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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok I'm new to this planted tank stuff and just kinda dove in before researching. I currently have a 55g that has been established for years and decided to change up with smaller schooling fish and some basic plants. The problem is I have blue standard aquarium gravel for the substrate. I know this will grow most plants i would want to grow for now but I'm one of those guys whose never happy with the basics for long. So my question is do you think I could pull the decor and plants and scoop about half the gravel out then just fill back up with a better substrate without having to stress to much about cycling and killing fish?
 

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You'll be fine, i've done it over 2 dozen times at this point. Though i usually take out my fish first while i redo things. You might get a ammonia spike if there's enough crap in the old substrate being kicked up as you remove it, so i'd suggest after you remove the old stuff, add the new stuff, do a big water change to not only help keep the levels down, but help clear the water up as well. I'd turn the filter off to while you change out the substrate to so you arn't sucking up a bunch of waste to be trapped by your mechanical filtration stage.
 

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I would remove the blue gravel, it will drift up through whatever substrate you select.

Tear down the tank, saving everything that you will be reusing, especially the filter and put it back together again.

The population of bacteria in the filter and the new plants will highly likely be able to handle the ammonia from the fish waste.
 

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:confused: I worked on my 10 today. I thought it was kind of rough and I made a couple of mistakes - this was my first dirt installation. I had gravel in the tank to begin with.

My first mistake was disturbing the gravel before I emptied the water I wanted to save. There was a lot of gunk under the gravel, and a lot of it went up into the water. So I had to do the equivalent of a 75% water change because the water was all messed up, except for the 2.5 gallons I saved earlier.

The second, and more severe mistake was putting down less than 1" sand cap. Planting was very difficult, and some dirt came up and there's some stuff from the dirt floating at the surface.

I will be able to net out the stuff at the surface, and I'm hoping I can buy another bag of sand and somehow fill in with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Cool. Think I'm going to go with the black diamond blasting sand. After reading some threads on it it sounds pretty stable and looks awesome.
 

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You could just buy new substrate that is seeded with the BB's like eco-complete or active-flora, I have used both and they work nice
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok I'm in process of changing over to black diamond. I did a half a$$ rinse job(I'm very impatient ). I'm starting to refill with tap water knowing I'll need to put in take out put in to continue cleaning oils n stuff. I intend to restock today too so my question is should I do anything special with my filter before I plug it back in? It's an aqua clear 110 hob.

Thanks
 

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What are you using for the prefilter pad ?
I use Sea Chem Matrix for bio-media but the kind you have should be fine. It's just the prefilter that you need to be concerned about as it will quickly fill/w dust suspended in the water. A sponge is all that lots of breeders use now as they are easy to clean and do just as good of a job of bio action as any bio-media. I mean for both the prefilter and the bio-media. I don't think one of those fiber pads will clean the dust as well as a sponge will. Think of al the fun I had cause I don't use either a pad/sponge or screen.
I have no prefilter or anything else that will take out fish fry or shrimp fry and that is exactly why it's like that. Took three weeks for the tank to be 100% clear/w only the plants filtering it. And I used unrinsed Flourite...dust city.
Whatever bio-media you have don't worry about but you might get a sponge to use for the prefilter(two of them so you can change one every day)and use that until the tank
is clear. If I was going to be conventional and use a HOB instead of my DIY built in bio only filters, the one you have is what I would buy. Cause you choose the media.
Test frequently for ammonia the first week after you do this for the fish.
Remember a 50% water change cuts any nutrient/chemical by 50% so less than that is pointless for this purpose.
 
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