Removing Soil From Established Tank

Discussion in 'Aquarium Aquascaping' started by -mor, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. -mor

    -mor New Member Member

    Is it feasible? I have a 30gal established tank with a few fish and lots of plants, but as time goes by the sheer excess of soil in the bottom is making me more and more displeased! It just seems like so much wasted space. It was my first attempt at planting a tank, and I just really went overboard with the dirt and I'd really like another chance to set it up more aesthetically.

    If I was to try to remove some, will the dirt and sand on top still be usable? I hate the thought of it all going to waste. Also, what would I do with the plants in there now? If I remove them all from the ground, what's the likelihood of them taking again?

    Also, what the heck do I do with the fish (few kinds of barbs, glass catfish, random guppies that earned their spot by surviving the nitrogen cycle) while I do this? Just into a bucket with the filter while I do it? I've read glass catfish can be kinda delicate, and they are by far my favorite fish.

    It seems like such an intimidating task, does anyone have any first hand experience they can share? Sorry for the wall of questions, I'm still learning and I dont have a LFS to rely on for info :nailbiting:
     
  2. tropez

    tropez Valued Member Member

    I'd buy a cheap 10 gal tank (or bucket I suppose). Fill it up, move over some water, your filter, a heater, then the fish. Then do what you need to to the old tank. I'd slowly acclimate the fish from the bucket/tank to the new one as water parameters will probably change. I'd watch the rebuilt tank like a hawk as you may have a partial cycle to live through. Plants you can float in a bucket as well, i'd just be careful with them if uprooting them and as you replant them. Those are my thoughts at least.
     
  3. endlercollector

    endlercollector Fishlore VIP Member

    I've done this myself, so I can tell you that it's doable. You just have to have everything lined up, so that you don't waste time with the fish in the bucket. I'm not sure about the glass catfish, however. If you're very concerned about him, I'd take out the time to set up a small QT to have him by himself with a filter and a bunch of plants, so he feels safe.

    I've never done this with sand, however. I think you'd have to drain as much of the water as you can, then scoop the sand into a bucket as best you can. You'll look some, but hopefully not too much. Then remove dirt down to the depth you want, put the sand back over, and then I'd lay down as many large dinner plates or even trays if possible over the sand. Then I'd put the water in as gently as possible through air lines onto the plates. You can hold them in place with nets.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    -mor

    -mor New Member Member

    Awesome thank you so much!

    I worry about putting all the fish in the same small space - on some really poor advice from the store I bought them from I have 2 rosy barbs, a single green tiger barb (bought 3 but 2 died overnight, and haven't been able to go get the replacements yet), a single glass catfish, a common pleco (I dread when he outgrows my tank, I'll miss him :( ) and the guppies. I fear that the aggression of the barbs will finally turn to the catfish in a small space, but I do have a 20gal and a 10gal up and running with just a couple guppies and platys in each so maybe I can figure something out between those.

    I have lots of faith in the plants, but worst case the guy I got them from trims his plants every Sunday and gives out the clippings for free because he is so overrun :emoji_sweat_smile:

    Excellent, I'm glad someone else has had success with it!

    The glass catfish is definitely my biggest worry, he is by far my favorite fish and I dream of a larger tank with a huge school of them. I do have a 10gal up and running, I'll have to make sure the parameters are good and them put him in there. The only current occupants are a guppy and a few stragglers from my last batch of platy fry. The barbs and guppies from the 30 should be fine with a bucket.

    In regards to the actual redoing of the tank, the sand is my biggest fear. I'm worried it's going to make a of a mess. The layer of sand over the layer of dirt is so thin, I'm hoping with great care I'll be able to salvage most of it! I have a bit of a make-shift Python system going on, so I have decent control over the water flow. I'm so excited to get a bit of water capacity back! So much wasted space with the dirt. I'm going back to the fish store once exams are over to grab 2 replacements and to get an appropriate amount of barbs and catfish (I'm still upset they didn't tell me they are ALL schooling fish! I was pretty honest about being new to anything but guppies and even specifically asked what they needed to be happy :( )

    Thank you both for the guidance!! I'm hoping to tackle this Wednesday so that it will all be done when I bring home the new fish.
     
  5. tropez

    tropez Valued Member Member

  6. OP
    OP
    -mor

    -mor New Member Member

    I've seen them referenced a lot when I first started looking into fish stuff but wrote it off as too advanced (I just had a few guppies and some gravel and thought that stuff was reserved for "real" fishkeepers) but I might just see if I can get one before I bring the new fish home! Thanks for the suggestion, I had forgotten all about it!
     




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