PDA

View Full Version : how to change from gravle to sand substrate?



Rickey Allens
07-26-2008, 07:17 PM
hey guys i need some help with this one. i have a 55 gallon tank with a ug and it has blue black gravel. i want to compleatly change it out for sand. but what is the best way to do this? do it at like 25 or 50 percent invervals or all at once? will the good bacteria transer over to the sand or will i need a recycle? i also heard you should have a type of box or spunge filter for the bottom, should i have one? also what type of sand is best for plants and wont compact as easy? i have a stingray and he is the main reason i want to get sand, also i hate the ug! any input would be a big help or if there is any questions to me to give me better information please ask. i want this to go over as smothly as possible. thanks

Ryuu
07-26-2008, 09:11 PM
This is what I would do. It may be different from another members way, but this is just my opinon. I would buy a few tank dividers (make sure they have holes for water flow that way some of the bacteria will be carried there), and split it in three parts, below the gravel. I would then scoop the rocks out, and into a small contanter like a butter bin, and poke holes in it. After that, put the sand in, pool sand may work, as well as estas. After your done putting the sand in, put the butter container on the sand, that way some of the bacteria in there will transfer into the sand, so its kind of seeded. Keep the divider up for a week maybe, and then put the second divider up so that there is a section in the middle. Take out the gravel, put in the sand, and put another container there, and since you have sand on both sides of one of the dividers, you can take a divider out. Wait a week, then do the same thing to the other side. Sorry, its a bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty well.

Hope it helped

Mike

Tigerbarb
07-27-2008, 04:56 AM
I think a fishless cycle would take less time than Ryuus method, but idk exactly. Another way you could do it is to take out the gravel, put in the sand, put mesh/a fine grate above the sand, and put gravel on the mesh. After a week, just take the gravel off of the mesh and then take the sheet of mesh out.

funnyfish
07-27-2008, 05:12 AM
great ideas. I asked this same question a few weeks ago? and was told I couldnt do it with out killing my fishie friends

Mvjnz
07-27-2008, 09:25 AM
I actually just did this today.

I changed it all at once. I removed all the ornament and all the plants i ddn't wanna keep, then took out some of the water to make it easier to work with. The plants I did wanna keep I left in there so the fish had something to hide in while I was working. I also left the filter running the whole time, because it does stir up a lot of poo.

Then I just removed the gravel, and put the sand in. The sand had been cleaned and kept in a moist place to make it sink easily. Then I just trimmed the plants a bit and put them where I wanted and put the ornaments back in. The whole thing took about 3 hours.

Rickey Allens
07-27-2008, 12:11 PM
thank you for the replies but im still confused on some things. 1.) so can i keep my fish in the tank while this all happens. 2.) the there anything i should know about removing the under gravel, besides throwing it out? 3.) If i do split in in 2 or three sections will the water move enough helpful bacteria that it won’t take to long? or should I just take it out and put most of it in mesh or containers and set it back on top? 4.) i know the ug was basically worthless but is there any other kind of filter i should use to replace it? thanks for the help. i plan to post a before and after image and see how it turns out.

Ty
07-27-2008, 04:59 PM
when I did it, I did a heavy gravel vac, and kept that water. I then took everythign out, drained the water, removed the gravel, put the washed sand back in, filled the tank, drained the tank, filled the tank (and added the gravel vac crud), and then added the decore and fish back to the tank.

I did not loose any fish, and it has been more than a month from when I switched to sand. Im sure other members wont like what I did because of the loss of bennificial bacteria, but I think that part of the reason that my way worked or me is because I am running 2 penguin 350 bio wheels that are also stuffed with biomax.

Fishguy2727
07-27-2008, 10:12 PM
What other filtration is on the tank besides the undergravel filter?

There is a whole article on sand in my blog that you may want to check out. I highly suggest Estes' Marine Sand (not actually marine sand). For nay concerns about it with plants please check out my Photobucket page.

Sounguru
07-27-2008, 11:11 PM
thank you for the replies but im still confused on some things. 1.) so can i keep my fish in the tank while this all happens.

I would not recommend you keep fish in the tank taking out gravel by itself is pretty bad but when a UG plate is involved it is a real mess....


2.) the there anything i should know about removing the under gravel, besides throwing it out?

Not realy but it is gonna be a mess.


3.) If i do split in in 2 or three sections will the water move enough helpful bacteria that it won’t take to long? or should I just take it out and put most of it in mesh or containers and set it back on top?

Since UG plate is involved you really need to do it all at once...


4.) i know the ug was basically worthless but is there any other kind of filter i should use to replace it? thanks for the help. i plan to post a before and after image and see how it turns out.

I would recommend a canister filter but to be real honest I need some more info....

what kind of fish do you have in the tank now... I know you mentioned the stingray anything else?

What do you want to keep in it besides the stingray?

What kind of plants are you looking to keep?

What is your lighting like?

Do you have another tank you could use as a holding tank?

And I'm sure a few others..... feel free to PM me if you want some real one on one help, but switching a tank to sand is not a pretty option because the tank is gonna be full of crap and need a major cleaning before the sand can even go in. Or if you would like I will be happy to try and help on the open forum.....

Fishguy2727
07-27-2008, 11:24 PM
This kind of information is helpful to others as well, so keeping it on the thread will be able to help others, keeping it in PMs would not.

Rickey Allens
07-28-2008, 01:15 AM
thank you Sounguru for your help. itsmuch appricated as i want this to go the best it can. i may need to pm you on some stuff but wil try to keep most of it in the open forum.


I would recommend a canister filter but to be real honest I need some more info....

what kind of fish do you have in the tank now... I know you mentioned the stingray anything else?

What do you want to keep in it besides the stingray?

What kind of plants are you looking to keep?

What is your lighting like?

Do you have another tank you could use as a holding tank?



1.) the only other filtration i have for the tank is a HOB aqua clear 70

2.) in the tank now are 2 pair of german rams 2 royal blue discuss my stingray and 12emportetras as well as 3 corys

3.) this will most likely be the only fish kept in this tank for a while

4.) i want to keep some taller echinodorus in the back with some eleochairs aciclaris or micranthemum umbrosum at the sidesand front (sorry not sure of the common names)

5) as for lighting right now i have a 48" 40 light across as well as a 24" in the planted side.

I also i have another tank but it is only a 10 gallon breeding tank and wont help me much i dont think.

what kind of cleaning exactly should be done before i place the sand in?

Rickey Allens
07-28-2008, 01:42 AM
thank you to fishguy also for your info i have already read your blog entry on sand a while back when i first started this idea. your planted tanks look awesome. my question for you is what kind of fertilizer do you use or do they just grow fine in the sand alone?

Fishguy2727
07-28-2008, 02:16 AM
I mainly use Flourish general liquid supplement and some Flourish Iron, but I do use Flourish Tabs (although not as much as the package recommends).

Sounguru
07-28-2008, 02:24 AM
thank you Sounguru for your help. itsmuch appricated as i want this to go the best it can. i may need to pm you on some stuff but wil try to keep most of it in the open forum.



1.) the only other filtration i have for the tank is a HOB aqua clear 70

Not Nearly big enough.... You want something that will turn that tank say 6 to 10 times and hour. A canister is also better for a planted tank because the rerturn can be put underwater and keep the surface agitaion down to help keep the co2 in the water.


2.) in the tank now are 2 pair of german rams 2 royal blue discuss my stingray and 12emportetras as well as 3 corys

Discus in a 55 I'm not wild about they are pretty big fish when fully grown I like to see them in at least 75 or more.... Just out of curiosity how big will that ray get? I'm not real up on those.


3.) this will most likely be the only fish kept in this tank for a while

Good I wouldn't add anymore.


4.) i want to keep some taller echinodorus in the back with some eleochairs aciclaris or micranthemum umbrosum at the sidesand front (sorry not sure of the common names)

Okay so some pretty strong rooters I will recommend you get some plant tabs for these


5) as for lighting right now i have a 48" 40 light across as well as a 24" in the planted side.

Not quite enough, but you have a smaller problem Discus and Rays (from the little I know about rays and I could be wrong on the rays) like subdued light so to get enough light you want roughly 3WPG so that would be 165 watts. So basically 4 40 wat tubes. Which is over bright for the discus and pos the ray making them skittish.


I also i have another tank but it is only a 10 gallon breeding tank and wont help me much i dont think.

Nope not much help


what kind of cleaning exactly should be done before i place the sand in?

Okay to clean the tank what is gonna happen is when you go to scoop up the gravel all the crap in it is gonna get stirred up into the water. Making it real hard to see into the tank and stressing the fish out on top of that. Now once all the gravel is removed you will have to lift out the plates usually 2 sometimes 4 and under that will be some gunk like you have never seen before if these have been in there for any length of time. The best thing to do at this point would be to let it rest until all the crap sinks back down, but now you have no filter and any HOB or canister would become quickly clogged. So once the stuff has settled I would then syphon out all the gunk on the bottom and all the water. I would also catch all this gunk in a pantyhose net or something similar and that I will explain in a minute.

Now you would take your sand (playsand, 3m, pool filter sand, whatever you have decided on) and place about 1 inch all the way across the bottom. Just make sure your sand is well washed. Okay now take all that gunk you caught in the nets and mix it into that 1st inch... Instant bacteria culture and plant food... Now place the plant tabs where you want the plants and add another 2" of sand on top of that. fill about 1/2 way trying not to disturb the sand and plant then fill the rest of the way.

Then I would throw in some MTS snails and let the tank sit for at a day.... but I would rather see it sit for like 6 weeks so the plants can get established and the tank cycled.

So you can see the problems if you want to do it right with leaving the fish in the tank. I would hit craigslist and freecycle looking for tanks people are giving away or selling cheap and get another tank so you could set it up correctly then transfer and either keep the old tank or put it up for sale.

So main thing you need right now is a much bigger filter then we can go from there

Hope that answers some of your ?'s

Fishguy2727
07-28-2008, 01:51 PM
One of the biggest issues here is the ray. Even males of the smallest species need at least a 75, and with those other fish in there it would need to be even bigger. They are VERY demanding of water quality and I am surprised issues have not come up yet.

I am not a big fan of trapping all that debris in the sand bed, or having such a thick sand bed. The two together are asking for problems that hopefully will be dealt with by using the trumpet snails. I would prefer a clean sand bed and to just use tabs to feed the roots. Trapping all that debris under so much sand is asking for toxic anoxic pockets. My thickest sand bed is probably no more than 1.5". This helps keep the whole sand bed oxygenated, which again helps prevent toxic anoxic pockets.

I think it really just depends on whether you want a fish tank with plants in it or a planted tank with fish in it. It is up to you which one's needs come first. In my opinion it is always the fish, but with discus and a ray in there I think it is vital that the fish come first.

ILuvMyGoldBarb
07-28-2008, 02:11 PM
Not quite enough, but you have a smaller problem Discus and Rays (from the little I know about rays and I could be wrong on the rays) like subdued light so to get enough light you want roughly 3WPG so that would be 165 watts. So basically 4 40 wat tubes. Which is over bright for the discus and pos the ray making them skittish.

I have to disagree here. 3 WPG is in no way necessary to keep plants in a tank. Some of the nicest planted tanks I have seen have been 2wpg and lower. The winner of the ADA International Aquascaping contest a couple of years back was a 100gal tank with 100watts of normal output fluorescent lights. Growing plants is not all about having lots of light, it is all about proper balance. If you only have 40w of light on a 55 then you need to choose appropriate plants for that setup. In order to achieve that balance though you are going to need to maximize CO2 retention in the water and you won't do that with the AC 70, like Sounguru mentioned, you really should look into getting a canister filter. That balance of CO2, light, and nutrients comes into play greatly, and if you go increasing the lighting on the tank you will need to increase the amount of CO2 and nutrients available to the plants as well. I have kept Discus in a tank with over 3 wpg and I experienced no more skittishness than is normal for the species, the ray, I don't know about.

Sounguru
07-28-2008, 05:21 PM
True 3 WPG is just kind of the guide line but the plants he wants are usually bright light loving plants... The Baby Tears will take over a tank in a hurry if given bright light and good ferts....

Barb - When you kept your discus in the bright tank was there good plant coverage? When I kept mine in the bright and I had 3 tanks going, not a one unskittishfied until the swords were almost to the tops of the tanks... So in my experience if they have cover they do okay no cover they don't like it too much, but that can be a disscussion for a whole new thread.... Also could be I had scaredy cats for fish... I had a pair of angels that were that way...:hmm3grin2orange:

ILuvMyGoldBarb
07-28-2008, 05:24 PM
There was a good amount of cover available for them, you can see a pic of the tank in my gallery, however the Discus spent most of their time out in the open. They seemed quite undaunted by the 384 watts of Power Compact light.

Sounguru
07-28-2008, 05:27 PM
Yea mine would be out in the open when the plants grew in before that they were trying to hide behind 4" tall plants...:-)

Rickey Allens
07-29-2008, 01:31 PM
wow a lot of great info...

Rickey Allens
07-29-2008, 01:31 PM
guys all your input has been great i have a much better idea of how and what to do now. So i have a lead on a 125 gallon with a stand and a hood for a great price i think. this should be ample room for all the fish then. my plan then will to be buy a canister filter big enough for a 125. which is a kind of pricey investment but i think will be absolutely awesome in the end. and i think if my fish have been doing fine so far they can last a couple months still in the 55 while i get the 125 up and running. also then it will be up planted and have in cycled before i move any fish in. once all this is done i may just use the 55 as a discus breeding tank? still with sand but now no chance of killing fish. any input on what you guys think would be cool?

Fishguy2727
07-29-2008, 08:43 PM
I would not consider it ample, but adequate.

Definitely check out the Fluval FX5. It would be all the filtration needed and is a great deal, especially if you get a decent deal online.

What species of ray?