Advice Wanted: Switching to New Substrate. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-24-2006, 05:31 AM Thread Starter
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Advice Wanted: Switching to New Substrate.

BACKGROUND: So I'm not really getting into the enitre planted tank ordeal and having a lot of fun with it. At the moment I have very simple plants that are either mounted to driftwood/rocks (java ferns, java moss, x-mas tree moss, cardnial plant) or left floating (hornwort). However I am also cheating and have two big fake plants (please don't revoke my membership ) filling out the tank. I've arranged for a few plant trades after the holidays and I want to make things right by removing the fake plants and getting the new plants properly planted in the substrate.

ISSUE AT HAND: Right now I have the standard issue black, 15-30mm, cheap epoxy coated gravel from the pet store (I never though I'd do a planted tank when I started). But things have changed and I am looking to convert the junk gravel to a good substrate. Now, I'd greatly appreciate advice how to do this. From what I've read Eco-Complete seems to be a quality substrate and very straightforward to use. But I'm open to suggestions. Should I use Eco-Complete? What's the best way to convert over to the new substrate? What is the optimal substrate layer depth? Should I mix the new substrate with the gravel I've got now or completely remove the cheap gravel? Should I empty the tank, drain any water, move fish???

Any suggestions, advice, or general guidance would be great! Thanks in advance...I look forward to hopefully hearing lots of answers!
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-24-2006, 11:38 AM
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There have been some water chemistry problems with the Eco-Complete. But it's still a good substrate.

You want about 3" of depth. Don't even try mixing the two. The larger stuff will end up on top and will be almost impossible to remove.

What I would do is first do a very good gravel vac of the existing substrate. Do this into a bucket. Pour off the water and keep the mulm that accumulates at the bottom of the bucket. Remove the current boulders. Then put a very fine layer of ground peat moss in the tank. It's best to soak the peat a bit first. Then put the mulm over the peat moss. Now carefully add the new substrate.

You might want to place some of old substrate in a bag in the tank for a week or so.

Also treat this as you would a newly setup tank. A mini cycle is not uncommon when switching substrates as your substrate has a huge surface area and contains a very high amount of beneficial bacteria. If you have a LFS that sells Bio-Spira it would IMHO be a good idea to add some. Also load up the tank with fast growing stem plants. These steps will help avoid the mini-cycle.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-26-2006, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you folr your reply. So let me suggest I remove everything from the tank then set up the new substrate? Can I just use run of the mill peat moss from Lowe's?

Let me ask you, given the choice of any of the substrates avalable which one would you suggest? I'm still up in the air between Eco-Complete and Aquasoil. I don't mind spending the money, but I'd like to get it right this time!!! Thanks for your advice, its very much appreciated! -Michael
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-27-2006, 02:41 AM
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the problem with swapping to ADA is that it will leach toxic levels of amonia into your tank and can be very cloudy for the first week or two. At least in my experience. Eco won't leach amonia. The amonia leached may not be as much of a problem on an established tank but it took some time and alot of purigen / sponges from my other filters before the tank cycled out the amonia.

ADA is better for growing plants though IMO. It should be about the same price as Eco, considering the size of the bag you get. For me it was actualy a little cheaper.
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