Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: In the hills of Eastern Kentucky, USA
Adding to already established substrate will most likely send your tank back into a cycle. That being said, since no matter how you do it a cycle is inevitable, and since you don't currently have any plants that will get disturbed, do it right the first time, and you won't regret it down the road.
You can leave the fish in, scoop out most (if not all) of the gravel, put in your base layer, put your gravel back in and carry on from there. Run the filter as you remove the gravel, stop it as your putting sub back in tank, start the filter back up when your done and let it run for a few weeks to a month before cleaning. Watch your ammonia and nitrite levels in the mean time and address accordingly with partial water changes. If the filter is fairly well established when you begin this process your cycle will be minimal.
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