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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody,
So I’m going to be rescaping my 29 gallon in the next few weeks. Reason for this is because I have crazy algae and pest snails, and am also changing my substrate to ADA aqua soil v2, and will be changing out the plants for new. I run co2 and pretty high light, currently heavily planted with about 85% fish load. Tank has been running for almost 5 months, fully cycled and all.

my plan was to pre-soak my aqua soil so that I would not get an ammonia spike when I went about things. I don’t have a place to keep my fish for a few weeks, so that’s why I wanted to avoid the spike. However, I’ve read that pre-soaking is not always the best idea. So would it be okay to do this whole rescape and then add my fish back? I would be using cycled filter media, and adding beneficial bacteria. Frequent water changes and testing.

any other recommendations on how to do this would be appreciated. I want to come up with a full plan before I go about anything. Thanks
- Jack
 

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Don't do it would be my recommendation. You think you've got an algae problem now...just wait until you get all of those organics in the water.

Also, it seems to me that soaking and rinsing your soil beforehand would just flush out a bunch of the good nutrients that you think are gonna solve the problem. It's releasing ammonia because plants like ammonia.

I'd suggest solving the algae problem with that you've got. Contrary to what youtube videos might suggest, soil won't solve a problem that already exists; it might help prevent one when you're starting from scratch. But you can get rid of the algae by figuring out what's causing it. Too much light? Not enough CO2? Some nutrient deficiency or abundance?

If you have a bunch of fish, maybe you're fertilizing the water column too much or overfeeding. Do you have shrimp and snails to clean up dead plants and extra food? Do you use root tabs in your current substrate? What kind of plants do you have in there now? How hard is the water?

Don't try to swap out your substrste with something that's so packed with organic nutrients. That's only gonna make basically every part of your experience worse, IMO. You can solve this without it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good to know, maybe I’ll wait to do it until I’ve got things figured out(I already have the soil). The situation is starting to improve as I’ve added more co2, maybe I need to do even more. Most of the algae is near the top, like the plants that touch the surface. I’m thinking this is just bc the intensity of light is so high right there, but I’m not sure how to fix that. I do have Amano shrimp and nerite snails which help.

whether I do the rescape now, or once I get it figured out. Would you recommend just tearing down and rescaping without pre soaking, and then paying extra close attention to water parameters with my fish in there
 

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It's fun to rescape and change things up. And these things can get frustrating with a young tank (and at 5 months, yours is definitely young). Makes you want to start over with a clean slate sometimes, but give it more time. Figure out where this tank went wrong, or you'll just repeat it. And like I said, lack of expensive aquasoil ain't the answer. Don't do the soil unless you have a place to keep the fish for weeks-to-months as you break it all down, clean it all up, and then do the new scape and wait for it to stabilize.

Here a bit of my latest journey:



This is where I was with a 20 gallon tank 3 years ago. Over time, the fish and things had died. I didn't know why. I kept light and CO2 on for the plants, but didn't otherwise pay attention. Just topped off water when it got too loud. It was awful.

So eventually, I said "It's time to bring it back." I upgraded to a 30 gallon, and I redid the whole thing with new blasting sand substrate, new plants, a new light, etc.



July 2019. I felt good. I was going to be successful this time.

But within 5 months, it looked like this:



I kept at it. I used H2O2 and other methods to get rid of the cyanobacteria. I had a few clean moments, but within another few months, it looked like this:




April 2020. Ugh. Just demoralizing. Should I give up? No. I upgraded my filter (which had been brought over from the 20G) and started doing more precise testing and more frequent water changes.

I fought it for another year before concluding that something just wasn't right. Something in the tap water maybe. Or the hardscape?

Finally, my inquiries led me to discover that my GH test kit was bad, and my water was just really hard due to frequent top-offs with tap water. That old piece of wood was also just disintegrating and feeding the bacteria and algae. So, two months ago, I replaced the hardscape, solved the chemistry problem, cleaned it all up, added a few new plants, and brought in a lot more shrimp.

And now, I'm there. I've solved the problem. Achieved the balance I sought over three years ago.

And (perhaps naive of me, but) I think this time is different, too. I'm doing regular water changes from the tap and topping off with RO. I don't have to clean the tank or the substrate when I do that; just trim the plants. My pH is normal, my hardness is normal, my plants are growing (mostly), and for the first time ever, the shrimp are surviving and breeding. I'm nearly 100% algae free on an established tank for the first time in a decade.



And now, of course, I've got plans for the next expensive upgrade.

It was a long process. It was an educational process. Oh, and my point from back in the beginning? It's still on that inert black diamond blasting sand that I used when I set it up 2 years ago. Soil was not the answer. Testing, maintenance, and nutrient balance got me here. If I had used aqua soil back then, I'd have a muddy, sloppy mess now that would need a full replacement yet again. But I can keep it going as-is indefinitely with root tabs and liquid ferts. Super easy, low maintenance. I dig it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good to know and great looking tank. I will continue to try and test with this tank and see what I’m able to do. If i don’t end up using the aqua soil do you know of a place where I can sell?
 

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Good to know and great looking tank. I will continue to try and test with this tank and see what I’m able to do. If i don’t end up using the aqua soil do you know of a place where I can sell?
Just set up a second tank, obviously!

Said everyone who now has ten tanks.

If you decide against the aqua soil (I ain't the final authority on aquarium advice, after all), then depending on where you live, you can probably sell it on Craigslist or FB marketplace. Or here. Or local planted tank groups. Or if you got it locally, can you just return it? If you're near a big city, there's always someone who would rather not pay to ship it, I'd imagine. Or you could really, really pamper your houseplants...
 

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Just set up a second tank, obviously!

Said everyone who now has ten tanks.

If you decide against the aqua soil (I ain't the final authority on aquarium advice, after all), then depending on where you live, you can probably sell it on Craigslist or FB marketplace. Or here. Or local planted tank groups. Or if you got it locally, can you just return it? If you're near a big city, there's always someone who would rather not pay to ship it, I'd imagine. Or you could really, really pamper your houseplants...
😅 to be fair- I only have 5.... But one is a converted 2 person tub and another is a 9 footer...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I’m in no place to set up another tank at the moment haha. Maybe a few years down the road. I order it online and then waited 2 months on back order so chances are returning it is not an option. How do I sell on here?
 

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It's fun to rescape and change things up. And these things can get frustrating with a young tank (and at 5 months, yours is definitely young). Makes you want to start over with a clean slate sometimes, but give it more time. Figure out where this tank went wrong, or you'll just repeat it. And like I said, lack of expensive aquasoil ain't the answer. Don't do the soil unless you have a place to keep the fish for weeks-to-months as you break it all down, clean it all up, and then do the new scape and wait for it to stabilize.

Here a bit of my latest journey:



This is where I was with a 20 gallon tank 3 years ago. Over time, the fish and things had died. I didn't know why. I kept light and CO2 on for the plants, but didn't otherwise pay attention. Just topped off water when it got too loud. It was awful.

So eventually, I said "It's time to bring it back." I upgraded to a 30 gallon, and I redid the whole thing with new blasting sand substrate, new plants, a new light, etc.



July 2019. I felt good. I was going to be successful this time.

But within 5 months, it looked like this:



I kept at it. I used H2O2 and other methods to get rid of the cyanobacteria. I had a few clean moments, but within another few months, it looked like this:




April 2020. Ugh. Just demoralizing. Should I give up? No. I upgraded my filter (which had been brought over from the 20G) and started doing more precise testing and more frequent water changes.

I fought it for another year before concluding that something just wasn't right. Something in the tap water maybe. Or the hardscape?

Finally, my inquiries led me to discover that my GH test kit was bad, and my water was just really hard due to frequent top-offs with tap water. That old piece of wood was also just disintegrating and feeding the bacteria and algae. So, two months ago, I replaced the hardscape, solved the chemistry problem, cleaned it all up, added a few new plants, and brought in a lot more shrimp.

And now, I'm there. I've solved the problem. Achieved the balance I sought over three years ago.

And (perhaps naive of me, but) I think this time is different, too. I'm doing regular water changes from the tap and topping off with RO. I don't have to clean the tank or the substrate when I do that; just trim the plants. My pH is normal, my hardness is normal, my plants are growing (mostly), and for the first time ever, the shrimp are surviving and breeding. I'm nearly 100% algae free on an established tank for the first time in a decade.



And now, of course, I've got plans for the next expensive upgrade.

It was a long process. It was an educational process. Oh, and my point from back in the beginning? It's still on that inert black diamond blasting sand that I used when I set it up 2 years ago. Soil was not the answer. Testing, maintenance, and nutrient balance got me here. If I had used aqua soil back then, I'd have a muddy, sloppy mess now that would need a full replacement yet again. But I can keep it going as-is indefinitely with root tabs and liquid ferts. Super easy, low maintenance. I dig it.
OUTSTANDING!! Good job Sir!! COuld be for sure an expensive hobby. Five months ago I set up my 75 gallons for the 1st time, it was definatley a struggle not knowing a lot of things and seeing plants diying. I have lost plants but still trying and learning, it takes time. Thanks for sharing your journey!!
 
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