Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
A planted tank will make up for not moving the substrate (with its bacteria population).
If you do not want to cycle again, then skip any of the substrates that generate ammonia (ADA product line, some others).
How to move stuff to new tank:
1) Have new stuff ready. Tank rinsed, substrate ready to go...
2) Drain enough clean water from old tank into buckets or other containers to hold fish and plants. Separate buckets for plants and fish, and separate aggressive fish. Loaches separate from everyone else. Loaches can produce a slime coat that is toxic when they are stressed. Cover the fish buckets. Filter media into the new filter, or into 3-4 mesh bags.
3) Use the remaining water in the original tank to rinse filter media, rinse the substrate if you are going to save it.
4) Set up new tank, making sure it is plumb, level and square.
5) Substrate, driftwood, rocks... Add just enough water to not quite cover the substrate.
6) Plant, misting often.
7) Put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate and fill slowly. Allow the water to seep slowly over the edges of the plate. This is so the water will not cloud very much.
8) Set up and turn on equipment, check that it all works. If the cycled filter media can be placed in the new filter that is great. Otherwise you can hang it in mesh bags where it will be in good water flow. Then remove one bag per week for 3-4 weeks.
If you want to boost the bacteria population look for a product with Nitrospiros species of nitrifying bacteria. All other 'bacteria in a bottle' products have the wrong species and are just a waste of money.
9) Net the fish and put them in the tank. Do not add the water from the fish buckets. Fish under stress produce excess ammonia. Many species produce a stress hormone. You do not want to add either of these to the new tank.
Lights off for the rest of the day, and reduced or no food.
Monitor the tank for the first week for ammonia or other issues.