Switching tanks help? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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Switching tanks help?

I'm thinking of upgrading my 20gallon long to a 29 gallon. How would I go about switching everything over. Would this result in high nitrates when I switch over my sand? Or do I get new sand? Is the 9 gallons even worth it?My tank current tank is in my signature.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 04:05 PM
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Personally I wouldn't switch tanks for 9 gallons -- too much work for too little reward, especially if you want the new tank to be in the same space the old one is in. But if you're moving the tank to a new location, and you're doing a major water change anyway, and planning on a new aquascape anyway, then the added work of moving the substrate, plants and fish might not be *too* bad. The good thing about a small upgrade like this is that you probably won't need a lot more soil/sand and other equipment, and your plants will grow into the extra space. The bad thing is that after the additional expense and effort, you're likely to say, "Man, I wish I had a 40-gal!"

But I'm wondering why you think that moving the sand might cause high nitrates? How long has the tank been set up?
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 06:31 PM
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Maximum nitrifying bacteria is in the filter.
Here is how I would do this:
The week before: Clean the filter. Deep vacuum the substrate. This might take a couple of water changes. Accumulate the equipment suggested by the following.
The day of or the day before: Set up new water as if you are doing a larger than 100% water change. If you are using a new substrate that needs to be rinsed do that.
The day of:
1) Turn off and unplug all equipment.
2) Siphon a couple of gallons of water into each of several 5 gallon buckets and move the fish. Schooling fish together. Loaches separate. Carnivorous fish separate. Plants can go in these buckets if there are shrimp or something that likes to cling. Cover the buckets. Fish jump. Fish are less stressed in the dark. Keep the buckets at the right temperature. When the room is cold I wrap them in a thick towel.
3) Remove equipment and keep it safe. Keep the filter media damp and in a high oxygen place. One way to do this is to use a storage bin for the fish and hang the filter over the edge and turn it on. This benefits the fish and the bacteria. Another way is to remove the media from the filter and drop it in a bucket with some water. It does not have to be under water, just damp. Remove rocks, driftwood and ceramic merpeople. This is a good opportunity to treat for algae, if any. These things can soak a while in any of several materials then a good rinse.
4) Finish draining the tank, and use this opportunity to clean the sides and the substrate for when you want to set it up again. Remove the substrate.
5) Swap tanks, making sure the new tank is plumb, level and square. Make sure there is enough room behind it for whatever equipment will be there. (I often do not leave enough room for HOB filters, so end up draining and moving it out an inch or so).
6) Install new substrate, rocks and driftwood. Make hills and valleys. If the substrate is not already wet then add barely enough water to show in the low places, but make sure the substrate is wet through.
7) Plant, misting the plants.
8) Put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate and fill slowly, allowing the water to seep slowly over the sides of the plastic bag. This will minimize clouding.
8b) If the water is way to cloudy, then stop filling and do a water change. Make sure to remove the cloudy water from deep under the substrate.
9) Set up the equipment, plug it in, turn it on when the water is high enough. Make sure it all works. If you have a new filter add the old, cycled media to it, plus enough new media to fill the filter.
10) If there is any doubt about the nitrifying bacteria boost the population with any product that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria.
11) Net the fish out of their buckets. Do not use the water the fish were in. Fish under stress can produce stress hormones and excess ammonia.

the rest of the day: Lights out. Only feed the fish if they are acting normal.

Next day: Lights on, regular cycle. Feed as normal unless there is ammonia. Test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Do a water change if ammonia or nitrite are too high (ammonia over .25 ppm, nitrite over 1 ppm) and dose more Nitrospira.

the rest of the week: Continue to monitor the tank. Feed less if there are ammonia or nitrite showing. Allow the nitrifying bacteria a few days to get going again.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Wow thanks for all the info guys but to be honest all that work for a little bit taller of a tank is not really worth it. But now I do have info on how to do it once I get a 55(it's my dream that won't happen)
Thanks everyone
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-28-2012, 08:44 PM
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Wow, great information.

I've been thinking about doing a substrate swap on my tank and this advice is just what I was looking for.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-28-2012, 10:06 PM
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I have found a significant difference between 20 long and 29 gallon tanks. I generally keep high water movement fish in the 20 long, but more general sorts of fish, or even slow water movement fish in the 29.
The 29 is better for most plants because many plants grow tall, and can out grow the 20 long a lot faster.
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