Newbie question re: substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2010, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie question re: substrate

I just found and joined the plantedtank.net and was hoping for some help with a substrate question. I have a 20 Gallon tank, relatively new, which has is layered as follows:

10 Lb. bag of gravel (Petco)
5 Lb. bag of small rocks (Petco)
5 Lb bad of larger smooth rocks (Petco)

I also have a few plastic plants and a piece of Mopani wood from Petco. The tank holds two african dwalf frogs, 5 zebra danios, a beta, two cory catfish, a harlequin rasbora and about 16 ghost shrimp.

I want to move toward removing the plastic plants and planting the real stuff. I purchased a 7 KG bag of Seachem Flourite Black from Big Al's Online, which is arriving today. I am wondering how best to add the Fluorite into the tank and do some planting this weekend. Should I evacuate all the inhabitants to another tank, drain it, remove all the gravel and stones etc and then refill? Or just make "pockets" of Fluorite and add the plants in.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Sam
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2010, 08:25 PM
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As you said. It would be best to totaly strip the tank down and redo it. Once you do that you can add all the inhabitants back to the tank. I would not mix the regular gravel and the flourite. Just use the plain flourite. Make sure you rinse it well it can be some pretty dirty stuff.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2010, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks

Thank you for the reply and for sharing your experience with me. Would it be safe to assume the final layout of the substrates, once I have stripped it down and redone it with the Fluorite, would look like this?


larger rocks
small rocks
Fluorite
Bottom of Tank

So throw out the gravel and just add the well washed fluorite?

thank you again.

Sam
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2010, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by SamPNY View Post
So throw out the gravel and just add the well washed fluorite?
Yes that is what I would do.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2010, 10:29 PM
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keep in mind that throwing out the old gravel will also mean you are throwing out a good portion of your biological filtration, depending on the type of filter you have and how long the tank has been set up. Not to say you can not do it, but keep in mind and be aware of the water quality, as you will essentially be having to cycle the tank again. It will cycle faster if you use your old filter and keep all the rocks, without washing them, and also save the "old" water to help cycle the tank faster.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-29-2010, 01:37 AM
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I also would go for it. Remove the livestock to as many buckets as needed. Remove the gravel this way:
Skim the top layer. This is where the most bacteria are. Put this layer in some mesh bags or nylon stockings. Better if there are several small bags.
Remove the rest, and the larger pebbles.

Add the Flourite, plant and decorate with the larger pebbles. Mist the plants as you go. If you want to use the reserved (high bacteria) gravel as a cap, you can.
To fill the tank put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate and fill slowly. The water seeps in over the edge of the plate and there is less clouding of the water. You can use some saved water if you want, but there is not really that much nitrifying bacteria in there. Do not use the water the fish were in while in the buckets. Stressed fish produce more than average ammonia and stress hormones. You do not want this going into the tank.

If you did not use the bacteria rich gravel as a cap then hang the bags in the tank where there is good water flow. Several small bags work well, because you can then remove one bag per week to allow the bacteria population to adjust.

Another way to help the bacteria is to add one of the products that contain Nitrospiros bacteria. Make sure it has this specific species of bacteria. All other 'bacteria in a bottle' products are a waste of money.

Rinse off the rocks you are not using and air dry them before storing them. They may be useful for the next tank you set up ;-)
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-01-2010, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks

Thank you for all the fantastic and invaluable advice. I cleaned out the 20 Gal tank this weekend, laid down the black Fluorite (which I was 5 times before putting in the tank) and then moved some plants from my other 20 Gal planted tank. So far, so good.
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