Dirting a tank that already has fish in it?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by BeagleSan, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. BeagleSan

    BeagleSanValued MemberMember

    So I have a 55g goldfish tank (3 fancy, 4 commons, and I'm rehoming the commons soon) and I really want to dirt it. How would I do this? I can move the goldfish into a ten gallon but that's all I have :/ would they be fine in there? And how long till I could put them back in?

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  2. renthusWell Known MemberMember

    Two ways, depending on how pro you feel:

    1. Move all the fish to temp containers (5g buckets, the 10g, etc) for about an hour while you change the substrate. Honestly, this is probably the better move, assuming you don't overfill any of the containers and they still have room to move. If you do this, *try* to remove them from the 55g without just netting them. Use a 1g bucket, and sorta chase them into the bucket, then transport them between containers like that. It reduces stress.

    2. Leave them in, remove the current substrate by hand or by vacuuming it out (if it's relatively light sand), then add the dirt by filling a water bottle with it, and holding it vertical just above the bottom. The goal is to lay it in there without causing too much of a mess.

    Regardless, you can put the fish back in as soon as the water isn't cloudy with gunk. For me that means as soon as I can see through the tank.
  3. OP

    BeagleSanValued MemberMember

    What about capping it? I'm planning on emptying it and adding the dirt, a cap of gravel and then filling it again.

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  4. junebug

    junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Just a thought... goldfish generally don't do well with plants, so why dirt the tank? You'd need tons of fast growing plants if you dirt it, and the goldies will generally eat or kill them. Which will leave you with ammonia spikes all over the place.

    If you do decide to go ahead with it, there is no real safe way to do it with the fish in the tank (I know this from experience - you'll get a ton of dirt in the water and the fish will breathe it in. It's extremely stressful for them). Remove them to buckets or otherwise, rehash your tank, and add them back in. Unless you've got a ton of fast growing plants in there, it's best to wait a day or so for everything to settle down, but you can always add an OD of Prime which is what I do when I have to add fish immediately. It helps with the ammonia from the dirt and gives the plants time to get a foothold.
  5. endlercollector

    endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    Your best bet would be to go with something like Flourite or eco-complete. It will be a lot easier than trying to do miracle grow organic potting soil and sand for a cap. It takes months to do the Walstad method correctly. But you can put in Flourite or eco-complete and be done in a few hours.

    To do so, siphon the water into a bucket put your fish in there, and cover them lightly, so they still get air. Take the rest the of water out and store it if you wish to reuse it. Put in the Flourite or eco-complete, cover with dining plates across as much of the surface as you can.

    You can use several stools arranged strategically to give you enough height. I have put buckets on top of stools to help get it taller. Use dish tubs on top of them for the water that is going to go into the tank. Siphon the water through airline tubing from those tubs into the tank on top of the plates.

    If you haven't siphoned through airline tubes before, all you have to do is put one and of the tube into the tub and slowly coil it down into the water. As you do so, make sure that the line of the water inside of it is rising steadily and that there are no air bubbles. When the tube is completely full of water, put your thumb over it and place that end on a plate. Make sure both ends are stable; I have found that a small glass jelly jar works well for the end in the tub as the slight lip is just enough to hold the tubing in place without squeezing it. A net works well to hold the other end on a plate.

    At the most, you will get some dust along the glass at the top of the tank and perhaps some floating. You will able to wipe that away or net after a couple of days when you're sure that everything that will settle has.

    This is the absolute fastest way to get your fish back into a dirted tank, and any clouding will be minimal and clear up after all the fish are in there. No cap is necessary on these two types of substrate.

    I have done this 10 times ;)
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  6. Adam55

    Adam55Well Known MemberMember

    I agree with EC. Diana Walstad has a doctorate in microbiology, and her method can be complex and intricate. Going with Fluorite or Eco Complete is the way to go.
  7. OP

    BeagleSanValued MemberMember

    I think ill go with fluorite.. Is there any way I could buy just one bag? I could mix it with plain gravel, but I cant buy like 3 bags cause that's easily $60 :eek:

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