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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all!
I've currently got inert gravel (national geographics crystal lake sand). I was thinking about adding Eco-complete or Ada Amazonia, but I haven't thought the best way to do it. I was thinking of doing it while a water change, taking handfuls of the new stuff and mixing it in with my current stuff. I'd probably have to uproot plants to do it.

I'm just wondering would this be too much of a mess to even try it? I'd like to not have to take my fish out, so would this be really stressful on them? I've never used Eco or Ada, only gravels as this is my first planted tank. Next time I won't make the mistake of using inert stuff haha. Also I gravel vac every water change so the substrate has been stirred up a couple times.

Just a quick back ground on my tank. 37gal, lighting: Fugeray planted + raised 9in 7 hours, ac70, ferts: comprehensive 1x week plus root tabs NPK 3x week, pressurized co2, 25% wc per week, flora: staurogyne repens, new dwarf sag, Amazon swords, hygro corymbosa, hygro difformis, floating anacharis, fauna: 3 angelfish, 5 harlequin rasboras, 6 months old.
 

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I'll tell you what I did. Is it the best way? maybe....maybe not. I purchased a plastic storage container and drained tank water into it. Netted the fish and placed them into the container. removed all of the plants carefully and placed them into the container. Removed the gravel. Inserted ADA Malaya soil. Put in plants, water, and fish. Started up the canister and everything worked out great.

I used ADA Malaya and did not have any issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply! In your opinion was it worth doing all that? I feel like I have all the right stuff for my tank, but my plants arent growing as much as they should be. They should be filling in and I've tried tweaking my light ferts and co2 but it hasn't helped much. Feeling like my gravel is the downfall of it. Did your fish seem stressed? Or did you have any bacteria issues?
 

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Many of the ADA products will produce a lot of ammonia, and should not be used in a tank that will be stocked right away. Needs several weeks to a month to stop producing ammonia. Good excuse to set up another tank: Set it up with the ADA material, plant it with trimmings from the established tank, then cycle it. As the soil goes through its ammonia production cycle keep up the water changes to keep the ammonia around 1-3ppm to grow a good colony of nitrifying bacteria. When this tank is ready, move the fish over, then you can make changes to your current tank.

You could add EC without draining the tank or moving the fish.
Get a pipe that is longer than the depth of the tank (couple of feet of 1.5" to 2" PVC is good)
Have the substrate rinsed, ready to go.
Add it to the tank in small areas, pouring it through the pipe.

Another way:
Use a bottle with a somewhat narrow opening. Soda bottle could work, or a slightly larger opening like a Gatorade bottle.
Fill with substrate. (perhaps enough to do about 25% of the tank.)
Put this bottle in the tank with your hand over the opening and position it over the target area.
As water rushes into the bottle, the substrate pours out, and the fines will mostly stay in the bottle.

The reason for doing it in small amounts is this:
A lot of nitrifying bacteria live on the surface of the substrate where there is good water movement for high oxygen and a good supply of ammonia. When you bury this layer the bacteria may die off.
 

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I just went through this myself. Decided to just bite the bullet. Got a bunch of buckets at lowes (figured enough to save half the aquarium water...basically a 50% water change). Scooped out all the gravel, dumped in the Eco Complete, refilled into a bowl halfway so I didn't disturb the eco. Replanted, topped off the water with the bucket water, flipped the filter on, checked the temp and dropped the fish back in. Was messy and stressful for me and the fish but I am glad it's done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@Diana If I could set up another tank right now i would do it in a heart beat haha. So I'll definitly go with Eco complete based on the ammonia from Ada.

I think taking out all the substrate, instead of my original idea of mixing it, is a better idea as @Archele said. Just start with a fresh substrate.
@Archele In your opinion did you think it was worth it in the end? I'd love to be able to go low tech again with out co2, just a lot less maintenance but I feel nutrient rich substrate is key.

Thanks for the replies guys I appreciate it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oh geez I can imagine! Nice tank by the way all the reds look real nice!

So this is what I'm thinking. Get a large plastic bin, drain 50% of water, move fish and plants to bin, drain rest of water, remove old gravel, replace with Eco complete, fill tank 50%, work out new scape, fill tank with old water, run filter and add fish.

Also contemplating new drift wood, my current manzanita is an algae magnet.
 

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Thanks for the reply! In your opinion was it worth doing all that? I feel like I have all the right stuff for my tank, but my plants arent growing as much as they should be. They should be filling in and I've tried tweaking my light ferts and co2 but it hasn't helped much. Feeling like my gravel is the downfall of it. Did your fish seem stressed? Or did you have any bacteria issues?
It was for me, but I used Malaya. As Diana said above Amazonia may produce Ammonia...Malaya is not so bad. In addition, my canister filter had BB already which made cycling easier.



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In the next month I'll be changing the substrate out, I would say I would use Malaya because I'd rather use Ada but I definitly want black but I don't want to have to cap it with black gravel. Glad to hear the switch was worth it for you!:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just an update:

I've got my Eco complete and some new plants are coming. I'm going to look for some new driftwood. I'm taking this opportunity to rescape my tank, as right now it's more or less randomly planted. I actually want to scape something. Going to be spending one day next week changing it all.
 

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I replaced the sub in a running tank in September. I Drained the tank, and used a large plastic sand scoop to scoop out the old gravel. I added all the eco complete, no rinsing, to the tank and let the filter run with floss for an hour. I put the fish back in, and it all went smoothly, no mini-cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just an update for you all! Its been four days since I made the change. I ended up changing about 50% of the water, gave a good cleaning to all the equipment, not the filter media though. Fish and plants were put in a plastic storage bin, my angels seemed stressed the first day after but are back to their normal behavior:) Dont know if I mentioned but my plants are all still young so in the picture everything needs to fill in. But all in all, it took eight hours and was stressful but was definitely worth it! Thank you everyone for the tremendous help!

 
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