I decided to give Soilmaster a try. After calling my local dealer, I found out that Charcoal isnt in and it would take weeks to order. What they did have in is the Red variety. I grabbed a 50 lb bag of the "red" and went for it. To change my current gravel in the 55, I used my 46 bow as a container. Here are the steps...
1. Empty the 46g bb tank (or leave a little water, whatever)
2. Move the water from the 55 to 46 until most of the 46 is full.
Keep a 5g bucket with the 55g tank inhabitants, in my case: 5 medium angels, 2 clown loaches, 1 spotted rafael, 3 cories, 8 otos. I had an air bubbler going into the bucket to prevent as much stress as possible.
3. After 46 is pretty full, dumb the rest of the water from the 55 and remove the gravel. Dont worry about the muck as it will be used. When most of the gravel is removed proceed to step 4.
4. Sprinkle some peat moss onto the bottom of the tank. I used Schultz peat moss from walmart obtained 8qts bag for 2.50. (no additives from what i've seen). I just sprinkled it lightly. No 1/2 inch layers.
5. Do not wash the Soilmaster. Dump it into the tank over the peat and old gravel gunk. (there is very little water in the tank right now).
6. After making the slope you want at the thickness you want, hide the rest of the bag
. I used half a bag on a 55 and i got a fairly uniform 4 inch thickness without much of a slope.
--take a break if you want because the following will take a while--
7. Using 5 gallon buckets, I started moving the water back from the 46 into the 55. In order not to disturb the SM, I started by placing/holding the bucket on the side of the tank and using the syphon to draw the water onto a plate sitting on the bottom. However after deciding that I did not like the plate idea, I placed my sponge filter into the tank and directed the water from the syphon onto the top of the sponge. The water drained through the sponge without disturbing the gravel. After 1/2-2/3s of the tank was full, I just poured the water into the tank out of the bucket with the stream hitting my hand placed just below the water surface. Once again, the bottom was not disturbed.
--- When the tank is 1/3 full you may use the opportunity to plant your plants. My observation was that SM was very easy to plant in. Its pretty light and fills the holes you make with your finger when inserting plant roots.
The tank came out SLIGHTLY cloudy which is much better than I expected given what the SM looked like coming out of the bag. (my gf coughed from all the dust and she was across the room).
The color of the "red" is a bit lighter than your standard orange clay pots found at any garden shop.
Fish were introduced back into the water after about an hour. At first the angels seemed "off" and I got a bit worried. After about an hour of lights out, they came back to light and quit hiding behind the wood. It is now 3 hours later and they are back to normal swimming with vigor and playing/eating. Clown loaches and cories are active.
-A thing to note is the SM retains air when you add water and as your fish swim around, there are going to be air bubbles coming up from the gravel. Nothing to worry about (I hope).
Overall a great experience done in about 1 hour (without the fish waiting and so on)
notice: the pics are taken by a crappy camera with no backround on the tank. I found that the cam takes better shots that way, go figure.