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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! Newbie to plantedtank.net, but not to aquariums or forums though.
Nice to meet you all!

Well, down to business, I've finally had it with the playsand substrate.

After a large tank re-scape due to finally getting rid of BGA a sudden bloom of Diatoms came.
Coating the plants and glass, and the initial diatoms were tough! They really took some work to scrub off.

After about a solid week of the diatoms increasing they finally started to diminish. It has been about 3-4 days since that turning point and it's gradually retreating.

I'm putting almost full responsibility on the substrate. I know playsand is either silicate based or carbonate based and since my pH is normal it must be Silicate based. Despite washing the sand 1.5 gallons at a time, and 10 rinses for each 1.5 gallons, the substrate was still dirty. Only under the surface however. I'm assuming this is because the sand leeching on top can disperse silicates throughout the water column, whereas leeching in the sand bed just stays under there.

Anyways, every time I uprooted a plant there would be some cloudy water pulled up with it (stark white cloudy, not creamy/brown cloudy say from mulm/decaying matter) and this same cloudiness would appear if I stuck a turkey baster deep in the sand and sucked up water. I'm assuming this cloudiness is the silicates.

My problem is I would like to switch out my substrate with Fluorite Black Sand, however I would like to keep the silicates at a minimal level in the water column.

I only have one idea so far as I have never done this before:
-Start a slow siphon and siphon out the sand.

Also do you think I should leave a little sand in there for the bacteria? And if so then should I reconsider my siphoning plan? And is there anything else I should keep in mind during a substrate swap?

Thanks for reading.
 

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If you plan to siphon out the sand, it all depends on how large the tank is, you might run out of water before getting all the sand.

Just scoop out everything if there's no fish or inverts.
If not you could set up a temp tank w the sand n filter while you seed the new tank.
 

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Answers from the linked threads.
I use a bunch of 5g buckets.
Remove about 4g of tank water into three or four of them depending on the need.
All the plants into one, fish, driftwood, anything I want to keep wet into the rest.
I run an air stone in each bucket of fish and plants, whether it's needed for the weeds IDK.

I clear a corner down to the glass and siphon out all the water I can get.
Having a small ice scoop I use that for removing the gravel, sand, what ever being careful to stay off the sides not to scratch the tank. Dumping it into dry buckets.
Using an old credit card I push the remaining substrate to center as possible and use the scoop for all I can get.

ShopVac eats the rest LOL

I've done this by choice changing things up.

Changing the substrate keep all the tank materials wet during the swap in tank water. Put everything else back in the tank the day you do the swap to help avoid another cycle.

While doing this do not even wipe off the glass inside the tank, don't clean hoses, heaters, don't clean anything with 'tank slime' on it. Put the fake plants, EVERYTHING back in to maintain as much bio film as possible. Do not clean the filter before or for a week after the substrate change.
Add to top off the tank but don't do a major water change. Changing all the substrate is drastic enough in one day. I re use as much old tank water as I can save.
Hope this makes sense
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you plan to siphon out the sand, it all depends on how large the tank is, you might run out of water before getting all the sand.

Just scoop out everything if there's no fish or inverts.
If not you could set up a temp tank w the sand n filter while you seed the new tank.
Thanks for the help!
Unfortunately there are both fish and inverts in the tank. Its a 40 breeder by the way.
I have both a 5 gallon bucket and a 5 gallon Fluval Chi (currently empty), which do you think they would prefer?

Very useful! I appreciate the help, thanks for posting the answers too.
Leaving everything (the bio-film) as-is sounds like a really good idea, I probably would've tried to clean it since it hasn't been nearly emptied in so long.


One more question: Would a small layer of sand on the bottom be of any benefit or should I just remove it all?
 
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