Hmm, advice for switching from gravel to sand.

Jacklynn

Member
So, as some of you may already know, I am doing a fish in cycle right now, I am on day 5 & everyone in the tank is thriving. I am using a 20 gallon that came with some blue gravel. I have just ordered some Caribsea Super Naturals crystal river sand for my tank, and I am planning on switching out my gravel for the sand.

I want to try to keep atleast 75% of the water in buckets, as I am trying to keep as much as the bacteria as possible, which I realize will be clinging to the gravel aswell.

Should I take the fish out to put the sand in? Or what should I do? I have a little strainer thing I was thinking I could use to scoop the gravel, while just leaving the fish in the tank, or should I just put them in a bucket while I put the sand in? Will they be okay, as long as I am using water from the tank?

I am so sorry for all my silly questions, I just don't wanna kill my fish, they are my babies, hehe.
 

AcornTheBetta

Member
Jacklynn said:
So, as some of you may already know, I am doing a fish in cycle right now, I am on day 5 & everyone in the tank is thriving. I am using a 20 gallon that came with some blue gravel. I have just ordered some Caribsea Super Naturals crystal river sand for my tank, and I am planning on switching out my gravel for the sand.

I want to try to keep atleast 75% of the water in buckets, as I am trying to keep as much as the bacteria as possible, which I realize will be clinging to the gravel aswell.

Should I take the fish out to put the sand in? Or what should I do? I have a little strainer thing I was thinking I could use to scoop the gravel, while just leaving the fish in the tank, or should I just put them in a bucket while I put the sand in? Will they be okay, as long as I am using water from the tank?

I am so sorry for all my silly questions, I just don't wanna kill my fish, they are my babies, hehe.
IMO and IME, taking the fish out is the best method, but there might be a way to do it without taking them out. The taking them out method is fairly simple. Take them out drain the water, remove old substrate, add new substrate, refill, add fish. The other method a bit more complex. So what you would have to do is get airline tubing/hosing from your local hardware store that is large enough in diameter to suck up gravel. Then, you will suck on one end of it to start a siphon and then you will siphon out your gravel and put it into a bucket. From there, drain the tank to a low amount (~15%) and add the sand carefully. Then, fill it back up and your done.
 

JettsPapa

Member
I've changed out substrate without removing the fish or the water. I just slowly scoop it out and replace it with the new substrate. Of course don't dump the substrate in from the top, but put whatever container it's in down low and gently pour it out. Make sure it's well rinsed so it doesn't cloud your water and clog your filter.
 

Chris1212

Member
This weekend I plan to add sand to make part of my 20g gravel and part sand. I'm not planning to remove the fish and hopefully I can just move most of the gravel instead of totally removing it. I plan to do some practice runs with extra sand to find the best way to put it into the tank
 

SanDiegoRedneck

Member
Chris1212 said:
This weekend I plan to add sand to make part of my 20g gravel and part sand. I'm not planning to remove the fish and hopefully I can just move most of the gravel instead of totally removing it. I plan to do some practice runs with extra sand to find the best way to put it into the tank
I used a red solo cup and lowered to bottom them poured. Worked great. With fish and shrimp in tank
 

Flyfisha

Member
I have changed gravel to sand and sand to bare bottom then back to sand . Never once did I remove the fish.

New sand will need to be rinsed many times. Rinse until the water runs clear. Then rinse some more.
Finally I add warm water and conditioner.
This way wet sand can be added without any possibility of changing the tank water temperature.

A dust pan makes a good shovel. But a 20 gallon you could just use your hands and a plastic jug.

Adding the wet sand is just scooping it out of the bucket with a plastic jug. Lowering the jug into the tank and pouring.

No need to remove much water. But while you are in the tank you might as well do a water change.
 

Mhamilton0911

Member
I changed 2 10's from gravel to sand, fish in.

I thoroughly gravel vac'd, then removed extra decor/plants that would be in the way. Turned off filter, heater too if the water level gets too low. Then scooped the old gravel out with my hands, a cup, a small Tupperware, kitchen ladle. Next i used my gravel vac to suck up the tiny gravel left.

My sand was playsand, and needed rinsed, so I did that in a plastic 4cup measurer, a little at a time, then used that to lower into the tank and pour out slowly. I did add one drop of prime to each cup of sand to counter any potential chlorine. If your sand is clean you won't have much mess. Then refill water as needed, add the decor and plants, turn on everything, enjoy.
 

!poogs!

Member
Agree
JettsPapa said:
I've changed out substrate without removing the fish or the water. I just slowly scoop it out and replace it with the new substrate. Of course don't dump the substrate in from the top, but put whatever container it's in down low and gently pour it out. Make sure it's well rinsed so it doesn't cloud your water and clog your filter.
Agree with this post. Leave all fish and water in tank. I just did the same as you in are doing in a 50 gallon. Used a plastic container as a scoop because glass on glass contact is not a good thing. Scooped all the gravel into a bucket. I used the identical sand as you did. Give it a good rinse in a bucket, it is plenty dirty. Scoop the sand out of the bucket and lower the scoop all the way to the bottom before dumping it in to limit the amount of fine sand particles floating in the water. It settles better this way. And Done.

Do not...and I repeat DO NOT...use the clarifier supplied with the bag of substrate while you have fish in the tank. Throw it out and use something like Seachem Clarity. After about a week change out the mechanical filtration in your tank, it will be full of sand.

FYI on the color your chose. It shows fish poop on the bottom better than any color I have ever seen. It makes fish poop bling. It will also grow diatoms on the sand and get a brown tinge in places. The best way to clean that sand is to swirl and hover a gravel vacuum about 3 inches above. This sand is the finest on the market, it make flourite sand look like rocks. About once a month I gently rake my fingers through the sand to turn it and break up any diatoms or brown areas.
 

kgalle

Member
I used a Solo cup with a few (dozen) holes poked in it to remove the old gravel from a 29 gallon. I wrapped cheesecloth around the cup to catch waste out, too. Sand needs a lot of rinsing. When you think its rinsed is when you're just getting started.

Rinse Rinse Rinse... Rinse Rinse Rinse... Rinse Rinse Rinse... Rinse Rinse Rinse...

Now I hate the word "rinse".
 

mattgirl

Member
Like kgalle stated so well. Rinse, rinse and rinse some more 'specially when pool filter sand is going to be used. Fortunately I did it during the summer so could do it outside with a garden hose.

When I switched from gravel to sand in my 55 I removed half the water. This is a deep tank so it was easier working with the water level lower. I removed all decor. This was before live plants so removing everything was easy. I put all the decor in a bucket of water I'd pulled from the tank.

I didn't remove my fish. I used my biggest fish net to pull the gravel out. I kept my filters running throughout the whole process with extra poly-fill in them. Once all the gravel was out I siphoned the remaining mulm out. Like SanDiegoRedneck I used a solo cup lowered to the bottom to gently pour the wet dechlorinated sand in.

The prep took longer than the actual switch over. As long as the sand is rinsed well and poured out on the bottom instead of through the water there should be very few floaters and no cloudy water after the job is done.
 

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