How do I add substrate to an empty, cycled tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-25-2017, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Question How do I add substrate to an empty, cycled tank?

It's a 15 gallon, I filled it with water and few rasboras in it. Should I first empty the tank and put the substrate?
I've seen on youtube people putting the substrate in a bucket, fill it with water until it clears out from the cloudy mud of the substrate, how am I gonna deal with this in my tank? I don't want my fish to breath the cloudy of the substrate.

Bump: Should I just fill in a bucket, clear it out, and simply dump the mudy substrate in my tank?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-25-2017, 06:54 PM
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First depending on the substrate you're probably going to have to give it a good rinse until the water runs... Well not muddy, it doesn't need to be clear but not muddy.

Then drain your tank, put 5 gallons into a 5 gallon bucket, add your fish, filter media and a bubbler to the bucket. Then finish draining the tank. You don't have to remove all the water but the more the better. The good bacteria in your filter media will survive a few hours or even a couple days with the fish and bubbles in the bucket.

Now your substrate is rinsed and fish are out and tank is empty or darn close, put the substrate in the tank. Place a large plate level on top of the substrate and slowly fill your tank back up. Don't forget your dechlorinator! If you've done it all well then you should have very minimally cloudy water and you can add the fish and filter media back where they belong and turn the filter on. The remaining cloudiness will be removed by the filter over a couple hour to a couple days. You'll probably have to give your filter a good squeeze in some old tank water at your next water change to get the muck out.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-25-2017, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sfsamm View Post
First depending on the substrate you're probably going to have to give it a good rinse until the water runs... Well not muddy, it doesn't need to be clear but not muddy.

Then drain your tank, put 5 gallons into a 5 gallon bucket, add your fish, filter media and a bubbler to the bucket. Then finish draining the tank. You don't have to remove all the water but the more the better. The good bacteria in your filter media will survive a few hours or even a couple days with the fish and bubbles in the bucket.

Now your substrate is rinsed and fish are out and tank is empty or darn close, put the substrate in the tank. Place a large plate level on top of the substrate and slowly fill your tank back up. Don't forget your dechlorinator! If you've done it all well then you should have very minimally cloudy water and you can add the fish and filter media back where they belong and turn the filter on. The remaining cloudiness will be removed by the filter over a couple hour to a couple days. You'll probably have to give your filter a good squeeze in some old tank water at your next water change to get the muck out.

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When you said "give it a good rinse", you mean to put the substrate in a bucket, fill it with water, rinse it, drain it and repeat till it's a bit clear, right? Also, why should I place a large plate?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-25-2017, 07:20 PM
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There are several ways to rinse substrate. Generally speaking though depending on the type of substrate some is easy and works well to dump into one large bucket and run water through it. Some is very dusty and is much easier if you take a couple pounds at a time and rinse in a large bowl then put somewhere like a bucket or the tank and rinse another couple pounds.... What substrate are you planning to get?

The plate will keep you from kicking up more dust from the substrate. I don't fill a tank from empty without it. Takes two seconds to add and saves hours I days of frustration.

I have added very very dusty substrates to a tank without rinsing at all and used a plate and added water very very slowly and had minimally cloudy water. I've also been doing fish for over 25 years so I've got a bit of experience. I rarely do that though and more often than not if I do I'm using a cap over the dusty substrate that I have rinsed. Fish can, will and do kick up the dust if you don't rinse it

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-25-2017, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlintMint View Post
When you said "give it a good rinse", you mean to put the substrate in a bucket, fill it with water, rinse it, drain it and repeat till it's a bit clear, right? Also, why should I place a large plate?
Yes, that's what they meant (or that's what you should do. rinse until as clear as possible IMO). The plate will break the stream of water and keep it from disturbing the substrate.

What substrate are you adding?
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-25-2017, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sfsamm View Post
There are several ways to rinse substrate. Generally speaking though depending on the type of substrate some is easy and works well to dump into one large bucket and run water through it. Some is very dusty and is much easier if you take a couple pounds at a time and rinse in a large bowl then put somewhere like a bucket or the tank and rinse another couple pounds.... What substrate are you planning to get?

The plate will keep you from kicking up more dust from the substrate. I don't fill a tank from empty without it. Takes two seconds to add and saves hours I days of frustration.

I have added very very dusty substrates to a tank without rinsing at all and used a plate and added water very very slowly and had minimally cloudy water. I've also been doing fish for over 25 years so I've got a bit of experience. I rarely do that though and more often than not if I do I'm using a cap over the dusty substrate that I have rinsed. Fish can, will and do kick up the dust if you don't rinse it

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Originally Posted by geisterwald View Post
Yes, that's what they meant (or that's what you should do. rinse until as clear as possible IMO). The plate will break the stream of water and keep it from disturbing the substrate.

What substrate are you adding?
I'm not sure, I'll have to phone my fish store after I get back from work and I'll update you, probably the black ones, don't know the brand. Thanks for your help.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-30-2017, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, that's what they meant (or that's what you should do. rinse until as clear as possible IMO). The plate will break the stream of water and keep it from disturbing the substrate.

What substrate are you adding?
Ok the substrate is called oceanfree, never heard of it, it looks like little black chuncks of balls, not the soil type that get's muddy. More like Eco-complete.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-30-2017, 07:30 PM
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Ok the substrate is called oceanfree, never heard of it, it looks like little black chuncks of balls, not the soil type that get's muddy. More like Eco-complete.
I've never used or heard of it. If it is similar to eco complete I would do a quick rinse (mostly to get it all throughly wet) and remove any large debris that may be in it.

And yes rinse substrate in a bucket. But also yes when you remove water from the tank to add the substrate put it in a bucket with the fish while you add substrate to the tank. Removing the filter media into the same bucket as the fish will keep your BB alive and thriving so you don't get a hitch in your cycle. Removing fish and as much water as possible allows you to make much less mess with much less headache. You can probably get the entire process done in a couple hours, let it settle a bit with the filter running and filter floss stuffed in it to clear any real cloudiness, then remove the floss add your regular media back to the filter drop the fish in the tank and everyone is happy! Any remaining cloudiness clears up in a few hours, even if you got it pretty cloudy but using a large dinner plate rather than a bowl seems to be the trick for me when adding new or messy substrate.

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