Changing Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-02-2006, 04:30 AM Thread Starter
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Changing Substrate

I started my first aquarium in Dec 2005, I purchaced some fish, gravel, and plastic plants etc. I now have fish, Live Plants, and CO2. What I want to do now is get rid of the gravel and add either Flourite or Eco Complete. But I have heard that this is not a good idea to remove the old gravel because of the good bacteria. What precausions should I take so my fish and plants will servive the change?

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-02-2006, 04:48 AM
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Save the mulm (fish crap and other organic matter) that is in the existing substrate. That will provide the bacteria you need. Keep that on the bottom of your tank, remove the old substrate, and add the new on top of it. You may also want to add a little peat to the mulm before adding the new substrate. How heavily stocked is your tank?

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-02-2006, 05:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nolan W.
Save the mulm (fish crap and other organic matter) that is in the existing substrate. That will provide the bacteria you need. Keep that on the bottom of your tank, remove the old substrate, and add the new on top of it. You may also want to add a little peat to the mulm before adding the new substrate. How heavily stocked is your tank?
It's a 29 Gal tank with 5 Tiger Barbs, 2 Wagtail Platys, 7 assorted Gouramis, 1 Tinfoil Barb, 1 Bala Shark, 1 Columbian Shark, 2 small Chinese Algae Eaters, 1 Rubber Lipped Pleco, and 1 Brown African Knife Fish.
What is the best way to save the Mulm?
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-02-2006, 05:58 AM
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I think what one of the SFBAAPS members did was siphon almost all of the water out of the tank, then scoop the old substrate out. The mulm and a couple inches of water was what was left. He sprinkled peat on top of that, then added the new substrate.

Bala sharks get big from what I know. Not sure about Columbian sharks.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-02-2006, 12:47 PM
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Bala shark will get very big, and you will have to donate/trade it somewhere much later (as it will grow slower when cramped in a small tank).

Tinfoil barb will also grow big in the long run.

I'd get rid of that chinese algae eater before it does any damage. That creature will turn into an agressive beast in no time, harrasing other fish, sucking at big fish and eating soft leaved plants. Get 3-4 ottos for a change, as they are much gentler on other fish as well as plants. SAE is an option, but as they get bigger they are likely to damage your plants as well, but much peaceful than CAE.

Now for the substrate. I agree to save a bit of the mulm and old substrate, that is if the difference between it and eco is not too great and will cost you the aesthetics. If you feel like it, you can always left some of the old substrate by the bottom and put those eco on top, or better still mix them together. But be warned that the bigger substrate will always end up by the top.

Dont clean your filter yet as it will be burdened by the load after the change. Get an extra huge bucket (something like 5-6+ gallon or so) with a lid and an aerator for the fish. Let the tank run for 2-3 days while doing 3-4 water changes during the time. Then the water should be clear and stable enough for the fish to come back.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-02-2006, 02:40 PM
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The columbian shark is actually a catfish, as I recall, and will get large. I think the same is true about the knife fish. Bala sharks like company and it's best to keep at least 3 of them. If you have no plans for a much larger tank in the future, you'll want to trade them out or find them different homes.

I changed the substrate in my 29 recently from regular gravel to eco-complete. It was a fairly easy and painless procedure. When you drain the water from the tank, just don't vacuum the gravel too much and all the nice gunk will settle to the bottom when you take the gravel out.

With that, the eco-complete, and several plants my fish had no problems. However, at the time I was nowhere near as stocked as you are now. If you can lessen the load before you start, that may help. Or just run a spare filter for a bit so it can seed with good bacteria and keep things in order while the new substrate is settling in.

Good luck.
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