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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have a 40 gallon planted tank that is very low maintenance and low up-keep, which works really well for my really hectic work schedule. It's been up and running with flourite substrate for about 5 years now. I have a big love for corydoras and although the few I have seem fine, I'd love to get more and see some more behaviour from them (i.e. searching through sand or soil).

I'm not sure if it's worth the risk of destabilizing the tank for something so minor. I've even had the crazy idea of placing a glass dish with sand in the tank, and burying it so that it lines up with the pre-existing substrate. If anyone has any experience with this kind of big swap (and importantly, long term effects and outcomes) I'd love to hear.
 

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Have you considered capping the Flourite with sand? I have not done it myself but I’ve seen it done. My guess is it will eventually mix together over months or years.

If you do replace the substrate try to keep as much of the beneficial bacteria alive as possible by keeping plants and hardscape in some tank water. You can also supplement with the bacteria starter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Have you considered capping the Flourite with sand? I have not done it myself but I’ve seen it done. My guess is it will eventually mix together over months or years.

If you do replace the substrate try to keep as much of the beneficial bacteria alive as possible by keeping plants and hardscape in some tank water. You can also supplement with the bacteria starter.
Hmmm. I'm apprehensive about just adding on top and having too deep a substrate bed (both because the tank is relatively shallow and because I worry about anaerobic pockets) but I wonder if you're right about doing something mixed and maybe removing half and replacing with sand. Hmmmmmm...
 

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One possible plan and one question...

You have a lot of open space and what looks like a lot of plants attached to hardscape. Why not simply replace the substrate a small section at a time. Remove as much in that section as you can and then refresh with new substrate with similar makeup and appearance. If you do smallish sections over a period of time you will not risk a crash and eventually you will get most of the substrate replaced. It will require some patience but might work well. Do a section each week just before a big water change. I had a 75g tank running with Fluorite for 5 years also. Towards the end of the 5th year I started having a BIG problem with algae and due to life circumstances took the tank down and sold it. When I finally removed the substrate the bottom most part was basically mud. It was probably mulm that had built up in places that I had not taken time to replant and clean.

Question. Do you have shrimp? If so, how are they doing with the powerhead? I was thinking of adding one to my current 75g.
 

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I second the last two posts on substrate change and cory number question.

There are ways to do it. I did my 75 in one day. I did have a 20 and 30 gallon I stored all fish decor and 50 gallons of water from the tank. removed all substrate and replaced. If you don't have the spare tanks like I did then doing it in parts seems like a good idea.

Corys are much happier in groups. Mine shoal around and lately seem to have little groups of 2 or 3, but with 7 or 8 that I have they are happy. They also group up during water changes or decor changes for comfort. I had them in gravel before and the did just fine. Sand now, they just have an easier time of exposing the bases of my plants. I started with 3, one died, the two went crazy. They looked for more and would chase their reflections all day. With the 8ish that I have now they don't do this at all anymore. One did every so often but that lessened until it stopped all together.
 

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I have swapped substrates a total of 3 times in the past two years on my tank from ada soil to sand foreground to ada soil again. Just scoop what you can out with a small cup and vacuum the rest out and add new soil. Ammonia rich soils will require daily water changes for the first week but your filter will catchup in no time.

Edit: I will say ive done it both with fish in tank and fish in buckets. With minor changes like swapping sand foregrounds I leave the fish in. When I do a total replant and soil renewal, fish come out and into buckets with bubblers for the 3-4 hours it takes me to rescape and resoil a tank.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One possible plan and one question...

You have a lot of open space and what looks like a lot of plants attached to hardscape. Why not simply replace the substrate a small section at a time. Remove as much in that section as you can and then refresh with new substrate with similar makeup and appearance. If you do smallish sections over a period of time you will not risk a crash and eventually you will get most of the substrate replaced. It will require some patience but might work well. Do a section each week just before a big water change. I had a 75g tank running with Fluorite for 5 years also. Towards the end of the 5th year I started having a BIG problem with algae and due to life circumstances took the tank down and sold it. When I finally removed the substrate the bottom most part was basically mud. It was probably mulm that had built up in places that I had not taken time to replant and clean.

Question. Do you have shrimp? If so, how are they doing with the powerhead? I was thinking of adding one to my current 75g.
This is also not a bad idea at all!

I don't have shrimp though, sorry! The only one I've had with these strong powerheads were some large bamboo shrimp, and they did fine and stayed away from the intakes (and really enjoyed the flow too!)

I second the last two posts on substrate change and cory number question.

There are ways to do it. I did my 75 in one day. I did have a 20 and 30 gallon I stored all fish decor and 50 gallons of water from the tank. removed all substrate and replaced. If you don't have the spare tanks like I did then doing it in parts seems like a good idea.

Corys are much happier in groups. Mine shoal around and lately seem to have little groups of 2 or 3, but with 7 or 8 that I have they are happy. They also group up during water changes or decor changes for comfort. I had them in gravel before and the did just fine. Sand now, they just have an easier time of exposing the bases of my plants. I started with 3, one died, the two went crazy. They looked for more and would chase their reflections all day. With the 8ish that I have now they don't do this at all anymore. One did every so often but that lessened until it stopped all together.
I have 2 corys at the moment as my school has slowly widdled down over the years. That said I have 14 coming tomorrow so no worries there.

I suppose more than the mechanics of where to put the fish while I do this, I'm worried about disrupting the balance of a very well-established ecosystem. I have moved these tanks and fish across the country and I have an 80 gallon 'indoor pond' to pop everything into so that kind of thing is not the issue.
 

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I have 2 corys at the moment as my school has slowly widdled down over the years. That said I have 14 coming tomorrow so no worries there.

I suppose more than the mechanics of where to put the fish while I do this, I'm worried about disrupting the balance of a very well-established ecosystem. I have moved these tanks and fish across the country and I have an 80 gallon 'indoor pond' to pop everything into so that kind of thing is not the issue.
well, don't clean the filter when you move if possible. At least then you will have the nitrogen cycle covered. everything else will settle in eventually. The biggest issue would be the fish not recognizing anything but that's gonna happen anyway.

so I think if you feel it should be done, do it. The fish will thank you for it 30 minutes after being back in the tank.
 

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I have swapped substrates a total of 3 times in the past two years on my tank from ada soil to sand foreground to ada soil again. Just scoop what you can out with a small cup and vacuum the rest out and add new soil. Ammonia rich soils will require daily water changes for the first week but your filter will catchup in no time.

Edit: I will say ive done it both with fish in tank and fish in buckets. With minor changes like swapping sand foregrounds I leave the fish in. When I do a total replant and soil renewal, fish come out and into buckets with bubblers for the 3-4 hours it takes me to rescape and resoil a tank.
++1
 

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I'm going to attempt to replace the substrate in half my tank, it's not fully planted, just the two ends. I'm going to replace the substrate on the left side of the tank and replace that big piece of sandstone in the middle. I plan on leaving a third of the existing substrate in the tank, it will be the bottom layer. Hopefully, that will keep a large amount of "Good" bacteria in the tank.

The current substrate is standard river pebbles, replacing it with UP Aqua Sand for Aquatic Plants.

I'll attempt this with the fish in the tank - they'll hate me for it but catching them could take as long as rescaping.

1027993
 

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I've done it a few times - I put the fishes and plants in a 5 gallon bucket - drain the rest of the tank - remove the substrate with a scoop and replace it. Fill the tank (make sure to remove chlorine) and return the fishes. Most the beneficial bacteria is in the filter - though in my case i have secondary filtration in the form of a sponge filter - i do measure ammonia for 2 or 3 days after a change to make sure the cycle is still breaking it down. I've not had a problem but of course things can go wrong.
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To be honest the worse thing that can happen is there is a problem with new substrate if it is not inert or has an additive that causes a problem with the ph or different.
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I would be a bit concern if you are switching to a substrate you've not used before and has additives or impacts kh or ph.
 
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