Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Citrus County,Florida
5BodyBlade's post above makes great sense and is explained well too.
Guessing this is "Mezza Luna" as that's the journal I find and fits the timeline here.
Interesting event and not often done so I hope you capture the experience in your journal. Changes like this aren't done often.
The soil is still fresh and just barely converted to a fully submerged decay rate on the organics. Light and easily disturbed is what I'm guessing you will find if worked still submerged. You've listed a planned approach that makes good sense. Smaller tanks are ALWAYS more tricky when it comes to maintaining good water chemistry.
Personally I would attempt to maintain my critters for 4-5days even up to 10days in the secondary container after making the switch. Bacteria and bio balance are going to take a big hit doing this. I've changed subs completely and drained tanks for transport, this won't be much different.
I use 5g buckets. Remove about 4g of tank water into a bucket and place the critters, driftwood and smaller plants in it with a towel over the top.
With bigger tanks things are separated. All the plants into one, fish, driftwood, anything I want to keep wet into the rest.
I run an air stone in each bucket of fish and plants, whether it's needed for the weeds IDK but it eliminates surface film and keeps the water turning.
I clear a corner down to the glass just like 5BodyBlade posted and siphon out all the water I can get.
Having a small ice scoop I use that for removing the gravel, sand, what ever being careful to stay off the sides not to scratch the tank. Dumping it into dry buckets.
Using an old credit card I push the remaining substrate to center as possible and use the scoop for all I can get.
Changing the cap keep all the tank materials wet during the swap in tank water. Put everything back in the tank the day you do the swap to help avoid another cycle but (imo) hold the fauna at least overnight, longer wouldn't hurt.
While doing this cap swap do not even wipe off the glass inside the tank, don't clean hoses, heaters, don't clean anything with 'tank slime' on it. Put EVERYTHING back in to maintain as much bio film as possible. Do not clean the filter before or for a week after the substrate change.
Add to top off the tank but don't do a major water change. Changing the cap is drastic enough in one day. I re use as much old tank water as I can save.
Leaving larger plants in place makes sense but I think you'll find the smaller ones will release with the cap being removed.
Going to sand I would keep the cap at 1 to 1.5".
Hope this helps.
The Fraternity of Dirt
If at first you don't succeed,,, keep kicking it
2-75g planted, 5-55g planted, 5-20g planted, 110g w/30g sump, 8-10g,
2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)