Tips for switching gravel to sand in 8gal tank?

velospeed

Hello everyone. I’ve got a betta and a cory catfish living happily in an established eight gallon tank. I’d like to switch out the gravel to sand (mostly for the cory, also for aesthetics) but don’t want to crash the tank.

I’m planning to rinse/wash the sand. It’s a small/tall tank so not much space to leave it in there for a few days before removing the old substrate. Is it okay to just swap?

Should I add Prime at the same time?

Your tips and guidance are welcome and appreciated.
 

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mattgirl

If this tank is well established removing the gravel shouldn't cause a big problem. You will be removing quiet a bit of bacteria by removing the gravel but you can help it out by putting the gravel in some kind of flat container or media bags and leaving it in there for a couple of weeks. That should prevent an ammonia spike after you make the switch.

Rinse the sand and once you think you have rinsed enough rinse it some more. The amount of rinsing it will take depends on the kind of sand you are switching to. I took my gravel out and replaced it with pool filter sand. Thankfully I was able to rinse the 50# bag outside with a water hose because it took a lot of rinsing before the water ran perfectly clean and clear.

I left my fish in but I had many more than just 2 of them. Once you are sure your sand is clean put some of their water in a holding container and put your fish in it. Pull your decor out. Be sure to keep it in either fresh dechlorinated water or water pulled from the tank. We want to protect the bacteria as much as we can.

Now it is time to pull the gravel out. If you plan on keeping some in the tank be sure to keep it wet. I used a big fish net to pull the gravel out but just about anything should work. Once you get it all out you may want to let the stirred up mulm settle and then can siphon it out. Leaving some in there isn't a problem though. Once ready just slowly add the sand. I used a small dixie cup. Filled it with sand, lowered it to the bottom of the tank and tipped it into place.

Now it is just a matter of putting the tank decor back in place and then return the fish. If you are using a HOB filter a pre-filter sponge should keep sand out of the filter. Sand will eat your impeller so you want to make sure none gets in there. I just make sure the end of the uptake tube is at least 3 inches above the sand.
 
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velospeed

Thank you, mattgirl - this is super helpful and much appreciated.
 
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BamaBetta

Thank you, mattgirl - this is super helpful and much appreciated.
Hello everyone. I’ve got a betta and a cory catfish living happily in an established eight gallon tank. I’d like to switch out the gravel to sand (mostly for the cory, also for aesthetics) but don’t want to crash the tank.

I’m planning to rinse/wash the sand. It’s a small/tall tank so not much space to leave it in there for a few days before removing the old substrate. Is it okay to just swap?

Should I add Prime at the same time?

Your tips and guidance are welcome and appreciated.
I’m jw if you were successful at changing substrates? Does your betta like the sand? I have a 5 gal tank with betta, and I’m considering changing from gravel to sand. Are you glad you changed? Any regrets? Is the sand easier/harder to keep clean?
 
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mattgirl

I’m jw if you were successful at changing substrates? Does your betta like the sand? I have a 5 gal tank with betta, and I’m considering changing from gravel to sand. Are you glad you changed? Any regrets? Is the sand easier/harder to keep clean?
Welcome to Fishlore :)

I am not the OP (original poster) but I switched from gravel to sand. For me the sand is much easier to keep clean. Debris falls through the gravel. It sits on top of the sand. So is easier to siphon out or easier for the filter to pull it out.
 
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StarGirl

I siphoned my gravel out and it didn't stir up much garbage at all. Was really easy just take the bell and any bulbs off so it is just a tube. It took a few water changes to get it out though because water comes out too. You don't want to take all the water out. ;) plus your tube has to be big enough for the gravel doesn't get stuck.
 
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BamaBetta

Welcome to Fishlore :)

I am not the OP (original poster) but I switched from gravel to sand. For me the sand is much easier to keep clean. Debris falls through the gravel. It sits on top of the sand. So is easier to siphon out or easier for the filter to pull it out.
Thanks for your response. How big is your tank? Did you do a layer of gravel under the sand? What kind of sand did you use? I’m worried it will just get stirred up and make the water cloudy if I try to clean it. Sorry for all of the questions. I’m relatively new to fish keeping, and I’ve only ever had gravel.
 
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mattgirl

Thanks for your response. How big is your tank? Did you do a layer of gravel under the sand? What kind of sand did you use? I’m worried it will just get stirred up and make the water cloudy if I try to clean it. Sorry for all of the questions. I’m relatively new to fish keeping, and I’ve only ever had gravel.
Please don't apologize for asking questions :) The tank i switched over from gravel to sand was my 55 gallon tank. I removed all the gravel and replaced it with sand.

I used pool filter sand. As long as the sand is rinsed really well before putting it in the tank it shouldn't make your water cloudy. Don't try rinsing the sand in the tank. Rinse it before putting it in the tank.
 
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