SUBSTRATE

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chris02_84

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HEy ppl, is it possible to change the substrate in a established tank? And if so, how would go about doing?

thanks, chris
 

rob2uk

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Personally, I would get a second tank cycled, transfer the fish to that tank, change the substrate, then move the fish back once everything in the main tank has settled down....
 
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chris02_84

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that would suck if i had to do that, any less expensive ways?
 

EmpPleco

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That's a tricky situation. There is no easy way to go about doing that. Not to mention it's not very safe either, considering alot of beneficial bacteria is stored in the gravel...
 

rob2uk

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but the main thing is keeping the bacteria in the filter alive, surely?
 

EmpPleco

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Yes, I'm sure he would be fine if he left the filter media alone, but changing the gravel might interupt some things. Don't know for sure, as I have never had to do it, (and wouldn't want to!! lol) But I can imagine.
 

Marc

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You could try a make-shift divider if you have no other alternative, and just block one side of the tank off while you swap out half of the gravel, then let it sit for a week or two, then do it on the other side. If you're going to be putting anything like soil or sand in you're going to need something the water won't get through so it doesn't bother the fish.
 

EmpPleco

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that sounds like a really good idea, Marc.. wouldn't have thought of that
 

rob2uk

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Marc said:
You could try a make-shift divider if you have no other alternative, and just block one side of the tank off while you swap out half of the gravel, then let it sit for a week or two, then do it on the other side. If you're going to be putting anything like soil or sand in you're going to need something the water won't get through so it doesn't bother the fish.
*stunned silence and awe*
 
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chris02_84

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that's a great idea marc
 

Butterfly

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Marc that is an excellent idea!!
Also you could get one of the big rubbermaid tubs at the dollar store or wal-marts for a few bucks. Put the fish in the tub, any decor your going to re-use, hang the filter on the side and procede to change what ever you need to change. This gives you the time to take your time since the fish can stay in the tub for several days and the filter is staying active.
When you get ready to put the fish back in the tank just move the filter back on the tank. If your concerned at all about having enough bacteria, put some of the old gravel in a stocking and hang it in the tank for a few days.
Chaeck water parameters often !!! This will reassure you that your tank is ok
Carol
 

not4you

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I changed subsrate while removing a UGF in my 20 gallon tank just last week and everything has gone great. I also used the old gravel to seed my 55 and 10. I even put some of the gravel in the 20 to help things along.

If you have another tank at your disposal (doesn't need to be established) you can do what I did. Fill up the other tank with dechlor water and bring to temp of the other tank. Move plants and any decorations to the other tank. Then move the filter to the other tank followed by the fish. Remove gravel and replace with new substrate.

When I removed the old gravel from my 20 I filled up about dozen panty hose with a few fist fulls of gravel and knotted them off. I then placed them in all of my tanks to help seed the cycling tanks and to help keep up in the 20 until enough bacteria are established in my new gravel.

Fill the tank with the new (throughly rinsed) gravel with water. Return the plants and decorations to main tank followed by the filter and lastly the fish.
 
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chris02_84

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ok, cool LOTS of great info, but another question, can you change rocks, plants and stuff while the fish are still in there or should i take them out then move stuff around....i want to put real plants in my tank so i have to take my artificial ones out.....comments anyone? I know your not supposed to move the gravel cause that will increase the amount of ammonia in the tank, but can you do all that other stuff?
 

Isabella

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Chris, a while ago I was changing my 30 gallon's setup, including the substrate. I had 12 neons in it at the time, 2 angelfish, and an algae eater. Here is what I did.

I put all of my fish in my 10 gallon quarantine tank (that I always keep running and cycled as a backup in case something happens). I took my filter off the 30 gallon tank and hung it over my 10 gallon tank so that it kept running and the bacteria didn't die. In the meantime, I emptied my 30 gallon of almost all water (I left about 2 inches of water in there since there was still gravel in there and it was impossible to take out all of the water). I put all of the 30 gallons of water into buckets (this isn't necessary as the bacteria live on the walls, in the gravel and on decor, and in the filter - but I did it anyway). Then I took out all of my old gravel and put new gravel in. Then I put back the decor. And finally poured all of the water back in.

The whole process took me about 3 hours. I think that's very little. I put the filter back on the 30 gallon tank and waited one day for the water to stabilize. Measured the water parameters the next day and they were fine - so I put the fish back in. All was OK afterwards. Now, if you don't have an additional tank where you can put all of your fish in - you can use a bucket. Put water from your tank in the bucket. Put the filter on the bucket. Then put the fish in - and change the gravel in the tank. Once you're done - put the fish and the filter back in the tank. Only watch the temperature of the water in the bucket and in the tank - so that the fish don't experience a temperare shock.

The reason why I saved all the water was pH. Fish can get very sick with sudden pH changes. If your water in the tank has a very different pH from the new water you'll be adding to the tank after the substrate change - there is a good chance the fish will get sick. That's why I decided to save all the water so that my fish don't experience a pH shock.

Also, one last comment. After you're done with changing the gravel, put some of the old gravel back in - this is to help the bacteria grow in your new gravel faster. You'll probably need some more frequent water changes in the beginning due to a mini-cycle, so watch your water parameters closely. If you don't want to mix new gravel with the old one, put the old gravel in some aquarium-safe container and then put it in your tank.

OK, ENOUGH! I hope that helps a bit!
 
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chris02_84

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sweet, sounds good too...
 
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chris02_84

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just wondering ???

can you change rocks, plants and stuff while the fish are still in there or should i take them out then move stuff around....i want to put real plants in my tank so i have to take my artificial ones out.....comments anyone?  I know your not supposed to move the gravel cause that will increase the amount of ammonia in the tank, but can you do all that other stuff?
 

EmpPleco

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i rearrange my tank with the fish in there all the time

my fish seem to be fine with it, as long as you make sure you don't bang big decor against the side of the glass, it may shock them, or hit any of the fish with any decor. be aware of where all of your fish are when you are moving things around I'm sure you already knew that just being safe tho
 
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chris02_84

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thank you
 
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chris02_84

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you just quit smoking huh...i quit smoking nov 15th 05
 

EmpPleco

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How are you doing/?? Has it gotten any easier? because i am having such a hard time right now
 
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