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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 20G low tech tank that has been running for years. It has about 2" of Seachem Fluorite, and has loads of detritus in it. I am thinking of restarting it and bring over my CO2 setup from another tank.

Ideally I would like to dig everything up, fertilise the bottom, cap it with half of the unwashed substrate, wash the other half and cap it on top.

My question is, should I even dig up and wash the substrate? If so, for the fertilisation, I don't have a lot of option here locally. I can't get top soil or laterite, or at least I haven't found them. What I know I can get is peat moss.

Any advice is appreciated.


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You have a lot of options: You could just declare the existing substrate expired, and use new Flourite, or other commercial substrate. You could wash the existing Flourite, and reuse it. You probably live where there is dirt all around you, in parks, in back yards, out in the country, in local wooded areas, along rivers and creeks, etc. You could dig up some of that dirt, mineralize it, and use it, topped with some Flourite or other commercial substrate. You could buy some black grit blasting media, like Black Diamond, and use it as a substrate. And, on and on.
 

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What Hoppy said. Here is an alternative with no need to disturb the substrate.

Mix mineralized topsoil or peat with water. Freeze it in small amounts. Push it under what you have now. It is clean and allows you to add soil over time and not all at once. You should have around 2 inch cap.
 

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I'd take flora/fauna/rocks/wood out of the tank. Then I'd siphon out all the water swirling the fluorite to rinse it in the tank. Dig a hole to the bottom of the tank and drain as much water out as you can. Rescape and plant and fill maybe 1/4 full then dump out that water to below the surface of the substrate. Do a final fill slowly on top of crumpled paper or bubble wrap and tank should be quite clear.

That's if you like the stuff. If you are sick of looking at it then find another substrate. In that case I'd empty the tank of everything but allow some mulm to settle to the bottom before draining the tank. Add new substrate on top of the mulm and rescape. Filling the tank part way and dumping then refilling on top of paper/plastic will make for a nearly perfectly clear tank in this case as well.

Only put the fauna back in once water testing shows no ammonia/nitrite which is likely to take a couple days in either case. And in either case rinse the filter media a week before the big day so it is in top condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all your inputs, I really appreciate it. :)

There is an aspect that I could have been more clear. I never have to dose nitrate, thanks to the loads of crap in the substrate, in fact with low light my consumption is less than what is generated. Of course with CO2 injection this would be different. It seems like I shouldn't let those free fertiliser goes to waste?
 

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The mulm is rich in microfauna that help with cycling the tank and holding nutrients much like terrestrial humus in garden soil. It isn't really fertilizer.

I think you will be surprised at how little there really is if you do allow it to settle out. When I pulled substrate out of the tank that hadn't been disturbed for 2 years the mulm didn't cover the bottom of the tank completely. It did cover the bottom of the 100 gallon tank that had been set up for 14 years though - but the layer wasn't very thick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I am sure the substrate is giving me very significant nitrate. I never have to dose nitrate and I have to do water change to keep it down. I have only a single tiny fish and 7 amano shrimp in it.

The last time I had to dug up the substrate, well let's just say it is the first time that I am disgusted by my tank lol.


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