Replacing dirt/sand with Eco Complete - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Replacing dirt/sand with Eco Complete

I've had my 40b setup for about 2 years now. I used MGOCPM with a Black Diamond blasting sand cap. I'm ready to rework the hardscape totally and I want to get rid of the dirt. I've never been satisfied with my dirted tank.

I have purchased some Eco Complete and plan to use it. If I save 50% of the water, don't clean my hardscape and don't clean my filter, will I need to cycle my tank?

I plan on keeping the filter running with 50% of the water and move the fish & plants to a spare 10 gal during the rescape (filled with water from the 40).

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 01:17 AM
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Maximum bacteria is in the filter media, and on hardscape.
Very little in the water.
Saving any of the water is only to ensure the fish are in water with the same parameters. Doing something like a 50% water change is not a problem as long as the new water is similar to the old.

I would add a bottle of bacteria that includes Nitrospira species of bacteria, just to make up for bacteria that is lost in the transfer.

If the fish will fit in a 10 gallon, go for it. Will the filter be too much for that small tank, though? Too much water movement for the fish? Great if you can do this, though. That is the best way to keep the beneficial bacteria alive.

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Here is how I would do this:

A) Before:
clean the filter a week before. This gives the bacteria a chance to recover in case of some loss.
prepare enough water for 100% water change. Make the new water match the GH, KH, TDS of the water in the tank.
Prep the substrate, if needed (EC does not need any prep- use it right out of the bag)

B) Day of the change:
Turn off, unplug, remove equipment.
Drain best water into buckets or the 10 gallon holding tank. Move fish. Keep them in the dark, and keep a lid on it. Plants in a different container- perhaps low, wide so you can spread them out and see which ones you want to use.
Drain the rest of the water into a couple more buckets, if you want to save it. Run the filter on the bucket (or tank) with the fish. The ammonia from the fish will keep the bacteria going.
Put rocks, wood, ceramic merpeople in a damp/humid place- perhaps in a garbage bag, or plastic storage bin. Good to keep them damp so the bacteria stay alive.

Remove the remaining substrate and other things from the tank.
Rinse the tank.

Add substrate and hardscape, making hills and valleys. Add only enough water to dampen the substrate. (EC is already damp, in the bag, or at least it was the last time I used it)

Plant. Mist often.

Put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate and begin filling. Slowly. Allow the water to run in over the plate and seep into the substrate. This minimizes clouding.
As the water gets deeper you can lift the hose so the water sheets across the surface, and fill faster.
Set up equipment, make sure it works. You could add something like Dr. Tim's One and Only, or Tetra Safe Start into the filter, or the tank.

Net the fish out of their container. Fish under stress produce excess ammonia, and stress hormones. You do not want this in the new tank.

C) the rest of the day: Lights out, food only if they are behaving normally. OK to skip a meal. Dark is less stressful.

D) next day, and for several days:
Lights on.
Monitor conditions, especially ammonia.
Be ready to do a water change. (If you added beneficial bacteria, follow the label directions about water changes, unless the ammonia is really high. This suggests the bacteria in the bottle have died)
Feed a normal amount, or somewhat less if there is ammonia showing.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 01:22 AM
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Always a difficult call. Saving water - GOOD. Not cleaning hardscape & filter - GOOD (do those a week or two later). Like the 10g holding.

The answer is probably you'll be fine. The reason I won't go all in for this is because I don't know what kind of fish and how heavily stocked and how healthy the fish are and ... and ... and ...

The plants of course help with cycling but some of them might melt back and that will actually hurt the cycling very short term and help it longer term.

I'm not the greatest expert in the world, but your plan seems about what I usually do and I'm about to do something very similar except I have lots of tanks and lots of low-bio load tanks.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 01:26 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much Diana, you are a fantastic resource. As for the filter, my plan was to run it in a Brute trashcan and not the 10 gal. I have a Aquaclear 20 for it. My plan is to put some of the filter media from the canister into the Aquaclear. Will I be OK with no substrate in the 10 gal?

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Originally Posted by VelcroWY View Post
Always a difficult call. Saving water - GOOD. Not cleaning hardscape & filter - GOOD (do those a week or two later). Like the 10g holding.

The answer is probably you'll be fine. The reason I won't go all in for this is because I don't know what kind of fish and how heavily stocked and how healthy the fish are and ... and ... and ...

The plants of course help with cycling but some of them might melt back and that will actually hurt the cycling very short term and help it longer term.

I'm not the greatest expert in the world, but your plan seems about what I usually do and I'm about to do something very similar except I have lots of tanks and lots of low-bio load tanks.
I only have 5 pristella tetras, an otto and an assassin snail in the 40 right now.

Dobie Swift
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-02-2015, 01:32 AM
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If it is all going to be done in a few hours, then it does not much matter. The bacteria need oxygen, and a humid location. If this means floating the media in the tank with the fish, or storing it in a bucket with a little water, or running the filter on another container... any variation of these will work.

If it is going to take longer than a few hours, then I would be more careful to set up the fish with bio filtration, to keep both the fish and the microorganisms happy- Put the media from the current filter into the smaller filter, or hang it from the sides of the tank where the water flow will keep it oxygenated.
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