Switching out substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-30-2004, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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Switching out substrate

I have a undergravel filter and am going to take it out and get a canister filter. I plan to run the canister for about 2 weeks then take out fish, plants, and under gravel filter and all the nasty stuff under it and then put the gravel back and add more flourite. Has anyone else done this before? Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-30-2004, 02:25 AM
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I like the plan. Sounds like you have thought this out. You might even want to stir the substrate up a wee bit while the canister is running, get some of the bacteria into the water column and into the filter.

If it is possible, you might want to try and save some of the crud and mulm that is in your substrate and add it to the new Flourite. The gunk is full of bacteria and fish mulm. Great stuff for growing plants!


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-30-2004, 02:54 AM
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I've done total substrate changes. Boy it sure is a lot of work.

Running the canister prior is a good idea. One thing I also do that I've found has helped a lot is I setup a tote that is large enough to hold all of the substrate I'm going to be using at a 4" layer, I fill the tote with old aquarium water, a heater, and powerhead, and then cycle it with some ammonia. Once the new substrate has cycled, I transfer it.

It makes it easier to work with when adding new water after changing the substrate since it won't cloud as much, and the new substrate will be heavier from being soaked in water. Also if your using a sand based media it won't blow around as much.

It's way more work but it reduces the chance of there being any kind of cycle in the tank from not having enough bacteria to handle your bioload. In the instances I've done this the new aquarium with all animals has been transfered in a day. After another day you cannot even tell anything was changed.

As long as you take it slow refilling the tank you can avoid any clouding and have it set back up pretty quickly.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-30-2004, 03:26 AM
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I have had good luck placing the new fluorite dry in the bare tank and then capping it with the old stuff. Less clouding, more good stuff saved.

Moved to Tucson.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-30-2004, 01:00 PM
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If there is allready flourite in the tank , which it sounds like, I wouldnt even remove it. Run the canister to get it ripe like you said for a couple weeks, get a large tote like Desolas said and put the fish , plants etc. in it when you are ready, drain only 1/3rd of the tank water and just push all the old flourite off to the side enough to get the plate out , then suck all the murky water that is stirred up out of the tank and refill. If it is still really murky do another quick water change then rinse your new flourite layer well and cap off the old flourite and you are in business. I wouldnt get all crazy removing the old stuff and rinsing it, all that mulm will be good for the new tank. Why waste a good thing ?
The whole process would take only a few hours tops.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-09-2005, 05:58 AM
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I just performed this very same task today. I had about 3 inches of gravel, wood, fish, an rock. Tossed the fish an all the rest of the stuff in buckets. Scooped half the gravel out, and put in 75 lbs of play sand, after washin it for about 2 hours. Never rinsed the gravel inside of the tank though. Wanted the nasty lookin stuff to stay put. I did overkill the sand though...I have about 4 1/2" of substrate now...
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-09-2005, 11:02 AM
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Thats fine Mark, when we say your sub should be 3" deep , its so the roots have enough room to spread and enough depth to keep substrate ferts where they belong, in the substrate.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-09-2005, 03:22 PM
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Draining the tank. The python worked pretty good for keeping the mess outside when I was washin the sand. Was just a matter of scooping half the gravel out, an putting in the sand. Eventually I will have about 1 1/2" of gravel on top of the sand. All the bacteria I left in the tank with the remaining gravel should work its way into the sand ok over time.

Last edited by bastalker; 12-21-2007 at 02:44 AM.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-10-2005, 12:21 AM
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What a chore!
I just switched my substrate out last week, what a pain, and I only have a 20 gal. Lets just be thankful that this isn't a regular maintenance job.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-10-2005, 01:28 AM
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Depending how much muck you have under your UGF, you may want to run a diatom when you do it. It might save you a visit from the green water grinch.

Your local pet store should have them for rent.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 04:40 AM Thread Starter
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Finally switched it out

Took about 5 hours all together to catch fish, remove plants, remove the under gravel filter, remove some gravel, wash flourite, and fill it back up and plant the plants. I am glad it is over.
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