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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. Long time viewer, first time poster, here.

I have a 90 gallon tank that has several anubias, java ferns and two marble swords with a substrate is small 2-4mm river pebble. It is stocked with angelfish, corys and clown loaches. I am adding some dwarf sag and some narrowleaf microswords for foreground plants and a few stemmed mid/background plants too. I am planning on putting in Eco-Complete first and I have a few questions:

1) What do you think if I take out the plants/rocks/wood but leave in the fish. Scoop out the old gravel, then put in the Eco-Complete? Would this be overly shocking to the fish? Should I take out the fish and keep them in a bin until I finish messing with the tank?

2) I am getting 60lbs of Eco Complete - I figured I would put an inch or so of the river pebble on top of the Eco Complete since I like the look of the pebbles. Is this a good idea? Is that enough Eco Complete?

3) Is it true that you can add Eco Complete to a tank without rinsing it? Just pour it in from the bag?

I would appreciate any thoughts and opinions on this...
 

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hey and welcome to TPT!

concerning your substrate question..

1. I think you should absolutely remove the fish and probably drain the entire tank...pouring in eco-complete right into the tank is going to create one hell of a particulate storm. If you drain the tank and then fill it slowly you can minimize this.

2. I have 2 bags in my 20 gallon, so you may need a bit more...

3. Yes you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks and thanks!

Is it a good idea to put gravel on top of the Eco-Complete or should I only use it alone? Will my gravel sink below it? I am ordering it online - so I don't know what it feels like - is it dense or more like peat?
 

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you should remove the fish. you also might not have enough eco complete so you should leave 1-1.5" of the existing gravel (should contain beneficial bacteria as well as some mulm) and put the eco complete on top of that.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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+1 on remove the fish first, it will make life much easier.

I've got about 180lbs of substrate in my 90gal, for 2-4" height, if that helps you any.

The gravel and Eco are bound to mix over time, so as long as that doesn't bother you, won't be an issue. The larger gravel will mostly stay on top of smaller pieces of Eco, though. Eco feels like little pieces of rock.
 

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you have been watching us? SPY!

take your fish out. you might accidently bury some. i've done that before:(

make sure that you like the look of the pebbles and the eco complete together. you will gravel vac it once and everything will blend together and you'll never get all of the pebbles out after that. you can do it... just be sure that you like the way it looks
 

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I just turn filters off and dump it in. I add mine cup by cup, just grab a cup full and get to the bottom and pour it in. The fish will get over it and the tank will lose the bulk of its cloudiness in a few hours. Ive never removed a fish from a substrate change. They deal with it just fine.
 

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Just poured 5 bags of Eco complete , a little cloudy but clears up quick. I removed plants , left fish in and took time and care in cleaning out old substrate. Every thing is clear ans ph almost back to normal.
 

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You need to keep a very close eye out for a mini-cycle over the next few days. Much of a tank's N-bacteria population is hosted in the substrate, and since you disturbed that you may get another short cycle while the tank catches back up. Just be ready to do water changes. And leave your filter alone (don't clean it) for a few weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow, such a great wealth of information! (This is why I have been spying! LOL)

I have 2 filters - one HOB and one canister and they have been running for a long time - so I am hoping the cycle won't be too bad. I am so excited about doing this. I can't wait until my plants and stuff arrive!

Thanks to everyone for the opinions/information. I think I am going to try to add the Eco-Complete very gently with the fish in the tank and all the other stuff out of it. I will scoop out a lot of the old gravel first and then mix it back in. I ended up asking for 2 more bags of the Eco-Complete (I hope they get the request before my order ships!) based on the comments here.

I actually did once bury a fish - a 7" Uaru! I was moving them into a new tank after my 72gal bowfront busted the center support (that was scary!) I had 4 Uarus in the new tank and I was pouring in the last of the gravel and suddenly I had 3 Uarus. I looked all over for it. Its not a small fish to lose. It just layed there under the pile of gravel like a big scaredy cat. I dug it up and it was fine. I won't make that mistake again!

Should I post photos of my adventure?

Thanks again everyone!
 

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When I changed mine out I removed the fish, you may be able to get away with leaving them in but I would bet it would be less stressfull on the fish putting them in a bucket and cover it while you rescape.
 

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Why would you leave them in. I don't understand why anyone would do this. It takes no extra effort or time to drain some of the tank water into a container and remove the fish. I use a ice chest and a lot of others use rubbermaid containers. You won't have the fish out of the tank long enough to require filtration in the container. How much trouble is this. A lot of people have done a lot of things that worked that time but why take the chance. Anytime you disturb your substrate you are creating issues with your water quality and stressing your fish. Maybe they will get over it, but why should they have to???

Sorry for the rant but I was always taught that you treat those in you care better than yourself and I wouldn't won't someone dumping gravel on my head and filling the air around me with so much dust that I couldn't see or possible breathe. I would find that very stressful.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
It takes no extra effort or time to drain some of the tank water into a container and remove the fish . . . Anytime you disturb your substrate you are creating issues with your water quality and stressing your fish. Maybe they will get over it, but why should they have to???
No extra effort to drain water and remove the fish? Yes, that is extra effort - but extra effort is not the concern for me. I take pride in the effort I put into my tanks.

I asked people's opinions on the matter because I do not have experience with using Eco-Complete. I did not expect to get slammed for how I treat my fish. Chasing around full-grown angels, panicking them, netting them with their delicate veiltails and super long pelvic fins, and storing them in a cooler is also very stressful. That is why I am debating what to do with them. It's not because I don't love my fish - I want to do what is best for them. As I evaluated people's responses about how the Eco-Complete behaves when added to a tank, I thought it might be better to let the fish do what they do every time I am working in the tank, including doing simple weekly water changes, they herd together to feel safe on one side of the tank or the other. If I let the two filters keep running, a lot of the particulate matter will be sucked up in the process anyhow. By the way - have you seen the color of the Amazon river from the fine sediment it carries? That is some dusty water!
 

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Sorry, guess I should have clarified better. I realize you were asking for advice so my response was not meant to be directed at you but to those that responded saying leave them in the tank. I sincerly apoligize that you took it that way.

This is not the same as a weekly water change. Your are talking about removing the existing substrate so the issue becomes not only the particulate matter from the eco complete but more importantly the particulate matter from the existing substrate. Even with weekly water changes substrate collects some pretty nasty stuff and when disturbed in a major way it can really foul the water. Overfiltration is often not a fix for this.

Yes, the Amazon does carry a lot of sediment with it, but sediment is not the issue. While the water appears to be dirty with sediment it is actually clean when it comes to factors like ammonia and nitrites.

Any option you choose is going to be stressful so it comes down to what is the least stressful and the safest for you fish. JMO but hands down that is removing them from the tank. I breed angels so I understand your concerns but they can be netted and moved without any real issues. Pulling them from the tank allows you to do a 100% water change and put them back in uncontaminated water. You will still have bacteria in your filters so a cycle should not be a issue anymore.
 

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+1 for pulling them out. Not only do i believe it stresses them less, but it also keeps them from getting in the way. As long as you don't leave them in the bucket overnight with no filtration, you should be fine.
 

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I personally would have removed the fish due mainly to the risk of ammonia spike, but IMO as long as precautions are taken to deal with that issue should it occur, leaving large fish in such a large tank while doing this type of procedure isn't in any way cruel.

I have in the past accidentally buried small fish though when moving decor and substrate around (plecos and loaches especially seem to enjoy getting in the way :icon_conf ... fortunately they all were OK afterwards) so that's one reason I usually recommend removal.

At this point, though, the OP's got the new substrate in, fish are OK, and water params are being watched- so I think we're all good. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I haven't done anything yet. My EcoComplete and new plants should arrive today. I am still undecided as to how I will handle it. Perhaps the fish will tell me what they want. LOL. I see the benefit both ways. I had though that the EcoComplete might be more like soil, so I was definately going to take out the fish. Right now I don't have that much gravel in the tank anyhow 1-1 1/2". I have corys in the tank too and they are very nosey.

Thanks again for all of your responses. There are clearly a lot of concerned fish lovers out there! I will report back when it is over....
 

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Well, yesterday was the big day. I decided I would take out the fish so I filled a large cooler with tank water. I took out the big pieces of wood and stone first and put them into a box lined in plastic. Well, after a minute or so I heard the box crunching. When I looked into the box I saw two of my clown loaches bouncing around. I guess they wedged themselves into the crevices in the wood and just dropped out. They bounced into a forming puddle in the bottom of the box and after chasing them around for a minute, I got them into the cooler of tank water. After that it was all a breeze.

I cleared the tank of everything but the gravel. Scooped all of my old gravel into the center, added the Eco-Complete - it made the water hazy, but cleared up in no time. I flipped the old gravel on top of the eco-complete and started planting. I was amazed at how well it held the plants' roots. It was so easy to work with! I will up load some photos of my process.

I do think taking the fish out was the right choice now. The main reason is beacuse it would have been tough to not crush one of them putting the wood and stone back in. Some of them do not know how to get out of the way!

Well, thanks again folks. One final question... two actually. Should I occasionally add extra liquid fertilizer even with the Eco-Complete? And how long does the Eco-Complete keep nurishing the plants? Months? Years?
 
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