Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Eco Complete is a good one.
Real gravel from a landscape/Masonry/Rock yard- go see what is available locally and get some samples to test for GH, KH and TDS.
To add these:
Put a large diameter pipe into the tank from above the water to where you want the new material. Drop the new material in through the pipe. Then move to a new area.
Stop if it gets cloudy. Continue in a few hours or the next day.
Clean the filter media often, the fine particles that are causing the cloudy water will get trapped by the filter media.
Next option gets it all done at once, but is more work:
Prepare enough water for a 100% water change.
Drain the tank, saving the livestock in buckets.
Alter the substrate as needed, adding hills and valleys, moving the driftwood, rocks and plants. Mist the plants as you go.
Refill, using a plate or plastic bag over the substrate. Allow the water to seep slowly over the edge of the bag. This will minimize clouding. This is such a large undertaking that you might disturb too much of the nitrifying bacteria that live in the substrate and on all the surfaces in the tank and filter.
You might want to add a bacterial supplement that includes Nitrospira.
Put in new water, then add the livestock. Do not add the water from the fish buckets. When fish are stressed they add excess ammonia and stress hormones to the water.