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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone...so I've had my moderately planted 36 gal tank for about a year and have finally decided that I need to change my substrate. At the moment I am using purely gravel and my questions are two fold.

1) what is the best way to go about changing the substrate on this established tank with plants and fish?

2) any suggestions on the type of substrate I should use?
 

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Changing substrate is a rail pain in the anus with an established tank. Do you have anywhere you can move the fauna? The plants will all be fine in a bucket until you replant.

The only way I've ever done it is to drain the water level very low and scoop the old substrate out. Be careful around the sides of the tank or you might scratch them up removing the gravel.
 

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Single day setup using all the water, plants and other materials from the 20 long setting up the new 29g. Not that bad with enough containers to hold fish, plants etc.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
yeah thats what Im thinking of doing...alll the plants in one bucket....run a filter from the tank onto the bucket with the fish and basically tear down and reset things up....I think thats what I'm going to have to do.....hopefiully I dont lose any fish from the stress :S...how long you think the fish can last in a 12 litre bucket of aquarium water? ill prolly treat with water with prime when I add them in....maybe some stress coat+..thoughts?....my flourite is on the back deck drying out as I type :D 2.5 hrs to wash 3 15 lb bags haha
 

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yeah new Flourite is fun the first time around.

I just pulled the water from the existing tank into the bucket, netted the fish, added an air stone then put a towel over the bucket.
Filter was a HOB so I left it full of water sitting over to the side.
Another bucket filled from the tank with the aged water and as i pulled the plants those were put here. Any remaining water from the tank I could get cleanly I also save in other buckets then made up the balance of the fill with new water once the tank was setup.
Fish would be fine like this all day (imo).
 

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...how long you think the fish can last in a 12 litre bucket of aquarium water? ill prolly treat with water with prime when I add them in....maybe some stress coat+..thoughts?
Just transfer the tank water into the buckets. You won't need to treat with prime or stress coat that way. I've made 8hr car trips with fish in a cooler and a battery powered air pump many times. No deaths at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Excellent!!! You think I may want to keep some of my existing gravel for the bacteria? I do have 3 Aquaclear filters (50, 30, 30) running on the tank atm.....changed one full filter about 1 week ago
 

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Excellent!!! You think I may want to keep some of my existing gravel for the bacteria? I do have 3 Aquaclear filters (50, 30, 30) running on the tank atm.....changed one full filter about 1 week ago
That wouldn't be a bad idea...but if you have bio-bags in your aquaclears those will work just fine. I think nitrifying bacteria grows very fast...like doubles every 24 hrs.
 

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When you empty the tank leave a couple inches of water in there so when you pull the old gravel out you leave dirty water behind. That 'dirt' is valuable mulm which will kick start the cycle in the new substrate. That plus the good bacteria in the established filter and on the plants should prevent a mini cycle. And the filter colony will grow in the short time it is on the temporary tank as well! I don't think your fish will suffer in the small pail if the filter is on in a few hours.
 

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If it looks like the flourite your going to use maybe,,,
you know it will all mix in time. Never used it but I'm leery of anything stating this on the label:
- Help support a neutral to slightly acidic pH. never happy about anything altering my water that I can't control
- Will not discolour water and helps to control organic discoloration usually present when natural driftwood is used. wouldn't believe this effect to last very long

When setting up dirt tanks I hold back some capping materials for touch up as needed over time. Moving things you'll work through the cap from time to time so a couple zip locks of cap is handy later (fyi).
 

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Just flourite will be fine. Some add a little peat moss under it for nutrition because they don't want to worry about fertilizing. You have to make sure you don't add too much because you can then have an ammonia problem. Remember flourite mainly is just an iron supplier. You will have to have your other nutrients supplied another way. Good that you have plants and mulm. You will be just fine.

Add prime to any NEW water you put in. You will inevitably stir up bacteria into your water as you un-plant things. That will mean there could be an ammonia spike. I would only use half the old water and use half new. That would be like a regular water change. Good luck with your new substrate and new scape. It's a new fun opportunity to re-do. :D
 

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Just transfer the tank water into the buckets. You won't need to treat with prime or stress coat that way. I've made 8hr car trips with fish in a cooler and a battery powered air pump many times. No deaths at all.
+1
I've kept 70+ fish alive for well over a week this way when I moved from San Diego, CA to Oregon.
 
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