Gravel to sand

aurms12

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I’ve decided once I cure these fish of this ich (if that’s even what it IS, (side note - I’m sure it IS it, I’m just dramatic) I’ve seen no progress, even with the temps up to 86+ in the past 3 days, it’s only gotten worse within the fish and from what I understand, it shouldn’t get worse - someone correct me if I’m wrong), I’m going to replace the gravel I have in the tank with black sand. I already know the brand and the grade to use (black diamond blasting sand, medium grade) and to also wash it thoroughly through a pillow case but I have a couple questions.

1. I have an fx6 canister filter. I’ve heard nightmares with people having sand and canister filters. How can I prevent this from being a problem?

2. how soon after it’s cured can I switch over?
- I’m not really entirely worried about my cycle crashing since I have high nitrates (should clarify this is about 40-80ppm, not extreme but not preferable) and the tank has been set up for almost 2 years with next to no spikes, even after moving 30 miles away - which this would benefit having since the majority of those nitrates are living/were living in the gravel. Should I do one half one week and then the other half the following week? It’s a 75 gallon tank with, currently 60 fish in it (including, but not limited to, tetras (red eye, skirt, serpae), 2 Bolivian ram and 2 angels, honey gouramis, 4 upside down catfish, guppies, 2 clown pleco, 1 false zebra pleco, 1 bristlenose pleco, 2 Molly and 1 balloon Molly and 6 kuhli loaches - I lost a handful during this ich treatment and if they are the only ones I lose during it, I’ve accepted the fate - I plan to grow this back up to 24 or so once everything is back to normal - I know they’ll love the sand). I was going to cup the gravel out until I got the majority out and then slowly cup the sand in until it’s up about 2in or so for my live plants.

3. how would I clean sand? I know I’d hover over it to collect debris but I wouldn’t gravel vacuum it, correct? I’ve never had sand, so I wouldn’t actually know.

Picture is my tank from a about week ago, right before starting treatment for this ich, and right after finishing a water change.

I’m still hopeful that this ich will be cured by the end of the month but I’m seeing no progress so I’m in no rush to switch to the sand yet but I want to be prepared. The gravel I have is a little bit too cliche and gawky for me now. I liked it at first but now I’m just sick of it.
 

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Lebeeze

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I've never done it without just totally emptying the tank and starting over, but with what I've seen and heard, you should do about 50% at a time and wait a week in between!
 

MacZ

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First of all, if you only do the temperature method ich will not be gone within three days. The temp you set only accelerates the parasites life cycle, so it spends more time outside the fish, where meds can kill that stuff. Do you use meds with the raised temperature? As the parasites tend to live in the substrate when outside the fishes bodies, you will have to wait until it's gone before you switch the substrate. If you do this too shortly after an ich outbreak you risk bringing leftover parasites back into the watercolumn and starting the whole thing once again.

About your questions:

1. If you rinse the sand throughly, put a prefilter-sponge on the intake and wait a few hours before turning on the filter after exchanging the substrate you should be fine with the filter.

2. What are you going to cure and switch over? I'm a bit confused. The filter? The sand?
General remark: You are highly overstocked, the fish also don't really work together with such sparse decoration and planting. I'd think about using the substrate switch for a stocking reduction. In any case try to add more plants after the switch and don't get yourself talked into fertilizers, you have more than enough nitrate. With that stocking density plants are the only way to reduce nitrates (and your readings are really high, 80 is one of the highest readings I heard in months). Low Nitrates also reduce the chances of any disease outbreak. High levels compromise the fishes immune systems.

About the switch itself: Better get everything and everone out and redo the tank. Good thing is the filter is cycled, so you only have to keep the media submerged. For 1-2hours (longer should such a switch not take) this is totally fine.

3. Correct, just a bit of hovering. You will likely find that most debris will collect in certain spots on top of the sand, so "vacuuming" will only take a few seconds in the future. You might suck up some sand, though. I lose about 1-2 tablespoons of sand with every water change. Doesn't have to, if you're careful.

I'd also think about removing the ship and adding a piece of real driftwood and, as mentioned before, add a lot more plants.
 

Sorg67

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I am considering a substrate change also. I am also worried about losing part of the cycle. Somebody suggested in another thread that I put some or all the existing substrate in a large mesh bag and leave it in the tank after putting the new substrate in. Perhaps gradually remove portions of the old gravel from the bag over time until the cycle re-establishes elsewhere in the tank.
 
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aurms12

aurms12

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MacZ said:
First of all, if you only do the temperature method ich will not be gone within three days. The temp you set only accelerates the parasites life cycle, so it spends more time outside the fish, where meds can kill that stuff. Do you use meds with the raised temperature? As the parasites tend to live in the substrate when outside the fishes bodies, you will have to wait until it's gone before you switch the substrate. If you do this too shortly after an ich outbreak you risk bringing leftover parasites back into the watercolumn and starting the whole thing once again.

About your questions:

1. If you rinse the sand throughly, put a prefilter-sponge on the intake and wait a few hours before turning on the filter after exchanging the substrate you should be fine with the filter.

2. What are you going to cure and switch over? I'm a bit confused. The filter? The sand?
General remark: You are highly overstocked, the fish also don't really work together with such sparse decoration and planting. I'd think about using the substrate switch for a stocking reduction. In any case try to add more plants after the switch and don't get yourself talked into fertilizers, you have more than enough nitrate. With that stocking density plants are the only way to reduce nitrates (and your readings are really high, 80 is one of the highest readings I heard in months). Low Nitrates also reduce the chances of any disease outbreak. High levels compromise the fishes immune systems.

About the switch itself: Better get everything and everone out and redo the tank. Good thing is the filter is cycled, so you only have to keep the media submerged. For 1-2hours (longer should such a switch not take) this is totally fine.

3. Correct, just a bit of hovering. You will likely find that most debris will collect in certain spots on top of the sand, so "vacuuming" will only take a few seconds in the future. You might suck up some sand, though. I lose about 1-2 tablespoons of sand with every water change. Doesn't have to, if you're careful.

I'd also think about removing the ship and adding a piece of real driftwood and, as mentioned before, add a lot more plants.
I should’ve clarified I’m also using kordon rid ich plus. I’m not using just the temp. Jeez, if I just use temps, people tell me to use more. Just use meds, I’m doing something else wrong. Sorry, I know you weren’t ridiculing that but I’ve been trying to cure this for like a month and finally got the correct meds and have been told to either just use one or the other. Now I have the high temps AND the meds. I’m fully planning to wait to switch the substrate until this is completely gone.

1. thank you
2. I’m switching to the sand. I’m always considering adding more plants, but again, want disease to be gone. The nitrates are my least worry but I know once this is all done, they’ll be less because of the amount of water changes and gravel vacuums I have done. (It is my fault, I was caught up with work and I live an hour from work, 8 hours a day, etc. I’ve been on paid leave from this virus and now have the time to catch up. However I don’t think it was he nitrates that brought the ich in - I believe a clown did - because again, stupidly I didn’t quarantine. Yes there’s a lot of faults in me. I’m sure the nitrate didn’t HELP, but I do think it came with with a fish
3. Thank you

And thank you again, I’ll consider it but I also know my plecos (and catfish) love that ship. I’ll be sure to add more plants, I’m trying to grow a carpet, maybe the sand will help more with that. I also saw you mentioned I don’t need ferts and I find that ironic because I actually don’t think my plants are doing too hot - not sure why. Someone told me that it could be the pothos I added up top and it’s sucking all the nutrients away but at the same time, I haven’t seen that grow much either. I’ve read too many nitrates may be bad for plants but I’m not sure how accurate that is. In any case, the nitrates are my main focus, as well as the ich. Working on both. Thank you
 
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aurms12

aurms12

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Lebeeze said:
I've never done it without just totally emptying the tank and starting over, but with what I've seen and heard, you should do about 50% at a time and wait a week in between!
That’s what I’ve read too, but I was also told that if I don’t do 100%, the gravel may take over the sand. I’m not sure if that would be ONE WEEK but still
 

MacZ

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Amanda Urmann said:
I should’ve clarified I’m also using kordon rid ich plus. I’m not using just the temp. Jeez, if I just use temps, people tell me to use more. Just use meds, I’m doing something else wrong. Sorry, I know you weren’t ridiculing that but I’ve been trying to cure this for like a month and finally got the correct meds and have been told to either just use one or the other. Now I have the high temps AND the meds. I’m fully planning to wait to switch the substrate until this is completely gone.
Ok, that was all but clear from your original post. Perfect combination. The temp gets the parasite faster out of your fish, where the meds are killing it off. That's how you do it! :)

Amanda Urmann said:
1. thank you
You're welcome.

Amanda Urmann said:
2. I’m switching to the sand. I’m always considering adding more plants, but again, want disease to be gone. The nitrates are my least worry but I know once this is all done, they’ll be less because of the amount of water changes and gravel vacuums I have done. (It is my fault, I was caught up with work and I live an hour from work, 8 hours a day, etc. I’ve been on paid leave from this virus and now have the time to catch up. However I don’t think it was he nitrates that brought the ich in - I believe a clown did - because again, stupidly I didn’t quarantine. Yes there’s a lot of faults in me. I’m sure the nitrate didn’t HELP, but I do think it came with with a fish
You missunderstand something here. The higher the nitrates, the likelier the fish get a disease. I'm not saying the nitrites brought this upon you, but they prolong the infestation and make it easier for the parasite to get into fish that were not sick before. I'm not giving any blame to anyone, I'm just analysing the situation. As long as the nitrates don't get lowered long term, the fish will be susceptible to disease. But you can do it. :)

Amanda Urmann said:
3. Thank you
You're welcome! (again)

Amanda Urmann said:
And thank you again, I’ll consider it but I also know my plecos (and catfish) love that ship. I’ll be sure to add more plants, I’m trying to grow a carpet, maybe the sand will help more with that. I also saw you mentioned I don’t need ferts and I find that ironic because I actually don’t think my plants are doing too hot - not sure why. Someone told me that it could be the pothos I added up top and it’s sucking all the nutrients away but at the same time, I haven’t seen that grow much either. I’ve read too many nitrates may be bad for plants but I’m not sure how accurate that is. In any case, the nitrates are my main focus, as well as the ich. Working on both. Thank you
Many plants don't get that much nutrients from the substrate, but you actually have some that get most of their nutrients from there and not from the water column. Especially the Echinodorus on the right side doesn't get anything from the water and would do well with root tabs. The Anubias and Java fern are notorious slowgrowers, they should be ok getting nutrients from the water, but their metabolism is slow in comparison. My advice: Get easy stuff when the substrate is switched: Vallisneria, floating plants, hornworth, cabomba, anacharis... those grow like weeds, don't need much besides nitrates and get most of those from the watercolumn. Those are nitrate sinks.

That someone is neither wrong nor right. The pothos seems to do what it's supposed to do. Imagine the nitrate levels without it!

You're on a good way, you know what to look out for! Good luck!
 

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