New substrate on top of old?
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Old 05-06-2013, 09:37 PM   #1
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New substrate on top of old?

So I setup my 7 gallon as an experiment and get me back into the hobby but I already want to rescape the tank as my original setup was very basic. I was going to drain it pull the plants and rearrange the substrate into more of a mound and then add hardscape and pour more substrate in around it and replant.

I have never tried this before and expect to have a bit of a recycle although I will keep the little canister filter running in a bucket so it is not a complete restart. I started wondering if adding new substrate over semi-established substrate was asking for trouble. I don't plan on completely covering the older substrate but it has me a little worried about parameters for the next few months. I am going to shift the shrimp and fish to my 20 long so that will not be an issue but I am wondering if I am basically starting from scratch even with an established filter? Am I going to run into parameter swings over the next few months as stuff below the new substrate dies off and releases toxins or should it be a shorter window?
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Old 05-06-2013, 09:55 PM   #2
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Welcome back.
You'd do more harm by rescaping than you would by adding substrate. You have a very small volume of water to play with in that 7 so the likely hood of restarts are higher with smaller tanks. As long as the depth of your substrate is reasonable for the type used,(play sand, gravel, eco, etc, you should be okay. You can't crush the bacteria but you can suffocate it if oxygen can't get down to it by having the substrate too thick to start. But many people add to existing substrate all the time.

Remember to keep that canister fed to keep it going or it will restart for sure. But no you won't be starting from scratch with an established filter. You are jump starting it. The bigger the tank the more seeding you will need to shorten up the cycling. Seeding won't be considered starting from scratch necessarily.
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Last edited by flight50; 05-06-2013 at 10:55 PM.. Reason: typos
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:20 PM   #3
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I did something similar with my 2.5 gallon. Actually, between the two 2.5s I have I have probably done a complete rescape about 3 times. I had no problems in one. I simply added substrate to it, and added plants, but did not move anything. A second time I did as you are planning moved everything around. I had some scuzzy white stuff form on the surface and the water was cloudy for about a week, but water changes and such seemed to work. A single betta lives in the tank and he seemed no worse for the wear. In the other tank I once added a terra cotta pot with soil in it and everything went nuts for about a month. Most of the plants had a lot of trouble and lost their leaves, but they came back and are doing very well now. And I had crazy algae for about a week. Nothing else was living in it at the time.
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:51 PM   #4
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Thank you for the information flight50 and Fishumms. Looks like operation rescape is a go.
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