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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to make my planted tank transition to a larger tank as easy and quick as possible.

Transitioning my dirted 20gal long to a 29gal. Here's my plan:

1. Take out plants and move livestock to a holding tank.

2. Move some of the water to the holding tank and some of the water to a bucket. Remove the rest completely. Run filters in the holding tank.

3. Cut the substrate in sections like a pasta and move the sections to the new tank with a spatula as neat as possible.

4. Recap with cycled pool filter sand from my 125gal.

5. Restore old water from holding tank and bucket to new tank (15 gal of old water). Fill the rest of the new tank with new water. Add filters. Add plants and then livestock.

I've attached a photo of my 20gal long as it is now. Plenty of plants to work with.

What is everyone's thoughts? Is this feasible?

Thanks and cheers!
 

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"3. Cut the substrate in sections like a pasta and move the sections to the new tank with a spatula as neat as possible."

That part just will not work. it will all crumble as you move it.

Set the new tank up and use new substrata and so on. Then move and replant about half the tank, and let the new tank cycle. Want a few weeks. Then move everything else, discarding the old substrata.

If you need to do this all at once, then use new substrata in the new tank and replant it.

Don't try to rush things. Take your time, and do it right.
 

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The goal should be to minimize stress on the fish being moved, so saving some water for transferring the fish is a good start. . You can move some rocks, and hard scape to help transfer some bacteria to help cycle the tank more rapidly. Re utilizing the substrate while attractive, will be very messy, and you'd probably need to cap the old stuff.

Basically, pay attention to your fish, and test for ammonia build up. If ammonia is building up, change 10-40% of the water. I have never intentionally cycled a tank, either artificially with household ammonia and fish less, nor with building up a bacterial colony through slowly building a fish population. Testing and observation coupled with water changes will keep your fish healthy and happy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So even if the substrate transfer isn't neat, that's fine, I still planned on recapping with cycled pool filter sand from the larger tank in which I have plenty to spare.

I guess my goal is to try and keep all of the beneficial bacteria from the substrate, filter and recycled water column to prevent myself from going through the cycling period. If I need to do multiple water changes for preventative measures that's fine.

Also, this tank was set up at the beginning of December. From the reading I've done, there should still be plenty of nutrients available in the dirt. I'd hate to just toss it and redo everything.
 

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Go for it the way you posted. Get it all done in one day.
I also have doubts about the substrate coming up in cake-like chunks, but don't worry about that. Do the best you can with the plants and substrate, then cap it. When you are ready to fill, put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate and run the water in slowly, letting it seep into the substrate. This will minimize clouding.
If the fish are warm enough, OK in the bucket, then allow the filter to run on the new set up for a few hours to clear the water (if needed). But if the fish are not OK in their bucket, then go ahead and add them sooner.

Do not add the water the fish were stored in. Stressed fish produce excess ammonia, and you do not want this going into the new set up. As long as the new water matches the old (GH, KH, TDS, pH) the fish will be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've definitly come to terms that the substrate will get messy. But I assume as long as I recap with cycled sand, then I should be ok. I will take care of it this weekend, and once I am done, I will update all on the progress and if I ran into any issues.

Thank you!
 

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What kind of filter are you using on the tank currently? I think you're worrying too much about re-using the old water and your "cycled" sand. The water column really has essentially 0 beneficial bacteria in. The substrate does have some; but most is in your filters so thats what you're looking to preserve. So long as you move the old filter onto the new tank you should be fine. The substrate issue....well you'll just have to see for yourself. But its going to be a huge mess and I'll bet now that once you're done you will wish you'd just started over with some new substrate!

I'll also add that a 20 long is a much better (maybe better is the wrong word. "easier" might describe it better) choice for a planted tank than a 29. Whole different ballgame once you introduce the height of that 29 gallon tank.
 

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I'm with Diana on this one also. But as she mentioned and others have, it's not like cutting a pan of lasagna. If you take the water level down low enough, you may have better luck with a children's beach toy sand shovel (can you tell I've had kids?), or equivelant shallow, flat shovelling implement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No I know it won't be like cutting lasagna lol. I've got some plans for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I thinking I proved everyone, including myself wrong. See attached images.

Took me about 4-5 hours to do all of this. Much of that time was sorting out all of the plants. Did away with the rotala. Sticking with a carpet of dears sag. And crypts. Also have some regular sag in there but I trimmed it and I can't differentiate between that and the dwarf just yet lol. Added some manzanita branches, which are being held down by rocks right now. So that's that. Should start to fill in nicely. I have plenty of dwarf safe left over, so I may add more later to fill it in more. I also sectioned the dirt off in the front with some spacers, so all that is there is just pool filter sand. Hopefully that will prevent the plants from smothering the front of the tank. I like it open in the front as it is now.

So there it is. I will be doing a number of water changes for the next week. Roughly 2 a day for 7 days, while keeping an eye on the parameters.

What are your thoughts?
 

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I thinking I proved everyone, including myself wrong. See attached images.

Took me about 4-5 hours to do all of this. Much of that time was sorting out all of the plants. Did away with the rotala. Sticking with a carpet of dears sag. And crypts. Also have some regular sag in there but I trimmed it and I can't differentiate between that and the dwarf just yet lol. Added some manzanita branches, which are being held down by rocks right now. So that's that. Should start to fill in nicely. I have plenty of dwarf safe left over, so I may add more later to fill it in more. I also sectioned the dirt off in the front with some spacers, so all that is there is just pool filter sand. Hopefully that will prevent the plants from smothering the front of the tank. I like it open in the front as it is now.

So there it is. I will be doing a number of water changes for the next week. Roughly 2 a day for 7 days, while keeping an eye on the parameters.

What are your thoughts?
You made it look easy, congrats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Lol I wouldn't say easy, but definitly went as planned.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Lol I wouldn't say easy, but definitly went as planned.
Nicely done! Went as planned? What does that feel like? Lol
Yes, it certainly did. More than I expected it to.

I am noticing that I have to do multiple water changes a day, and will continue to do so until all parameters are back to normal. I will say they are not too out of Wack, but I do know stirring up the dirt like that would create some issues with the water parameters.

Everything is still going as expected. Crypts are melting a bit, but that's normal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
As everything went as planned in the transitioning of the tanks, the events afterward no so much.

Looking for some guidance as I've never dealt with ammonia problem quite like this.

Since everything has been set up, almost all of my crypts have melted with no visible growth since. My dwarf looks to be deteriorating. Rotala looks good still.

Every since changing the tanks last Friday I have done 2 75% or more water changes each day. Surprising no fish have died, other than some guppies getting sucked up during the water changes. My ammonia levels are at a consistent .5 ppm. Doesn't water how many water changes I do, still stays at .5.

I do realize stirring up the dirt and seeded substrate from my bigger tank can cause ammonia spikes. But are there any suggestions out there that could help?

Current filteration is a Aqueon quiet flow 20, Marineland penguin 100b, and 1 biochemical sponge filter I bought off eBay (I think people who keep shrimp are familiar with these).

Any thoughts?

Thanks a ton!
 

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I'd check that test kit and also check your source water. If you're getting an ammonia reading of .5 before a water change you should see a different reading immediately after. If you're seeing the same or more ammonia after the water change I'd imagine either your source water has ammonia or your test kit is wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Water source is .25ppm out of the tap. It also appears my test kit may be bad, because I took my water to LFS I trust, and their tests barely showed any ammonia in it. The guy also recommended don't do AS MANY water changes as I've been doing, because the bacteria will not have time to adjust and break down the nitrogen cycle. Would y'all agree?
 
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