you did.
 

happyscrub

Member
Brizburk said:
Just an FYI. Disturbing tbe substrate as you'll be doing may stir up toxins. I would remove all fish if you're able and keep on top of testing the water and prepare for several large water changes.

I learned the hard way, lost a lot of fish when I changed substrate. It's doable however And you'll be happy you did.
That's a myth. The only "toxin" would be nitrogen gas (edit: hydrogen sulfide) which would need a deep sand bed. And nitrogen would be neutralize by the oxygen in the water.

Your fish probably died from ammonia from losing a ton of your beneficial bacteria, which people here seem to think that they only have to worry about what's in their filter.
 
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yinoma2001

Member
happyscrub said:
That's a myth. The only "toxin" would be nitrogen gas which would need a deep sand bed. And nitrogen would be neutralize by the oxygen in the water.

Your fish probably died from ammonia from losing a ton of your beneficial bacteria, which people here seem to think that they only have to worry about what's in their filter.
Interesting. So you don't think it's safe to do a complete substrate change b/c it would deprive the tank of established BB (aside from the filter)? I'm trying to understand all perspectives. Last thing I want to do is kill our beloved fish b/c of a substrate change.

I might actually be willing to wait and do a completely different substrate once I get a bigger tank.
 

happyscrub

Member
yinoma2001 said:
Interesting. So you don't think it's safe to do a complete substrate change b/c it would deprive the tank of established BB (aside from the filter)? I'm trying to understand all perspectives. Last thing I want to do is kill our beloved fish b/c of a substrate change.

I might actually be willing to wait and do a completely different substrate once I get a bigger tank.
It's safe but your tank is going to "cycle" again. It would be like starting a new tank with a ton of filters from an established tank. Just feed less and test for ammonia at 1st for a few days.


edit: oh, you said complete substrate change, not half and half.

You will get some ammonia, but how much depends on what else is in your tank. Just look up cycle with fish on here. It would be like that but much easier.
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Hmm, on second thought, I may wait and do a sand substrate tank on a bigger tank that I may ask/receive for Father's Day. Maybe adding to a completely new tank is a less arduous process (and I would have to move everything from my 29G to a bigger one anyways)?
 

Brizburk

Member
happyscrub said:
That's a myth. The only "toxin" would be nitrogen gas (edit: hydrogen sulfide) which would need a deep sand bed. And nitrogen would be neutralize by the oxygen in the water.

Your fish probably died from ammonia from losing a ton of your beneficial bacteria, which people here seem to think that they only have to worry about what's in their filter.
Its not a myth. I had a huge nitrite spike. I use canister filters which is where the majority of bb is.

yinoma2001 said:
Interesting. So you don't think it's safe to do a complete substrate change b/c it would deprive the tank of established BB (aside from the filter)? I'm trying to understand all perspectives. Last thing I want to do is kill our beloved fish b/c of a substrate change.

I might actually be willing to wait and do a completely different substrate once I get a bigger tank.
Yes you can. Just be aware that disturbing the substrate may release toxins. As long as you're aware and testing the water and do changes as needed you'll be fine. I learned after I lost fish that I caused it.
 

kallililly1973

Member
When I changed my gravel to sand I left everyone in the tank and everything went fine. No losses. Maybe just luck. Of course I was also nervous doing it but once it was done and everything was back in place I tested everyday for a week and the parameters all remained 0-0-10/20. And at the time all I had running on it was an Aqueon 75 filter that the 55 gallon came with as a kit.
 

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happyscrub

Member
Brizburk said:
Its not a myth. I had a huge nitrite spike. I use canister filters which is where the majority of bb is.
You just proved my point. Nitrite spike. That's the 1st step in the cycle. That's not near the end of a cycle where all the "dangerous stuff" starts to get at the bottom of substrates.
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Ok went ahead and do it. So much cleaner looking. Cory’s loving it! Thanks for all the tips everyone.

541D2296-9D31-4753-A6D9-06A4B2886712.jpeg Here it is.
 

Islandvic

Member
Great looking tank!

Like how those pots were buried in the sand.

That is giving me some ideas now
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Islandvic said:
Great looking tank!

Like how those pots were buried in the sand.

That is giving me some ideas now
I’m moving this all to a 40G Breeder this weekend. Early Father’s Day gift. Going 100% sand.
 

Islandvic

Member
yinoma2001, any updates on the tank?
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Islandvic said:
yinoma2001, any updates on the tank?
I bought a 40 gallon breeder with 100% sand. Love it.
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Islandvic said:
yinoma2001, any updates on the tank?
Islandvic here is our 40G as of yesterday. Using an AC70 and 30 to filtrate with lots of biomaterial inside. Plants have been absolutely growing like crazy since getting Fluval Aquasky lights too.Tank.jpg
 

Islandvic

Member
Wow, those plants are fantastic looking!

Great looking tank
 
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yinoma2001

Member
Islandvic said:
Wow, those plants are fantastic looking!

Great looking tank
Thanks! I took your advice on how to fill those Aquaclear filters. Very very helpful and I'm saving $$ in the long run AND getting a better place for BB to colonize. Thank you sir for your advice.
 
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