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I have an 80gallon tank and im using Eco Complete and it just looks like a mess, its faded, its mixed colors. I really dislike it. All my plants are ferns that are attached to wood. How stressful to the fish would it be if I removed all the substrate while they are still in there? id do a water change while stuff got kicked up.

The tank will be with out substrate for a while, then I will add substrate back in once I purchase the new stuff im going to. I will add this while they are in the aquarium as well.

It seems in my mind that it would be less stressful than trying to fish them out.
 

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I think you would stress them more by leaving them in the tank. I've torn my tanks down several times and just moved all my fish into a spare tank or 5G buckets. I either use an air stone or run my filter hoses to the bucket while I'm rescaping. Like I said earlier I've done this several times and never lost a fish.
 

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I would wait until you have the new substrate in hand and remove fish, dump out the water, install new substrate, rescape and fill tank too.

If you have really good suction on your siphon you could remove substrate that way which likely would not release so much nasty stuff into the water. It isn't as easy as it sounds as try to move too much and the siphon is going to clog up.

I've completely stirred up substrate without losing fish but all the particulates settled on the plants and in combination with the release of who knows what the tank experienced a monster algal bloom. It really is better to be able to remove the dirty water to a point below the substrate so you are basically rinsing the substrate in the tank.
 

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Like others said, I'd wait for the new substrate and then remove the fish. It may sound easier to leave them in, but much easier and less stress to remove.

I'm actually going through the same thing next week with my 50g. Removing all plants, about 90lbs of eco complete and putting in FlorinVolcanit.
 

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Im going with coal slag, black magic. only fish I have are rummy nose tetra, I guess I'll fish them out. I have a 5 gallon nano they could hang out in for a big.
FYI, if this is the first time using blasting sand, rinse it very well. There is an oily substance that you should rinse off before putting it into the tank. I don't think it's harmfull, but it is unsightly.
 

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FYI, if this is the first time using blasting sand, rinse it very well. There is an oily substance that you should rinse off before putting it into the tank. I don't think it's harmfull, but it is unsightly.
If it has an oily substance I'd be weary, I know people use it with success but I'd still soak with vinegar.

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One thing to consider with older tank is if you will be releasing trapped gas at the bottom of the substrate. So maybe it is safer to just take the fish out.
Yes this is true. Also, You may have an enormous amount of fish waste in your substrate. Removing the substrate will release all of that into your water column. It's not a gamble I would want to take with my fish.

So changing the substrate with fish in is a bad idea. I've heard it being done in increments. Like 1/3 at a time. I wouldn't want to try that personally. Breaking the tank down and replacing the whole substrate all at once gives you more control of how the the finished product turns out. If you save at least half the water in the tank, and keep your filter media wet while you do the switch out, you can change the substrate without starting a new cycle. If you're intersted in this method I can go into detail of how I did just that with my 72 gallon this past holiday season. I didn't get so much as a high nitrate reading using this method. Admittedly I had only 2 fish at the time. There are steps you can take to keep your fish healthy if you have a heavily stocked tank though.
 

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To add, you can also dump a bottle of tetra safe start into the tank after the change to make sure you don't get a mini cycle. I plant to inject it in to my new substrate next week with a syringe after its all set up.

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I did that once with a 72G. If your not in a rush you can do it. What I did was simply to suck out a small portion of the existing substrate with filter tubing. Added some of the new substrate in it's place and did a water change. I repeated this over several weeks until all the substrate was eventually replaced. It didn't remove any of the fish, there was no cloudy water and the cycle didn't get disrupted.
 

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I did that once with a 72G. If your not in a rush you can do it. What I did was simply to suck out a small portion of the existing substrate with filter tubing. Added some of the new substrate in it's place and did a water change. I repeated this over several weeks until all the substrate was eventually replaced. It didn't remove any of the fish, there was no cloudy water and the cycle didn't get disrupted.
How did you put in the new stuff? Bottle method? Tube? Just submerged a cup of rinsed stuff?
 

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I recently switched out the substrate in my 120G planted Rainbow tank. Took out regular pea gravel and replaced with Black Diamond Blasting Sand.

I know it may not be popular, but I didn't remove the fish. Follow this procedure at your own risk. I can only say what worked for me.

I started by removing the plants. I wrapped each bunch in paper towel, and put them into a cooler filled with water.

Next I did a long thorough vacuuming of the gravel. Created quite a mess. Next I started scooping out the gravel. Kept a pump running the entire time draining the tank. This part is not for the faint of heart. Things get even more messy quick.

When the tank got low, I started filling it back up, alternating between draining and filling.

Next I started adding the Black Diamond. Didn't rinse it, just put it right into the tank. Kept draining and filling the entire time.

Then I let started the filters back up, and let it sit. About an hour later it was pretty clear already. Put the driftwood and plants back in.

I closely monitored for ammonia the next few days. I did have a very light spike, no more than .25, but did 50% water changes for a few days after.

Did that about two months ago, and fish and plants are all doing great.

Again, perform at your risk. I'd hate for it not to go as well for someone else as it did for me.
 

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Do you think this saved you any time or effort? Granted fish catching isn't fun but seems to me removing plants, hardscape then fish, draining tank, changing substrate then being able to redo the scape and planting when you can see what you are doing would in the end be easier.

I've done both and I won't be doing major rescapes with fish in the tank again.
 

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Do you think this saved you any time or effort? Granted fish catching isn't fun but seems to me removing plants, hardscape then fish, draining tank, changing substrate then being able to redo the scape and planting when you can see what you are doing would in the end be easier.

I've done both and I won't be doing major rescapes with fish in the tank again.
Kathy I think you were directing that to me.

I think it did save time, as I have over 40 fish. That would require lots of containers and lots of time netting. My own opinion is that it may have been less stressful on the fish, considering they weren't netted twice.

And as to seeing what you are doing, the tank was basically clear after about an hour of the filters running. And the tank was completely rescaped and crystal clear about 5 hours after I began.

I understand doing it both ways. And everyone should do what is comfortable for them. I've always felt fish are pretty hardy, and a couple hours of mayhem left them no worse for wear. After considering all options, I really didn't see any great benefit to the fish by removing them. But that's just me, and it was well within my comfort zone.
 

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I've been using borax to rinse things without issue. I plan to rescape my twenty this upcoming weekend. I will catch all of my fish (the hard part) and put them in a 5 Gal. bucket along with the sponge filter. The bucket will be filled with tank water.
 

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I've been using borax to rinse things without issue. I plan to rescape my twenty this upcoming weekend. I will catch all of my fish (the hard part) and put them in a 5 Gal. bucket along with the sponge filter. The bucket will be filled with tank water.
I was thinking of buying a sponge filter just for this purpose. Throw it int he tank for a week or two then pop it in the bucket or spare tank you put the fish in when rescaping.
 
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